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How long do you go between breaks?


Celia
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I'm thinking specifically for active young boys :) Please don't tell me about your grade one girl who loves her workbooks and will sit at the table for several hours going happily plugging through them, or I might just die of envy!!! :tongue_smilie:

 

My son, whom I've posted about recently regarding his difficulty with motor skills and printing, has a typical amount of ants in his pants for a boy his age. We do things to work around it, keeping lessons for each subject reasonably short, skipping around the house for our skip counting, lots of games, ect.

 

He is, however, always asking me when his next break from school is. Thus far, I've not been very structure at all about it, we just start and stop throughout the day and take things as they come, but I generally try to get most of his work done in the morning. I'm wondering if I should change this about how we homeschool, in order to get him used to doing work for longer periods of time. The longest he ever works currently without a break is an hour (not on one subject, and not at the table the whole time), but generally it's half that before he gets a bit of a break. Usually 20mins.

 

I actually enjoy lots of breaks (except for his constant questioning about when his next break is!). I can do a few chores, take care of the little ones, or get organized for the next subject that's up. I'm just thinking as far as habit building goes, I might be doing him a disservice.

 

Thoughts?

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My daughter needed almost that break schedule at that age and she can now work for a while! I just kept gradually increasing the time we worked, although sometimes after a particularly difficult subject or a difficult area of a subject that was generally easy for her, she would need a break sooner.

 

One thing you might try to stop the questioning is some kind of a timer--sand or digital so that it is easy to read--that counts down the minutes, then you just point to the timing device.

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I approach things from a Charlotte Mason perspective with a Classical approach. CM advocated limiting lessons to 15 mins for this very reason. It doesn't mean you take a break every 15 min, but you transition to keep out the boredom. You might also enjoy Nature Study where he gets outside but time is more directed. It feels like a break, but it is very educational and advocates the habit of attention that she talks about.

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My very active sons are 9, 7, and 4. It has helped tremendously to have a routine/schedule for our schoolwork. They know what's expected and they know what's coming next. We will usually do about 30 mins of one-on-one time per subject, then whomever I was schooling gets a break while I work with the other one for 30 mins, or so.

 

Hope you come up with something that works well for you!

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My very active sons are 9, 7, and 4. It has helped tremendously to have a routine/schedule for our schoolwork. They know what's expected and they know what's coming next. We will usually do about 30 mins of one-on-one time per subject, then whomever I was schooling gets a break while I work with the other one for 30 mins, or so.

 

Hope you come up with something that works well for you!

 

 

:iagree: This is what I did with my very active boys when they were young. I used the ideas in Managers of Their Home as a starting point in my scheduling. My 6yo ds now has plenty of breaks while I work with my older kids. We do Bible study and math, then he has a long break before we do his language arts. Then it's lunch break, Spanish and either music or art. Then another short break before read aloud, science, and history.

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Last year for 1st grade my son needed breaks about every 20 minutes from the more sit-down structured work. I didn't always have that break be time to play, but sometimes it was nature study outside or read-aloud time or something more hands on like science. His ability to work longer has increased this year, I think it will come with age. I wouldn't worry too much about what you are doing now if your main concern is that it's a bad habit.

 

To limit the questioning about when it's over I started putting a list on the wall of what we need to do that day. I let him pick the order of subjects and check off when he's done. He can also then easily see what else we have to do that day.

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Hi. I was in this situation last school year. We have an infamous story in our family: I asked my son to write a sentence - ANY sentence in the whole world that he wanted to write...he threw his paper and pencil down, threw himself on the floor, got up, ran through the house, ran into his bedroom and slammed the door, screaming. :glare:

 

Do you have a situation like this?

 

If so, I did learn some little tips... For a 6 yro boy, I would keep total schoolwork at about 1-1.5 hours a day. Also, breaks were BAD for us. Once a "break" started, I couldn't get him to refocus. Instead of a break, I just changed activities.

 

Anything "hands-on" is a big winner. Lapbooks, Snap Circuits, math on a dry erase board (instead of a workbook), jeopardy contests, etc. For read-alouds, I always have him play with legos while listening or I would print out coloring sheets to match the theme. Also, my friend has used the "shoot the stickie" method in learning new material. She writes answers on stickies, posts them on the wall and has the boys shoot the correct answer with their Nerf guns. :glare: This worked pretty well with math facts, too.

