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I'm trying to figure out HOW to fix our homeschool.


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We took last week off, because we all were burnt out on school. Well, things quickly went back to how they were when we started up school this week.

 

I am sooo crabby about nagging and nagging the kids about their work. Taking privledges away isn't working, crying isn't working, telling them to sit there until it's done isn't working. The only thing that's working is NOT doing school. That's the only time that I'm not stressed, crabby and nagging. My relationship with them is starting to get down hill.

 

How can I change this? I am really drawn towards a more relaxed/unschool approach, but frankly, it scares me to death. How? Well, I am afraid, in the end, the won't end up with a decent education and that they'll be flipping burgers the rest of their lives. Let's face it, very few people are happy doing that as a career.

 

Can I get some help? Please? I am in tears. I don't want to quit, I just don't want to nag, nag, nag and dole out punishments all the time. Just math and language arts can take all morning, forget about anything else. By the time 1-2 p.m. comes around I'm ususally hiding in my bedroom. I am tired of this.

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I can relate to feeling overwhelmed and that the kids and I are miserable. There are times the thought of a few hours with them in school sounds pretty good. I have been there and back a time or two so here is my feeble advice. I hope someone has better, but this is what I've done.

 

It all starts with ME. If *I* am tired, grumpy and expecting them to misbehave school won't go well. I have to spend some time imagining how school will go, how to look and sound like the mom I want to be. Sometimes, I have to psyche myself up to start with a smile and pleasant demeanor. I have to ignore a little grumbling if there has been a lot of grumbling.

 

Also, I have to evaluate if the style matches my style. If I don't think that workbook is worthwhile, how can wholeheartedly expect him to do it? If I think it's OK to take the afternoon off, how can I expect them to buckle down the next day? Am I spontaneous or predictable? I feel like we need to establish a routine, even you only choose to school and hour a day. Everyone should know what to expect.

 

There are other things like take time for yourself, have some quiet time every afternoon, exercise, clean out your school area, menu plan or find what else might make you feel more in control or content. Search yourself to find what YOU need. When you are in a good place, you can find what it will take to get school back on track.

 

God Bless,

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What are you using with the kids now? Knowing what you have been trying to do may help others know how to suggest options.

 

 

Well, I can tell you the subjects that are like pulling teeth (as in they take forever to complete and the kids dilly-dally with me nagging at them). Those would be Christian Light Education for both math and language arts. I really don't think it's the company as much as the subjects themselves. I actually really like the review in CLE and feel like my boys are benefit from it.

 

I can't just drop those subjects though...as much as I'd like to, I think it would ultimately be detremental to the kids.

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This season, the end of winter/beginning of spring is a transition season for us. In the fall, we're inspired and energetic and we do a lot of projects; by winter, we're ready to buckle down and cozy up indoors and study, study, study. By the end of winter, we're starting to feel a little stir crazy and tired of the books.

 

My remedies for spring fever:

Go outside or go for a walk together every morning.

 

Make sure everyone is rested, fed, exercised, and has had some positive attention.

 

Take a "project week" or "unschool week" every so often. We're feeling the same way this month. I feel like I've been nagging and complaining at the kids lately. So next week will be garden school. We'll ditch the books (mostly) to dig up and plant the garden, read, sketch in our nature journals, and go hiking. Completely taking time off knocks us too far out of our routine, and it's hard to get back into the swing of things, but taking a project week or two during which we're still actively engaged in learning helps us to ease back into a more focused academic routine.

 

Cat

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This season, the end of winter/beginning of spring is a transition season for us. In the fall, we're inspired and energetic and we do a lot of projects; by winter, we're ready to buckle down and cozy up indoors and study, study, study. By the end of winter, we're starting to feel a little stir crazy and tired of the books.

 

My remedies for spring fever:

Go outside or go for a walk together every morning.

 

Make sure everyone is rested, fed, exercised, and has had some positive attention.

 

Take a "project week" or "unschool week" every so often. We're feeling the same way this month. I feel like I've been nagging and complaining at the kids lately. So next week will be garden school. We'll ditch the books (mostly) to dig up and plant the garden, read, sketch in our nature journals, and go hiking. Completely taking time off knocks us too far out of our routine, and it's hard to get back into the swing of things, but taking a project week or two during which we're still actively engaged in learning helps us to ease back into a more focused academic routine.

 

Cat

 

 

Very good ideas, Cat. I love your idea about not *totally* taking a week off, just do fun, educational stuff. Thanks! They were actually outside for an hour after lunch, playing in the snow. When they came in from outside, I gave them about 10-15 minutes to transition back to their school work, and well, it didn't go so well. Let's just say, well, I couldn't keep them on track after that.

 

I also think the whole switching the clocks is messing up everyone this week. Sigh...

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Well, I can tell you the subjects that are like pulling teeth (as in they take forever to complete and the kids dilly-dally with me nagging at them). Those would be Christian Light Education for both math and language arts. I really don't think it's the company as much as the subjects themselves. I actually really like the review in CLE and feel like my boys are benefit from it.

 

I can't just drop those subjects though...as much as I'd like to, I think it would ultimately be detremental to the kids.

 

 

You've got a lot of parameters you're considering. With multiple kids, you have your sanity and the pragmatic choices you want to make (open and go, easy to plan, same for everyone if possible, etc.). With the SN you bring in issues with transitions, Mondays (because they were off over the weekends), need for structure and consistency (which it sounds like has not been happening). You could have some more unidentified SN. You might benefit from a sit down session with an ed psych or some time on the SN board to see what your options are to make those subjects go better.

 

My two cents, and this is just me, is to bend a bit. We used some CLE stuff for a while when we were making the Great Math Shift, and while it was years ago I can tell you that, for all the charm and thoroughness, it had these LONG LESSONS that were just too much for her after a while. I know in theory they should work, but perpetually dragging their feet, every single day, can indicate a fundamental mismatch of materials or the level is off or... I DON'T think kids are perpetually bad and want to be bad and be frustrated. Honest. I just don't. I'm right there with you theologically, that they're born sinners, etc. etc. But once you say it's constant, I say something has to bend.

 

Just as a suggestion, then easiest thing for you to bend on would be the LA. It's the easiest one to find efficient, inexpensive replacements for. Winston or Shurley might be awesome for your boys. If you want to wait on grammar till the new school year, then just snag an ebook of editing. Editing is FABULOUS. Just pick something simple like that. Grammar should not take more than 10 minutes of their lives a day. Just don't do it. If it took more than 10 minutes, it took TOO LONG. You have SN, I have SN. I'm just saying that's what I do.

 

On the math, I suggest you either break the lessons up into two sessions during the day or incentivize wildly.

 

Are you using checklists? Clear expectations? Minimize transitions? Work environment that suit them as individuals?

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I don't know the answer to your question, but I do know that our schooling goes much better if I spend a lot of time one-on-one with the kids. I don't bounce between them and I don't extend their day with busy work or projects. I sit and focus on each one individually focusing on skill subjects. This means that I spend about 2.5 hours with my 5th grader one-on-one, 1.5 hours with my 3rd grader one-on-one, and 30 minutes with my Ker one-on-one. My day is long, but I find brief moments during the one-on-one blocks to get a few other things done. My kids know if they work diligently they will each get a large block of free time every day. My 5th grader gets most of the afternoon free and my 3rd grader gets most of the morning free. They treasure their free time and are willing to work for it.

 

We also do best if we start with a read aloud in the morning and have the kids go outside when their work is done.

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Is there anything they like to do without complaining? For eg. Science or unit studies? Do these subjects first. At least you will have gotten to them and you won't be so stressed if they aren't complaining. Save the subjects you have trouble with till the end of the day. Set a timer and tell them you will help them for so long. When that time is up whatever is left is now eating into their free time and you get up and do your own thing (do come back and help though for serious requests of assistance). If they sit there whining at least you don't have to listen to it.

 

I'm having the same problem here with my 6 yo. I handled it a bit different then what I suggested to you because I have less children and she is the only one with a problem. But yeah...we do the group subjects that she loves and never complains about first and then I let her play for the rest of the day. When the boys are in bed she and I do the subjects she resists. She is a night owl so it works great for her and there are no more distractions since the boys are asleep ( she has SPD and can't concentrate with background noise).

 

However if it is just general complaining....let it take up their time not yours and see if that helps get it done any faster. Make sure you tell them ...you are free to go play after you finish this work. That way they know they are only hurting themselves by lingering.

 

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I do the same with my kids and mine are teens. Constantly pushing them to finish. I do find that they go through subjects they like and enjoy easily, without nagging from me but some of the stuff that they find boring or that they don't like, they take forever to do. I am not sure about grammar suggestions, at the moment we are are finishing up Easy Grammar and that is kind of boring but maybe someone else can suggest a good grammar that might keep them motivated. Another suggestion is just to add some fun supplements a few times a week. For math, we are using teaching textbooks and so far they have worked wonders. I hardly ever have to push them on that and they hardly ever need help on it. You can try adding manipulatives or some fun hands on games to math. As others have suggested, a break will also do the trick.

