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feeling inadequate and ready to give up

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

DS1 is in 1st grade and has no real intrest in doing anything but playing and watching tv. When I try to get him to "do school" it is a huge fight and he can't focus for more than 5 min at a time. I don't feel like I push much. We only really do actual work maybe an average of an hour or 2 a day depending on how long he fights me. We are going through a charter school so I push somethings that are not a big deal to me to make the school happy, but not being in the charter is not an option for us for several reasons.

 

He is not interested in doing anything the resembles school. He has told me he wants to be adopted by a family that won't make him do any school. DH says he was like this in school too and was held back in 4th grade and put in alot of 'special' classes because of it. I am very tempted to give up and put DS in public school but I am afraid that he would totally be overlooked with the way that schools are now or he would be labeled and never challenged. He is not dumb, but he is lazy and unmotived, just like DH says he was.

 

I just don't know what to do. I feel so inadequate to teach him, deal with the 4 year old and 5 month old. Next year it is just going to be worse with a 2nd grader, Kindy, and a 1 yr old to chase. I feel like giving up but am scared to put him in public school. Plus I'd still have to fight him on homework.

post #2 of 35

I haven't figured out the quoting in the new software yet, so OP, you are purple....

 

DS1 is in 1st grade and has no real intrest in doing anything but playing and watching tv. When I try to get him to "do school" it is a huge fight and he can't focus for more than 5 min at a time.

When our DS1 was in first grade (last year) I had similar problems.  The way I addressed it was to lock up the remote.  No TV until school work was done.  I helped him through it five minutes at a time, with frequent short breaks, but I made him keep coming back until it was done. 

 

I don't feel like I push much. We only really do actual work maybe an average of an hour or 2 a day depending on how long he fights me.

However, when I started this with him, I was only having him complete 30 minutes of actual work time, in five minute chunks.  Two hours would not have been mentally possible for him then.  As his stamina increased and he could work longer chunks, I increased the total work time.  But even now I don't think he does two full hours of work, except on the days he has a private lesson or tutor in addition to what he does at home.  He has become pretty efficient at getting his work done now, and he doesn't need two hours to do it all.

 

We are going through a charter school so I push somethings that are not a big deal to me to make the school happy, but not being in the charter is not an option for us for several reasons.

I can't address why you believe you can't do it without the charter, but I will say that a charter would absolutely not have worked for grade 1 or 2 for our son.  It would have pushed him too much in areas that were too much of a struggle for him, leading to frustration and breakdown.  It has been necessary for him to be able to go at his own pace and get all the help he needs in basic skills.  Yes this makes him a bit behind now, but I don't believe there is an alternative - it's not possible to rush real learning.  We will work on the basics until they are no longer a struggle, and then he can catch up.  I think a charter would have been terrible for him.  I don't know what your reasons are for feeling you have to be in a charter, but I believe they can make homeschooling more difficult than it needs to be.

 

He is not interested in doing anything the resembles school. He has told me he wants to be adopted by a family that won't make him do any school.

If my child was flat refusing to do any school work at all, and our entire day was a huge negative power struggle, then I would keep school in my head as a last resort but a real option.  With our son, I was able to remedy this by adding more structure to our day.  I required school work to be done immediately after having breakfast and getting dressed, no TV, no playtime, no other options, just five minutes of work alternated with breaks of hopping or running around, until it was all done.  I still use this structure.  DS2 plays by himself in the basement, sometimes with a video, until DS1 is finished.  He has the option to be with us and do his own quiet activities but would rather go play alone.  Often he interrupts, and I get him back to his playing and we go on...DS1 still has to finish his work before he's off the hook for it.  Remember I am not talking about hours here - just long enough to do a bit in each area, often not even one hour of total time, and this is grade 2.  For grade 1 I would make it shorter. 

 

I just don't know what to do. I feel so inadequate to teach him, deal with the 4 year old and 5 month old. Next year it is just going to be worse with a 2nd grader, Kindy, and a 1 yr old to chase. I feel like giving up but am scared to put him in public school. Plus I'd still have to fight him on homework.

