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having a rough time with my son - would love your thoughts


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Hi, this is my 2nd year homeshooling. We pulled my son from ps after going through K and 1. He is now in 3rd and I just feel like I am failing him. He is so hard to teach and I feel like I am frustrated with him all day long. He is a wonderful boy but he moves and talks constantly all day. He can't hold his concentration on any type of school work for more than 1 minute - seriously. It doesn't really matter what we are working on - he can't seem to focus on anything. Math is the worst. He takes an hour to get through four or five subraction quesitons. If I leave his side for a second he stares off into space or hums, sings, whatever else he wants to do. Even when he is reading outloud he has trouble staying focused enough to finish a sentence (he is a good reader otherwise).

 

He is really, really distracting whenever we work in a group with his brothers and it is really, really difficult to do our subjects that we try to do together (history, science etc.).

 

I just don't know what to do anymore. He is so smart, funny,etc. and I feel like I am frustrated with him a lot. I don't want this to hurt our relationship and I want him to be successful in his academics.

 

How can I help him and our homeschooling atmosphere?

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Guest somecleverhandle

Hi: I just want to encourage you to hang in there! There are lots of reasons to homeschool beyond academics. On the hard days, I thought it helped to focus on fostering a close family life.

 

What's your son interested in? Maybe try to make a day of homeschooling out of that. My son was into Pokemon cards. I didn't get it. They bored me, but one day, we made our own Pokemon cards related to our family and had a lot of fun.

 

If we were making no progress with book work, I would read. Or we would go out and look at plants and bugs. Or make a scarecrow, or work in the garden or walk around looking at plants and bugs. We'd go to a park or museum or for a hike. We'd go grocery shopping and talk about why were were buying one item verses another. If he was into it, together we'd do the laundry and dishes and cook.

 

My older son was definitely not into academics and the harder I pushed, the more anxious he got. I felt a lot of pressure to homeschool "right" as I felt my husband and our extended family was watching to see if I was "serious" enough about it. Looking back, I sure wish I hadn't pushed as hard because I really wanted him to enjoy being a kid. I also felt that if I read to him about a lot of different things and we talked about those stories a lot, then he would still be learning.

 

He's now 15 and a great kid. He still isn't thrilled by academic work, but he's much better at it and has much more focus. He's also pretty good at some very practical things.

 

Looking back, I realize I very much had to change my ideal of homeschooling to fit my son instead of trying to change my son into someone who appreciated my approach to learning.

 

The very best thing about homeschooling is the freedom to give your child exactly the right kind of education for him.

 

Anyway, being with you at home is a wonderful gift to your son.

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Hello, your ds sounds like a delightful and energetic little guy! Some guys including my youngest ds are a lot more restless and easily distracted than others. I even posted about him on this board in the past. Some advice I got was to use textbooks with few pictures to distract him and doing a lot of the work orally. Having him snuggle next to me on the couch to filled his need for physical touch. Also I let him doodle on his math and other workbook pages which seem to help him process his thoughts. Now that he is eleven, he has settled down quite a bit but there are times when we just have to put down the books and go outside for a break. But when he was interested in something such as his Pokemon cards or a book on animals, he was able to sit still for long periods of time and focus. That's how I could tell that he didn't have ADHD. How does your ds focus when he is on his own and doing his own thing like reading comic books or playing with toys?

Edited by Merry
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Thanks for all of your responses. My son hasn't officially been diagnosed with anything. He really struggled with his attentivenss in ps and the teacher was often frustrated with him (one of the many reasons we brought him home). He is fidgety all day long and always claims to be board if someone is not directly interacting with him. He can play with his toys but doesn't like to do so by himself (but would play for hours with his brothers or friends).

 

I tried making all of our lessons shorter today which helped a lot - but I am concerned we won't get through his gr. 3 stuff if we keep a slower pace up.

 

I just feel like it is actually a struggle for him to stay "tuned in" to me when I am speaking to him or if he is reading something. He is better with things he likes - but it is still a struggle.

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I don't think they match exactly, but my youngest is similar to your ds. Mine can play alone for at least 30 minutes to an hour by himself, although he prefers interaction. He is very "movement oriented" and easily distractible with me and other teachers; yet if I am reading aloud while he plays/fidgets, he will hear and be able to repeat back and/or discuss a great deal of the content.

 

I give all that to say: our helping habits may or may not match your ds's needs. But, just in case, here's some things that have helped us.

