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#1 of 19 Old 05-27-2013, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I need some ideas for older non-readers that dont involve screens...  I want to start an hour of independent project work -- as in, i dont care what you do, but i want you to do something with a purpose...not just run around/play, but something you define ahead of time and do til your done, 1 hour at a time...  (recreate a painting, make a sculpture, answer a science-y question by experimenting, learn about something that interests you, etc...  ) but i'm not sure how to make it work with 4 kids (1 yo girl), 4, 6, 8 yo boys)...i can have something ready for the 1 and 4 year old, but the other 2 are totally content to play fight, beyblades, or play tag when i dont play cruise director...   I'm not sure how to get them going on something else...

 

any ideas?  how do you handle projects/independent learning when you have more than one kid?

 

thanks!!

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#2 of 19 Old 05-27-2013, 04:21 PM
 
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I have certain hours of the day that are "no toys" hours. They can work a puzzle, play a game with a sibling, work with the homeschool materials, art/craft projects, and read. It takes awhile to create that pattern, and I had to remind (and still do) that "it's not time for legos yet."


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#3 of 19 Old 05-27-2013, 08:09 PM
 
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It sounds like an unrealistic expectation for two boys who prefer to be active and play fight to sit down, on their own, and "answer a science-y question" or recreate a painting or "learn about something that interests them", completely independently. The suggestions you gave would be a lot for young, active boys to do for an hour even with a parent right there guiding them. I like Red Pajama's idea of a no toy hour, but you would have to work on establishing that routine, like she said, as well as have lots of options of things you don't mind them doing. We do a no toy hour as well, in a sense, but I call it "quiet time" and they have to choose quiet activities like puzzles or books. It is usually after dinner for us because I am cleaning up for the day and I want them to wind down anyway. But I am going to implement a no toy hour, too, I think like Red Pajama does, when they are older, I like that idea.

Have you heard of the "Work Box System"? You could set up work boxes for them, where they have several bins of worksheets, activities, lessons, etc etc (whatever you want) and as long as you make the contents of the boxes be something they can do on their own, you could make this be your independent time. I don't know how "school-y" you wanted the hour to be, but it sounds like this might fit the bill for you. This way they are busy learning, and not running around play fighting.

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#4 of 19 Old 05-27-2013, 09:00 PM
 
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I'm a bit confused. Are you looking for one hour when you can do something else, so all four are working at the same time?
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#5 of 19 Old 05-27-2013, 09:32 PM
 
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I highly recommend audio-books, polymer clay, and independent drawing sessions, pod casts.  My oldest also spends a lot of time just tooling around on his own during that time, coming up with ideas.  Both kids like to build with Lego's and citiblocs.  Weeding and watering and generally messing around in their "garden" is another thing the oldest enjoys doing on his own.  But all this is self-directed;  I have never told him what to do during his afternoon down time.  He has just gotten in the habit of figuring out how to keep himself occupied quietly.  I think it is key that you also let your kids figure out what to do in that time, once you designate the hour.  Hopefully, that will allow them to settle into a nice groove that is their own making.  You will have less frustration and resistance this way.

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#6 of 19 Old 05-27-2013, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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no, i'd be right there guiding/etc...  i'm trying for  more kid directed stuff...  right now i'm planning all the activities around the older 2 based on what i think they should be doing (they CAN sit and do those kinds of things -- and none of that stuff is outside the norm here really)  but i want them to pick the topic/subject ...so far everything i try to seperate out for the older 2 becomes lets do ds1's stuff first together, then do ds2's...   which i guess is fine...  but then when do they develop their own interests? 
 

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#7 of 19 Old 05-28-2013, 05:47 AM
 
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Are you looking for ideas about projects for them to work on, or suggestions for how to get them to focus on their own separate projects?

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#8 of 19 Old 05-28-2013, 06:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think I'm looking more for how to get them to focus on their own projects... We do most everything as a group -- and I try to follow their leads, but it ends up being me following the oldests lead and everyone else just following along.
 