 

Another thing...I don't know if you read Boys Adrift, but this guy talks about how much boys like competition. I use this ALL the time. Right before we went on break, I had our co-op boys break up into teams and they did a science fact jeopardy contest over all the material we covered this semester. I've had my son "compete" against himself :glare: and against his sisters.

 

Anyway, sorry, I could ramble all day about teaching boys. Our little skaterdude was a massive challenge last year...

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The thing that has helped me with the constant questioning about when the next break will be is to tell DS exactly what must be completed before the next break. For example, we will complete Math - both word problem books and his lessons in Horizons - then a 10 minute break. Next lesson - complete SOTW lesson and then a 10 minutes break. Longer lessons = 10 minute break, shorter lessons = 5 minute break. This also gives me time to transition his books from one lesson to another.

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When my dc were the ages of yours, we did 3weeks on, 1week off and schooled all year, with 3 weeks at Christmas and 1-2week break in the summer. We also had 1/2 days once a week b/c of co-op and 1/2 days on Fridays so we could fill the other half with a field trip....oh how I miss those wonderful days. We enjoyed the world so much more (sniff, sniff).

 

Now that they're in middle and high school, we need more intensive school sessions, so we do 7weeks on, 1 week off, with a 2 week Christmas break and 1-month for the summer.

 

ENJOY this time....and who cares about workbooks :tongue_smilie: I have 2 who love them, but whatev....the other 6 can't take 'em!

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I definitely agree with the notion of a timer that's easy for him to understand. We use the "Visual Timer" software on the iPod Touch, but there are other alternatives.

 

My daughter really enjoys being able to monitor for herself how long it's going to be until we change subjects or take a break. It vastly reduces stress in our schooling.

Edited by skueppers
Edited name of software we use. I don't know what I was thinking!
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I have 3 boys (10, 8, & 6). My 10 yr old has the shortest attention span & works very hard to get out of doing his school work... ugh! I find that if the boys get a break from school, it takes A LOT of energy and is nearly impossible to get them back to work. I can give them hands-on school related stuff & they will come back to their assignments. However, if they go outside to play for 20 minutes~ forget it!

 

Good luck!

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The thing that has helped me with the constant questioning about when the next break will be is to tell DS exactly what must be completed before the next break. For example, we will complete Math - both word problem books and his lessons in Horizons - then a 10 minute break. Next lesson - complete SOTW lesson and then a 10 minutes break. Longer lessons = 10 minute break, shorter lessons = 5 minute break. This also gives me time to transition his books from one lesson to another.

 

:iagree: See it from their point of view -- would you like going to work, have no watch or clock, and not knowing when you'd be able to leave? Kids need to feel a little control of their lives and I found letting them know what they needed to complete for the day (to my standards) motivated them (especially if they have something to look forward to when they finish). I do put a lot of things "off limits" until learning is DONE for the day (Wii, tv, fav toys) -- it's done wonders for keeping on task and I'm not the "bad guy" anymore -- it's all on them to finish up and earn it. :D

 

My DDs need to know what they will be doing that day. I use a small whiteboard. For K and 1st I glued notecards to those free magnets you get on phonebooks, cut them to a desired size, wrote a subject on each one, and put a border color to color code it. After bedtime I put out the ones for the next day on a small magnetic white board. For 2nd grade (this year) I just wrote the subjects and put a box by the ones for that day and check the subjects off as we do them. Each kid has a clipboard and I try to have the sheets they need to do that day (or at least for the first subject) on their boards before they get up. For the older one, I also stack the workbooks she needs for the day.

 

If he is learning to tell time, a more formal schedule or breaks can help. When they go on break I always tell them how long it will be and looking at the clock, when it will be over (though since the Wii they haven't wanted any breaks, lol).

