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Homeschooling 7 year old with high needs toddler

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
My son is intense and now he is a toddler, so yeah, good times. I don't do much structure with the whole schooling thing and that might not be helping things, but I'm not getting much time with DD and haven't since DS was born. I'm not an unschooling ma but I'm not following any curriculum or anything. I have gathered a few wicked online places and have a few work books and basically the learning day begins in the morning with me making a quick list of things she can do and her following that list in some capacity until lunch time, when the structured learning day is officially over. She is easily distracted, and ends up online putzing about quite often. I want her to enjoy learning, so I haven't been very strict about anything.

She is gifted (sorry, I hate that word too, but it is relevant to the issue... just hang in there), and was not thriving at school because she is basically just helping others while there. She reads an adult sized book every day or two (by choice) and learns very quickly and I take advantage of that because I don't have time to sit with her for long.

My son screams, a lot, and smashes things around... He can be occupied with new things but I run out of things to offer him. In the work room, he is trying to destroy the second computer and instruments and the whole time I'm wrangling and thwarting him while trying to explain things to my daughter... it's starting to stress me. Also because I never wanted to be in a thwarting relationship with any child of mine, I wanted him to have complete freedom like his sister always had... but he is nothing like his sister and it is much more difficult to live that lifestyle. I've had to actually put locks on certain doors and cupboards. With the homeschooling, it has become more difficult because he is with me constantly.

DD was interested in going through the 12 years of school in two, like they do in certain cool schools where the kids lead the learning. The school offered to put her up a grade (THAT was their lousy option for her intelligence level), but I have many issues with schools anyway, it really isn't limited to her being thwarted intellectually.

This is all aside from our social problems. I have no friends, nor does she. We live in an area (in Australia) that has NO other homeschoolers, and the closest places with some are at least a half hour drive, and only occasionally, and often at times that conflict with my son's nap time. She has mentioned going back to school, and I think it is mostly she is lonely. I know in about a year things will be entirely different as toddlers change so fast. But right now, we're stuck.

I don't know HOW parents homeschool with a toddler, there is no peace to do so. Some days my son is just screaming unless I hold him in my lap (and even then sometimes just keeps screaming), and this is just how he has always been because he is frustrated. He wants to do everything NOW and that he can't drives him insane (he does learn early due to this however, he has been forward in absolutely everything physical so there is a positive side, for him at least - not so much for me ) One thing keeps him happy for a long stretch without much need for my attention - music videos - but it can't be relied on.

Ack. What am I doing wrong?
post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 
Oh dear, that was much longer than I wanted it to be. Now few will read it. I'm not sure how to shorten it.
post #3 of 8
I have no experience with the toddler of course, but I think a lot of people try to do what they can when the toddler naps, or even after bed time, if he goes down early (probably not eh?). At her age you don't need to spend a lot of time on schooling.

Is there a way for her to do self directed stuff part of the time?

For social stuff, I have DD (who is 6 now, I hadn't realised they were fairly close in age, I guess a year or 2 is a much bigger gap when they're 3 than when they're 6 ) in a lot of extra-curricular stuff, ballet, gymnastics, creative arts. So she gets time to play with friends
post #4 of 8
I hear you. I have a 7 yo dd who is very bright and needs me, a 2.5 year old and a baby- homeschooling is very challenging.

First off- are you sure your ds doesn't have anything going on that is making him more high needs, like a food allergy or such? I say this because my oldest was a high needs toddler, and with a lot of trail and error figured out that certain foods, additives and especially artifical color made her behavior much more intense and hard to deal with. The wrong breakfast cereal would lead to screaming all day long. Just something to think about.

Anyway, the way we homeschool currently is that after breakfast I sit all the kids down at the kitchen table for lessons. Dd has hand writing and math first each for about 15 minutes and I'm there to help with those. Ds does the tiny tot program from Carol's affordable curriculum. Oh, and we also do calendar time all together. When ds has finished his "work", he can do certain school time activities at the table with us- painting with Do a Dot markers, play-doh, and puzzles are options. Or I engage him in the living room with duplo blocks, or his wooden train set- I play with him a few minutes, then can check back on dd. Sometimes dd may do another activity at the table then, sometimes she moves to the living room to be read to from our history or literature book. I then read to ds. That is followed by some free play time for everyone. In the afternoon, dd can read to herself, do a craft or use the computer. Our house is covered in baby gates to keep ds out of the kitchen or office if he isn't supervised- or if he won't leave dd alone to do her work. For all of this, the baby is in the sling.