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What works for me... I find that when we have allowed ourselves to fall into bad habits, it can be painful to get back on track (and embarrassingly enough, almost always my fault). The kids fight back against school when I have fallen down on the job. I have to take a deep breath, calmly state what must be done, and then enforce that. The key in doing this with any success is for me to temper my reaction when they inevitably resist. In a recent thread, I described how I do a sort of "zen showdown." What makes it work is for me to stay calm yet firm...and did I mention calm? :D The biggest zen showdown I ever had was with my DS10 (described in the linked thread), but I have done it with my other two as well, and occasionally with all three at once when I have really let things slide too far from routine. :tongue_smilie:

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/448187-first-day-nothings-changed/page__hl__+zen#entry4601347

 

In your shoes, I personally wouldn't go low structure (at least until/unless they are already motivated, which does not sound like the case here), mostly due to what I have learned about my kids. It turns out that when they fight structure and routine most is when they need it the most. It is good for them. With mine, it can get to be like too much candy and junk food. They just want more, more, more, but what they really need is some grilled chicken and a salad. So we have time slotted for pet projects just as we have occasional desserts.

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Our days were full of nagging and tears a few weeks ago (pretty much since our January vacatiion) but we got back on track with a more strict checklist which included set times for certain subjects. If the child finished the work in the first section of the list (three or four tasks) they could have a break until the time stated to start the next subject. This has worked wonders for working diligently. I also set up a schedule for myself (with times) for the subjects i need to do individually with each child. As a previous poster stated, i need to be on top of my game, before asking the children to do the same. We accomplished so much today! We had so much extra time this afternoon that I actually considered doing an art lesson...considered but...they enjoyed lego building and computer programming instead :)

 

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We took last week off, because we all were burnt out on school. Well, things quickly went back to how they were when we started up school this week.

 

I am sooo crabby about nagging and nagging the kids about their work. Taking privledges away isn't working, crying isn't working, telling them to sit there until it's done isn't working. The only thing that's working is NOT doing school. That's the only time that I'm not stressed, crabby and nagging. My relationship with them is starting to get down hill.

 

How can I change this? I am really drawn towards a more relaxed/unschool approach, but frankly, it scares me to death. How? Well, I am afraid, in the end, the won't end up with a decent education and that they'll be flipping burgers the rest of their lives. Let's face it, very few people are happy doing that as a career.

 

Can I get some help? Please? I am in tears. I don't want to quit, I just don't want to nag, nag, nag and dole out punishments all the time. Just math and language arts can take all morning, forget about anything else. By the time 1-2 p.m. comes around I'm ususally hiding in my bedroom. I am tired of this.

 

I hear ya. :)

 

This is how I started unschooling myself. The constant battles to comply went from irritating and burdensome, to struggles for autonomy (hate the term, "power struggles"). I stopped requiring the worst subject. For us that was language arts, I think. I stopped asking them to sit and do assignments that focus on nouns and verbs, answering questions to determine reading comprehension, etc. As our school day got shorter, our stress let up. Slowly but surely each subject followed suit.

 

Unschooling can be an intimidating thing to think about because there is no data (I know of anyway) that shows the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of such a plan. However, the philosophy makes sense to me because it confirms what I understand about human behavior, including learning. If you're interested in lightening up on a formalized education, I would look into unschooling - how it works, what makes it work, what sabotages it. The role of the parent is not less, in fact I think it might be more, at least at first. There are no schedules to allow for your "time off" which means you are essentially on-call as an academic adviser 24/7.

 

Here are a few websites that might help you incorporate some learning into your day naturally, without committing to throwing in the towel on conventional schooling.

 

http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/

http://sandradodd.com/unschooling

http://sandradodd.com/pamsorooshian

 

I'm happy to answer any question I can, and I think there are others here who might join in as well.

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If you want some reassurance about relaxed schooling.....

 

We had a plumber come out to fix our taps. He overheard me giving the kids lessons and asked if I homeschooled. He told me he (himself , while his wife worked) homeschooled his kids. He told me he started out with formal lessons but that quickly went by the wayside and the kids just learned what they wanted without much (formal) input from himself . Both of them just started their University studies. He told me the best thing I will ever do is homeschool.

 

Anyway...that was the experience from someone who has been there and done that. Your kids will follow your lead...if you and your husband don't flip burgers then the chances are high they won't either so long as there is a culture of education in your home ....even if it isn't a formal one.

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On thing we have done that works when we are either totally burned out, starting a new school routine, or have SN related run of angst is to have "game school" for a week. We sit down at the table at whatever the normal school time would be but instead of seat work we play games with high educational value. For my routine driven kiddo it keeps the structure of his day the same but provides a way for us to loosen up and enjoy each other.

 

I also have a built in recharge time for myself after lunch. The kids do some independent reading or, occasionally, play leapster style educational games. Even on a super bad day I can remind myself I only have to make it until lunch. A few minutes with my feet up and some dark chocolate and I am ready to go another round.

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You've got a lot of parameters you're considering. With multiple kids, you have your sanity and the pragmatic choices you want to make (open and go, easy to plan, same for everyone if possible, etc.). With the SN you bring in issues with transitions, Mondays (because they were off over the weekends), need for structure and consistency (which it sounds like has not been happening). You could have some more unidentified SN. You might benefit from a sit down session with an ed psych or some time on the SN board to see what your options are to make those subjects go better.

 

My two cents, and this is just me, is to bend a bit. We used some CLE stuff for a while when we were making the Great Math Shift, and while it was years ago I can tell you that, for all the charm and thoroughness, it had these LONG LESSONS that were just too much for her after a while. I know in theory they should work, but perpetually dragging their feet, every single day, can indicate a fundamental mismatch of materials or the level is off or... I DON'T think kids are perpetually bad and want to be bad and be frustrated. Honest. I just don't. I'm right there with you theologically, that they're born sinners, etc. etc. But once you say it's constant, I say something has to bend.

 

Just as a suggestion, then easiest thing for you to bend on would be the LA. It's the easiest one to find efficient, inexpensive replacements for. Winston or Shurley might be awesome for your boys. If you want to wait on grammar till the new school year, then just snag an ebook of editing. Editing is FABULOUS. Just pick something simple like that. Grammar should not take more than 10 minutes of their lives a day. Just don't do it. If it took more than 10 minutes, it took TOO LONG. You have SN, I have SN. I'm just saying that's what I do.

 

On the math, I suggest you either break the lessons up into two sessions during the day or incentivize wildly.

 

Are you using checklists? Clear expectations? Minimize transitions? Work environment that suit them as individuals?

 

 

 

Jeepers, I wish LA took my aspie only 10 min. If it only took that amount of time, he'd be missing 3/4 of the answers. I probably DO need to look into something else for him in that regard. Poor kid.

 

With the checklist thing; I am using one with my ds12, so he knows what needs to be done. It's a matter on staying on task. It doesn't help that the toddler is cute and distracting. I've tried sending him to work in his room...no dice. I think what I will try next is a partion at the dining room table that blocks his view from the rest of the diningroom/livingroom. I think I may need to change CLE LA with him too. I use MFW for history/music/art, so maybe I will look into their suggest for LA next year. With writing, he's been using IEW for the past two years. Last year, he liked it. By about two months into it this year, he was starting to loath it. Now, it's almost unbearable to him. Not because it's too hard, but because it's much of the same over and over and over. So, I may just drop formal writing all together for the 7 weeks that we have left. The world won't end. I did just order WWS1 and CW2 for him for next year (7th grade).

 

Now, with ds12 and math. Like pulling teeth. We were using TT for a couple of years, but his retention was squat. I finally had enough at the beginning of the year and ordered CLE math. He took the placement test before I ordered and scored a full grade level below. Yeah. CLE has lots of review (as you know) and you know what? His retention is STILL very low!

 

Ds10 and math are also horrid. I've pretty much made up a game plan there though, as I have started to see the issue. He has a lot of difficulty with his mult. facts. So much so, that he's counting by 2,3,4 etc. for MOST every step of every long division and two digit multi. It takes forever. Plus, his attention span is not good. I need to literally SIT with him and keep him on track. He's my aspie, so that's probably par for the course.

 

On breaking up math with my ds10, it's hard. Giving him a break is tough. It's so difficult to get him back on track after I give him the break. He will beg me to give him one, so I'll give him a 10 min break and spend another 15 min getting back in gear. After lunch today, I let them all go outside to play, thinking it would help everyone concentrate. Nope. It was just as bad when they came in as it was when I let them go out.

 

I agree, I don't think the kids are meaning to be bad. Everyday I ask myself, "If they had to go to PS, how on EARTH would they concentrate with everything going on around them?". I'm pretty sure my youngest ds10 would be put on meds.

 

Thanks so much for your thoughts and suggestions. If you have more, please do share!

 

I don't know the answer to your question, but I do know that our schooling goes much better if I spend a lot of time one-on-one with the kids. I don't bounce between them and I don't extend their day with busy work or projects. I sit and focus on each one individually focusing on skill subjects. This means that I spend about 2.5 hours with my 5th grader one-on-one, 1.5 hours with my 3rd grader one-on-one, and 30 minutes with my Ker one-on-one. My day is long, but I find brief moments during the one-on-one blocks to get a few other things done. My kids know if they work diligently they will each get a large block of free time every day. My 5th grader gets most of the afternoon free and my 3rd grader gets most of the morning free. They treasure their free time and are willing to work for it.

 

We also do best if we start with a read aloud in the morning and have the kids go outside when their work is done.

 

Yes, it does go loads better with one-on-one here too. I just get so worn out when school takes most of the day to get through. Not to mention the house work. I have a toddler and she is a tornado! Thanks for the suggestions. Any little bit may help!