 

We use fidgets: things that give his hands something to do while we work/read. Even building with Legos, Wiki Sticks, or some other busy-but-relatively-quiet work will at least keep him in the same room. The jury is still out on whether chewing gum helps him, but I've seen others recommend it. We use small to large exercise balls for seats, or sometimes a "fidget cushion". This year we are trying out a box of fidget toys that he can choose from. We change around where we do school; he can be upside down or rolling on the floor, and my only rule is that he has to be able to see anything that I'm showing him. Even with helps, he can only take 10-15 minute lessons on most days without some sort of break. Sometimes we do two "half lessons": one in the morning and then revisit the subject in the afternoon. Admittedly, that one is tough for me to do with two other kids to teach. Group lessons are also hard because he's very distracting for his brother and sister. At this point I don't even try group lessons with him - I'll give him videos for science/history and then go over it with him separately.

 

You might try searching for some past posts by One L Michele, as she's discussed things she's done with her boys, particularly her youngest, that are along these lines. I have some of the recommendations on my personal list to try out (kid exercise first thing in the morning, calming teas). There are also posts I've seen with suggestions for types of vitamins, diets, etc., that have helped some kids. We did supplements in the spring, but I didn't really see results before dropping them over the summer; we'll be trying again this fall.

 

I will also add that a friend's ds (also homeschooled) was diagnosed with ADD last year, and some of the symptoms indicating the diagnosis were a real surprise to me. Like your ds, he couldn't finish a single division problem without getting completely distracted several times; yet he could play alone very well and could focus through his violin lessons/recitals without a problem. For what it is worth, they have tried various meds but not found one they liked enough to keep him on it long term.

 

I agree with other posters that it is a gift for your son to be home with you. It may not feel like a gift to YOU :lol: , but it's one of those things that will make you stronger in the end. Please, please, make sure you get some time to yourself to recharge: my busy son drains me just as fast as my special-needs kiddo does! And, frankly, I've changed my expectations. No, school doesn't look like my "ideal" (at which my dd would excel), but right now it's still better than any other academic option in our city for the boys. I had to reinforce to myself that NO SCHOOL WILL BE PERFECT. There are gaps everywhere, in any school. I agree with another poster that learning life skills and basic economics carry kids a long way, and are a perfectly legit inclusion in homeschooling.

 

I know it's so hard to not get frustrated. You can't change who he is, so you have to work to change your outlook. I say that my expectations for my son haven't changed, but how we are going to get there is via a different road.

 

I'm sorry for the long post; really what I'd like to give you most is :grouphug:.

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If you are open to it, it might be worth having an evaluation for ADD/ADHD. Various techniques helped some, supplements helped some, but meds were life changing here. I know it is a sensitive issue but meds can be very helpful if indicated and helps the child do their best----many kids comment it is like putting on glasses. It doesn't make them learn but makes it so that they CAN learn.

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He really struggled with his attentivenss in ps and the teacher was often frustrated with him (one of the many reasons we brought him home). He is fidgety all day long and always claims to be board if someone is not directly interacting with him. He can play with his toys but doesn't like to do so by himself (but would play for hours with his brothers or friends).

 

I tried making all of our lessons shorter today which helped a lot - but I am concerned we won't get through his gr. 3 stuff if we keep a slower pace up.

 

 

Yours sounds like my high energy extrovert youngest boy. I have a houseful of introverts, so he came along as #7 as my only extrovert. I was so used to my children being able to play nicely and contentedly on their own, and then he came along and *needed* to be with people to enjoy himself. It was a punishment to him to go to his room for a quiet time. So, I just learned to adjust. Now that he's 11, he's more able to start learning to find things to self-entertain on his own, like listening to audio books and such, which becomes pseudo-companionship. Otherwise, I had to learn to add play groups, movement, co-ops, and sports for his outlets.

 

As for concentrating on academics, this has also been a process. This is my dynamo boy who is a risk-taker. He wants to be a canine police officer, a pilot, or a ship captain when he gets older. These are all high energy, high risk types of jobs. We need all types of people :-) That's my boy's bent, and yours might be different.

 

Thomas Armstrong's latest book, The Power of Neurodiversity, takes various types of learners/temperaments and such and showcases the benefits of such styles. He advocates for finding niches.

 

All that said, the other thing I tried to do with my children, for whom so many are "different learners," was to make sure the resource or curriculum we used worked for us, not make us work for it. I found that if my children truly understood the basic tenet of something, that was worth more than the five other worksheets to go along with it. There's so much repeat in curriculum, and so I took the extra time to make sure the concept was understood with a few problems to represent, or conversation, or project, or whatever, and skipped the "practice work." Does that make sense?

 

Your son may thrive much better in a hands-on, visual, and/or interactive style of learning than one with teaching/talking, writing/workbook, or listen/learn kind of environment (not sure what yours is...just generalizing).

 

Some ideas to ponder...

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