I am so frustrated and really need to vent today.
I've been homeschooling my 6yo, he's in 1st grade right now. There are just way too many days of pitching fits, crying and screaming and yelling. I'm at my wits end!
If he's not interested in it then there's World War 3! Science, History, Social Studies he loves! But when it's coming to anything having to do with writing or math we have major meltdowns. And the most frustrating thing is that he can do it! He is very intelligent and he is able to do it, but once he realizes we're doing something he's not super interested in I can see his brain just shut off. He finds a million excuses....he's hungry, has to go to the bathroom, has to ask a question completely unrelated to the lesson, etc. Or he's on the other end of the spectrum and throwing attitude and pencils. I've tried a reward system...using stickers to earn tv/computer time worked for a week or two....that was the only reward system that even came close. He's lost special outings and privileges. Nothing seems to phase him.
Every so often we have a great day and he can do anything you ask him and he's pleasant about it! But those days are few and far between it seems. It's so frustrating when I know how he CAN be but he's choosing not to be.
And it's not like his whining, attitude and pitching of fits gets him anything. I don't give in, and never have but he just keeps on!
I feel like all I do is sit with him while he's whining and pitching fits and waiting for him to get his work done! I'm held captive while he's taking forever to do the simplest things and I'm starting to get resentful. He's not old enough to just be left with work and get it done so it's like I'm a hostage during the week.
Just really low today. :(
First--I hear you on those bad days. I have frustrations for other reasons, but I have those days where everything is a battle and it is exhausting.
Is he writing for those other subjects he loves?
Sometimes math difficulties at this age are actually writing difficulties. Some parents disconnect the two, and allow the child simply to answer verbally. The nice thing is you can do this on the couch.
The classical approach to homeschool follows a school's example by producing a lot of written work. Except that in school, much of the reason for the written work is to allow the teacher to keep track of each student's development, and you simply don't need to do all of that at home.
The other reason for writing down answers (when, in a HS setting, the child simply needs to say the answer) is for writing practice. There are many ways to practice writing skills that might be more appealing and creative.
One thing you might try for math is have him *one* equation. (I find the word "problem" problematic!) That's all. If he gets it, then move on.
It could be that you are spending too much time on material he already knows and it feels like busy work--dull busy work where you get in fights--or the material you are using isn't clicking. First grade math is about the basic functions of math, and it doesn't need to be so academic. You can also mix it up by adding board games for math (and reading!) practice, adding money (allowance is good for this, and it teaches decimals), Battleship and some secret code puzzles teach coordinates (not on the 1st grade curriculum? Doesn't matter--it's cool!) Simple origami teaches not only shapes but their relationship to other shapes.
A 1st grade education needn't be that involved. 6yos, especially boys, still need plenty of play time. Your son just isn't using the same logic you are. What he sees is that this working is starting to be a struggle with you, so he fights because he is expecting this-- and voila! He's right (in his 6yo mind).
Maybe it's my educational philosophy biases, but at this age (my girls are 6 and nearly-8) I would spend more time on cultivating rhythm to your academic day and week to set up a good foundation for the following years, and I would pay *less* attention (not necessarily *no*attention) to the details of academic progress. They can catch up academically once you've built that foundation, if they have fallen behind, but if you've built a foundation of contention, struggle, external rewards and punishments to get through this increasingly difficult job then the academic progress just isn't going to come--not without a huge price.
That's why I would back off the difficulties and focus on what he loves. Keep math to an absolute minimum *for now*. Rebuild that foundation.
Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
Hugs to you!
Some days are very frustrating! Regardless of the age of the child, there have been moments when I wonder why I subject myself to all this!
It sounds like you still really want to homeschool and are needing ways to make it better. (Meaning, I don't think you are looking for a "it's ok, public school is not that bad" response.)
So, here we go:
1. Are you doing ALL subjects every day?
2. Assuming he cooperates, how much time is expected to "learn" and how much of that is "sit down and learn" time?
Those two questions go hand in hand. After evaluating how much time you expect for learning (school style, not the learning through life and play) and how much of that is sitting down, you may wish to adjust your schedule.
3. Math: I don't know how you are doing math, but I suggest switching to math through games and hands on activities. Even online games seem to have more appeal with some kids vs pencil and paper math. If you need help coming up with math games/activities let us know.
4. Writing: is this penmanship or composition. If it is composition, I might just drop it for now and try again later. Also, when you try again, give him a nature notebook and go on a walk. Encourage him to take notes about what you see, draw pictures, etc. Or, give him a journal. . . he can draw pictures and/or write sentences or words. If you do Santa, he may be more inclined to write Santa a letter--don't say it is a school thing. Letters to family, grocery lists, etc are ways to write that don't feel like school. If you mean penmanship, then I don't know why you couldn't just tell him to do this page in a workbook and when he is done to find you so you can do your science. Leave. . . don't do science until the writing is done. Refuse to listen to the drama; go fold laundry.
Thanks for the advice. We do need to work on our weekly rhythm, big time. I can see how that would play a huge part now that you mention it.