 

Is there anything they like to do without complaining? For eg. Science or unit studies? Do these subjects first. At least you will have gotten to them and you won't be so stressed if they aren't complaining. Save the subjects you have trouble with till the end of the day. Set a timer and tell them you will help them for so long. When that time is up whatever is left is now eating into their free time and you get up and do your own thing (do come back and help though for serious requests of assistance). If they sit there whining at least you don't have to listen to it.

 

I'm having the same problem here with my 6 yo. I handled it a bit different then what I suggested to you because I have less children and she is the only one with a problem. But yeah...we do the group subjects that she loves and never complains about first and then I let her play for the rest of the day. When the boys are in bed she and I do the subjects she resists. She is a night owl so it works great for her and there are no more distractions since the boys are asleep ( she has SPD and can't concentrate with background noise).

 

However if it is just general complaining....let it take up their time not yours and see if that helps get it done any faster. Make sure you tell them ...you are free to go play after you finish this work. That way they know they are only hurting themselves by lingering.

 

Yes, they will do some stuff without complaining. History, science, bible reading, art, music. The things that are the toughies are; math, la, writing (that's the curriculum though...it's getting dropped).

 

My boys especially are very musical and love art and science. Mostly it's lollygagging and not so much complaining (sometimes...depends on moods).

 

I do the same with my kids and mine are teens. Constantly pushing them to finish. I do find that they go through subjects they like and enjoy easily, without nagging from me but some of the stuff that they find boring or that they don't like, they take forever to do. I am not sure about grammar suggestions, at the moment we are are finishing up Easy Grammar and that is kind of boring but maybe someone else can suggest a good grammar that might keep them motivated. Another suggestion is just to add some fun supplements a few times a week. For math, we are using teaching textbooks and so far they have worked wonders. I hardly ever have to push them on that and they hardly ever need help on it. You can try adding manipulatives or some fun hands on games to math. As others have suggested, a break will also do the trick.

 

I've thought of looking into Easy Grammar. It has to be less boring than CLE...We used to do TT, but dropped it after a couple of years because ds12 was having a hard time retaining. Turns out, he has the same problem with CLE. Sigh.

 

What works for me... I find that when we have allowed ourselves to fall into bad habits, it can be painful to get back on track (and embarrassingly enough, almost always my fault). The kids fight back against school when I have fallen down on the job. I have to take a deep breath, calmly state what must be done, and then enforce that. The key in doing this with any success is for me to temper my reaction when they inevitably resist. In a recent thread, I described how I do a sort of "zen showdown." What makes it work is for me to stay calm yet firm...and did I mention calm? :D The biggest zen showdown I ever had was with my DS10 (described in the linked thread), but I have done it with my other two as well, and occasionally with all three at once when I have really let things slide too far from routine. :tongue_smilie:

 

http://forums.welltr...en#entry4601347

 

In your shoes, I personally wouldn't go low structure (at least until/unless they are already motivated, which does not sound like the case here), mostly due to what I have learned about my kids. It turns out that when they fight structure and routine most is when they need it the most. It is good for them. With mine, it can get to be like too much candy and junk food. They just want more, more, more, but what they really need is some grilled chicken and a salad. So we have time slotted for pet projects just as we have occasional desserts.

 

I will check out your link. But, yes, so much of the problem is attitude. Their (especially my 12yr. old lately) attitiude towards the work and MY attitude in how I react to them. They both have goals of Zoology and Herpetology, so I've talked with them about how hard they'll have to work to reach that goal in the future.

 

Our days were full of nagging and tears a few weeks ago (pretty much since our January vacatiion) but we got back on track with a more strict checklist which included set times for certain subjects. If the child finished the work in the first section of the list (three or four tasks) they could have a break until the time stated to start the next subject. This has worked wonders for working diligently. I also set up a schedule for myself (with times) for the subjects i need to do individually with each child. As a previous poster stated, i need to be on top of my game, before asking the children to do the same. We accomplished so much today! We had so much extra time this afternoon that I actually considered doing an art lesson...considered but...they enjoyed lego building and computer programming instead :)

 

Go you! Really, that would be such an awesome feeling (to be able to do a "fun" project with time to spare). I'm trying to get back there! Things were SO much easier until this last semester, then they just started crumbling around us.

 

I hear ya. :)

 

This is how I started unschooling myself. The constant battles to comply went from irritating and burdensome, to struggles for autonomy (hate the term, "power struggles"). I stopped requiring the worst subject. For us that was language arts, I think. I stopped asking them to sit and do assignments that focus on nouns and verbs, answering questions to determine reading comprehension, etc. As our school day got shorter, our stress let up. Slowly but surely each subject followed suit.

 

Unschooling can be an intimidating thing to think about because there is no data (I know of anyway) that shows the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of such a plan. However, the philosophy makes sense to me because it confirms what I understand about human behavior, including learning. If you're interested in lightening up on a formalized education, I would look into unschooling - how it works, what makes it work, what sabotages it. The role of the parent is not less, in fact I think it might be more, at least at first. There are no schedules to allow for your "time off" which means you are essentially on-call as an academic adviser 24/7.

 

Here are a few websites that might help you incorporate some learning into your day naturally, without committing to throwing in the towel on conventional schooling.

 

http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/

http://sandradodd.com/unschooling

http://sandradodd.com/pamsorooshian

 

I'm happy to answer any question I can, and I think there are others here who might join in as well.

 

Thanks for the encourgement and links. I love the thought of unschool/relaxed school, I'm just scared to let go. The boys have pretty high aspirations and I'm not sure they'd be on track if I dropped stuff like math and science (Zooology/Herpetology minded kids). I love John Holts writings on children. I just am afraid...

If you want some reassurance about relaxed schooling.....

 

We had a plumber come out to fix our taps. He overheard me giving the kids lessons and asked if I homeschooled. He told me he (himself , while his wife worked) homeschooled his kids. He told me he started out with formal lessons but that quickly went by the wayside and the kids just learned what they wanted without much (formal) input from himself . Both of them just started their University studies. He told me the best thing I will ever do is homeschool.

 

Anyway...that was the experience from someone who has been there and done that. Your kids will follow your lead...if you and your husband don't flip burgers then the chances are high they won't either so long as there is a culture of education in your home ....even if it isn't a formal one.

 

Thanks for sharing the plumber story. It's always reassuring to hear stuff like that when one is bucking the system. Especially with unschooling/relaxed schooling. It's one thing to tell someone that you HS, it's another to tell them you unschool ;).

 

Cat...I have another question for you. Do you do year round schooling? I'm thinking of implemeting this and it souds about right with taking breaks, but still having some "fun structure". I was wondering about summer vacation and how you'd handle that if you DIDN'T school year round...

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On thing we have done that works when we are either totally burned out, starting a new school routine, or have SN related run of angst is to have "game school" for a week. We sit down at the table at whatever the normal school time would be but instead of while seat work we play games with high educational value. For my routine driven kiddo it keeps the structure of his day the same but provides a way for us to loosen up and enjoy each other.

 

I also have a built in recharge time for myself after lunch. The kids do some independent reading or, occasionally, play leapster style educational games. Even on a super bad day I can remind myself I only have to make it until lunch. A few minutes with my feet up and some dark chocolate and I am ready to go another round.

 

Love this idea! And with apps, it's easy to get some fun, educational stuff going.

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I thought of something else...our days go really well when we're not doing school. We all get along so much better after the pressure of academics is taken away. I truly, in the deepest part of my soul, want it to be like that the majority of the time, but I'm losing hope of that ever happening.

 

I get so stressed out when I think about doing school. Sad, but true. I love, love, love my kids, but academics with them is tough!!

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Yes, it does go loads better with one-on-one here too. I just get so worn out when school takes most of the day to get through. Not to mention the house work. I have a toddler and she is a tornado! Thanks for the suggestions. Any little bit may help!

 

I'm worn out when school is over too. Everyone needs something at the most inconvenient times, and my toddler is into everything as well. In balance, though, we all do better with more one-on-one time if I can stay focused. Planning is key, and I don't mean school planning. I mean knowing what the framework is for each day when I wake up; knowing what we are eating for each meal before I go to sleep the night before; knowing what activities are on the schedule a day or two out; knowing what errands/housework should be done and how to slide it into my day.

 

My other secret is that I lay down with my toddler for 15 minutes every day. That helps me a lot, and he loves it too.

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Ok, destabilizing suggestion here, which you may ignore. If your middle dc are NT, you could put them in school. Then you have freedom to teach your boys the math yourself. Aspies and kids with sensory off may have other reasons the paper-only methods and spiral, end on end drill aren't connecting for them. They may need to do it with word problems. They may need to use a whiteboard. They may need the whole thing shifted into Lego stories or whatever they really engage with. Math with a whiteboard has been the norm in our house for years.

 

Hear you on the toddler thing. Even 20-30 min. of focused attention with him can make a huge difference. No miracles here except I send him down to Grandma's.

 

You could do the boys together with Winston. Winston, which I haven't used btw, is supposed to be very boy-friendly.

 

Like the WWS idea, but I'll forewarn you that I highlight the lessons to make sure my dd catches the important stuff. It takes a while and seems like an annoying nuisance, but it's the ONLY reason (well that and because I can be doggedly firm, or was it the Zen something Alte Vista said?). Anyways, lol, consider highlighting the book if necessary to make it practical. It's a wordy mess for some students.

 

My dd had a checklist from I forget what grade up. I'm too tired to calculate the ages of your kids, but I imagine most of them could have checklists. If it would improve your flow, do so. If they can have spots where they're assigned the toddler and read aloud to the toddler or watch an educational video with the toddler or eat a snack with the toddler, all the better.

