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Absolute refusal....ARRGGHHHH!


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What, oh what, do you do with a child who absolutely refuses to do anything that isn't his own choice??

 

My son is 5, almost 6. He is a great kid, very bright, very social, very loving, and usually very mellow. But ever since we have started homeschooling, he has fought me every step of the way. I have tried every discipline trick I could think of, finally gave up all our curriculum and tried a variant of "unschooling" but all he wants to do is play legos (with 100% of my attention) or watch tv. I was trying to very loosly follow a FIAR curriculum before, and he won't even let me read him any of the books. Never mind any hands-on projects. Today I told him that if we read Madaline together, we would get to build the Eiffel Tower out of Legos. He has now been tantruming about an hour over this. I told him today that if he won't let me teach him, I might as well send him to school so he could learn something. (Nice threat, huh?)

 

I'm at my wits end. I so want this to work, and I know a classroom setting isn't the right place for him right now. But this is getting ridiculous!!!

 

Thanks for listening to me vent!!

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Be careful threatening brick and mortar school - what if he WANTS to go back? Lol. That could totally bite you in the butt :D.

As for the rest, I might remind my child that our household is a dictatorship, not a democracy. 'Course, this works for my 11 year old - not so much my 3 year old. The preschooler doesn't really care what I say :glare:.

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At that age, I'd honestly let him play Legos a lot, although in this situation, I'd have to rework how it's approached so he's not necessarily getting his way. But we don't start much formal schooling until 6-8. Play/pretend, lots of reading (no lessons attached), talking about a lot of things naturally as we go about the day, etc.

 

I have a 6.5yo son who plays Legos, pretend with his little brother, Schleich, outside games, etc. most the day. I read books to him when I have breaks from work. A couple of times a week, I get out some Explode the Code and we do a few pages.

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I allow my five year old no wii until he completes his school work with a good attitude. Bad attitude, wii is gone for the day. With your child, I would say no legos or tv (or pick one of them) until school is done... so, let's hurry up and do school and they you can play legos all day. Then, stick to your guns. He may throw a fit about it at first to see if you'll give in, but they generally get used to having to do school.

 

If I need to give ds a break, he is allowed to play with anything during the break but wii.

 

I keep school short with 5 year olds, but I do require some school starting at age 4. My current 5 year old has about 20-30 minutes of work and then a read aloud time.

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Throw out the TV

 

Delay school for another year

 

Read to him at bedtime, when it's the ONLY thing he's allowed to do (except sleep)

 

:iagree: I wish I had done this. He simply may not be ready. If you push him now, it may ruin learning for him.

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Does he behave this way for other things you tell him to do? Has he always thrown tantrums? Did he let you read to him before homeschooling?

 

Personally, I think you shouldn't have thrown out the curriculum because that set him up to think if he complains he will get his way. I'm in the other ballpark from most of these posters. I think a child should not be catered to but be expected to do what is required of him. If he was refusing to brush his teeth, you wouldn't stop brushing. If he was refusing to stay out of the street, you wouldn't give up and so go ahead and play out there.

 

Granted, I think school doesn't have to be long for that age, but I think the earlier you start doing some kind of school with them and tell them it is school, the easier it is. I started mine doing things that I told them was school work when they were two, and I've never had refusal to do work. Even when they were 2-3, if I started something with them, they had to finish it before they could go play.

 

I do think rewarding him with being able to watch something or build legos AFTER school work is done is fine. I would try to word things like, "do you want to build ___ after we are finished with school, or do you want to watch ____ when we are finished with school". It will make him feel that he has some power and control over the situation. Don't give in to the tantrums, though, because that will only make them get worse and last longer.

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Mine eventually outgrew it, but it wasn't any fun. Threats to send him to school would work short term. I would very gradually introduce him to school. There's not that much that you need to accomplish any way. Start very small and sneak it in. Mine became a voracious reader b/c I didn't make him shut off the light at night if he was reading. That and a bit of math, some science/history dvds and I'd call it a day.

 

Laura

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It sounds like it's more of a discipline issue than a school issue. Is he like that with things other than school that you require of him (bathing, chores, brushing teeth, cleaning up, etc.)? If it's everything, life for him would stop until he does what is expected. He can sit and pout, throw a tantrum (though I would leave the room and deprive him of an audience), whatever--but he wouldn't get to play, watch TV, or do anything else until he cooperates. This worked (still works) with my ds who is now 8, especially when I can be matter-of-fact and unemotional about it AND not get sucked into arguing or debating. If it's *just* with school work, I'd follow the same plan but start small, with one or two things per day, gradually adding things as he gets used to the routine. I think 5-almost-6 is old enough to require some light school work. Some aren't ready for much pencil & paper seat work at that age, but I think read alouds and fun hands-on activities (like with math manipulatives) can be reasonably required and expected.