I think these can be difficult ages - mine are 7.5 and 5, and I do feel younger siblings make it more difficult.  Sometimes DS1 tries to use DS2's distraction as an excuse to not do his work.  I am not doing a much as I would like with DS2 because DS1 still needs so much help. I am hoping that by next year DS1 will be able to do more work independently, even just for 20 minutes or so, and I can do more focused work with DS2.  DS2 is taking a once per week one hour phonics class through our park district so that takes some pressure off me.  I think it's just tough with two active young kids who would rather play.  Imposing some structure for the first couple hours of the day, and being realistic about how long one can focus, and being relaxed about how quickly they progress, has been the combination that has worked for us.  I tell myself that two years from now, this will all look different, and that getting through this stage with these particular ages and getting off the ground with academics may be the most difficult part of homeschooling I go through. 

post #3 of 35

I have a 7 yr old DS and after reading your post I thought of some things that we implement in our home that work for us:

 

1. No Wii or screentime on school days.

 

2. Find enrichment classes for 1 or 2 areas of learning. Ds is part of a science program/class, an experiential nature based outdoor program that meets weekly with other homeschoolers and is so much fun for him. He's learned a ton about life science, gardening, astronomy, wilderness survival and native skills. The class was very well priced too. Maybe there's a program like this in your area or a nature center that offers classes?

 

3. Maybe find another homeschooling method. Charlotte Mason focuses on short lessons and I find this really helps my ds, who is not very enthusiastic about writing. Knowing he only has to spend 5 min on it makes it go smoothly. I also let him pick out his readers- 2 short or 1 long.

 

4. Consider ditching the worksheets if they are not working. Play math games and read math stories and try to incorporate math journaling. Skip count together while your ds is jumping on a mini trampoline.

 

5. Alternate a difficult area of study with something he enjoys. I find myself offering to do something with my ds I know he enjoys (like playing legos together) after he finishes reading to me, for example.

 

6. Consider whether you are sitting with him working together on his academics. I know when I'm involved DS seems to enjoy his lessons, vs when I try to get him to do too much independent stuff. He's just not ready for that yet.

 

7. I would consider adjusting the time your are spending on formal lessons. I keep the less-enjoyed stuff like reading and writing to 5-10 min each and focus on reading lots of literature and history together, as well as mapwork and related activities/projects to the history we're studying. My son doesn't complain about this type of learning at all, though I admit it takes a lot of my time. Still, we only spend about an hour to hour and a half at this point on formal lessons, and even then I'm doing most of the reading. And history is full of adventure and warriors, especially if you incorporate a lot of good picture books and well-written stories.

 

Hope that helps!

post #4 of 35

I agree with what others said about doing work in smaller chunks, also would definitely try doing as much hands-on and as few worksheets as possible.  I also agree with sitting with him while he does his work, this usually helps with my dd, 7.

post #5 of 35

First of all, remember that children in school are never "working" for 6 hours, so if your son does even 1 hour of 1 on 1 with you, you are ahead.  I would not worry about the time you want to spend per day so much, but more of your overall goals and then objectives.

 

What is an area that interests your son?  I'd start there.   You said he likes to PLAY?  This is what he should be doing, pretty much all day.  I would let him play most of the day and then get in one hour.  I would also play with him (if possible) for part of the time he is playing (I know this is very, very hard with younger kids in the mix).

 

 have this ideal of what homeschooling would look like . . .basically, we'd be out all the time!  But, the reality is, my 5 yo is in KG (so we have to follow her schedule), it's winter, and with 2 little ones, I was always missing my toddler's nap.  (Of course, now those are disappearing anyway!)  So, I got a subscription for time4learning.  I only have DD use it 20 minutes a day (she can do more if she wants) and she has to do math . . .but she usually also ventures off into doing science and history, too, since she loves those subjects.  I am not sure if I will continue with it past winter and/or once we actually ARE out as often as I'd like, but it is a good temporary thing, esp. since I think DD was getting bored.

 

The best part of time4learning is that she can do it alone, but I can go back and see what she has done.  This means when my little ones need me, I don't have to stop DD from exploring her interests. 

 

Anyway, I think the hardest part is little children.  Wee children are easy when you just have the little ones . . .but trying to meet a wide age range is harder overall.

post #6 of 35

P.S.  I don't believe any child is lazy and unmotivated.  I believe this is impossible.  Children are naturally curious and love to learn.  When he is playing, he is learning.  Frankly, if he can play by himself, I would actually say he is VERY motivated and imaginative.  I would cultivate this as much as possible-- this is what children are supposed to be like.

