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Unwilling to Work

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
How do other homeschooling parents handle it when the child doesn't want to do some necessary work, such as math practice? I am wary of bringing too much negative emotion into the learning environment, which seems a pitfall of working with loved ones (like the cliche of teaching your spouse to drive). However, when a child is stubborn and taking far too long to complete necessary tasks, what are some quick fixes? Tricks I had up my sleeve in the classroom aren't always effective at home, so I need some homeschooling relevant ones.

We are not unschoolers and I am going to insist on covering certain things within a time frame, so I am not willing to consider letting subjects like math practice alone. I am also not attached to everything being fun, but would rather hear about how to keep the atmosphere light while helping get the work done. Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 13
Have you asked him how he feels and how he would like to do it?
If he is understanding the concepts, is it really necessary to "practice" on paper?
Can you find oppertunities in your natural life that would allow you to see that he is understanding and using his math skills without him having to do drill? (like counting Lego's, or apples at the grocery store, doubling a recipe, etc)
I personally think that the great downfall of families who "tried homeschooling and it didn't work for us" is that they expect their child to do school at home, they expected too much busywork, and they were not flexible enough to find new and creative ways to meet everyone's needs.
How old is your child and what exactly are you having a hard time getting him to do?
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
There are plenty of ways in which math, for instance, is used in "natural life." However, as a "math person" myself, I will insist on adequate math drill on paper. We also do plenty of Waldorf math which brings a living quality to the work. There is a point at which we need to learn our multiplication tables, addition and subtraction facts, the Pythagorean theorem and the quadratic formula, etc., and I respectfully disagree with those who believe otherwise.

My question really isn't about a particular subject but about how homeschooling parents manage the dual authority role of parent and teacher when there is a conflict over an activity which needs to be done, whatever the reason.
post #4 of 13
"There is a point at which we need to learn our multiplication tables, addition and subtraction facts, the Pythagorean theorem and the quadratic formula, etc., "

I guess the question is how is that "point" determined. Why is there a set time frame and why does it have to be your timeframe?

I am a math person too. If I had the time, I could spend all day doing proofs But that is me, it may or may not be my child. As your child develops his interests then the rest follows. Math is integral to almost everything we do. It is much richer if the connection is discovered that way.

I realize you disagree and I'm really not challenging that. Sometimes it just helps to sit back and look at our motivation and where we are coming from before saying the child is not doing something they are "supposed" to be doing.

post #5 of 13
I can't give you any personal advice, as an unschooler, but I've heard the same problem from other *school-at-homers* in our support group. Several families had to *drop* spelling this year because it was such a horrific effort to get the kids to do the work, with very little payoff for the high cost of resentment. Suddenly, the kids are totally into spelling ~ on their own. Math is part of life, your DC may need a chance to see this and begin to *want* to learn what you *need* him to learn. Take a pre-set vacation and see how you both do?
Good luck
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
My child does want to learn math and is really quite good at it and far "ahead"; there are some tasks, not only in math, which we all have to do whether or not we want to or see the value at the time. That's life too.

I really do not wish to debate unschooling vs a structured educational style. I could write whole books, though they have already been written, defending both viewpoints. I would like to hear from any homeschooling parent, unschooling or otherwise, on the subject of managing periods in which some tasks are hard to compel the child to do. For those who believe academics should never fall into this category, pretend it's laundry or yardwork, or any other 'character building' task.

FWIW, and for those who might have had similar questions, in phone conversation with another homeschooling parent today, suggestions included a more structured routine (which I had already thought we needed anyway, since our lives are quite hectic), separate place to work (not possible physically, but an interesting challenge to create such a vibe), doing a little less of the conflict-inducing task (for instance odds or evens, but we already do this), and more breaks /recess in the academic schedule (also on my mind, as a former Waldorf teacher). My friend also gives an outline of time a task should take and if it is not met, or otherwise tabled (to accept a spur of the moment invitation, for instance), it becomes "homework" and must be done during evenings or on Saturday. I am not suggesting these would work for everyone, but I find it interesting to hear the strategies others use.

We have only been homeschooling a few months so I expected some kinks to work out by this time. On the whole I believe children thrive on structure and creatively authoritative, not authoritarian, leadership from parents and teachers. We haven't left school because we think school is itself lacking; what's lacking is access to adequate schools in our area. While we wholeheartedly embrace the advantages of homeschooling we accept where school provides its own advantages also, and aren't in the least trying to "recreate school at home," a curious turn of phrase.

