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What am I doing wrong?....

 
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kkapfe
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Joined: 13 Jun 2006
Posts: 55
Location: Illinois

PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 12:32 pm    Post subject: What am I doing wrong?.... Reply with quote

Here's the deal: My first grader is just over halfway through our school year. I work VERY hard to find the right curriculum for her and supplement with other things as often as I can. She does online for some things, text books for others, fun worksheets printed off the internet, and fun projects frequently. However...everyday, we start with her saying "I hate school. Why can't we take a break?" She usually says this right after a weekend break of even the first day back after an almost 2 week Christmas break. Our day takes sooooo long, not because it's too challenging but because she is soooooo slothful (if that's a word). Her kindergarten teacher told me that she was her "pokey little puppy". She is so smart (she's even doing above grade level work) she just gets so off topic most of the time. For example, she'll be writing a sentence in her English book and then start talking about a story that happened to her "when she was a baby" right in the middle of word. I've tried setting the timer with her because she is wasting sooo much time but it still doesn't seem to do the trick. Part of me really wants to send her back to school but that's not an option with our finances. But I really like planning the school work and finding new cool stuff that's out there. She really needs to be home with the one-on-one instruction but she's convinced that she wouldn't have things like spelling and phonics if she were in "real" school. Please...I begging for helpful advice!!! I'm tired of fighting and I'm sure she is too. I have 2 other daughters who are younger and there is no way I could homeschool all of them at the same time when my oldest one requires 4 hours or more of constant prodding and hand holding for work that should only take about 1 1/2 hours-2 hours.
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Ramona
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Posts: 414

PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 1:17 pm    Post subject: Re: What am I doing wrong?.... Reply with quote

I want to encourage you. I'm sure there are solutions to this situation.

It sounds to me like there are several different things going on for you: maybe testing the boundaries, learning-style clashes, scheduling problems, preconceived assumptions, and over-expectations, for example.

I think a probable reason that she's complaining at the beginning of the day (whether she realizes it consciously or not) is to see what you're willing to put up with. I think that if you tell her those remarks are unacceptable and let her experience natural consequences for making them (i.e. "now there is a time-out or a chore that will take 5-6 minutes and then we will do school without any complaining"), it will only take 2 or 3 days before she will start school work with a pleasant attitude. (Of course that will require that you also begin school work with enthusiasm and a smile every day.)

It sounds like she might do better listening to you talk or read aloud while she moves and uses her large muscles. It's a bit challenging to teach first-grade reading to a child who learns this way, but not at all impossible. My best tip is to keep each day's reading lesson very, very tiny.

It might help her to plan a lesson and then a break to do something else that's not formal school work and then a different lesson and then another break and so on throughout the day. I know this isn't convenient and doesn't make it easy to get school out of the way in the morning and then have the rest of the day available for other things, but if you ponder it for a while and then experiment with it, you might find you like it if it helps her.

You're remembering that her kindergarten teacher said she was pokey and you're viewing her current behaviors through that filter. Maybe you could see her mid-word remembrances as an intro to creative writing. Write down everything she says in one of these stories on a large sheet of first-grade writing paper and then for tomorrow's lesson in printing have her copy her own memory. Or videotape her telling one of these stories and have her watch it as this afternoon's social studies lesson.

Some kids are not going to sit still and stay on task. Some kids aren't going to do so at this age. Some kids aren't going to do so at this time of year, in this weather. Some kids aren't going to do so for this subject. Referring to the amount of time she needs to do her assignment as wasting time and setting a timer for her could be seen as setting yourself up to be disappointed and hot-&-bothered again.

I have a 2nd-grader right now who was very similar to your DD last year. It was driving me nuts. So I changed my expectations. She is still the same, really. But instead of expecting her to sit still and sit up straight and read me a story in 15 minutes, I now go in the next room while she lies on the floor and I let her "read" for 45 minutes. When she's actually reading I look at her book and make sure she's getting the words right. But while she's looking at the pictures on the page and making up her own guesses about what will happen next, doing her own private calisthenics, or telling me what she remembers from when she was a baby I'm cooking supper or reading the paper and saying "uh-huh" every now and then.

A couple more thoughts:

--Some kids need to be told what the expectations are at the beginning of each day. For example, you might say, "Darling, I'm glad you're so imaginative and creative and like to tell stories. I want you to do that this afternoon. But right now it's time to sit up straight and read straight through this page without stopping."

--A diet high in carbohydrates, especially simple sugars, can contribute to wiggles. Regardless of diet, some kids need to work off physical energy by having lots of running breaks, etc. I enforce that when my kids are playing outside they have to do aerobic activities, not just sit around on the grass talking.