 

As for the TV-- I'd use it at the end of the day when you are getting ready for dinner.  Then he knows he can watch it, but it won't suck the day away.  I am not anti-TV, but I ask the kids ahead of time what they are going to watch and we talk about it.  I don't like them to watch just because they are bored. 

post #7 of 35

My 6 year old is in a private K right now and doing really well.  I'm planning to keep him in private school until he's through 2nd grade for that reason.  He is very bright but is way too distracted, has no interest in learning from me and I feel he will learn more in school during the next couple of years.  My 9 year old probably wouldn't have done well with it either when he was younger but he is doing SO well with it.  We both really love it.  He works really hard, doesn't complain, and loves learning.

post #8 of 35

I have an 8-year-old who loves sit-down schoolwork and worksheets, who is working at an advanced academic level for her age ... and even she rarely does more than 45 to 60 minutes a day of this sort of work. I think the 1-2 hours you "only average" is likely way too much of that format of learning, especially for a first-grader, especially for a boy, especially for a kid who doesn't relish that style of learning. Instead I would focus on experiential learning, discovery-based learning, field trips, hands-on stuff, learning through life, through play, through conversation and travel and interactions out in your community. 

 

Miranda

post #9 of 35

 My DD is in our states K12 program second grade. Even on a super busy day we don't work more than 3 hours day day thats getting in 4 subjects a day. plus Cathism studies Her school requires 20 hours a week I log her in for the default amount given per assignment. For example her Language arts which we do daily (often doubled) is defaulted to 120 mintues HA it NEVER takes us that long more like 20-30 if I have to explain something twice. I also don't print out EVERY worksheet or study suggestion if shes gets it we move on. We use there lesson plan but I often use my own methods to teach the points. Just doing the Charters schools finial assestments with her.

But FWIW a typical day here...

 

wake around 8:30-9:00am (just when ever)

breakfast -9:00-9:30 she likes to watch Zoo babies at this time (which I can count as science credit)

9:30-10:00am house chores

10:-10:30  Math completes a game online through her charter and does two offline pages in her work book ends with the finial assestment

10:30-11:15 language arts completes 2-4 workbook pages with me some one her own some where I jsut ask and she asnswers. We do her spelling words fro the day that shes learned on her own the day before and I assign her new set (4 new words a day) and shes does some assigned reading.

11:15-small break while I put baby down for her nap..

11:30-12:00 history reading and work in her History journal she keeps furthur reaserch using the internet

12-12:20 Cathcism studies

Break for Lunch around 12:30

then ussually some art or music or some family game time..

Were typcially finished for the day between 1-2pm depending on when we start..

Fridays I Leave "free" and use that as a make up day if needed..

Thursdays I take her HS to the liabary and we do work there and get new materials

another day we typically take all non computer work to the park and make a more leaisurly day out of it. Ussually tuesdays..

 We do free reading and is read to in the evenings as well.

 

 

Deanna

post #10 of 35

 Oh and I should add shes not like sitting for 45 mintues doing work sheets its more like.. a few mintues of me going over dirrections and teaching the lesson.. A few mintues of her asking or answering questions.. bathroom break staops to get some juice and a bannana writes out 4 sentences.. tells me the baby is eatting paper.. circles 3 verbs.. draws a goat on the edge of the paper.. undelines the nouns.. Its quite relaxed

 

Deanna

post #11 of 35

Why are you letting him watch TV?

 

My children are not allowed to touch anything that would be screen time until after 6. And then it only happens if all home work and chores are done for the day. And then it is a limited amount of time. I know he will likely pitch a huge fit, but you need to unplug the TV. The public schools won't raise him. You need to be strong whether he is at home or at school. This is not about the schooling but rather about the parenting.

 

Good luck.

post #12 of 35

I want to add that I would never do a charter school virtual academy at this age. I limit the homework expectations at this age (I have a 1st grader) but I still do not allow screen time until the end of the day and after all chores and school work. I stay very consistent with 1 page of handwriting, 1 page of math, and then something related to reading which might be a phonics lesson, reading from a reader, etc. If my son does the work, his entire seat work for the day stays under 30 minutes. But the rest of the time is hands on creative play, science experiments, art/craft stuff, etc. It is NOT TV.

post #13 of 35

 

It sounds like Lisa and I expect about the same amount of work from a child of this age. But I allow screen time after the work is done, no matter what time of day. 

