How do you get them to do their schoolwork? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 10-25-2010, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm just curious what others do to get the schoolwork done? It's a daily struggle to get the smallest amount of stuff done at my house. My boys are 6 and 8. Everything is a big fight, and frankly I am very tried of it. I don't want to fight with my kids everyday to get them to do one workbook page. They take a few enrichment classes which they love. But I do want them to learn math and writing and reading. It is these subjects that are frought with power struggles. What do you all do?


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#2 of 14 Old 10-25-2010, 07:17 PM
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At their ages those subjects should be short little activities that they can do with minimal time (like 5-10 minutes each) I would be doing the activities with them. The six year old can be drawing, looking at picture books, playing legos while you help the 8 year old and then you can do something special with the younger while the 8 yo does his reading. Then those basics are done in half an hour and you can go do the "fun" stuff.

If there is too much resistance even with you participating, you can make the "fun" contingent on completing the work, but I would try to avoid going there.
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#3 of 14 Old 10-25-2010, 09:18 PM
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For our 7.5 yo, he has over a year of doing written work under his belt, so for him it's simply not optional...he doesn't get free time beyond short breaks until it's all done for the day. The amount of work I give him for the day can take only 30 minutes altogether if he really gets after it, or it can take hours. I do not feel bad at all about being this strict with it because it really is a minimal amount of written work. I point out to him that he can cheerfully get it done, with my cheerful help, and be done with it for the day...or he can drag his feet, whine, gripe, etc and I will be much less pleasant with him and it will feel harder and take longer...either way he still has to do why not choose the easier and more pleasant way ?

When he was younger, I would give him very short sessions of work for each subject followed by a fun break activity. I also reward with a treat after lunch when the morning has gone smoothly, and lots of free time in the afternoon.

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#4 of 14 Old 10-25-2010, 10:01 PM
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For mine, it's just not an option. Speaking for ds#2, we started him with "formal" schoolwork at 5.5 years old. At that time, it was short lessons - a short spelling lesson with letter tiles, or a short math lesson/workbook page from Singapore, etc. I tried to give him frequent breaks, but still required that the lessons were done before playtime. I also made assignment "strips" and progress charts for them - it helped them visualize how much work they actually had and helped them gauge when they would be done. (Each strip holds 4 lessons/subjects; there are altogether 3 strips, though usually it doesn't go beyond #10 for both older boys - and that's separating grammar from spelling from writing, etc.) As they finish an assignment they move their velcro'd assignment square from their strip to their progress chart - they can see what they've done and what they have left. (Sorry if that is confusing - I can post pictures later if you need; I need to get the boys in for dinner right now.)

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#5 of 14 Old 10-25-2010, 11:39 PM
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If something needs to be done, life stops until it gets done, whether it's schoolwork or something else.

I want you to get to play outside my dear, but your assignment needs to be done first. You can do it in the 15 minutes it really takes and then go play, or you can stretch it out to 4 hours and miss playing. Your choice.

Every once in a while, my oldest will test the waters and cry and complain. And when he sees that's not getting him out of it, he sucks it up, buckles down, and whips through the work, usually finding that it's not nearly as much of an imposition as he was trying to tell me it is.

I feel the same as laundrycrisis--I don't feel bad at all about being strict, because my kid's life is tremendously free and flexible, they get *tons* of free play, and if they choose to their schoolwork can be done in a very small amount of time. I do have sympathy for my oldest--third grade seems to be the year academics get serious and he's in online classes that take 3 hours (with breaks in between). Still, at maximum, if he's doing his work without messing around, he has a 4 hour school day, with plenty of time in between the work.
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#6 of 14 Old 10-25-2010, 11:56 PM
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I am like you, I am an adult, and as such, I have great freedoms over the way I choose to spend my time. I choose to spend very, VERY little of it arguing with children about doing work. I DON'T fight with her to do work..I arrange the curriculum around her interests and desires. I suppose we tend towards the unschooly, but not completely. We do workbooks, but just not picking out a page and saying "this is what you'll do today." We have a very learning-rich environment, and she can pick from any of the materials we have, workbooks, books, art supplies, math manipulatives, videos, computer-based materials, physical activities, etc.
I find it's a lot like nutrition with a toddler..they say not to get too concerned about them eating from all the different groups at one meal, or even in a single day..over the course of 2 weeks-month, they will eventually get a variety and get what they need.

When I feel that she needs to improve her skills in an area, I try to encourage axctivities in that area, in a non-obvious way.
At no point would we ever have a situation like "you need to do this before you can play".
Now..I will not be like this forever, by the time they are older, I expect there will be a certain amount of "required" work as well as a bit more structure, but my kid is 6. Following Holt's theories, I won't tie her down to forced academics until she is at least 8, maybe 10.

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#7 of 14 Old 10-26-2010, 11:22 AM
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I have a 6yo boy and we keep the subjects short and it is just part of our morning routine before we can go do other stuff. It is only about 30 minutes of basic work so I feel like that is very doable for him. DS seems to get that he just needs to get it done and he does now. He is feeling good about accomplishing things too (like when he finished the first level of math last week).

