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Feel like a failure...


~Amanda~
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And I'm trying to figure out a way to put into words what is wrong. It just feels wrong. DD is doing well, but DS is struggling; he asks me questions on the worksheets for every question he has (basically asking me to tell him the answer) when all he has to do is read the directions; the answer is Right there! and he's asking me to point it out for him! he's frustrated and having breakdowns nearly daily, and part of me wonders if I've made a mistake. :( I need to figure out what to do to make this better; I have them independent on reading and math now; I'm thinking I'll have to transition them to history independent, and we still do science together, but… It feels too much like they are doing homework all.day.long. Is there anything I can do to make it better? less stressful?

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Hi,

Hope someone with more experience will chime in, but I think maybe you are expecting too much independence from kids who are too young. My 8 year old needs me to sit next to her for all her work, even if she isn't asking me questions. Have you tried SWB's M&M trick? You put a bowl of them in front of him and then tell him that every time he asks you a question, you will take one of the M&M's away. When he is done with his assignment, he can have whatever is left. I haven't tried it, but it seems brilliant to me. Also, if you haven't listened to it, SWB's lecture on teaching kids to work independently can be downloaded at Peace Hill Press. There are lots of good tips in there (besides the M&M one :)), and a good dose of reality on what you can expect.

 

Hope that helps,

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I ahve to agree with Diviya. My 9 year old, whi can read really well, etc., still needs me with him while he is doing much of his work. Except for reading, I don't give him independant work, although we are beginning to transition more that way.

 

Perhaps your 8 year old finds the worksheet instructions confusing? Or maybe you need to look at something besides worksheets. My 7 yo dd does not do well with worksheets, but is a fantastic audio-learner.

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Hi,

Hope someone with more experience will chime in, but I think maybe you are expecting too much independence from kids who are too young. My 8 year old needs me to sit next to her for all her work, even if she isn't asking me questions. Have you tried SWB's M&M trick? You put a bowl of them in front of him and then tell him that every time he asks you a question, you will take one of the M&M's away. When he is done with his assignment, he can have whatever is left. I haven't tried it, but it seems brilliant to me. Also, if you haven't listened to it, SWB's lecture on teaching kids to work independently can be downloaded at Peace Hill Press. There are lots of good tips in there (besides the M&M one :)), and a good dose of reality on what you can expect.

 

Hope that helps,

 

 

Then what happens when they have a valid question? Or is this trying to get them to put the questions together at the end when all the work they are capable of doing alone is done?

 

Have you tried reviewing all the directions first? Maybe the worksheets don't mess with his learning style? Are things appearing to take so long because of outside interruptions? There is a lot to homeschooling with younger kids in the house. It is hard when things aren't going as you hope they will, don't give up yet. :)

Edited by melmichigan
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Is your son 8? I think maybe your expectations are too high for him. My kids at 9 & 10 still need hand holding for certain subjects. It's not unreasonable to expect they'll need help more often than not at age 8. Slowly, as he gets older, he'll need less help. I wouldn't worry. Just do your best to show him how to get the answers for himself. It's frustrating I know. :grouphug:

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Then what happens when they have a valid question? Or is this trying to get them to put the questions together at the end when all the work they are capable of doing alone is done?

 

You know, she doesn't really address that - but I think the idea is that you start with something that you KNOW they are capable of doing on their own. So, you'd start with the umpteenth worksheet on addition, not the new one on subtraction. Does that make sense?

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You know, she doesn't really address that - but I think the idea is that you start with something that you KNOW they are capable of doing on their own. So, you'd start with the umpteenth worksheet on addition, not the new one on subtraction. Does that make sense?

 

 

:D I could just see this backfiring at my house. It's an interesting idea though.

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And I'm trying to figure out a way to put into words what is wrong. It just feels wrong. DD is doing well, but DS is struggling; he asks me questions on the worksheets for every question he has (basically asking me to tell him the answer) when all he has to do is read the directions; the answer is Right there! and he's asking me to point it out for him! he's frustrated and having breakdowns nearly daily, and part of me wonders if I've made a mistake. :( I need to figure out what to do to make this better; I have them independent on reading and math now; I'm thinking I'll have to transition them to history independent, and we still do science together, but… It feels too much like they are doing homework all.day.long. Is there anything I can do to make it better? less stressful?