 

I also have a written schedules (outline) of the day until lunch, with start times for learning blocks and meals, craft time, story time. In the learning blocks, what subjects need to be done is listed, usually an hour long block. When they finish their work, they get the rest of that block as free time until the next block starts. We use that more as a guideline and it mainly helps ME keep a rhythm to the day. It is my touchstone when I want to know if what we are actually doing and what I think we are doing match! :tongue_smilie:

 

ETA: my kids love checking off completed work or moving magnets from the "to do" to the "done" side of the board. They like that physical/visual indicator of their accomplishment, and I like the message that it is their education and I'm facilitator rather than dictator. :lol:

Edited by ChandlerMom
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We don't do breaks here and never have. My older son has ADHD and dyslexia and was *very* difficult to keep on task when he was 6. I found that it was *much* harder to get him back on task after a break than it was if I simply switched tasks. So we switched subjects and activities often, but after the first few months never took actual breaks.

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I didn't really "stop" school, I just did active things, as you mentioned. So there would be a music and movement time when he was using rythym instruments to play along with music (such as Wee Sing, which also has finger plays); he would make up "some/ some more" , etc. math problems and act them out for me with puppets; we'd do an art activity, etc.

 

I'm not sure I can remember the order without looking back at my schedule, but I would alternate a "work" class with a "fun" class. I also used Charlotte Mason ideas and kept his work scheduled to 20 minutes or less for each "class".

 

He had a snack, played with Lego's, colored, etc. while I read to him. As long as you know that you're not being tuned out and your child is still participating, asking questions, making comments, etc. that's fine. (My older son has auditory processing problems and he would just tune me out when I read aloud, so I had to move him into reading completely on his own during middle school.)

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One thing I did with my younger son (who doesn't have attention issues) that gave him a feeling of control during lessons was to make up a set of index cards with different tasks on them. I had an equal number of tasks that he liked (movement, music, me reading aloud, etc) and tasks that needed to get done (reading, math, etc). Then we would alternate choosing cards. We were done when the tasks on all the cards had been completed.

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I have a boy who is 5 (1st grader) :) active boy but he does have agood attantion span.

We dont have LONG breaks nothing like 15 mins between subjects.

 

i think we do 20 mins per subject with 1 break to stretch.. so every 10 mins he gets up and does stretches. We do 3 subjest a day. So our school time is no longer than 2 hours. On Avarage 1 1/2 hours. So every 10 mins is tretch time.

 

He is in gymnastics so when i am talking stretches he wants to do middle spilts, front splits with each leg, backbend, cartwheel, handstand. Bars. That takes about 10 mins also then back to work :)

 

MATH TIME - he has 15 math problems per column once he finishes 1 column its a break time for him.

READING - reading takes about 5 mins then he does test and some activities related to the book so that is very interesting for him and he doesnt want to take breaks then lol (works for me lol)

after reading class is done he gets to some stretches out and getting ready for writing class which is abotu 15 mins then he is done for a day.

Edited by trying my best
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I work for about an hour before breaking. Within that hour though, we switch things up every 15min or so ala Charlotte Mason. If a subject goes longer than 15min, I switch up the medium (15 min of math with manipulatives and 15 min of working in the workbook, for ex). I like to do some LA, math, more LA.

 

This is for my 2nd grader who'd rather be playing lego's. He does 2 hours of work 1-on-1 with me. 1 hour in the am, 1 hour right after lunch. I've got a 5yo and 4yo too...so this allows me to give the younger two dc an hour with me in the am too.

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ooops....somehow I misunderstood what you asked!

 

For my young ones, we use fun for breaks. They love races, so instead of having a free time break, we will do spelling and grammar, then have math speed drills for 5-10 min (until they're finished), then go to literature, then computer drills (about 40min. 10min/each site), then 20-30min recess/PE, then back to math (one gets math, the other quiet assigned reading). I find the changing of tasks at 6 is necessary about every 20-30 min. Now that they're older, I can squeeze about 40min. out of them.

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In Orff training, I was taught to change the activity every 1-3 minutes per year of age. So, for a 5 yr old, the goal would be to change the activity in some way (ie-go from sitting and singing to playing instruments or moving) every 5-10 minutes, and have nothing go more than 15 without a MAJOR change.

 

I've found the same works for my DD in homeschooling. As long as I change the kind of activity every 10-15 minutes (so from chanting to writing, or from listening to a book to drawing a picture), she's good. But if the same type of activity goes on much longer than about 15 minutes, I'll lose her.

 

That's not saying that she doesn't CHOOSE, at times, to draw pictures or read a book or build with legos for hours, only that if I'm the one choosing, she has about a 15 minute attention span.

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