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#9 of 19 Old 05-29-2013, 07:12 PM
 
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If I were you, I think I'd start by having just one kid at a time doing his independent project time, while you keep the other kid busy with something else.  Or maybe you could try setting each kid up in a different room and you could move between rooms making sure the kids were staying on task.

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#10 of 19 Old 05-29-2013, 08:14 PM
 
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I'm a parent of four unschoolers (one now grown, two almost grown and in high school), the elder three of whom were quite close in age. People talk about family closeness as being one of the perks of homeschooling and I think it is! And one of the results of that closeness is that kids get swept up in each others' interests, and in their parents' interests too. I don't think it's a problem, or a missed opportunity. It's a testament to their delight in learning that whatever they see someone else taking an interest in becomes interesting to them. My eldest just got back from India (today!) and she and her two younger sisters are currently playing self-styled geography games at the kitchen table. Obviously my well-travelled almost-20-year-old is on a whole different level than my 10-year-old, but I think it's great that my 10-year-old being swept along on a world geography jag. They learn from each other. They find their interests validated by each other. They enjoy teaching each other, being inspired by each other, spurring each other to new levels of mastery or to new areas of exploration. So many things here have been shared by most or all of the kids: Settlers of Catan, Battlestar Galactica, dinosaurs, a giant imaginary world they invented a decade or so ago, Japanese, violin playing, trail running, choral singing, Minecraft, gardening, gymnastics ... almost all interests, even if they start out primarily with one kid or with and adult, end up sweeping others along. Usually it was the adults or one of the older kids sweeping along the youngers, but sometimes it worked the other way. 

 

As they headed into adolescence, they seemed to each feel better carving out one or two areas of interest that were owned primarily by them. But it took until they were teens or almost teens, and still that individualization applied to just one or two areas. My middle daughter was the one who wanted this most tenaciously: probably a middle child thing. Most of their interests continued to be shared and collaborative, or what we refer to fondly as family obsessions. 

 

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#11 of 19 Old 05-31-2013, 01:33 AM
 
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Am I correct that the older two are 6 and 8? If so, and then send them outside to play, sword fight, try some nature studies (now that we're headed to summer.). Boys need time and outlets for play/agressions/movement at this age. Projects are more one on one, unless it's a group project.
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#12 of 19 Old 06-05-2013, 04:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, the older two are 6 and 8.  I guess I'm just worried that we're TOO family focussed.  I LOVE that we're together all the time, but i don't want them to NOT develop their own interests/passions.  (Thats one of the things I really want for them... I don't want them to fall into doing or being something because they happen to be good at it... I want them to follow their own passion.. you know - the if you love what you do you'll never work a day in your life thing...   but I'm not sure how to foster that in them... or even if you CAN at the ages they are at...  does that make any sense?
 

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#13 of 19 Old 06-07-2013, 01:56 AM
 
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At 6, I think you're expecting a lot of self motivation. Even at 8, I think some guiding will be needed.

What are their current interests or passions? Which do you think/feel they should nourish?

Because honestly, my now 8 yo has interests that change on a whim. While in Judo, he wanted to try tae kwon do. He wasn't old enough (much less disciplined enough) for the class offered at the rec center we attend. But we found a karate class that he's flourishing at. He hates drawing and coloring, but I can finally get him to complete some nature study items and picture narrations.

If I let him choose, he'd be on the computer playing Roblox or Minecraft. I found a lego Minecraft set he enjoys. He also loves trains which is great because he has a toddler brother. Sometimes they can play trains and cars together. Now that the weather is nice, I can get him to go out to bike ride or play in outer back yard pool. He also likes to help with cooking and every now and again will attempt to knit. He does a much better job at it than his older sister.