I don't know what you are using or if there is anything outside of school that is causing him to have breakdowns (is he growing, is he having nightmares, have you moved, did a friend move, etc). Without this kind of info I am shooting in the dark, but I do know one thing. I wouldn't use M&M's. Yea, that would motivate my son until he actually had several pieces. Then, he would be bouncing of the walls and get nothing else accomplished.

 

So, here is my shot at it. Can you use something other than worksheets as assessment for a while or do the worksheets orally? Maybe He just isn't ready to be that independent.

 

Mandy

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:D I could just see this backfiring at my house. It's an interesting idea though.

 

I know exactly what you mean :tongue_smilie: the law of unintended consequences. If you do try it, let me know how it goes....

 

I also wonder how, once it's working, you wean them off the M&M's. (picturing sending them off to college with a giant bag of M&Ms)

 

Sorry, OP, for the sidebar.

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I can try the worksheets orally; I am trying the independent thing because when we do stuff together, DD jumps on the answer before he can say anything, even when I try to give him a turn. and he just had a birthday, so he is 9; and I don't know. I feel like, maybe its too much like school, but I don't know how to make it "fun"?

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I'll take a stab here. Your ds is newly 9 -- reading independently can be appropriate, but before completing worksheets, you'll need to ask some questions from his reading orally or have him narrate. Reassure him that spelling and grammar are not important to you *yet* for the worksheets associated with his reading. Tell him he'll grow into that, but for now, you want him to do his best to answer the questions. You make encourage this growth in independence by first doing the worksheet orally, then handing it to him to write the answers on his own.

 

As for math, imho, and as a home schooler for nearly 12 years, I'd suggest teaching and reviewing math Every Day and then sending him on his way to work out problems. Make sure he has at least 1 problem of each "kind" on the worksheet completed so he can refer to it if necessary. Expect that word problems will most likely for a year or two require hand holding and assistance...that you'll need to point out key words that give away which function to use (altogether, less than, fewer, how many more, etc). I like to ask, "will the answer here get bigger or smaller?" I have taught them about wholes and parts and that bigger answers mean either addition or multiplication, while smaller ones require division or subtraction.

 

At this age, independent work is more about training than competence. You never want his independent work to be something he cannot do alone b/c he's really just practicing for the future. You have to teach these areas; you have to know whether or not he understands and is capable; however at 9yo, you also have to hold his hand a bit. Warn him, by the end of 3rd grade, you expect the hand holding to stop and when 4th grade comes, he should be able to accomplish independent reading and independent math, after explanation, without you sitting there.

 

Another thought, my daughters have been able to work independently much sooner than any of my boys. Don't expect the same from your son as you have seen (or might have seen) from your daughter. YMMV, just thinking out loud. If she is problematic for oral discussions, simply send her in another room to do her independent work while you have time with ds.

 

If both problem areas continue after these suggestions, I would encourage observation time on behavior, as I would think the issue would not be academic, but more behavioral in nature.

 

Hope these suggestions are practical and worthwhile.

Edited by johnandtinagilbert
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I will take a stab in the dark, without knowing your curriculum, but both of my older kids around the time they turned 9 started being more emotional and having more breakdowns when they weren't getting enough sleep. It is a time of intense growth and changes, especially for boys.

 

I would try increasing physical activity and increasing sleep. For my boys, when they can't focus and are having meltdowns it is often cured by a run around the house. Boys need lots of physical activity. We take breaks and counter intuitively, it makes our school days shorter. It seems to clear their brains and help them focus. Add a ball when practicing math facts or spelling words. I am not about making all work "fun", but sometimes you have to mix it up to get over a hump.

 

You could also look at the order you are completing your subjects. Alternate a favorite with a less favorite, a more difficult with an easier one.

 

:grouphug:, it is terribly frustrating when they aren't working at a level you know they are capable. I hope you find something in all the suggestions that everyone has offered that makes your days better.

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:grouphug:

Thanks, I just need to... know what I'm doing. lol. I feel like a failure cause if what I try doesn't work, I don't know what else to do. I don't know how to do this, this is my first year homeschooling, this is their first year homeschooling, and we have 2 babies underfoot.

:grouphug: I completely understand. I read a ton about what they "should" be doing, but didn't know a lot about HOW to implement most of it. It will come. You are not a failure. Most long time schoolers will agree it took about 3 years to finally get past those butterflies, then you have a middle schooler or high schooler and start all over again wondering if you can do it.

