Friday, March 11, 2011

When Your Child Hates School

Homeschooling has been really hard lately because my son hates doing his school work. This really is not a homeschooling problem, kids who are sent to school have the same issue. Maybe you have a similar problem or maybe it is homework time that is a battle. Even though you have consequences in place, they take forever to get their work done. However, the battle is not because it is too hard for them, they are smart kids. They would just rather play than do work. It is a combination of laziness and personality. While girls can have this problem, it is very common in boys, especially the 2nd born.

There is not time in our day to take 3 hours to do 1 hour worth of work. Crying out to my homeschool mom friends, I asked for some wisdom. One friend, Stephanie suggested to give my son a little more time, since his just turned seven. She suggested doing an educational activity he enjoyed, like a math game. Adding this to our school day did help. Yesterday, my son spelled words using our lego letter blocks, and love it. However, I am not an unschooler and I feel that this is just going to get worse if Iet this go. Therefore, I am still going to do Bible, math and language arts from his curriculum.

In between this, my husband stepped in with a brilliant idea. He would school him at night after dinner. Since my husband only gets at best 2 1/2 hours with them, this was a big sacrifice. My son's school should take him about an hour, probably even less, so it could work. Also, my husband thought this would motivate my son to get his work done on time because he would not want to miss his play time with his Dad. During the day, I try to lighten the load by doing the parts my son enjoys like math and Bible. He is also given an educational activity to build his ability to stay at the school table and to show him learning can be fun.

Another friend, Michelle wrote a great list of points. They were very helpful too, so I wanted to pass them along.

Okay... so here are some ideas from another mom who has a boy who doesn't want to do school- only mine is in 3rd grade, not to discourage you or anything, but he has never been a huge fan of school. He enjoys some aspects of it, but he has consciously decided to not enjoy certain aspects of school. These are things that have worked for me and might be worth trying if you haven't tried them yet.

1) Identify his learning style. Your child's learning style may not be your teaching style as was the case with me. Once kindergarden came with my son, I knew I had to adapt and enhance school to teach him. My perspective had to change.

2) Don't compare him to other siblings. His older sister is a teacher's dream. She was the easiest experiment, uh I mean... student...;) for a first time homeschooling mom. My son introduced me to the "real" world of homeschooling. He is a smart kid, but he does not respond the same way to the same things. Work on building his confidence with his school work by encouraging him when he's doing something well- even if it seems like a small, silly thing.

3) Give him incentives. Yes, sounds like bribing, but for my son LOVES to do projects that involve making a mess and creating things. IF he gets his work done, he gets to do something that he wants to do- that's still learning. Or my son's favorite activity on a nice day: he gets more outside time. That's a HUGE motivator for him. Find out how to motivate your son to show him that you are willing to work with him. Also, mix up the day. If my son is done a portion of work on a nice day that involves a lot of writing, I say quick get your helmet- you have 15 minutes to ride your bike. Getting his energy out helps both of us! Or on a rainy day I may give him 15 minutes on the Wii Fit half-way through the morning. He is a wiggler. Also, chewing sugar free gum is excellent. My son is a "tapper" and "wiggler." He doesn't know it, but the gum gives him a rhythm in his head while doing writing. I don't tell him why I offer him gum so he doesn't depend on it, but I offer it to him when he's doing a lot of writing.

4) Hands-on activities are also great to have around like Stephanie said. My son really embraces hands-on activities. For example, he does math wrap-ups or we play the "pet shop" game (learning center from Lakeshore.) There are a lot of hands-on stations/ folder centers that you can create on your own. Google it.

5) My son feels that school will go on and perhaps never end. His concept is tainted as I do not think there are enough hours in the day. Giving him a schedule so that he knows what's ahead for the whole day comforts him. When he doesn't know what's coming up, he gets frustrated thinking that the work coming his way may never end. So, write down his assignments on a dry erase board (so he can erase them when he's finished) or on an index card (so he can passionately scribble them out when he's done- this is my son's preferred method ;) )

6) Do remember that he is only in 1st grade. Though I am not an unschooler, Stephanie made an excellent point! I have found that my expectations are almost always higher than what my son can actually accomplish, because in part they are based on what my daughter was able to accomplish at his age. So, it is an encouragement for me to lower my expectations a little and adapt with hands-on activities/supplements- even at the 3rd grade level, and your son is two years behind him. ( Don't tell him if you are lowering expectations at all- I read in a great homeschooling book that mothers need to keep tough fronts while homeschooling their boys, still loving but tough. Mothers are a lot of times tougher on their girls -guilty here at times myself!- and soft on the boys when in fact girls usually need more sensitivity while boys need more discipline at these young ages because of how they are wired.... this is an in depth convo I will save for another time. ;) )

7) Relax! We are always harder on ourselves that we should be! You are an excellent mother and teacher, but we all have bad days. In regular schools, we
just don't hear about the teachers' bad days, bad weeks, bad months, or bad years. They have them too though!! Seek the Lord. He will direct you on this matter, and take it one day at a time.

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