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It is late, so I might have missed this in my reading. Do you do school for 9 months or year round? We became more relaxed, while still accomplishing what I want to get done in a year by becoming year round schoolers. We do heavier terms for the Fall and Spring. Winter and Summer are "school lite" times. I find that by not having as much on my plate from Christmas-Spring Break really reduces the burn out. We do a lot of activities during this season.

 

It is something I am still playing around with, but for instance. In the fall we are all excited and motivated, but the evenings are busy. If things aren't done during the day, we don't have time as it is soccer season. So this year we did not start history until after soccer season. I have all summer to get it done, so it wasn't a worry.

 

Our "heavy" terms aren't as heavy as we have the summer to use as well. The extra 3 months give me the freedom to not go at as fast of a pace.

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I have no experience with SN children but for the others - Do you have a beginning time and an ending time? I had an agreement with mine that if we had a stop time, they would work hard during school hours. For the most part, they stuck to the agreement. The exception (until high school) was math and Latin excerisizes. We would do the lesson in the morning together and then they would do the the excerisizes in the evening as homework, on their own. Often, they worked in the car on the way to and from gymnastics. The car ride was a finite amount of time, they had a really good sense of how long it took, and they discovered that if they concentrated, they were almost always done by the end of the car ride. Nobody wants to do a job that never ends. If their school work feels the same day after day, it will feel like an endless job that is never done and they will stop trying to finish it. What reason have they for doing so? It doesn't make any difference if they do. They are old enough to know that tomorrow it will begin all over again, but too young to see that if they work quickly, the work will be there tomorrow but they can have half of today off.

 

To get your children working well,, you might have to work backwards.

 

We worked 7-2 with a ten minute break in the morning and half an hour for lunch. We set the timer for the breaks. That meant about 6 hours working hard at schoolwork. Figure out when you can get going in the morning, add 7 hours and that is your end time. If it lands past 3:00, you need to get up earlier. Past 3 will seem unfair to them, when public schools get out at 3. We really really needed to be done at 2, so I got us started at 7. It meant starting before I had gotten a load of laundry going and done the dishes, which I hated, but it was SO worth it to know that I would be done at 2.

 

Even more than the children, *I* needed an end time. I needed to know when I could stop being a teacher and go back to being just Mum. When the children were in high school, they had to work longer (most of the time they weren't spending on gymnastics or family things (lots of family things), but I put everything I needed to do with them in the morning so that I was still done teaching by 2. I could read papers after supper or help with something or record what we had done or whatever, but I found that I needed to do any teaching in the morning or there was a good chance I wasn't going to do it. That end point was the key to keeping my good attitude and my patience.

 

If I were you, I would do a little math, decide on an end time, and announce tomorrow morning that you are stopping at x-o'clock. Do math so that gets done even if they manage to make it take six hours. Do something fun and easy after math (so they get a break without your having to round them up again). Take a ten minute bathroom-then-run-around-the-house break at 10:00. Take a half hour for lunch at 12:00. Set the timer for both breaks. Leave language arts for last. If you don't get to language arts for the whole rest of the year, it won't be a disaster. After you make your announcement DON'T MENTION IT AGAIN until 3:00, when you get to say, "School's over!" Don't mention that now that we have an end time, they have to work harder. You don't want them to know this is a plot to "fix" them. Children can be incredibly stubbourn for months, for years, once they think they are being fixed. Whatever you do, DON'T make any threats about not ending at the end time. If you do that, all the benefits of the end time being the end time will vanish. Pick up from where ever you left off in language arts the next day. Resign yourself to not finishing the book this year. It would be a small price to pay for children who just do their schoolwork with a minimum of nagging. If you notice a child dawdling, just say gently, "Keep going. Show me what you are supposed to do next. Ok, are you all set?" Most of the time, when my children stopped it was because they didn't quite understand something or they couldn't think of something to write. Once I unstuck them, they proceeded on until they got stuck again. Do this for the rest of the school year.

 

As the time goes by and your children realize that they can watch the clock and see when they will be done, they should relax and start working better during the day. Meanwhile, don't worry about how much they are dawdling. As long as they get their math done, they will be ok.

 

Next year, at the beginning of the year, you can announce that now that everyone is older, they will have math homework every night, because they need time to practise what they are learning on their own and because it is hard to remember the math from lesson to lesson without reviewing it every night. Assign a few problems to the younger ones and let the older ones do the whole excersize in the evening. The same with any foreign languages. As the children get older, they can do reading and work on their papers then, too. That will give you more time during the school day. If you want to try some looser homeschooling, all you have to do is take the last hour of the day and designate it as independent project time. Let the children decide what they want to work on during that time. The only rule is that they have to be learning something. They can't just say, "I want to learn about castles. Let's go build a lego castle." First, they have to go to the library and get some books out about castles and read them and THEN they can build their castle. If they want to do an experiment, they have to write it up. If they aren't inclined to try something (like making a castle), or to write about what they have learned or observed, or at least tell you all about it, you might need to make the rule that they need to produce some sort of output for each learning project.

 

Mine were utterly utterly incapable of retaining their math or foreign language if they didn't see it twice a day. I suspect that you might have the same problem. This was a very simple fix with magical results.

 

HTH

Nan

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Ok, you said you want to unschool but you are afraid. It sounds to me that you tend to take off in the summer? So what if you decide to give unschooling a trial. Say till Aug. 1. That's 5 months. The world will NOT end if it turns out that unschooling is not for you. They won't be ruined for life, I promise. lol

I have unschooled my kids at different times in our lives, the longest was for 8 months. 2 of those kids have graduated so apparently they are ok. lol

I would say to just give this a shot, what's the worst thing that could happen?

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Concrete start and finish times, ways to mark the end of one thing and the beginning of another are helpful to me and my boys. Honestly, I think I need those as much as they do. I need the transition time.

 

One thing that has been a huge help to me this spring (since the onset of the Februar-ies!) is to treat displays of bad attitudes in a non-personal way. At times I felt they were an attack on me--a way to manipulate Mom into stopping, or just to make Mom mad. And because I felt that way, most of the time the attacks did make me pretty mad and frustrated. So I quit taking them that way.

I started to treat them as game infractions. A certain level of complaining in a respectful way is tolerated. But complaining without a point gets you a penalty. I keep the penalties fairly set, so that for a certain display I know which penalty to call. By now they pretty much know what gets you what in the house. They also know that they can't upset Mom that much anymore.

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Ok, you said you want to unschool but you are afraid. It sounds to me that you tend to take off in the summer? So what if you decide to give unschooling a trial. Say till Aug. 1. That's 5 months. The world will NOT end if it turns out that unschooling is not for you. They won't be ruined for life, I promise. lol

I have unschooled my kids at different times in our lives, the longest was for 8 months. 2 of those kids have graduated so apparently they are ok. lol

I would say to just give this a shot, what's the worst thing that could happen?

 

I would suggest against that. Unschooling is really a very different educational paradigm, and for many of us who are accustomed to conventional education try unschooling, we get antsy to see our kids learn something, produce something, to look academic. Five months of doing nothing isn't unschooling, it's taking months off (really quite different). The rule of thumb I hear the most is to take off one month for each year of education - for the parent. That means if the unschool parent graduated from high school, take off 12 months at least to learn to re-evaluate how learning happens, to stop expecting certain production. I think this is valuable advice, and seems to be helpful to many people who learn how to make unschooling work well. It also means you don't have to reign kids in after having so many months of seemingly no academic instruction.

 

Starting off slowly, dropping one subject at a time, works well for many people. It allows them to see if they're comfortable with continuing in this mode or not. It also allows them to see what kinds of issues are most important to address.

 

Having said this, taking months off for a break is always a pleasant idea, regardless of what you end up doing.

 

:)

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Thanks for the encourgement and links. I love the thought of unschool/relaxed school, I'm just scared to let go. The boys have pretty high aspirations and I'm not sure they'd be on track if I dropped stuff like math and science (Zooology/Herpetology minded kids). I love John Holts writings on children. I just am afraid...

 

 

That's not how unschooling works. What are you afraid to let go of? Kids who are zoology/herpetology minded don't have to stop learning. Unschooling allows them the time to focus more on their interests and develop new interests that spin off those. For example, my oldest enjoys physiology. Learning the biology of the different organs led to learning microbiology, which led to learning chemistry, which led to learning calculus. Because these things are all related, they're all relevant and therefore interesting to him. Why would your kids want to stop exploring something they enjoy? The point of unschooling is to give kids the time they desire to explore their interests. The parent's role is to provide pertinent experiences and advice, such as how to identify problems and help them explore various solutions.

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This season, the end of winter/beginning of spring is a transition season for us. In the fall, we're inspired and energetic and we do a lot of projects; by winter, we're ready to buckle down and cozy up indoors and study, study, study. By the end of winter, we're starting to feel a little stir crazy and tired of the books.

 

My remedies for spring fever:

Go outside or go for a walk together every morning.

 

Make sure everyone is rested, fed, exercised, and has had some positive attention.

 

Take a "project week" or "unschool week" every so often. We're feeling the same way this month. I feel like I've been nagging and complaining at the kids lately. So next week will be garden school. We'll ditch the books (mostly) to dig up and plant the garden, read, sketch in our nature journals, and go hiking. Completely taking time off knocks us too far out of our routine, and it's hard to get back into the swing of things, but taking a project week or two during which we're still actively engaged in learning helps us to ease back into a more focused academic routine.