A wonderful book I recommend is High Tech Heretichy Computers Don't Belong in the Classroom by Cliff Stoll, the author of Cuckoo's Egg.
post #7 of 13
~~How old is your child? And give us an idea of what you have for an academic schedule? What's the day like and what curriculum are you using??~~ Without knowing that here is my rambling answer- so please forgive if this seems way off base.
IMHO I am a former teacher too and I know it is the former teachers that have the worst time of it. I would not punish a child by taking away playtime to make them do book work, that only gives kids a neg. association with classwork. You can either work on adapting your child to your idea of homeschooling or alter your homeschooling to fit your child. My experience has been that it is much easier changing myself then others. Constant head butting with child is a red flag something has gone off track.
Maybe as a teacher, you might also be comfortable laying a dollar bill on the table and setting an egg timer. Tell your child when he finishes the work in the time allotted he can have the money. Some former teachers homeschooling like sticker charts, filling a page gets you a prize, also having friday field trips and if child does not work during the week they don't get to go. Having father be responsible for punishing child is another option. Dad is principal and hands out the demerits and Mom is teacher KWIM??
We are super relaxed homeschoolers, not unschooling- but the kids set their own goals and chose their own materials, also we set informal plans for time spent together. Even my 3 yr old inputs what she wants to do. We can do the work in 60 minutes a day or less now that the kids would have done all day in ps. The rest of the day they play or go to classes ~ they choose. They also have housework & pets to care for. I think children thrive on a flexible routine not a set schedule, as a parent of 4- it would be impossible to get things done if we were not this flexible.
~~~What do you do when your child does not want to do something unrelated to homeschooling? Like does not make their bed or brush their teeth? Or is openly defiant? DO you punish, explain, reason, gently discipline?? If your child was in school and you withdrew, was school a negative or a positive thing for them? Did the child wish to be homeschooled and what was the child's expectations??~~~

We miss a day or three of book work, it is no biggy because we learn year round. If you wonder how any child could possibly learn anything that way like multiplication tables, addition and subtraction facts, the Pythagorean theorem and the quadratic formula, etc., I have to tell you my oldest got a super high score on the ACT when he was 12 and is now in college taking biology and freshman algebra this year at age 14. He got interested in Math and Science and jumped into it because he was selfmotivated- not from textbooks but real life events that spurred an intrinsic desire to find out everything he had ??S about. I can remember him telling me how f=ma when he was 6 and I thought what on earth is he talking about?? He did not learn that from his science book
Rambling thought inserted here----It is as important to me that my kids like to learn and will be life long learners, more important then exactly how they learn it and at what age.
Is it possible that you feel (as a new homeschooler) very accountable to others like extended family and neighbors and need the seatwork as evidence that your child is learning or have a so/dh that wants to see the child learning in a traditional manner with direct instruction?? Do you feel you have something to prove to someone or are afraid of the resposibility of taking charge of your child's education so you may be pushing your child a bit hard??
It takes more then a couple months to fall into a routine that works and get out the kinks when you begin to homeschool. We rework our schedule every year actually. I would probably take a few months off so your child can come back to homeschooling with a positive vibe meanwhile observing what works in homeschooling families. Take some time to play with your child during that period, build a new relationship so the two of you can survive the homeschooling ups and downs. Let him make a few homeschool buddies for peers. Step back and Look at the big picture of homeschooling, set your goals first from there, the long term ones. I wish you the best and hope I have not offended in any way.
In Peace,
mom to ds14, ds9, ds5, and dd3yrs
post #8 of 13
I'm sorry that my post frustrated you- for it seems like it did, but I was not trying to suggest that you become an unschooler at all. What I was tyring to suggest (and maybe this didn't come through clearly) was that in parenting, (in all areas) when one is in a battle of wills with a child it is often helpful to pull back, check your emotions, and reevaluate the situation. Many times we get so caught up in what we wanted the chidl to do that we aren't seeing that both of our needs can be met in a way that would aleviate the batle of wills. I hope this makes more sense to you, and good luck.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Perhaps my question wasn't clear enough, or simple enough, but in our real life here it's actually going very well.

I will interject that I would never offer money, treats or other "prizes" as a reward for completing work and never did as a teacher. I do not mean to be insulting to those who use such a method, but I would not be happy with a school where that was the practice, either. I also don't give a damn about the opinions of extended family and neighbors, and never have. One homeschooling parent I know, however, believes she owes it to her daughter to be prepared to return to school at any time. She's homeschooling to be ahead and better-educated, not "behind." Are there any homeschoolers here who feel as sh does, I wonder? And there are excellent reasons for teaching certain subjects at certain times, which I will not go into here, for ample information is available elsewhere.