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#8 of 14 Old 10-26-2010, 12:12 PM
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I'm more of the strict sort myself. My daughter is 2nd grade (just turned 8) and she has a set amount of work she HAS to do on "school" days. She is always welcome to do more (and sometimes she does choose that) but she knows that she HAS to do the work I give her before she does anything else "fun". That's not to say that her learning activities aren't fun but she's a kid and she'd rather play. I've just found that with her, I have to be strict. She is not self-motivated at all.

A typical day for us goes like this: she can watch educational tv before school, but once we get started, she knows there is no playing until she has finished her work. Required work is reading and phonics, spelling, writing and math. Some days that's all seat work type stuff and some days it's all "fun" stuff from our unit activities. Then we take a break and do "enrichment" activities such as social studies, history, art, music, etc. Like others said, she can let it take 5 or 6 hours if she wants to but if her attitude is good, she can be done in less than 2-3 hours with everything.
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#9 of 14 Old 10-26-2010, 05:08 PM
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No video games until his school work is done. There are no exceptions to this rule. Since video games are the be all to him, it works well. I'm not sure what I will do if this stops being a motivator. I also keep the lessons fairly short. I vary where we do them (kitchen, living room, library, community center).

I try to teach the same info in different ways. So for addition we did flash cards, worksheets, games, and video games. The books he reads are topics that interest him. DS is eight and has fairly severe, unmedicated ADHD.
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#10 of 14 Old 10-26-2010, 05:14 PM
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Our kids aren't allowed to watch TV or play video games until they have done their assignments for the day. They also can't play with the neighbor kids after school unless their schooling is done.

I do break up lessons throughout the day. I'll tell the older two (10 and 7) that they have to work for 15, 20 or 30 minutes and then they can go play for a little bit before they have to work again.

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#11 of 14 Old 10-27-2010, 09:32 AM
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I do a lot of reading aloud for History and Science lessons. He has workbook pages for Math and English. He enjoys me reading to him, so we alternate. He'll work then I'll read some until all the work is done.
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#12 of 14 Old 10-27-2010, 02:08 PM
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I keep a list of all the reasons why we homeschool and number 1 for us is to preserve our dc love for learning.

My ds really enjoys learning. He loves it when I read to him, so history is very fun. He loves adventure stories and is soaking it up. I agree with the pp who suggested alternating. This is what we do. My reading to him is followed by his thoughts on the story written in a journal. That's his writing for the day.

I read math stories and we solve the problems/riddles in the story together. He writes the problems in his journal. We also play a lot of math games, which he loves.

The only thing he doesn't enjoy very much is reading aloud to me. He can read, but it's not something he enjoys. SO, I keep it very short and limit it to 1 short easy reader that he chooses. Or he can choose to do reading eggs on the computer. He likes Reading Eggs so this has been a great way to keep the peace and still get in the necessary practice.

Science is through an enrichment program with other homeschoolers, as is sports.

I don't do spelling or grammar. My ds is almost 7 and has a great grasp on spelling and grammar simply from being read to often. I follow Holt's advice on many things, though I wouldn't say we are unschoolers. We have a very parent-directed routine throughout the day (mainly focused on mealtimes, outdoor play times, errands, quiet times, reading times, and sleep times).

But the education part has been very smooth for us this way.

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#13 of 14 Old 11-02-2010, 01:10 PM
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I found that it was a big adjustment at first, but now we're in a smooth routine. Things that have been helpful for us:

- I cultivate a "waiting for the bus" attitude. Go ahead and fuss and complain, and then when you're done we'll do our schoolwork.
- I put the day's schedule on a whiteboard. For some reason it helps to have the orders come from something inanimate and impersonal. Fun things go on the whiteboard too.
- I offer choices. For reading, she can pick any book from a basket of books on her reading level. For math I will sometimes offer her the choice between book and game.
- I make sure that we have fun projects to look forward to. Then I can say, "Hey, let's get through math and reading, and then we can do our science experiment."
- We mix it up. Three times this week we did a math workbook page? Today we're heading outside to play a whole-body math game I drew with sidewalk chalk.
- We use games to increase motivation. Math is often our roadblock, so, for example, if she's stuck on a particular kind of problem I might invent a game to show a concrete method of solving it. Then there's a competition between two sets of paper dolls to see who can get the most questions right.
- Occasionally we use candy. I put eight M&Ms on the table and tell her that each time she goofs off or refuses to try a question, I will eat one of the M&Ms. Whatever is left when the lesson is done is hers to eat.

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#14 of 14 Old 11-02-2010, 03:13 PM
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We've struggled with this recently. Here is what worked for us......keeping in mind my kids are a little older so shorter time periods might work better for you.

I set an alarm for 45 min. If 1 subject is completed before the alarm everyone gets 15 min free time. I do add maybe 10 to finish IF I can see that they gave 100% and didn't finish but were really trying. If they make their first 2 periods they can choose to have an extra 10 min for a snack. If they get everything done by 4 we get our outdoor clothes (it's dark early and cold here) on and play outside or go for a walk if it isn't hunting season.

Now we went from my 10 yo taking 8 hours (yes 8) of sitting at the dinner table to He wouldn't even get 50% right starting the day we implemented the timer he gets <5 wrong per lesson.

What I took from this was he was craving structure and scheduling and the results were the same for the other kids.

We do as little workbook stuff as we can and get it out of the way first. History, science etc are a lot of fun so they come last.
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