 

For me, the charter school curriculum was way tougher to implement (we used K12 last year), and like you, I wound up pushing things that weren't IMO key to my son's educational success. As independent homeschoolers, we're definitely accomplishing more learning with less trauma. But if it's just not an option to stop using the charter, you don't need to. I think Lisa's right, the essential problem is a parenting one, and that asserting yourself will help a lot.

 

What does it even mean, to have a 6 y.o. "fight you" about schooling? It's school time. He sits down. He doesn't get up until the work is done. What's to fight about? 

post #14 of 35

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

What does it even mean, to have a 6 y.o. "fight you" about schooling? It's school time. He sits down. He doesn't get up until the work is done. What's to fight about? 


Clearly you have a very different child than my first three. My last child is probably like yours. If she was the only kid I'd had I wouldn't get it either. 

 

I've never fought my kids over schooling, preferring to use a child-led model for education. But my eldest, I'm quite convinced, would have endured profound physical torture rather than comply with something she was determined not to do. The more you insisted, the more she refused, to the point of becoming either quite hysterical or completely "locked in," taking days to return to her normal communicative self. Totally counter-productive.

 

Miranda

post #15 of 35
Thread Starter 

The 1 to 2 hours is not pure work time, it is including the 'fighting time' too.

 

When I say he is lazy and unmotivated I realize that sounds harsh and I guess I don't mean it the way it comes across. He can do the work that is not the issue, he just doesn't want to.

 

The charter school is a must because we get to use the public school funds for curriculum and classes I would otherwise not be able to afford at all. It isn't a preset curric or online academy. We have to follow the state standards but I get to pick how we do that and turn in our work samples. Also DH is very comforted by the fact that we meet with a teacher once a month to review what we have done and that we are on track so to speak. I don't know that he would be real happy wiht homeschooling otherwise. He is already talking about when the boys go to Jr high and high school. He doesn't really see this as a long term thing. 

 

Thanks for the feedback.  I'll keep reading...

post #16 of 35

Here's an approach that I have used very effectively in the context of violin practicing with my kids, at times when it has stopped feeling fun and enjoyable for both of us.

 

Dedicate two weeks to the sole goal of rescuing the motivation. During that time you promise yourself not to worry at all about learning outcomes, progress, achievement, product, logging hours or whatever. Your job is simply this: to use all your creativity to engineer some sort of school-related activity, silly, crazy, irreverent, tantalizing, wild, exciting or whatever, during which your ds will smile and genuinely enjoy himself, and then to cut the school-time off for the day while he is still wishing it would continue.

 

I say two weeks but honestly for my kids it has never taken more than three or four days before their delight and eagerness has returned. The cycle of negativity and resistance was broken. All was forgiven and they liked to learn again.

 

Good luck!

 

Miranda

post #17 of 35
Thread Starter 

Lisa 1970: TV free is not the way we choose to live. It works for some but not for us. We do not have cable so they watch PBS or the videos/movies we have and the amount of time they watch is limited. Even when they do watch they are not mindless zombies stareing blankly at the screen. Often it becomes background noise to whatever game they are playing and then gets turned off. Unplugging the TV is not the answer for everyone. wink1.gif

post #18 of 35


 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Smithie View Post.

I think Lisa's right, the essential problem is a parenting one, and that asserting yourself will help a lot.

 

What does it even mean, to have a 6 y.o. "fight you" about schooling? It's school time. He sits down. He doesn't get up until the work is done. What's to fight about? 

 

i disagree with both lisa and smithie that the parenting is the problem.

 

i also am having a hard time wrapping my head around the bolded statement? i think that perhaps it's because i value autonomy in my children and so i want to encourage them to decide things for themselves. i have a hard time seeing a benefit to a child that is always compliant. unless, i guess a compliant obedient child is the goal? in which case i think we have very different philosophies about what the goal of parenting is.,

 

i think that you've gotten quite a few good suggestions, i really think the pp that mentioned focusing on increasing motivation and enjoyment sounds like a good one.