There really isn't a battle of wills going on; it was a mostly rhetorical, prophylactic question that I thought would have practical applications for anyone. *I* think my family has an excellent balance of flexibility and routine, free choice/time and required work, academic and otherwise. There is more free time than not, we travel extensively and have plenty of "real life" experiences, and my child does plenty of personal delving into more interesting or favored subjects. As I said in my first post, I am looking for homeschooling-relevant tricks of the trade. As a Waldorf teacher I had plenty and wonder how homeschooling parents apply their own. Again, perhaps this medium is not the best for being clear.
post #10 of 13
Perhaps forming a "math group" of children of about the same age all working on the same materials would be helpful, if there are other homeschoolers in your area. Alternatively, it might be one area to defer to a tutor or a program like Kumon Math. One thing that school has that homeschooling doesn't have is the "go with the flow" peer group all doing the same thing. That can be very negative in some circumstances, but when it comes to learning math theory, it can be a positive. It might help your child get past his lack of interest in doing the math work.
post #11 of 13

Re: Unwilling to Work

Originally posted by LizD
How do other homeschooling parents handle it when the child doesn't want to do some necessary work, such as math practice?

when a child is stubborn and taking far too long to complete necessary tasks, what are some quick fixes?
First of all there are no quick fixes. Every child is differnt and every situation is different. We just keep trying new things to see what she likes and what works best for her. There really is more than one way to teach a child what he needs to know. Maybe try adjusting the approach.

There is no way to keep the atmosphere light when you a pushing a child to do something they just have trouble doing. When dd needs to clean her room there is no way to make it happy for her. If she can't do it herself (and she rarely can unless she has some internal motivation which is rare) I have to sit with her and say "Pick up this and put it there." Same with school. There are just some subjects she is opposed to (math) and I have to say "pick up you pencil and look at this problem. Add this row write the answer, add the next row and write the answer. Now look at the next problem" I hate it but if I want her to do that kind of work that is the way I have to function. So we try to avoid stuff like that Some things just can't be done without internal motivation and no amount of external motivation is (punishment, encouragement, bribing etc. . ) is going to cut it. There are other ways for her to learn most of the time and I jutst have to go with that if i want any real learning to happen. It isn't how I saw myself doing things and it was hard to let go and change (and I am a far cry from an unschooler by the way ) Nothing in parneting Madeline is like I thought it would be though - not just school . When God sent me her to me He sent her with a great big serving of humble pie :LOL

If she is being just plain defiant then that gets delt. I try to stick with the attitude and not associate it with her learning though. i have to be very careful to discern the difference though (and I quite often blow it). For exmple when it isn't a problem with doing the work that os before her but when I ask her to do it she runs and hides or throws her pencil.

Good luck.. If you got a clear simple, quick answer to this question then you have the magic every parent is looking for
post #12 of 13
I have 3 boys 9 , 5, and 2 that I just started homeschooling last fall. I found what helped my oldest the most was for him to help pick the cirriculm. We went over what I would like him to learn for the year and picked out several text/workbooks that would cover the material then we dicussed the pros and cons for each. He also made several suggestions about what he thought he should learn and what he would like to learn about. I took them all into consideration and agreed with many of them. I think this had made a big difference in how our year has gone. While I did state what he needed to learn this year I think he liked having some control over how to learn it.
post #13 of 13
Our dd is very finicky when it comes to her desire to start or finish work/projects.

Something I've realized by observation of her work flow,is that she seems so jazzed up to do certain things at certain times...and though I am speaking of K here...I sort of compare it to trying to get her to eat during her toddler years(very picky then as well)....back then, I learned not to look at what she was taking in in a day,but rather a week...so in a very simplistic way, I applied this to her style of working....if she doesn't want to do a math session when i suggest it, I just don't worry about it...'cuz I know it will get done...and when she does it when her *tide* rolls in, she does it with much more passion.

To me, THAT is the advantage and beauty of HSing...being able to follow my child when her senses are keen to something,her desire is on fire, and her mind is open and eager! She did not want ot do her phonics work for 1 whole month, then one day said she wanted to do it...she did an entire years worth in 2 days...couldn't and wouldn't put it down...totally driven.

I've since relaxed about trying to get her to do something when I think it should be done....I know she will do it when she's open to it and it will mean more at that point. When I see she is open and motivated, I try to get the most out of it....push and take her learning to the highest level she will allow.

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