 

The good news is...YOU CAN! There are tons and tons of graduates from home schooling and they'll all tell you the same thing, they're just regular folk, just like you.

 

Keep asking questions...there are only a few stupid ones (LOL! j/k, there aren't really any)!

 

You will find a way and if you can't, we'll help you along.

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Could you give us more info. on what subject these worksheets are, or is it all subjects? What curriculum are you using? If all of his lessons are worksheet based and independent, maybe he is just bored with the format and frustrated with sitting alone doing worksheets all day and is trying to manipulate some type of interaction with you. Or maybe he truly is struggling with the concepts. Without more specifics its hard to say.

 

Just because your dd can work on her own doesn't mean your other dc will be able to at the same or similar age. My dd12 can do most of her subjects without ever needing help but dd11 needs a lot of hand holding and reassurance that if she has a question (even one I just answered two seconds ago) I will be right there to help her work it out. "I can't give you the answer but I will explain it in as many different ways as I can until you understand how to get the answer on your own." Basically that tells her that I understand that some things, that are simple to others, are difficult to her, but that I'm not going to give up on helping her no matter how long it takes. I'm not saying that your son feels abandoned, I'm just saying that my child would feel that way and this is how I handle your situation in my home.

 

As for working with the two together: just make sure dd knows that you will be administering consequences for speaking out of turn or blurting out answers. Be firm and consistent. I have found that my dd11 has gleaned a lot from having she and dd12 in many of the same subjects. I will ask the older one more difficult questions and expect a higher level or work from her and the younger one learns from that. I do all of their subjects together except for science and math.

 

I know how frustrating it is to think things should be a certain way and they are no where near what your expectations are. I desperately need my dd11 to work more independently and not complain about most of her work but that is not my reality. I made a commitment to her though and I can't give her anything less than what she needs even though her needs require far more of my time and attention than my other 4 dc. You are not a failure! You are here asking for help with a something you see as a problem and trying to make changes to help your son. You are just frustrated and not sure what the problem is. Is it him, is it you, is it the subject, is it the curriculum? Start ruling things out and you will narrow it down to the problem. Be patient and work through this problem methodically. Talk to him and ask him what he thinks the problem is\what changes he would like to make. Try different things until you finally find what works best.:grouphug:

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Here's my advice: When he sits down to do his work, instead of reading the directions to him, or making him read them totally by himself, go in between, and sit or stand next to him. With your finger or a pencil point to the directions and ask him to read them out loud to you. Then, do the first and/or second one with him. You can say, "OK let's try it. Read number one." Have him read #1 out loud to you, and work through it out loud. If he doesn't jump into #2 all my himself, work through #2 also. If he has the hang of it after 1 and 2, you can leave him alone to complete the rest of the sheet. Then, check his work right away (or maybe even better, have him check against the answer key himself) right after he's done and make sure you have him correct his mistakes himself. This will encourage and help him into independence.

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I can try the worksheets orally; I am trying the independent thing because when we do stuff together, DD jumps on the answer before he can say anything, even when I try to give him a turn. and he just had a birthday, so he is 9; and I don't know. I feel like, maybe its too much like school, but I don't know how to make it "fun"?

 

You know - I gave up long ago worrying about making it fun. The more I worried about making it fun, the more my kids expected it to be fun and bucked when it wasn't. The reality is that it is school and school is work. It doesn't sound to me like the problem is too much independence. You say that he keeps asking you questions until you basically give him the answer. That isn't independent work. If you are sure the level of the work is acceptable for him, then when he asks and the answer is really right there, say something like 'If you re-read section X, I think you'll see the answer' or ask him leading questions that point him toward the solution without taking away his need to think it through. Every time you give in and basically give the answer, you validate his hope that if he whines and badgers you enough he won't have to think about it.

 

It is important at all ages, but his especially, that you remain available to them even when they are working independently. Not just by being in the next room folding clothes or vacuuming, but by sitting there and being available for legitimate questions and to keep them on task. But there is no reason at his age why he can't be expected to think through problems and answer questions on his own without the expectation that you will spoon-feed him.

 

This is all assuming, of course, that the work you are doing is appropriate for his skill level. I can't comment on that because you didn't say what he's doing or where is his academically.

 

Heather

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I know exactly what you mean :tongue_smilie: the law of unintended consequences. If you do try it, let me know how it goes....