I think you need to let them find their interests/ passions and then let them run with it.
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#14 of 19 Old 06-09-2013, 09:02 AM
 
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My girls are 6 and 8 and they have many of the same interests.  When their interest is running high and running parallel, they are the world's best friends.  Unfortunately, when it becomes clear that dd2 is not absolutely obsessed with horses and has the gall to pull out her legos, all hell breaks loose.  Then, when dd2 does want to play, but gets bored of doing it all her sister's way, her sister barges off and all hell breaks loose again.

 

So, I read your post and I think to myself, wow!  This is a problem?  I would love to have this problem!  I have a dozen threads dedicated to the ongoing saga of the fighting and meltdowns in this house.  

 

I don't mean to belittle your priorities, but I agree with other posters that this is something to be encouraged.  You can still introduce things that give kids the option of forging out on their own, but I think the camaraderie your children are showing is brilliant and fabulous and I am envious. 


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#15 of 19 Old 06-09-2013, 08:32 PM
 
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In our house with only my kids forming my opinions- this is too early to expect that.  My DS who is 6 will work independently on Legos about all day if I would let him.  I call this work- because it is.  He is copying pictures of lego creations and building his own and it is using a LOT of skills that he will need later in school.  My 7 yo is not nearly as self directed.  Sometimes on sewing- but not very often at all.  I really just try to have a home with lots of learning activities for them that are easily accessible.  Things like sewing and crafting, legos, and a messy yard so they can discover what they need to build a fort or a spot where they have a hidden play house.  These things are work and learning tools.  Recreate a painting?  Not going to happen around here.  Building a fort out of branches in the grove?  Oh yeah.  These are work projects that interest my kids (especially my boys).  At 6 and 8 and I imagine even a little older- their jobs are to learn about their world through play and imagination.  There are years ahead for science experiments.


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#16 of 19 Old 06-10-2013, 07:20 AM
 
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We use some of these reading games in our house.

 

http://www.activitybags.com/Reading_Games_Order_Page.html

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#17 of 19 Old 06-10-2013, 09:59 AM
 
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Does it have to be one hour to start?  How about 15 minutes? Sort of like a walk that starts by just going around the block once.  I like the box idea, especially if he helps you fill it with activities and books of his own choosing.  Then, let him choose the time instead of having it be your time, at least to start with.  That will give him the interest he needs to focus.  

 

I still think a focus outside his brothers right now is unnecessary.   He'll find his interests, and maybe it will be alongside his family and maybe it won't.  I don't see finding one's own interests as inherently better.  You might feel like activities center around his siblings' interests, but his interests lie elsewhere. I've seen this in my family where my oldest likes to be dominant.  But if interests are parallel and genuine, then why not?  (And some things are simply more fun with others!)


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#18 of 19 Old 06-12-2013, 12:01 PM
 
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What works best for my kids is providing them with individual one-on-one support for their projects. In your situation, I would start with 30 minutes for each older child. "I am going to spend 30 minutes helping you with your project" - offer suggestions as a starting point. My 7 yo loves lapbooks but needs help to download and print images, etc. My 9 yo has "output issues" so I have trouble involving him in projects, but when I do he needs my individual attention. I don't see group projects as a problem at all, but in order to support their developing individual interests you could do group activities but let each child take turns setting the agenda for the group.


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#19 of 19 Old 06-13-2013, 02:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by flowmom View Post

What works best for my kids is providing them with individual one-on-one support for their projects. In your situation, I would start with 30 minutes for each older child. "I am going to spend 30 minutes helping you with your project" - offer suggestions as a starting point. My 7 yo loves lapbooks but needs help to download and print images, etc. My 9 yo has "output issues" so I have trouble involving him in projects, but when I do he needs my individual attention. I don't see group projects as a problem at all, but in order to support their developing individual interests you could do group activities but let each child take turns setting the agenda for the group.

Sounds good to start. But what to do with the 1 yo? I Pre-print lapbooks for my 8 and 9 yo and try to Pre-plan lessons late night. Otherwise, nothing would get done with the toddler around. Some things wait until nap time (ex, assignments on a lapbook, writing assignments, spelling, cursive.)
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