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I mean this gently, but perhaps the bigger issue here is not schooling or academics, rather acceptance of authority and obedience to it.

 

At about that same age I did a study on authority with my dd. We covered who her authorities were, who mine are, and what is the proper response to their directives. We also talked about what to do if we feel that our authority is asking us to do something that is wrong and how to make ourselves react properly if the request is reasonable but we just don't feel like doing that.

 

At that age, it really seemed to sink into dd's head the best if we started by playing games like "Mother, May I?", or Simon Says. It seemed that practicing obedience in a fun way had definite carry-over benefit into the rest of her behavior. We played a running game outside where I would call out, "Run to station 4!" and she had to scurry over to the tree by the number 4 sign.

 

I wasn't really interested in breaking her will, but wanted to help give her the tools to master it herself. She practiced making herself to do things she didn't really want to do (taste a bit of unusual food), and also to not do things that she really did want to do (playing in an area I had said was unsafe).

 

That course of study paid tremendous benefits for many years. We did a brief review in 6th grade, and it seems that one might be in order now that she is in 9th grade (and knows it all):glare:.

 

Because the fact is that we all have authorities we have to obey. Fighting against them only frustrates us and brings trouble down upon our heads. If I can help dd grasp this concept, I think it will be helpful in her life after she becomes an adult.

 

However, others might be right and it is more of a readiness issue. If so, nevermind.....;)

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Throw out the TV

 

Delay school for another year

 

Read to him at bedtime, when it's the ONLY thing he's allowed to do (except sleep)

 

Read the Strong-Willed Child.

 

:iagree: and I would add go to the library, too. Let him pick out books he is interested in looking at.

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I am of two minds here. FIrst, a delay till next year might really help. I will also say, second, that I have succesfully started homeschool with 2 kiddos at age 4 (one with autism) by using behaviorism. When my kids threw a tantrum about having to do a school activity instead of whatever it was they wanted to do instead they lost the activity. Period. It takes a few times, but it does work. They now work for their activity of choice.

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I totally could have written this post two years ago when my oldest son was 5. It was our first year homeschooling (kinder) and I just kept wondering when the nightmare would end. Tantrums upon tantrums! We switched to unschooling around November, but with NO TV and only 30 minutes of a dvd of my choice each day. It helped. We still had tantrums, but since they were about family expectations (rather than family PLUS school expectations!) there weren't so many.

 

Looking back I think that he just wasn't emotionally ready for the new and expanded set of expectations. He was certainly bright enough to handle the material, but still not ready, if that makes sense.

 

If I were you, I'd drop schooling for now and focus on good quality play. Legos, lots of easily accessible art supplies, games like UNO or Sorry or checkers to teach math and logic without the child realizing it. :) Nature walks to explore (but just EXPLORE, don't try to "teach"). My guess is that your son will settle down in a couple of weeks, and will end up learning more than you'd expect anyway!

 

And Mama, my heart goes out to you, because I remember IT IS SO HARD when you're in the midst of it! Hang in there!

 

Emily

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At that age, I'd honestly let him play Legos a lot, although in this situation, I'd have to rework how it's approached so he's not necessarily getting his way. But we don't start much formal schooling until 6-8. Play/pretend, lots of reading (no lessons attached), talking about a lot of things naturally as we go about the day, etc.

.

 

:iagree:

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Give him 2 or 3 choices...all of them being things that you have already chosen yourself. "Well, we have out math workbook, our handwriting page, and our beautiful science picture book...which one shall we start with today?" He gets to choose from all good things. :)

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I'll throw this out there. How about letting him build with legos while you are reading? It can be darn near impossible for some kids to sit while listening to a book and not have some sort of physical activity at the same time.

 

The kids do everything under the sun while I"m reading. Eventually, they end up looking over my shoulder, squishing me on the couch trying to see the pictures - yes, even my 11 and 12 year old. Also, for FIAR with ds we just read the book the first day. The second day we might talk about the pictures - I didn't push 'lessons' until the 3rd or 4th book and then he was used to reading the same book every day and getting used to the idea of getting something besides the basic story out of it. Just go slow.

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I agree with the others on seeing if this is an across the board problem with behavior or just related to school. That will give you a lot of insight.

 

Then, have you considered more of a traditional bookwork program? While I LOVED the Sonlight, Winter Promise, FIAR, etc. type programs, my girls esp. just wanted a worksheet to do and be done with it for the day type program. We went to Christian Light and ACE worktexts and they were much happier and learning.

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When my son acts that way, I unplug him. We do enjoy TV in our house, but not until schoolwork is done for the day. Some days he's lost ALL screen activities for DAYS. It was very effective for MY son, but when I first tried it things got MUCH worse before they got better. He tried everything he could think of to restructure that agreement and it wasn't pretty at all.