 

Cat

 

Doh! I can't believe I forgot that. Note to self: Next year, we're making the time change week a relaxed week. Everyone is just OFF.

 

Thanks for the reminder! :)

 

Cat

 

 

:iagree: Cat's first post is spot on with us, too. The seedlings are growing, sun is starting to come out more and we really are ready for Spring Vacation.

 

Try and take this week out of your overall picture, because this weeks just sucks. I think I'm finally pulling out of the time change funk today, and that's because I slept in for an extra three hours this morning.

 

:grouphug: You'll figure it out.

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My kids needed a reality check on their lives and what they must do. We talked about our roles. They are to learn most days of the week doing school work with me. We start at 9am unless we have some really late thing the night before. I have to get up too regardless. When sick I still get them set up to get their work done that can be done without me. Consistency has been key here. They understand all the subjects they must learn. They get to have input on curriculum and activities and such. They know they won't like their 'job' some days but we still do it. Daddy goes to work and is consistent so we have shelter and food and extras. If he can do it, they can do it. Mommy cooks and cleans and would prefer to be hiking some tall mountain instead but she comes to the school room daily as well. Once we set out the expectations of all in the household we got consistent. No, we don't always want to be there. yes, my son needs nagging for anything he does in life. But consistency is key and when we are it goes much smoother. So those days we all need a break we can do it knowing the next day we are back at it.

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I'm not an expert, my oldest is not quite 9, however I have to agree that usually attitude issues start with me. I've not had any big "zen showdowns" but we have had our moments. Digging my heels in just never seems to work out quite right. I do think a break sometimes can help so you can re-orient yourself. Sometimes that break can help us and them to change our patterns of behavior. A big help to me is to remember that we are in this together. Sometimes my expectations have been too high but often it is just that I'm not providing enough firm support. We do well with a routine that is not too strict. I think it helps my attitude and theirs as well for there to be something new at times we are doing, something that I'm excited about. We've been adding things in here and there since the baby came and sometimes just a break from the same ol' things is a good shot in the arm. I like the idea of a project week, that is a neat twist.

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The only thing that's working is NOT doing school. That's the only time that I'm not stressed, crabby and nagging.

I have a thought that I think I did not express adequately yesterday. And I may have missed if you already said...and this may not apply to you at all, in any way, so please don't be offended and dismiss if it is totally off target... http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/public/style_emoticons/#EMO_DIR#/biggrin.gif

 

Do you have a schedule? If so, do you stick to it? When I read what you wrote above, I thought about the times I have been there. A few years ago, I lived this pattern... Picture it in a loop...

 

We were all cranky, and I let things slide, to avoid stress.

Instant relaxation. Easy days.

Then I got stressed because I let things slide.

Oh my! These kids need to be doing ____ or, worse, these kids can't do ____?!

So, I got a little demanding and required more.

Guess what? The kids were used to relaxed mom and goofing off.

But I was serious, so I stuck to my guns.

This was stressful, so they resisted. Everyone was cranky.

They worked, because ultimately I am the authority here, but it was a fight.

We moved along and made progress, but painfully, with lots of attitude.

I would think how did things get this way?

We were all cranky, so I let things slide.

Circle back around again...

 

I had some other things going on back then (deployed DH, younger kids, undiagnosed thyroid problem, etc.). Wrote about it a little in a big thread here. It was a real turning point for me, but what I ultimately realized is that my expectations, attitude, and commitment have more impact on our days than anything else.

 

Do formal school. Do unschooling. But whatever you do, do it consistently. I really think lack of consistency is the reason for so many homeschooling challenges. Whether folks are constantly changing schedules, curriculum, or their overall philosophy, too much change leaves kids reeling. The younger they are, the less likely they are to be able to express their confusion and frustration in any other way than resistance. What works best for us is a routine that everyone can count on. Vacillating between relaxed days off and days of demanding seatwork sends kids the message that work is negotiable.

 

Anyway, what finally changed the pattern here was for me to change the pattern here. Yes, the zen showdown was part of that. Their attitudes were my fault. It was my inconsistency that caused their resistance. I had to be kind and calm while they worked past that and adjusted to the new expectation, which was a routine we follow every day. Breaks are scheduled, not the result of impromptu Mommy tantrums of throwing her hands in the air and retreating to the bedroom (LOL, yes, I did that too). We are at peace now, have been for a long time. I will say that when I first got back on track, I did so with frank honesty about my own failings. I also made sure to plan some seriously engaging stuff to ease them into the routine and lure them to a POV of schoolwork being just as engaging as play, even to schoolwork as play.

 

Just math and language arts can take all morning, forget about anything else. By the time 1-2 p.m. comes around I'm ususally hiding in my bedroom.

Also, the best thing I ever did was to move content work to the morning, when I had energy. I keep all the kids together for content. I do one-on-one skill work with each child in the afternoon, when I have less physical energy and find sitting at the school table next to one kid, sipping tea to be preferable. Your older kids are old enough that if they don't get it all during their one-on-one time, you could assign the rest for homework. My kids have gotten extremely efficient, having this one hour of supervised, mom-assisted teaching/seatwork.

 

Again, might not apply at all! http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/public/style_emoticons/#EMO_DIR#/smile.gif

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Cat...I have another question for you. Do you do year round schooling? I'm thinking of implemeting this and it souds about right with taking breaks, but still having some "fun structure". I was wondering about summer vacation and how you'd handle that if you DIDN'T school year round...

 

 

We do math, reading, and music all summer, and usually history too, since we take too many "side trips" to finish the curriculum during the school year. It's usually 3-4 mornings a week, about an hour, whenever we get around ready for the day. If we're busy in the morning, we'll usually take a school hour when we get home. I think this summer we'll do some geography, too, since they're really interested in maps and mapmaking but we haven't had the time to pursue it as much as they'd all like.

 

I try not to make a big deal about when and where and what order we do school, but make it clear that it's not optional either.

 

Cat

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I have a thought that I think I did not express adequately yesterday. And I may have missed if you already said...and this may not apply to you at all, in any way, so please don't be offended and dismiss if it is totally off target... :D

 

Do you have a schedule? If so, do you stick to it? When I read what you wrote above, I thought about the times I have been there. A couple of years ago, I lived this pattern... Picture it in a loop...

 

We were all cranky, and I let things slide, to avoid stress.

Instant relaxation. Easy days.

Then I got stressed because I let things slide.

Oh my! These kids need to be doing ____ or, worse, these kids can't do ____?!

So, I got a little demanding and required more.

Guess what? The kids were used to relaxed mom and goofing off.

But I was serious, so I stuck to my guns.

This was stressful, so they resisted. Everyone was cranky.

They worked, because ultimately I am the authority here, but it was a fight.

We moved along and made progress, but painfully, with lots of attitude.

I would think how did things get this way?

We were all cranky, so I let things slide.

Circle back around again...

 

I had some other things going on back then (deployed DH, younger kids, undiagnosed thyroid problem, etc.). Wrote about it a little in a big thread here. It was a real turning point for me, but what I ultimately realized is that my expectations, attitude, and commitment have more impact on our days than anything else.

 

Do formal school. Do unschooling. But whatever you do, do it consistently. I really think lack of consistency is the reason for so many homeschooling challenges. Whether folks are constantly changing schedules, curriculum, or their overall philosophy, too much change leaves kids reeling. The younger they are, the less likely they are to be able to express their confusion and frustration in any other way than resistance. What works best for us is a routine that everyone can count on. Vascillating between relaxed days off and days of demanding seatwork sends kids the message that work is negotiable.

AMEN! ;)

 

Anyway, what finally changed the pattern here was for me to change the pattern here. Yes, the zen showdown was part of that. Their attitudes were my fault. It was my inconsistency that caused their resistance. I had to be kind and calm while they worked past that and adjusted to the new expectation, which was a routine we follow every day. Breaks are scheduled, not the result of impromptu Mommy tantrums of throwing her hands in the air and retreating to the bedroom (LOL, yes, I did that too). We are at peace now, have been for a long time. I will say that when I first got back on track, I did so with frank honesty about my own failings. I also made sure to plan some seriously engaging stuff to ease them into the routine and lure them to a POV of schoolwork being just as engaging as play, even to schoolwork as play.

 

 

 

Also, the best thing I ever did was to move content work to the morning, when I had energy. I keep all the kids together for content. I do one-on-one skill work with each child in the afternoon, when I have less physical energy and find sitting at the school table next to one kid, sipping tea to be preferable. Your older kids are old enough that if they don't get it all during their one-on-one time, you could assign the rest for homework. My kids have gotten extremely efficient, having this one hour of supervised, mom-assisted teaching/seatwork.

 

Again, might not apply at all! :)

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I have a thought that I think I did not express adequately yesterday. And I may have missed if you already said...and this may not apply to you at all, in any way, so please don't be offended and dismiss if it is totally off target... :D

 

Do you have a schedule? If so, do you stick to it? When I read what you wrote above, I thought about the times I have been there. A few years ago, I lived this pattern... Picture it in a loop...

 

We were all cranky, and I let things slide, to avoid stress.

Instant relaxation. Easy days.

Then I got stressed because I let things slide.

Oh my! These kids need to be doing ____ or, worse, these kids can't do ____?!

So, I got a little demanding and required more.