--My kids fit the old adage, "Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile." When they've had a long break, they want a longer one. When they've been going without any break they're into the routine and the idea of a break doesn't occur to them. I just have to remember that, accept the inevitable, and tell them when complaints are not acceptable.

Sometimes a child "requires" handholding because she's used to it. A few times I've had to make myself give an assignment and then go away and leave her to do it. It's amazing how fast she comes and reports that she's done. I think my standing over her contributes to her nervousness which causes wiggles while I'm watching, but also when I go away and leave her to be responsible, she lives up to that fun, interesting and exciting challenge. This works well with both of my 2 middle girls.

I hope this helps, and if you have more concerns I hope you'll ask again.

Ramona
Homeschooling 12+ years
Mom of 6
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kkapfe
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Joined: 13 Jun 2006
Posts: 55
Location: Illinois

PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was thinking about the idea of letting her know ahead of time what she'll be doing for the day. I would love to give her a "packet" of stuff that she needs to get done for the day. My problem with that is how to do that with the pages that are in books. If I rip them out, I have problems because a day might not require both sides front and back or I might need 3 pages in one lesson. However, I think she would benefit from having everything set out in one paperclip. I think it would be less overwhelming.

As far as the different issues you raised about our situation...I think you're right on. Her learning style is way different from my teaching style. I love workbook stuff. You do it, check it off, you're done. She likes more things on the computer and game format. I've tried to incorporate those things for her and am even looking for more computer stuff for next year. The thing is, some academic things need to get done just because they need to get done, whether they're fun or not. Like I said before, she's convinced that "real" school doesn't make you do spelling and phonics or reading aloud.

Thanks for your encouragement! I want our school life to be so fun and equally beneficial educationally.
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Linda
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Joined: 15 Jun 2006
Posts: 43
Location: San Diego

PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds like you may be trying to do too much with her. Maybe you are doing more "school at home" than "homeschooling". The two are different. Why don't you forget about the textbooks and curriculums for a day. Talk with her and find out what a favorite subject is that she would like to learn more about. Maybe animals or the solar system or cooking. It can be anything she wants. Then go to the library and pick out lots of books pertaining to her subject. Search the internet and find ideas for learning more about her choosen subject. Turn it into a unit study and incorporate it into math, language arts, science, and social studies. Find craft projects relating to her subject. Plan field trips. Think out side of the box and you will see her excitement for learning come alive!

Best of luck!
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WAHMBrenda
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Linda. You said your daughter is in 1st grade, so is mine, even though she's only 5. We only do 30 minutes of schoolwork each day. This means that we cover all subjects once a week in workbook form. The rest of the time we play learning games, work on lapbooks, read living books, learn from living and if she wants she can play on the computer for 1 hour per day. Not to brag but my hyper daughter is doing very well and we're both happy. When we use to do more school at home she was uncooperative and the whole thing was nothing but a fight. I don't know how you wish to handle things but I just thought that I'd provide you with a suggestion from someone who use to be in a situation similar to yours. If you want to chat more you can message me.
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momo3boys
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Location: Western Mass

PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've started using folders for each day of the week. That way my 3rd grader, who is also a major distracted child, knows what is expected of him. I give him little reminders to stay on task, and the activities that I can't copy and out in the folder, I write on a paper slip. I change what iwe do each day, so that things don't get boring, and this is ag reat way to give them the reins. Some days Cody is done at 11am, others at 4pm. But when he gets done late, he doesn't have time to play with his friend down the street. The more you push the more they push back sometimes. Just ignore the bad behavior, and when she comes up to you with a finished sheet, go overboard with the praise! I hope this helps, and that you find a way to ease the problem.
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Ramona
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kkapfe wrote:
I would love to give her a "packet" of stuff that she needs to get done for the day.


My friends who homeschooled for a while and then gave up would give their kids written assignments and then just leave the child to work on his/her own. The kids would work for 20-30 minutes and then be seen wandering around the house or yard. The moms felt totally frustrated that the kids wouldn't stick to their work till it was finished.

It's important for our children to have our attention and support. I only give an assignment for one lesson at a time. I don't give assignments for every subject.

After we do Phys Ed together, some days I might assign my 2nd-grader to finish a manuscript writing page or a math page after I get her started on it. Then I go straight back and check it and talk it over with her and praise all the good things about it and if she's in a good mood gently correct any errors. Then I might do another page with her, and then read a story aloud to the whole family.