It doesn't help that I'm not crazy about the curriculum we're using. It's K12 and I'm using it because it's free and in our county they offer him opportunities he really enjoys. I'm mulling over all that this year but for now we'll keep using it. But I do see he gets frustrated when he knows something and has to keep going over it, even if it's just testing out of a unit.
He does much better when I let him use a whiteboard instead of regular pencil and paper and he does much better verbally, I just really want him to get the handwriting practice because he's so very sloppy about it. I think that weekly rhythm will help that though, if he knows he has a set time of day he works on his handwriting maybe it'll get better.
He finishes his work quickly compared to the time they expect us to spend on it, but I agree that his age needs plenty of free play time and that's part of my frustration. The more I think about it the more it seems to boil down to the requirements of the K12 system....I think he may do better if we did our own thing but I'm nervous about opting out of that. He does get to enjoy some other things locally that we couldn't do otherwise, and I can't afford to get another curriculum or buy bits and pieces here and there. I really need to think about this.
Again-- my biases-- but I don't think it should be that hard to piece together a first-grade curriculum that works for you. I know that means you might not get money to put towards the extras, but I would seriously reconsider whether this curriculum is working for *all of you* right now. 6yo, you don't *need* to be spending money on curriculums, and you don't need to be spending a lot of money on sports and "extra-curricular" activities. Not that doing gymnastics or karate aren't great fun and useful, but I know my girls were perfectly happy doing "open gym" now and then and just hitting the parks until my dad made it possible for them to take lessons. Younger than that, in fact, those lessons would have been a lot of expense for very little return compared to free time on the gym equipment.
If the problem is minor, then you might find a way to make this curriculum work. In fact, if it's minor, you could try reasoning with him like I do with my girls: these choices we make allow us to have our riding lessons. Doing X amount of math, according to the requirements of the curriculum, allows you to do gymnastics, or karate--whatever. I find our riding lessons motivate our girls enormously. And I'm not lying to them-- we really are scraping to afford them, and it's only possible because we are strict with our cash flow.
If the problem is major--threatening the future of your HSing and possibly setting up problems with schoolwork if he winds up in public school because you cannot reconcile with your son--well, then the perks that come with K12 are simply not worth it. At 6yo, you can get by without them. Revisit in 2 or 3 years.
Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
I don't know that I could actually send him to a B&M school, I just can't do it as tempted as I may be some days.
I block schedule some, which really helps. I don't see a reason to drag out things he picks up right off the bat...we just go over it and test and done for the week. That's been very helpful.
Most of our time spent learning is just reading through the lessons, playing a few games and then testing out of most things. Most of it is so easy for him and it seems he resents time being taken out of his day for it. He wants to play and get back to things he's interested in. If he's interested in something he's obsessive about it and knows EVERYTHING about it, but if he doesn't care for it he feels he can't be bothered.
If he's in a good mood we can knock out what they'd consider 4 1/2hrs of work in 45 minutes or an hour. I know part of his problem could be that some things are too easy, but I'd rather just have him test out of things and get on to some free play than stress about him jumping up a grade. He learns a lot through non-school play and activities and I don't want us stressed out about getting so far ahead in the curriculum.
Math wasn't bad until we learned addition facts and he was learning things that had to be memorized. He can count the bejeezus out of beans or blocks, but adding 3 plus 4 in his head is too much work for him and it seemed this curriculum spent a year and a half on just counting out each item individually and going over what addition and subtraction means and then all of a sudden he's supposed to memorize addition facts up through 20 in one week. He gets concepts easily, but just can not stand having to spend the energy to memorize those facts.
I just realized this week that the block scheduling for math won't work anymore, it's just too much for him. I'm hoping by doing one lesson a day it'll be less stressful and then he'll be more "used" to doing math regularly.
He loves doing games and hands on stuff with math, but our biggest frustration came when all of a sudden he's tested on memorizing those addition facts. He knows some but not all and since he gets stuck on some he melts down. He's so used to things coming easily for him and not used to having to sit and just memorize things like that. In other subjects things just naturally make sense and he doesn't have to just memorize. Anyway, I still take issue with the curriculum going at a snail's pace and then all of a sudden expecting that to be done in a couple of days.
So far with handwriting it's just penmanship. He does a journal and will draw a picture and write a sentence but not much more than that and he's so into whatever the subject matter is he doesn't concentrate or take time with his penmanship. We also started doing workbook pages just practicing neatness on individual letters daily....so as with math I'm hoping by switching that to a daily practice with just a page or two at a time that will help. He can form all the letters, they're just all over the line, various sizes with some smooshed so close and others all melting into other words. He knows how to do it properly but he finds that boring. Sometimes he'll have a whole story to go along with that sloppy penmanship too....the "s" exploded, the "r" felt droopy so that's why it looks like an "n", etc.
I've been considering unschooling. He's much like his father and I in that we learn much more on our own. I have a feeling if we scrap K12 we'd end up unschooling. Still mulling all this over. Thanks a ton for letting me vent. I feel tons better and he's completely turned around this afternoon after that meltdown that got me on here.