 

You may have to pull the plugs and shelf the legos until he does his work. At that age, you can finish school so quickly. It may take several days of NOT caving to his fits for him to really get that he has to do a few quick subjects to earn his lego and TV time.

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You may have to pull the plugs and shelf the legos until he does his work. At that age, you can finish school so quickly. It may take several days of NOT caving to his fits for him to really get that he has to do a few quick subjects to earn his lego and TV time.

 

That is why I suggested maybe a different program that is more workbook/worktext type. For a child they can see that they need to do 1 page of handwriting, 1 page of phonics, 1 page of math, and 1 page of ........ and they are DONE for the day. In a program like FIAR they listen to a story and then have to do x, y, z projects/discussions, etc. and there is no clear.....DO THIS PAGE AND YOU ARE DONE type thing. For my kids the unit studies, etc. were just too open ended and they coudln't see a clear start and stop point each day. Once we switched to more traditional style workbooks/worktexts they did better as they could check off each item and be done. It was motivating for them.

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I'll throw this out there. How about letting him build with legos while you are reading? It can be darn near impossible for some kids to sit while listening to a book and not have some sort of physical activity at the same time.

 

:iagree::iagree:

 

Please don't take away Legos from a 5-year-old! They can be as important as reading.

 

My 15-year-old always played with Legos or some other building thing while I read to him. He could listen to me read for hours, if his hands were busy. Even now, if I am reading aloud or he's listening to an audio book, he draws as he listens.

 

We also limited TV and when I saw that he was wanting it too much, we shut if off for a month. Since then, we have had no problems with screen addiction (though now it can be hard for him to leave his friends on x-box live - but no tantrums when he must).

 

I would not get rid of any curriculum but I would cut way back. Despite what you may read in homeschooling books and magazines, 5 years old can still be very young for structured learning.

 

Also address the tantrums with appropriate discipline.

 

But not with the Legos. :grouphug:

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Oh wow, everyone, thank you so much for all the replies! I appreciate them all and take them all to heart!

 

I admit, I go back and forth between this being an immaturity issue (ds was a 28 week preemie who has had lots of issues, and he is simultaneously crazy-wise and socially immature) and it being behavioral. My dh and I tend to be on the stricter side of things, and we have always taught our kids to respect authority. My older two have matured into polite, responsible kids (I feel lucky to say!) Ds5 is really throwing me for a loop. After I posted yesterday, he continued to tantrum for a while, and then finally, resentfully, let me read him Madeline. He even enjoyed it. (I'm sure against his will, but I caught him smiling!) And then he immediately resumed his tantrum. Sounds behavioral, right? He pretty much tantrumed continuously for 3 1/2 hours. He finally calmed down when my dh got home and distracted him from his issues with me.

 

I told my dh last night that I think we have let ds5 have too much control in the past. He has sensory processing disorder, and often really can't handle certain environments. But it is hard to know where to draw the line in allowing him to dictate where the rest of the family goes and, therefore, where he goes. We have tended to allow him to say when he is uncomfortable with certain places/activities, and I think he has gotten used to calling the shots. And that needs to change.

 

We do turn the tv off during school hours. He has never argued with that. I do a lot of read-alouds with him while he plays legos. I think in part because of his spd, he HAS to be doing something with his hands while he listens. He still hears and processes every word, it's amazing! He really learns a lot just from my reading to him, and our trips to the library, which he usually loves. So part of me thinks I should just give him this year to mature, and just concentrate on reading books he chooses out loud to him. At least until he is 6 at the end of December.

 

But I do want to eventually have some more structured learning happening. I think I am too much of a control-freak to unschool for long, lol! He is NOT a workbook child, unfortunately (tried that over the summer) but I do think he is someone who would benefit from a schedule that outlines what needs to get done in a day, especially knowing that he might be free to do X at the end.

 

Wow, you have all given me so much to think about! And the support here is just amazing...I appreciate it more than you know!

 

I'm sure I'll be bouncing more ideas off you all! (And I can't wait until I can write to another newbie homeschooler, "Ah, yes, tantrums and work refusal. I remember when my ds USED to challenge me with those..." lol!)

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Wait, I thought he was 7! Honestly, some boys are babies at 5. For that age I'd be comfortable just reading aloud while he does Legos and calling it a day. In fact, you can do K math with Legos too. Let him start K or 1st next year.

 

Thank you...just having this reinforced for me helps so much. This is also how my dh feels. I just feel so much pressure to be able to show how much we got done with homeschooling...but really all that pressure is coming from within, not from without. Even my parents have been relatively supportive.

 

Sometimes it's tough being type A!

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