 

I also wonder how, once it's working, you wean them off the M&M's. (picturing sending them off to college with a giant bag of M&Ms)

 

Sorry, OP, for the sidebar.

 

I'm picturing me gaining about 20 pounds from all the M&Ms I'd get to eat.

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You encourage this growth in independence by first doing the worksheet orally, then handing it to him to write the answers on his own.

 

As for math, imho, and as a home schooler for nearly 12 years, I'd suggest teaching and reviewing math Every Day and then sending him on his way to work out problems. Make sure he has at least 1 problem of each "kind" on the worksheet completed so he can refer to it if necessary.

 

At this age, independent work is more about training than competence. You never want his independent work to be something he cannot do alone b/c he's really just practicing for the future. You have to teach these areas; you have to know whether or not he understands and is capable; however at 9yo, you also have to hold his hand a bit.

:iagree: Learning to become independent is a process. It will take some time.

 

 

Thanks, I just need to... know what I'm doing. lol. I feel like a failure cause if what I try doesn't work, I don't know what else to do. I don't know how to do this, this is my first year homeschooling, this is their first year homeschooling, and we have 2 babies underfoot.

:grouphug:

 

First of all, you need to be patient with yourself. It will take time for everyone to adjust to homeschooling. If what you do doesn't work and you are beside yourself, there are wonderful ladies here with a lot of experience who will provide encouragement and direction.

 

When I started homeschooling, I experienced a steep learning curve. Knowing material and knowing how to transmit it to someone else are vastly different things. Throw in the different learning styles, personality variables, etc... and I wanted to quit... I didn't know anyone to glean insight from, so I read and read and read. It can be rough, but you can do it. :001_smile:

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First off: All of you are just learning this homeschooling thing. It takes time. It's NEVER going to be perfect. You are NOT a failure! Allow yourselves a learning curve, and some mistakes. These same kinds of things happen to lots and lots of homeschoolers, so you're not alone, and we're right here to help if you need it! Come here often to ask questions.

 

My middle guy had lots of energy and had a hard time sitting still. So I did what a previous poster said--I'd send him (usually with his brother and sister so it didn't look like I was picking on him) out to run around the house. The got the blood flowing, and got the energy out enough that he could stand to sit through things he had to. However, for things like spelling, learning multiplication tables, and memorizing poems/Bible verses/lists, etc., he did best when he could pace and say it out loud. He wouldn't have been able to do that in school, but I could allow it at home. It drove his brother, who needed it quiet to concentrate, crazy! :D So older brother went to his room to study with the door shut, while younger brother paced and spoke out loud. He also laid on the couch or floor or half-way in-between the two in straange positions! ;) It was okay, because then he could concentrate on what he was leaarning, not on trying to sit still in an uncomfortable desk chair!

 

Do you know your childrens' learning styles? Here's a site that explains them some. If you know their learning styles, it's easier to fit the curriculum to their way of learning.

 

My middle guy also loved interacting with me. We'd do grammar together and laugh over mispronunciations, and we'd act out certain concepts of history or science to get the picture in his head. Yeah, they need to learn to work independently eventually, but at that age, he may still need your involvement with just him! :)

 

We had a saying though: Schoolwork isn't always fun, but just the same, it's got to be done! :D

 

Best wishes Hon, hang in there!

http://www.ldpride.net/learningstyles.MI.htm

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Guest mrsjamiesouth
And I'm trying to figure out a way to put into words what is wrong. It just feels wrong. DD is doing well, but DS is struggling; he asks me questions on the worksheets for every question he has (basically asking me to tell him the answer) when all he has to do is read the directions; the answer is Right there! and he's asking me to point it out for him! he's frustrated and having breakdowns nearly daily, and part of me wonders if I've made a mistake. :( I need to figure out what to do to make this better; I have them independent on reading and math now; I'm thinking I'll have to transition them to history independent, and we still do science together, but… It feels too much like they are doing homework all.day.long. Is there anything I can do to make it better? less stressful?

 

It sounds like you are not using a curriculum that fits his Learning style. Cathy Duffy's book is awesome for finding out learning styles and curriculum that fits. We had some really awful days with my ds10 the last 2 years. I finally found a curriculum that fit and I haven't had any tears in the last month. Math was one struggle, and I really dislike Saxon but ds10 loves it. He gets it with Saxon. After 2 long years of trying to teach him division, last week it clicked. He looks at me and says "OH!" If you can I would look at seperating the kids too. My day is actually shorter this year; even doing 2 history, bible, and science programs.