Guess what? The kids were used to relaxed mom and goofing off.

But I was serious, so I stuck to my guns.

This was stressful, so they resisted. Everyone was cranky.

They worked, because ultimately I am the authority here, but it was a fight.

We moved along and made progress, but painfully, with lots of attitude.

I would think how did things get this way?

We were all cranky, so I let things slide.

Circle back around again...

 

I had some other things going on back then (deployed DH, younger kids, undiagnosed thyroid problem, etc.). Wrote about it a little in a big thread here. It was a real turning point for me, but what I ultimately realized is that my expectations, attitude, and commitment have more impact on our days than anything else.

 

Do formal school. Do unschooling. But whatever you do, do it consistently. I really think lack of consistency is the reason for so many homeschooling challenges. Whether folks are constantly changing schedules, curriculum, or their overall philosophy, too much change leaves kids reeling. The younger they are, the less likely they are to be able to express their confusion and frustration in any other way than resistance. What works best for us is a routine that everyone can count on. Vascillating between relaxed days off and days of demanding seatwork sends kids the message that work is negotiable.

 

Anyway, what finally changed the pattern here was for me to change the pattern here. Yes, the zen showdown was part of that. Their attitudes were my fault. It was my inconsistency that caused their resistance. I had to be kind and calm while they worked past that and adjusted to the new expectation, which was a routine we follow every day. Breaks are scheduled, not the result of impromptu Mommy tantrums of throwing her hands in the air and retreating to the bedroom (LOL, yes, I did that too). We are at peace now, have been for a long time. I will say that when I first got back on track, I did so with frank honesty about my own failings. I also made sure to plan some seriously engaging stuff to ease them into the routine and lure them to a POV of schoolwork being just as engaging as play, even to schoolwork as play.

 

 

 

Also, the best thing I ever did was to move content work to the morning, when I had energy. I keep all the kids together for content. I do one-on-one skill work with each child in the afternoon, when I have less physical energy and find sitting at the school table next to one kid, sipping tea to be preferable. Your older kids are old enough that if they don't get it all during their one-on-one time, you could assign the rest for homework. My kids have gotten extremely efficient, having this one hour of supervised, mom-assisted teaching/seatwork.

 

Again, might not apply at all! :)

 

 

This. The whole thing. Much as I hate schedules, I used schedules to "fix" us. To fix me, too. if, after doing it for a month or two, the schedule still seemed really oppressive and hard to get through, then I concluded it was a bad schedule and made a better one. Usually, if I was still cranky even though we had all been "good" and stuck to the plan for a week or two, it was because I was sick or because what we were trying to do for school didn't really fit in the amount of time I had planned for it. Every single schedule I ever made seemed impossible when we first started it in Sept. and by Nov., it seemed fine. Occasionally, it required a bit of fine tuning. I was very careful to do my math before writing the schedule out, though. I had times for each subject at first, and then after we were all in the routine, I just had a few marker times, like "we have to start math at 7", "we have to start Latin at 9", "we have to start great books at 12:30". Other things were mushier between those spots. I didn't know what the marker spots were until we had worked with the schedule for awhile, so I could tell if my time estimates were realistic. I tested times by doing things myself, sometimes, when I was trying to come up with the schedule. What we (or the children) actually did during the time slots was sometimes amazingly loose, like "think up an experiment and do it" or "read your library books" or "work on your project" with me not really knowing what the project entailed. Sometimes it was very appealing and we all couldn't wait to do it. We enjoyed great books. We read books like The Odyssey and Beowulf and Canterbury Tales together aloud, sitting on the dock dabbling our feet or curled up in front of the fire with the dog on our feet. The children helped me choose the books. But we did that between 12:30 and 2:00 and at 2:00 we stopped. Otherwise I couldn't deal with the stress of wondering if we were doing enough school.

 

I moved history and science to Fridays and did skill work Mon through Thurs. Except math. Math happened every day.

 

Nan

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Anytime I've felt like that it's been helpful (and necessary) for me to look at our daily rhythm and start there. Do I have a daily schedule in place? Is everyone coming to lessons well-rested and well-fed? Do they know what to expect and how long they will be expected to do it?

 

I keep a running list on the board daily for my dc to see what we are doing for the day. Our afternoons are usually reserved for playing or fun classes/activities like sports practice, art, etc. So, my boys always have something to look forward to each afternoon.

 

However, they know we don't move on to the next thing on the list until the current one is finished.

 

I aso use Charlotte Mason methods in our homeschool, so lessons are high quality (we use living books, not workbooks, textbooks or worksheets), rich, and brief. It's amazing how much learning happens during a 15-20min focused lesson. My dc know that if they stay on task we are done with lessons by noon each day. This leaves them plenty of time for their own projects, free reading, outside play, and classes/activities.

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I've been burned out and getting crispier around the edges with each passing year. I'd change curriculum. I'd change furniture. More art supplies. Longer periods of time off. Nothing was recharging my enthusiasm.

 

It was at an open house for a virtual charter school that I got my ah ha moment.

 

All these years I've been focusing on "finishing" and "mastery" and " character" so much that we'd lost site of the big picture, "Progress." I can chuck the other ideals as long as they are making progress.

 

And....

 

I've also given myself permission to "shut the door" on my homeschooling naysers (local coop, family, friends, husband) access to what we are or are not using for curriculum. Really if they're not going to pull up a chair and share their expertise then, "Buh bye."

 

Since I don't have to finish it's OK to to take a mid-winter semester to do some of the fun curriculums we've never had time for because we're racing to the end of the year. This year I decided that another curriculum, computer based and not dependent on my energy level, was going to fill in for me. Low and behold my son, my personal migraine this year, is up and done with his computer courses before 8 a.m. He love the freedom. I love the freedom.

 

For the first time in years we're headed into March with renewed energy and enthusiasm. It's been YEARS!

 

You're kids aren't where they were last year at the time. You're doing great Mama! Don't loose sight of that when everyone around you is nitpicking because they don't do hours like so-and-so, etc.

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Fantastic post, Mango. I couldn't have said it better. I have began to focus on skills. Everything else branching out from that is enrichment. You can afford to do this with classical education because the knowledge is not being spoon fed in little chunks. Next year we will put reading, writing, and math above everything else. I plan to not to schedule every subject every day. I made a six day schedule to make subjects revolve regularly without doing more than we can handle in one day. Some books may not get finished, but they are not the skill based subjects. They are also not grade specific curriculums, and can carry over into the next level (we won't be missing anything). Plus what we are doing would technically be classified as a gifted program. I'm all about student progress these days. I don't want to drill every subject every day, and say that he completed everything. I would rather him be the next skill level in the areas that matter. Use the curriculum, don't let it use you.

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Well Aspie is just rough...that's all there is to it. And if the other children follow his example...well...

 

I don't have an answer. We started out joyfully 4 years and it has certainly deteriorated. I start with math because it is best for us to get it done when everyone is fresh. We do another short subject or two and break for snack with a read aloud. Snack usually turns into a full-fledged buffet cause those boys are hungry! Then back for a more challenging subject and winding down in the early afternoon with things like instrument practice, exercise, and silent reading if the schedule goes according to plan. Those are things that don't require help from me because I'm toast by about 1PM.

 

I do try to alternate hard with quick and easy working gradually toward easiest by the end of the day. History is a read aloud while the boys draw a picture of what I'm reading right now. Science is either read aloud from a text or do an experiment/demo/project.

 

Brownie

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Fantastic post, Mango. I couldn't have said it better. I have began to focus on skills. Everything else branching out from that is enrichment. You can afford to do this with classical education because the knowledge is not being spoon fed in little chunks. Next year we will put reading, writing, and math above everything else. I plan to not to schedule every subject every day. I made a six day schedule to make subjects revolve regularly without doing more than we can handle in one day. Some books may not get finished, but they are not the skill based subjects. They are also not grade specific curriculums, and can carry over into the next level (we won't be missing anything). Plus what we are doing would technically be classified as a gifted program. I'm all about student progress these days. I don't want to drill every subject every day, and say that he completed everything. I would rather him be the next skill level in the areas that matter. Use the curriculum, don't let it use you.

 

Ladyinthegarden,

Would you mind sharing your 6 day schedule? It sounds intriguing.

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Before I reply to the thoughtful posts...I had a realization today. Do you know what it was? Of course not lol. Ok...we're putting our house on the market in the next two weeks. My dh leaves Mondays by noon, is gone working 2.5 hours away all week, and then comes home Friday mornings, goes to sleep by 9 am and isn't up until early evening (he's sleeping b/c he works overnights). This has been happening for almost a year.

 

I admit, I am totally stressed out with putting the house on the market. I'm purging lots of stuff, trying to maintain the house, and homeschooling (oh and driving kids and cooking and disiplining...). I'm very stressed with thinking about how I need to keep the house picked up b/c, if I let it get out of hand, it will take hours and hours to straighten up when we have a house showing. I don't have hours and hours, I have a TODDLER ;). Yes, the kids can and DO help (alot), but they don't do the job that "I" would do, you know?

 

So, I may just do the very, very basics for awhile, get lots of good books to "strew" and relax on that stuff more. It's just my thought for the day. School went really well today. I had ds12 in the basement (where there are NO distractions) doing his math. He had it done really quickly and got the majority of it right. I only had to remind him to stay on task a few times. Ds10 (my aspie)...well, I had him start the morning with Math Rider (a computer program...love it!) memorizing 4s and 6s for multiplication. After that, I crossed out a lot of him work in CLE, except for the new concept and about four division problems. Then I sat with him while he did it (and helped where he needed it). I then gave him his LA test for lightunit 409. He got a 78 on it (which included spelling).