You ladies gave me some great questions to mull over while I gave him a break. I put together a more solid weekly schedule and we'll try that a bit while I think about the whole K12 thing. I want to be really connected with my son and I've been feeling that K12's been in the way this year.
At age 9 he's still a very motivated learner- he is also so strong willed that I have had to reevaluate over the years the best way to incorporate his interests and yet how to still bring him lessons that I want to cover (I love many aspects of child-led learning but I also like having certain things to bring to my children).
For several years we used a holistic Waldorf-inspired curriculum and this worked well- but now that my oldest knows a lot of the basic skills (math facts, reading, writing) we've transitioned to spending our mornings on child-led project learning, with about 30min of afternoon time dedicated to skills practice work (mom-led) 3 tes per week. It is amazing how much math, writing, and spelling you can cover in that short amount of time when it's one on one. I gleaned this idea from the book Project Based Homeschooling. I highly recommend it if you're considering a different approach for your son. We are usi the same approach with my youngest (5) - without the added afternoon skills work, and he's flourishing also. Both boys are writing much more during their morning project time than I ever asked of my oldest.
aww, hugs to you! we all have those days. believe me!
it sounds like he enjoys everything but two subjects, right? at age 6, that's really easy to remedy in my opinion. with math, you can easily take the concepts being covered in his curriculum and teach those same concepts in a different way. there are board games, computer games, books, hands-on activities, etc. that will cover first grade math beautifully. also, let him continue using math manipulatives. he's only six. when my daughter was that age, i would change things up a lot, but we were consistently covering the necessary concepts.
writing is the same way. you can incorporate books like "games for writing" by peggy kaye. look at the concept you want to communicate & don't be afraid to stray away from your curriculum to teach it in a way that doesn't produce tears. my son's least favorite subject is also writing. so i allow him to type on the computer, as it makes the process much easier for him. maybe that would help you as well? we treat penmanship as a separate subject completely.
give yourself grace. give your son grace too. be flexible. i hope you have a rested weekend and next week is much better.
i leave you with a quote, "days with young children can be long but the years are so short. enjoy the journey". that is my mantra & i repeat it often.
homeschooling mama to DD 10 & DS 7
Oh my gosh. That explains it.
We did that for a few months. The pace is too fast, its dry and tedious, its horrible. I was in the same place as you last year. So frustrated that DD was so incredibly resistant. I KNEW she could do the work in K12 but she just wouldn't. Both of us got so frustrated that she asked to go to public school, and I enrolled her for the remainder of first grade. We're back to homeschooling now for second grade and doing it so much differently.
K12 is public school at home on steroids. Its the exact opposite of what is so wonderful about homeschooling. Maybe it will be a good program in the high school years. But for now, it really misses what a child needs at this age.
As others have said K12 may be wrong for your ds. It is okay to say that it isn't working and try something different.
Your ds is only 6. You can follow his interests and pace and it will be fine. He doesn't have to work at a public school grade level- you are homeschooling. You choose what is appropriate for HIS first grade.
The first math we tried with my dd was Miquon Math. (You might check it out for your ds.) A lot of people really like it. I wanted to like it too. It was a very bad fit for dd. I finally got Math U See and she was so much happier and finally started getting math concepts.
We had to back off on handwriting for a long time. I let her dictate answers or type things on the computer. Dd got more willing as her motor skills developed and it was less frustrating.
If I were you I'd dump K12 right now. The work load sounds kind of heavy and inappropriate for a 6 year old- like there is no joy scheduled into it. Don't worry about getting another curriculum immediately. Pick out some good books to read to your ds every day. Look up anything your ds is interested in. Play games. Write down your ds's stories. Bake cookies. Get outside a lot and explore the world. Visit family and friends. Go to the zoo. Go to the store. Go to museums. Do crafts. Do science experiments.
Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)
If you do decide you'll miss out too much on local things you can do because of K12, can you manage to stay with them with a bare minimum of input? In other words, with just enough effort to stay in the program but not everything they ask? It's not as if you see the benefit in doing it their way, so it wouldn't be like just not living up to a commitment. It seems to me that he's developing a pretty negative image of how learning works.
Even if he did absolutely no more schoolwork this school year, it wouldn't matter within the next few years. I think your idea about moving into unschooling is a great one - even if you go back to more traditional study later. Either way, a child his age doesn't need much in the way of learning materials, and libraries offer an amazing number of things. There are also lots and lots of great resources online.
His age comes up a lot in similar posts, by the way - almost word for word. Six just doesn't tend to be an easy age, but it can certainly be a wonderful one. He won't be six long, and it can be so much more fun for you both. - Lillian
One more option for you, can you maintain enrollment in K12 as a part-time student? We've done that before (not k12, but with other public school/homeschool things). Being a part time student reduced they amount they were willing to provide for us in terms of curriculum, but we were still allowed to do field trips. Additionally, they suddenly cared WAY less about how we progressed. My reporting requirements dropped a ton. . . from all subjects down to just language and math. I don't know if it is an option with k12 or not, but thought I would throw it out there.