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And I'm trying to figure out a way to put into words what is wrong. It just feels wrong. DD is doing well, but DS is struggling; he asks me questions on the worksheets for every question he has (basically asking me to tell him the answer) when all he has to do is read the directions; the answer is Right there! and he's asking me to point it out for him! he's frustrated and having breakdowns nearly daily, and part of me wonders if I've made a mistake. :( I need to figure out what to do to make this better; I have them independent on reading and math now; I'm thinking I'll have to transition them to history independent, and we still do science together, but… It feels too much like they are doing homework all.day.long. Is there anything I can do to make it better? less stressful?

 

I am a strong believer that kids need teachers. I do not believe that "independent" learning should even be a goal. I think moving beyond any initial level of understanding requires interaction with thought-provoking dialogue. I literally just finished school for today b/c I really needed to fit in a literature discussion on Rappacini's Daughter and The Birthmark with my 11th grader. I guess I could have left her to her own interpretations, but our discussion actually lead to BOTH of us having different ideas to consider (she had a few I hadn't considered before). However, w/o the discussion, she would have had a far more surface-oriented understanding and would have missed a lot of the literary devices.

 

I used my 11th grader as my example, b/c if I have to teach her, just radically intensify that image to imagine what my days look like with my younger kids. I teach them. We discuss. We go over what I expect and then and only then, do they go off to complete work that is assigned. The do complete work like math "independently" but they are not learning independently.

 

FWIW.....I also find that it is easier to teach child individually on their level than grouping them together. My kids and I typically enjoy each other and that special time when I am working with them 1-on-1. I do occasionally combine kids, but only when I think it is of greater benefit to the kids involved b/c they are going to enjoy the topic more.

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At this age, independent work is more about training than competence. You never want his independent work to be something he cannot do alone b/c he's really just practicing for the future. You have to teach these areas; you have to know whether or not he understands and is capable; however at 9yo, you also have to hold his hand a bit. Warn him, by the end of 3rd grade, you expect the hand holding to stop and when 4th grade comes, he should be able to accomplish independent reading and independent math, after explanation, without you sitting there.

 

I don't want to hijack this thread, but I find this interesting. My dd is about to turn 9, but is already in 4th grade. I sometimes struggle with knowing how much to expect her to do independently, etc. Just curious, since you mention both age and grade level here, which do you put more stock in? Since dd is a young 4th grader, should I expect more hand-holding, but give her the above warnings adjusting to 5th grade? Or should a 4th grader of any age be able to handle the work you listed above, independently? (She already does reading independently, just occasionally asking for help with a particular new vocabulary word or something. She does a lot of reading independently and then orally narrating, and we're building in written narrations. However, she needs a lot of handholding and cheerleading with math. I guess I just want permission, lol.)

 

Thanks,

Melissa

 

ETA: I don't expect her to learn new concepts independently, in any subject area. I teach all lessons, we discuss, she asks questions, I answer (the same questions, over and over and over in some cases), etc. But, particularly with math, she likes me (needs?) to literally sit right next to her while she does the assigned work. It's just something I can't always do, since she's not the only kid in the house, kwim?

Edited by MelissaMinNC
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I guess I could have left her to her own interpretations, but our discussion actually lead to BOTH of us having different ideas to consider (she had a few I hadn't considered before).

 

I love when things like this happen, and so do my kids! It's exciting for them to be able to share things I haven't thought of, and it's exciting for me to help them see something that they were not seeing on their own, too.

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And I'm trying to figure out a way to put into words what is wrong. It just feels wrong. DD is doing well, but DS is struggling; he asks me questions on the worksheets for every question he has (basically asking me to tell him the answer) when all he has to do is read the directions; the answer is Right there! and he's asking me to point it out for him! he's frustrated and having breakdowns nearly daily, and part of me wonders if I've made a mistake. :( I need to figure out what to do to make this better; I have them independent on reading and math now; I'm thinking I'll have to transition them to history independent, and we still do science together, but… It feels too much like they are doing homework all.day.long. Is there anything I can do to make it better? less stressful?