 

Every week we have a short day where we only do math/la, today was it! We talked it over and decided to move it to Mondays though, because we ALL struggle with Mondays at our house. So, the boys ended up chatting on their pet forums that THEY created themselves, playing outside, reading, doing chores, playing instruments and other stuff that I can't think of atm.

 

Whew...I did have a long discussion with them (esp. the oldest boy) about how we need to get up, do our chores, have breakfast and start the day. We'll start with history/music because we do it together, then go to the core subjects and see what happens. Idk though, we may just leave history for the 7 weeks that we have left too, considering the whole selling the house thing.

 

I have more thoughts, hopefully I will get them out while relplying below...

 

Ok, destabilizing suggestion here, which you may ignore. If your middle dc are NT, you could put them in school. Then you have freedom to teach your boys the math yourself. Aspies and kids with sensory off may have other reasons the paper-only methods and spiral, end on end drill aren't connecting for them. They may need to do it with word problems. They may need to use a whiteboard. They may need the whole thing shifted into Lego stories or whatever they really engage with. Math with a whiteboard has been the norm in our house for years.

 

Hear you on the toddler thing. Even 20-30 min. of focused attention with him can make a huge difference. No miracles here except I send him down to Grandma's.

 

You could do the boys together with Winston. Winston, which I haven't used btw, is supposed to be very boy-friendly.

 

Like the WWS idea, but I'll forewarn you that I highlight the lessons to make sure my dd catches the important stuff. It takes a while and seems like an annoying nuisance, but it's the ONLY reason (well that and because I can be doggedly firm, or was it the Zen something Alte Vista said?). Anyways, lol, consider highlighting the book if necessary to make it practical. It's a wordy mess for some students.

 

My dd had a checklist from I forget what grade up. I'm too tired to calculate the ages of your kids, but I imagine most of them could have checklists. If it would improve your flow, do so. If they can have spots where they're assigned the toddler and read aloud to the toddler or watch an educational video with the toddler or eat a snack with the toddler, all the better.

 

The NT kiddos are my ds12, dd6, (and I pretty sure my toddler is too). None of my kids want to go to PS and it would be a last resort for me.

 

I sooo wish my mom was closer. I'm lucky to see her 3 times a year...she would totally help me.

 

I will check out Winston and keep the highlighting thing in mind for WWS. Thanks so much for your insight! We are dropping IEW immediately, btw. My ds12 was sooo happy. I have WWS1 and CW2 otw and he's chopping at the bit to start CW2.

 

It is late, so I might have missed this in my reading. Do you do school for 9 months or year round? We became more relaxed, while still accomplishing what I want to get done in a year by becoming year round schoolers. We do heavier terms for the Fall and Spring. Winter and Summer are "school lite" times. I find that by not having as much on my plate from Christmas-Spring Break really reduces the burn out. We do a lot of activities during this season.

 

It is something I am still playing around with, but for instance. In the fall we are all excited and motivated, but the evenings are busy. If things aren't done during the day, we don't have time as it is soccer season. So this year we did not start history until after soccer season. I have all summer to get it done, so it wasn't a worry.

 

Our "heavy" terms aren't as heavy as we have the summer to use as well. The extra 3 months give me the freedom to not go at as fast of a pace.

 

I'm really considering schooling year round. Like 6 weeks on, 1 week off (we fun structure) and a month or so off in the summer. Idk what I will do right now. Your plan sounds totally reasonable though!

 

I have no experience with SN children but for the others - Do you have a beginning time and an ending time? I had an agreement with mine that if we had a stop time, they would work hard during school hours. For the most part, they stuck to the agreement. The exception (until high school) was math and Latin excerisizes. We would do the lesson in the morning together and then they would do the the excerisizes in the evening as homework, on their own. Often, they worked in the car on the way to and from gymnastics. The car ride was a finite amount of time, they had a really good sense of how long it took, and they discovered that if they concentrated, they were almost always done by the end of the car ride. Nobody wants to do a job that never ends. If their school work feels the same day after day, it will feel like an endless job that is never done and they will stop trying to finish it. What reason have they for doing so? It doesn't make any difference if they do. They are old enough to know that tomorrow it will begin all over again, but too young to see that if they work quickly, the work will be there tomorrow but they can have half of today off.

 

To get your children working well,, you might have to work backwards.

 

We worked 7-2 with a ten minute break in the morning and half an hour for lunch. We set the timer for the breaks. That meant about 6 hours working hard at schoolwork. Figure out when you can get going in the morning, add 7 hours and that is your end time. If it lands past 3:00, you need to get up earlier. Past 3 will seem unfair to them, when public schools get out at 3. We really really needed to be done at 2, so I got us started at 7. It meant starting before I had gotten a load of laundry going and done the dishes, which I hated, but it was SO worth it to know that I would be done at 2.

 

Even more than the children, *I* needed an end time. I needed to know when I could stop being a teacher and go back to being just Mum. When the children were in high school, they had to work longer (most of the time they weren't spending on gymnastics or family things (lots of family things), but I put everything I needed to do with them in the morning so that I was still done teaching by 2. I could read papers after supper or help with something or record what we had done or whatever, but I found that I needed to do any teaching in the morning or there was a good chance I wasn't going to do it. That end point was the key to keeping my good attitude and my patience.

 

If I were you, I would do a little math, decide on an end time, and announce tomorrow morning that you are stopping at x-o'clock. Do math so that gets done even if they manage to make it take six hours. Do something fun and easy after math (so they get a break without your having to round them up again). Take a ten minute bathroom-then-run-around-the-house break at 10:00. Take a half hour for lunch at 12:00. Set the timer for both breaks. Leave language arts for last. If you don't get to language arts for the whole rest of the year, it won't be a disaster. After you make your announcement DON'T MENTION IT AGAIN until 3:00, when you get to say, "School's over!" Don't mention that now that we have an end time, they have to work harder. You don't want them to know this is a plot to "fix" them. Children can be incredibly stubbourn for months, for years, once they think they are being fixed. Whatever you do, DON'T make any threats about not ending at the end time. If you do that, all the benefits of the end time being the end time will vanish. Pick up from where ever you left off in language arts the next day. Resign yourself to not finishing the book this year. It would be a small price to pay for children who just do their schoolwork with a minimum of nagging. If you notice a child dawdling, just say gently, "Keep going. Show me what you are supposed to do next. Ok, are you all set?" Most of the time, when my children stopped it was because they didn't quite understand something or they couldn't think of something to write. Once I unstuck them, they proceeded on until they got stuck again. Do this for the rest of the school year.

 

As the time goes by and your children realize that they can watch the clock and see when they will be done, they should relax and start working better during the day. Meanwhile, don't worry about how much they are dawdling. As long as they get their math done, they will be ok.

 

Next year, at the beginning of the year, you can announce that now that everyone is older, they will have math homework every night, because they need time to practise what they are learning on their own and because it is hard to remember the math from lesson to lesson without reviewing it every night. Assign a few problems to the younger ones and let the older ones do the whole excersize in the evening. The same with any foreign languages. As the children get older, they can do reading and work on their papers then, too. That will give you more time during the school day. If you want to try some looser homeschooling, all you have to do is take the last hour of the day and designate it as independent project time. Let the children decide what they want to work on during that time. The only rule is that they have to be learning something. They can't just say, "I want to learn about castles. Let's go build a lego castle." First, they have to go to the library and get some books out about castles and read them and THEN they can build their castle. If they want to do an experiment, they have to write it up. If they aren't inclined to try something (like making a castle), or to write about what they have learned or observed, or at least tell you all about it, you might need to make the rule that they need to produce some sort of output for each learning project.

 

Mine were utterly utterly incapable of retaining their math or foreign language if they didn't see it twice a day. I suspect that you might have the same problem. This was a very simple fix with magical results.

 

HTH

Nan

 

No, not a set start/end time. I have been sending my oldest to be earlier, so he gets up earlier and gets a move on his day (without being cranky). Time will tell. You're on to something with the start/end time though. It makes since, I'd just have to tweek it for our family :). I appreciate ALL of your insight. You have taken so much time sharing your thoughts. Thank you.

 

Concrete start and finish times, ways to mark the end of one thing and the beginning of another are helpful to me and my boys. Honestly, I think I need those as much as they do. I need the transition time.

 

One thing that has been a huge help to me this spring (since the onset of the Februar-ies!) is to treat displays of bad attitudes in a non-personal way. At times I felt they were an attack on me--a way to manipulate Mom into stopping, or just to make Mom mad. And because I felt that way, most of the time the attacks did make me pretty mad and frustrated. So I quit taking them that way.

I started to treat them as game infractions. A certain level of complaining in a respectful way is tolerated. But complaining without a point gets you a penalty. I keep the penalties fairly set, so that for a certain display I know which penalty to call. By now they pretty much know what gets you what in the house. They also know that they can't upset Mom that much anymore.

 

YES, I do need to treat bad attitudes in a non-personal way. I am so sensitive to everything that it's a struggle, especially at this time of year...yuck.