Each week we take ds to story time at the library for his age group, then we all pick out books. I also have dd in some activities for her- one has been a scout troop that meets on weekends and also has schooled children in it- something like that might work for you.

In the fall, my dd also went through a stage of wanting to go to school just to be away from my ds- I really hated that. Things are better now just a few months later. I am putting a lot more effort into having lessons for both kids, and that has helped a lot I think. I try if I can to let them do things together, like play-doh for example, to build that sibling relationship. I think that has helped too.

I hope that helps, it looks like my ds is needing me now.g
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hey Calidris! I must get DD enroled in some classes. I've been so snowed under I have left so many loose ends. Thanks for the reminder, I'll get onto that tomorrow (I hope).

Laura, great advice. You are supermom. I'm not sure what DS would be able to do yet that was calm and at a table, but perhaps in six months. Where is the tiny tot program?
post #6 of 8
Here's a link: http://www.carolscurriculum.com/tt.html I like that it comes with all the popsicle sticks, cotton balls, whatever is needed to finish the activities- because I just don't have the time and energy to put something together for ds. I'm not super mom- a lot of evenings dh gets home and I throw all 3 kids at him and go hide in a bathtub- because this is exhausting! I do also sometimes let ds watch tv or a video while I work with dd, I've found that if I limit his tv time to only then, he'll sit and watch it more closely for that half hour or so, than if its on all day.

Your ds will get more manageable as he gets older. Just hang in there!
post #7 of 8
I wanted to chime in, as I am in the same boat. I have a 5 yo ds who is very bright but also dx'd with SPD, so I really need to work closely with him. I also have a 2 yo dd who is very high energy and terribly jealous of the attention that ds receives during our hs time.

I'm s-l-o-w-l-y figuring out how to make this hs thing work for all of us. Two days a week, 5yo ds goes to a class in the mornings. On those days, I take 2yo dd to a parent participation pre-school and gymnastics class (I stay with her the whole time), and I LAVISH her with attention.

I also realized that we need to do short lessons and take frequent breaks. 5yo ds actually has an awesome attention span and can work for long stretches of time, but that did not work with dd. She adores her brother, so I have him take breaks to play with dd.

I also second the idea of having interesting things for the toddler to do. If your little guy isn't ready for table work, what about setting up a bunch of activities in a wading pool (mess control). I set up a splat mat, then a wading pool, then a sensory box (like a plastic bin). Sometimes water, sometimes beans, sometimes shredded paper. It helps to have items to discover in the box. Even the best activities only get about 10 to 20 minutes of focused attention from dd though. If she feels like she's being foisted off, she just gets mad. I try to tell her that this is her special homeschool work and she can invite big brother if she wants to. She loves having that sense of possession and control. She's right next to us, so I can bounce back-and-forth between the two kids.

When the weather gets warmer, I plan on doing as much hs as possible outside. We'll have an outdoor table to do our writing and art activities and a cozy tent for reading and playing. Our yard is full of great activities (also great for SPD kids), so I think that will work well for us.

All that said, I still rely on a few videos for my little girl. I also like having a bunch of audiobooks for my older one. That way, he can do some literature while I give the hurricane child some attention.
post #8 of 8
I feel your pain there... I have a 3.5yo .. I'm still waiting for him to grow out of the destructo/disrupto phase Eventually it WILL happen, so try hard to remember that you won't be dealing with this when he's 12 I know some days it certainly seems like forever though, doesn't it!

Not sure where you are in Aussie (western fringes of Brisbane/Ipswich area here *wave*), but unless you're on a cattle station, I'm sure there are a few homeschoolers hiding out. Or at least kids that use SOTA or distance education maybe? Have you checked for yahoogroups that are even remotely close to your area yet?

You arent' doing ANYTHING wrong. It sounds like you have a high needs toddler and about all you can do is what you ARE doing
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