 

He's 9? That's a tough age to expect much independence. But one thing that can help is to have them read the instructions to you, and then tell you what they think that means. Then I can see what they understand and what gaps they have--what I need to teach and help with. So then I use an example not in the book (or sometimes I just use the first problem in the book as an example, or we do a few together), until they have understanding of what to do. Then at that point they can do the work independently. Then later we go over it and discuss it.

 

I like to think of education as me walking alongside my kids on a learning journey. When they are ready to run off and do it themselves (or sometimes with a bit of nudging :), when I want them to try to show me what they really understand), they do. When they aren't, then I walk with them as long as it takes.

 

HTH some! Hang in there, you are NOT a failure! Merry :-)

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I agree that it's normal and not a sign that you're doing anything wrong!

 

My 9 year old often needs help. He has been doing CLE LA for awhile, so most days he can sit down and do it on his own because he's had so much practice, but when he first started with it, I had to sit with him and have him read the directions aloud, then we'd discuss what the directions meant, then we'd try a few together, then he'd do the rest on his own.

 

I've taught him if he gets stuck on something and I'm busy with one of his siblings, to just go on to what he does understand. We go over his independent work together, like CLE, and that's when he'll point out the ones he left blank because he didn't understand, and we'll go over the directions together and try a few together.

 

This year, Megawords and Latin for Children both have workbooks that were new to him. I have had to sit with him for those while he gets used to something new. Especially LFC, we had to practice together, looking back in the text for answers and looking things up in the dictionary, etc.

 

It's perfectly normal for your son not to always understand the directions on his own. It's a great time to model what to do when you don't understand, how to find info in the text, etc.

 

And as someone else said, homeschooling is never perfect! It can be rewarding, many days can be wonderful, but many days can be frustrating and not as we pictured. Just keep swimming!

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Could he be an auditory learner?

 

My oldest can not get a problem, after reading it multiple times to herself, bring it to me and I read it aloud once, and she owns it. She is not a visual learner, but auditory and hands on, so it the source is primarily visual she has to read it aloud to herself in order to get it. There there are the battles about her reading it to herself because that is embarrassing. :rolleyes:

 

My oldest is the only one that is almost completely independent, and even then (as in the above) she still comes to me for help. This year she will finish the last level of RS that I directly teach, and her Classical Writing will be written to her. That will just leave spelling, but she is almost 13. Boys are notorious for needing more time to mature.

 

Feel free to use a timer to keep hsing in bounds. You shouldn't need to feel you hs all day. Sometimes a little at a time goes farther because it sticks better.

 

Just keep swimming...

 

Heather

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I don't want to hijack this thread, but I find this interesting. My dd is about to turn 9, but is already in 4th grade. I sometimes struggle with knowing how much to expect her to do independently, etc. Just curious, since you mention both age and grade level here, which do you put more stock in? Since dd is a young 4th grader, should I expect more hand-holding, but give her the above warnings adjusting to 5th grade? Or should a 4th grader of any age be able to handle the work you listed above, independently? (She already does reading independently, just occasionally asking for help with a particular new vocabulary word or something. She does a lot of reading independently and then orally narrating, and we're building in written narrations. However, she needs a lot of handholding and cheerleading with math. I guess I just want permission, lol.)

 

Thanks,

Melissa

 

ETA: I don't expect her to learn new concepts independently, in any subject area. I teach all lessons, we discuss, she asks questions, I answer (the same questions, over and over and over in some cases), etc. But, particularly with math, she likes me (needs?) to literally sit right next to her while she does the assigned work. It's just something I can't always do, since she's not the only kid in the house, kwim?

I think 9 is fairly normal for 4th grade, isn't it? At any rate, I think you need to go with what you feel is best for her. If you back off to let her work independently, and she starts struggling, then step back in and work more with her until she's older and can handle it better. It's hard to know, since each child is different. My middle one needed more hand-holding for longer than my oldest and youngest. I enjoyed working with him! :001_smile: I never went by age or grade, I went with what worked best with each child. My other two wanted to work more independently, so then I just stepped in where needed.

 

Best wishes!

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I don't want to hijack this thread, but I find this interesting. My dd is about to turn 9, but is already in 4th grade. I sometimes struggle with knowing how much to expect her to do independently, etc. Just curious, since you mention both age and grade level here, which do you put more stock in? Since dd is a young 4th grader, should I expect more hand-holding, but give her the above warnings adjusting to 5th grade? Or should a 4th grader of any age be able to handle the work you listed above, independently? (She already does reading independently, just occasionally asking for help with a particular new vocabulary word or something. She does a lot of reading independently and then orally narrating, and we're building in written narrations. However, she needs a lot of handholding and cheerleading with math. I guess I just want permission, lol.)