 

learning should be fun when you are little and hopefully, the joy of learning helps carry you over when there a re difficulties. but i believe this process needs baby steps and scaffolding and that small moments of difficulty should be outweighed by joyousness. good luck op!

post #19 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by maciascl View Post

The 1 to 2 hours is not pure work time, it is including the 'fighting time' too.

 

When I say he is lazy and unmotivated I realize that sounds harsh and I guess I don't mean it the way it comes across. He can do the work that is not the issue, he just doesn't want to.

 

The charter school is a must because we get to use the public school funds for curriculum and classes I would otherwise not be able to afford at all. It isn't a preset curric or online academy. We have to follow the state standards but I get to pick how we do that and turn in our work samples. Also DH is very comforted by the fact that we meet with a teacher once a month to review what we have done and that we are on track so to speak. I don't know that he would be real happy wiht homeschooling otherwise. He is already talking about when the boys go to Jr high and high school. He doesn't really see this as a long term thing. 

 

Thanks for the feedback.  I'll keep reading...



In that case, I would use the funds to sign your ds up for outside classes that focus on the areas of learning that he doesn't seem to enjoy at home. Are there any writing/history/science/math homeschooling groups meeting up in your area? Can you find any that are experiential-based and engaging? Even if you sign him up for 6-week sessions, you'll have samples to give the charter, you'll reduce your workload and stress trying to get ds to comply with you, and your DH will see him learning in groups where he'll likely get more attention than he would in a large classroom.

 

 

post #20 of 35

I would say that people who don't know what there is to fight about have never had a strong-willed child. And no offense if you're positive you've had one, but you're so wrong it's funny if you think that a strong-willed child wouldn't fight a parent on doing school. lol

 

I have a very strong-willed first grader, too, so I can feel your pain, OP. We've had some rough days around here. The key for us has been consistency, really. She is allowed one show right after breakfast, but no other screen time at all until school is done. Usually she opts not to do the show first, because she has a limited amount of screen time she can use in any way she'd like, and she'd rather play Kinectimals on the Xbox. lol Anyway, we are very, very consistent. One thing that works for our DD is to make sure she knows up front exactly what has to be accomplished before she's finished. You could use a workbox system (just google it - you should get a million versions). I choose to just have it all ready the night before, so when morning comes I can show her everything and she she always knows how much work she has to do. I know you're going through a charter, but is there any flexibility there for you to make curriculum changes? It may be that the things you're using just aren't a good fit for your son. We've had to ditch a math program and a phonics program already, just because they didn't click with dd. These things happen.

 

I don't know your financial situation, but if you could invest in some games, that might be a wonderful way to get him engaged. www.lakeshorelearning.com has some FANTASTIC educational games. They have hundreds of them, in fact, for phonics, math, and just about everything else. So does Rainbow Resource. Lakeshore Learning is much easier to navigate, though. :) I have the book Family Math, which has lots of math games, but I've also heard great things about Games For Math by Peggy Kaye. There is a whole set of tons of different phonics games that could take you all the way through advanced phonics. It's called Happy Phonics, and I've had my eye on it for a year. I think I'm finally going to buy it soon.

 

What about science? Does he like machines or magnets or electricity or weather or animals? Is there anything like that, that could interest him? Could you start with science and build from there?

 

Then there are tons of online resources. There are a few free educational computer games at www.sheppardsoftware.com. I've heard lots of people say their kids love starfall.com, but my dd didn't really care for it. Oh, I just remembered that for reading, there is a free online resource at www.progressivephonics.com. You can print the books out or read them from the screen, but it's all free once you register (and I've never gotten any spam from them). As the name implies, it's progressive, with the instruction to the student right there in the readers. The fun thing is that there are words for the child to read and words for the parent to read, so the stories are much richer and funnier than the usual readers, because they have better vocabulary. They're mostly short, absurd poems that are ridiculously funny to little kids. My dd loved them when she would refuse to read anything else.

 

I'm sorry if none of this is helpful because you've checked it all out before. I've just been where you are and I'm thinking of everything that helped us. My dd is VERY difficult, so I totally understand feeling inadequate. We've made it through her toughest spot, though, so there is light at the end of the tunnel if you can find a way to engage him. Maybe if you gave us a little more information on what you're using right now and what he likes, people might have some better advice. Hugs to you, I know it can be so hard sometimes.

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