My 4th- to 6th-graders write answers on what they read each day in social studies, science, art and music. But I always do lots of other stuff with them throughout the day and in between those subjects. My 11th- and 12-graders have a written schedule and they do a lot of independent work. But I always discuss their literature with them, talk over their compositions before, during and after, and often lecture or debate about their history reading. I usually do their lab experiments with them, and sometimes I join them for Phys Ed.

Little ones need more one-on-one time for school topics with Mommy, but the big kids might need more one-on-one time to tell me what's going on in their world. Smile

Ramona
Homeschooling mom of 6 for 12+ years
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Gypsy'sMom
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Joined: 11 Apr 2007
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Location: Oklahoma

PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 9:26 am    Post subject: Just a suggestion: free centers Reply with quote

I have been thinking about HSing my 6 year old next year. (First Grade) And ofcourse been reading everything I can on the subject. I read on one website (not sure which one) that a child should do work by their age...one minute per year that they are old. So for example; My daughter is 6 so we would sit down for 6 minutes to do math, then take a small break (get a drink, bathroom break, stretch her legs, etc.) Then we would sit down for 6 more minutes to either continue doing the rest of her math lesson or move on to another subject.
Another helpful hint was to have 2-3 "recesses" instead of taking breaks by the minute. Have them at set times so that your daughter KNOWS at 10:00, 12:00, and 2:00 (or whatever times fit) that she can put the work books down and do something she chooses. (i.e. color, art, board game, computer game, music, play outside, etc.) Make each "free center" break a set time so she knows that 10-15 minutes belongs to her.
You can also take this time to let her watch a short movie or a story on tape about the lesson that she is working on. History and science are great with this.
As for telling her what needs to be done that day, all children are different, that may work for some and for others it won't. (trial and error)
It could make them feel over-whelmed or she could just need that complete structure. I hope this help you. Good-Luck!
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Calla_Dragon
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have the exact same challenges with my DS (6 years) and here's what I do with my boys 6 and 3. We devote 2-3 hours a day to school. Each subject/lesson is kept to about 10 minutes (except for art, which always takes longer but it's ok because they're actively doing stuff). We do some worksheets, but not more than 10 minutes worth before we're onto a new subject and a new set of worksheets, game, computer lesson, etc. We keep things moving right along. Story time is full of stories relavant to the day's lessons or unit studies and the kids are allowed to fidget and move while the story is being read. I used to demand that the kids sit still because I thought "how can you listen if you're playing with something else?". The kicker is that at the end of the book when we talk about it, DS 6 knows exactly what the book was about and can tell me all about it - so I know he's listening. I have a very active learner and occasionally I get some flack about schoolwork. I calmly tell him that this is what we're doing and proceed with schoolwork. My DS is also the type "give an inch, he'll take a mile" but with a twist - he's more the "give him an inch and he'll drag you for a mile" type of kid. Hold strong with what the days plans are and maybe scale back a bit on the amount of work you expect to get done. I went through a phase too where I expected a lot and it ended in both of us being frustrated. Now, we do what we can in 10 minutes and we move on and we actually get more done overall this way because both of us end the day happily and not frustrated because "not enough" got done.

Good luck!!
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easyhomeschooling
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Joined: 03 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:51 pm    Post subject: Relax :) Reply with quote

It seems to me that you are trying to hard. If she wants to tell a story, let her! Stories are the seed of a lifetime of creative writing. You need to loosen up and forget all your materials and plans and sort of let your daughter lead, IMHO. It seems to me that she is a creative person Smile and the structure that you might be trying to put on her is stifling, thus the 'hating school' thing. I was the same way so understand her completely. You can cover a lot of subjects by simply reading aloud and having her tell back... yes, tell her stories.
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momofmy3kids
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2007 9:04 am    Post subject: Re: Relax :) Reply with quote

easyhomeschooling wrote:
It seems to me that you are trying to hard. If she wants to tell a story, let her! Stories are the seed of a lifetime of creative writing. You need to loosen up and forget all your materials and plans and sort of let your daughter lead, IMHO. It seems to me that she is a creative person Smile and the structure that you might be trying to put on her is stifling, thus the 'hating school' thing. I was the same way so understand her completely. You can cover a lot of subjects by simply reading aloud and having her tell back... yes, tell her stories.


This is my biggest argument with PS. In a class of 21 kindergarten students and one teacher you don't have time to have 21 kids tell stories. Yet, that's one of the best tools for developing their creative & writing skills.

Maybe incorporate a story-telling time. She seems to like to tell stories. Fly with that!

Another great thing would be to get her to write a book of her stories. My son's tutor did that and it made him want to read & write. It's been an amazing transformation. He loves to write now.
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