 

Thanks,

Melissa

 

ETA: I don't expect her to learn new concepts independently, in any subject area. I teach all lessons, we discuss, she asks questions, I answer (the same questions, over and over and over in some cases), etc. But, particularly with math, she likes me (needs?) to literally sit right next to her while she does the assigned work. It's just something I can't always do, since she's not the only kid in the house, kwim?

In pondering this for a minute, I thought of 2 things: a 9yo girl is a different creature than a 9yo boy. I know that may be considered a gross generalization by some, but I have seen it again and again in classroom and home settings -- most girls are just a little less wiggly, so I think independent work more often comes easier at that age to females.

 

In my thinking, it's grade determined moreso than age. If a child is in 4th grade, they've had 4 years of school to figure out how school works. I also see 4th grade as the beginning of "Upper grammar," so my expectations increase at that point.

 

It still doesn't mean total independence, and I agree with Brindee that every child is different, so mileage will surely vary per child, but in my thinking, by the end of 3rd grade, a child should have a handle on how school works and should be able to work on certain things independently, after appropriate discussion and opportunity for questions.

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I think we need to make a distinction, because, I suspect, many of us are saying the same thing.

 

I believe my children should be independent *workers.* This means, after they know how to do the job, they should work independently under my indirect supervision.

 

In other words, I'm training them to work indpendent of my hand holding, but not independent of my teaching or supervision for NOW.

 

This means I will teach the subject. I will check to see that they have understanding by discussing or doing a couple problems. If I feel they have understanding, then I will have them do their work in an area close to me so that I can "help" make sure they stay on task, do what's expected of them, and do it efficiently, continually making forward progress.

 

I will not sit next to them and hold their hand through lessons they understand. That would defeat my end goal. Nor would I be so silly as to send them off to do schoolwork away from my supervision so that they can begin to root practices of dilly-dallying, getting off topic, wasting time, or being inefficient. That would defeat my end goal. I don't insist they do everything themselves, even when it is something they don't fully understand and it creates huge amounts of frustration. That would defeat my end goal.

 

I'll tell you a secret. There are times when I have my six year old work independently. And there are times when I'll sit right next to my freshman while she works on Algebra - so I can catch her mistakes right away because it isn't something she fully grasps and it can cause her frustration.

 

My six year old is not very independent. My freshman is immensely independent. But each of them have needs. The six year old has a need to feel confident and to practice independence.

 

Your goal is to figure out the balance between need and want and continually work towards the end goal. I think there are some curriculums which lend themselves to a lot of hand holding and I'm not a big fan. You know, only so many hours in the day and all that jazz. :D That said, I also think some curriculum spouts off "independent work" so much that the parents feel free to abandon their children when there is no mastery - Teaching Textbooks is one that, because of the marketing and name, some parents buy and then kiss their kids on the top of the head and spout, "Off you go!" Generally, later, those kids will experience frustration and some moms think, "Well, you need to do this independently."

 

You aren't failing - you're learning! As much as they are learning a subject, you are learning to TEACH! Don't be so hard on yourself! This homeschooling mama thing has a pretty harsh learning curve. Those of us who have experienced September frustration year after year know to expect a little letdown after we've put everything together... In the "off" months of homeschooling we let ourselves dream of how smoothly everything will go "this" year with our new plans and our new curriculum. And then, when there are bumps, we blame ourselves first.

 

The truth? There might not be a thing wrong with the books, the schedule, you, or him. :) It might just be one of those times where you set an END goal and work towards it. You want him to be more independent? Okay. But that won't happen right away. You'll start working towards it through encouragement and an insistence that he put in the effort too. :)

 

ETA: I also think Tina must be a pretty smart mama, I agree with her. And I'd add, not only is a 9yob NOT the same as a 9yog, I'm not certain they're even the same species. ;)

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ETA: I also think Tina must be a pretty smart mama, I agree with her. And I'd add, not only is a 9yob NOT the same as a 9yog, I'm not certain they're even the same species. ;)

(Thank you and) HA! ... I really laughed out loud, my kids all looking at me with that, "What's so funny?" face! :lol::lol: I feel the same way entirely!
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