 

I would suggest against that. Unschooling is really a very different educational paradigm, and for many of us who are accustomed to conventional education try unschooling, we get antsy to see our kids learn something, produce something, to look academic. Five months of doing nothing isn't unschooling, it's taking months off (really quite different). The rule of thumb I hear the most is to take off one month for each year of education - for the parent. That means if the unschool parent graduated from high school, take off 12 months at least to learn to re-evaluate how learning happens, to stop expecting certain production. I think this is valuable advice, and seems to be helpful to many people who learn how to make unschooling work well. It also means you don't have to reign kids in after having so many months of seemingly no academic instruction.

 

Starting off slowly, dropping one subject at a time, works well for many people. It allows them to see if they're comfortable with continuing in this mode or not. It also allows them to see what kinds of issues are most important to address.

 

Having said this, taking months off for a break is always a pleasant idea, regardless of what you end up doing.

 

:)

 

Yes, months off for a break is always a pleasant idea, isn't it?

That's not how unschooling works. What are you afraid to let go of? Kids who are zoology/herpetology minded don't have to stop learning. Unschooling allows them the time to focus more on their interests and develop new interests that spin off those. For example, my oldest enjoys physiology. Learning the biology of the different organs led to learning microbiology, which led to learning chemistry, which led to learning calculus. Because these things are all related, they're all relevant and therefore interesting to him. Why would your kids want to stop exploring something they enjoy? The point of unschooling is to give kids the time they desire to explore their interests. The parent's role is to provide pertinent experiences and advice, such as how to identify problems and help them explore various solutions.

 

Honestly, it's the math/writing/science that I'm fearful of letting go. My boys are mathophobic. And to get into Uni, you obviously need to know math/science/writing, or else you're spending MORE time/money taking remedial classes at college. I totally see what your saying with learning leading to other things, I'm just too uptight to let go fully.

My kids needed a reality check on their lives and what they must do. We talked about our roles. They are to learn most days of the week doing school work with me. We start at 9am unless we have some really late thing the night before. I have to get up too regardless. When sick I still get them set up to get their work done that can be done without me. Consistency has been key here. They understand all the subjects they must learn. They get to have input on curriculum and activities and such. They know they won't like their 'job' some days but we still do it. Daddy goes to work and is consistent so we have shelter and food and extras. If he can do it, they can do it. Mommy cooks and cleans and would prefer to be hiking some tall mountain instead but she comes to the school room daily as well. Once we set out the expectations of all in the household we got consistent. No, we don't always want to be there. yes, my son needs nagging for anything he does in life. But consistency is key and when we are it goes much smoother. So those days we all need a break we can do it knowing the next day we are back at it.

 

Oh yes, I just had a long speel with my ds12 about the above plus more. We also talked about life goals and how we can achieve them...working hard to get the basics down is a huge part. Good attitudes, diligence and more. Sorry, I am tired lol.

 

I have a thought that I think I did not express adequately yesterday. And I may have missed if you already said...and this may not apply to you at all, in any way, so please don't be offended and dismiss if it is totally off target... :D

 

Do you have a schedule? If so, do you stick to it? When I read what you wrote above, I thought about the times I have been there. A few years ago, I lived this pattern... Picture it in a loop...

 

We were all cranky, and I let things slide, to avoid stress.

Instant relaxation. Easy days.

Then I got stressed because I let things slide.

Oh my! These kids need to be doing ____ or, worse, these kids can't do ____?!

So, I got a little demanding and required more.

Guess what? The kids were used to relaxed mom and goofing off.

But I was serious, so I stuck to my guns.

This was stressful, so they resisted. Everyone was cranky.

They worked, because ultimately I am the authority here, but it was a fight.

We moved along and made progress, but painfully, with lots of attitude.

I would think how did things get this way?

We were all cranky, so I let things slide.

Circle back around again...

 

I had some other things going on back then (deployed DH, younger kids, undiagnosed thyroid problem, etc.). Wrote about it a little in a big thread here. It was a real turning point for me, but what I ultimately realized is that my expectations, attitude, and commitment have more impact on our days than anything else.

 

Do formal school. Do unschooling. But whatever you do, do it consistently. I really think lack of consistency is the reason for so many homeschooling challenges. Whether folks are constantly changing schedules, curriculum, or their overall philosophy, too much change leaves kids reeling. The younger they are, the less likely they are to be able to express their confusion and frustration in any other way than resistance. What works best for us is a routine that everyone can count on. Vascillating between relaxed days off and days of demanding seatwork sends kids the message that work is negotiable.

 

Anyway, what finally changed the pattern here was for me to change the pattern here. Yes, the zen showdown was part of that. Their attitudes were my fault. It was my inconsistency that caused their resistance. I had to be kind and calm while they worked past that and adjusted to the new expectation, which was a routine we follow every day. Breaks are scheduled, not the result of impromptu Mommy tantrums of throwing her hands in the air and retreating to the bedroom (LOL, yes, I did that too). We are at peace now, have been for a long time. I will say that when I first got back on track, I did so with frank honesty about my own failings. I also made sure to plan some seriously engaging stuff to ease them into the routine and lure them to a POV of schoolwork being just as engaging as play, even to schoolwork as play.

 

 

 

Also, the best thing I ever did was to move content work to the morning, when I had energy. I keep all the kids together for content. I do one-on-one skill work with each child in the afternoon, when I have less physical energy and find sitting at the school table next to one kid, sipping tea to be preferable. Your older kids are old enough that if they don't get it all during their one-on-one time, you could assign the rest for homework. My kids have gotten extremely efficient, having this one hour of supervised, mom-assisted teaching/seatwork.

 

Again, might not apply at all! :)

 

Yes...yes...yes! I totally see what you're saying it is a cycle. Now it's up to me to break it. The biggest thing, I think is getting my ds12 into a spot where he's not playing with the toddler, talking to his brother, bugging his sister, trying to do school in his room with all of his STUFF around him. Basement, or my room. That's where I've let him know he will be from now on, unless he has a problem, or we're doing group work.

 

Also, sitting with my ds10 (aspie) is HUGE. It helps him to stay ON TRACK so much better. He was soooo proud of himself b/c he got most of his 6 times tables right today on Math Rider. It's a huge step.

 

I can see where I haven't been consistant, being tough were I need to be (and tougher than I need to be on other things that DON'T MATTER). Thank you so much!

 

This. The whole thing. Much as I hate schedules, I used schedules to "fix" us. To fix me, too. if, after doing it for a month or two, the schedule still seemed really oppressive and hard to get through, then I concluded it was a bad schedule and made a better one. Usually, if I was still cranky even though we had all been "good" and stuck to the plan for a week or two, it was because I was sick or because what we were trying to do for school didn't really fit in the amount of time I had planned for it. Every single schedule I ever made seemed impossible when we first started it in Sept. and by Nov., it seemed fine. Occasionally, it required a bit of fine tuning. I was very careful to do my math before writing the schedule out, though. I had times for each subject at first, and then after we were all in the routine, I just had a few marker times, like "we have to start math at 7", "we have to start Latin at 9", "we have to start great books at 12:30". Other things were mushier between those spots. I didn't know what the marker spots were until we had worked with the schedule for awhile, so I could tell if my time estimates were realistic. I tested times by doing things myself, sometimes, when I was trying to come up with the schedule. What we (or the children) actually did during the time slots was sometimes amazingly loose, like "think up an experiment and do it" or "read your library books" or "work on your project" with me not really knowing what the project entailed. Sometimes it was very appealing and we all couldn't wait to do it. We enjoyed great books. We read books like The Odyssey and Beowulf and Canterbury Tales together aloud, sitting on the dock dabbling our feet or curled up in front of the fire with the dog on our feet. The children helped me choose the books. But we did that between 12:30 and 2:00 and at 2:00 we stopped. Otherwise I couldn't deal with the stress of wondering if we were doing enough school.

 

I moved history and science to Fridays and did skill work Mon through Thurs. Except math. Math happened every day.

 

Nan

 

Thanks again Nan.

 

I've been burned out and getting crispier around the edges with each passing year. I'd change curriculum. I'd change furniture. More art supplies. Longer periods of time off. Nothing was recharging my enthusiasm.

 

It was at an open house for a virtual charter school that I got my ah ha moment.

 

All these years I've been focusing on "finishing" and "mastery" and " character" so much that we'd lost site of the big picture, "Progress." I can chuck the other ideals as long as they are making progress.

 

And....

 

I've also given myself permission to "shut the door" on my homeschooling naysers (local coop, family, friends, husband) access to what we are or are not using for curriculum. Really if they're not going to pull up a chair and share their expertise then, "Buh bye."

 

Since I don't have to finish it's OK to to take a mid-winter semester to do some of the fun curriculums we've never had time for because we're racing to the end of the year. This year I decided that another curriculum, computer based and not dependent on my energy level, was going to fill in for me. Low and behold my son, my personal migraine this year, is up and done with his computer courses before 8 a.m. He love the freedom. I love the freedom.

 

For the first time in years we're headed into March with renewed energy and enthusiasm. It's been YEARS!

 

You're kids aren't where they were last year at the time. You're doing great Mama! Don't loose sight of that when everyone around you is nitpicking because they don't do hours like so-and-so, etc.

 

Oh my gosh...you made a lightbulb go off in my head with the above statements. Yes...they're making progress. Slow or quick, doesn't matter as much as moving forward. Yeah, I'm working on not worrying about what others' think. That in and of itself is a process lol.

 

Thank you for your encouagement :thumbup:. It really helped!

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I wanted to add...it doesn't help in the slightest that I'm pretty darn sure that I'm going through pre-menopause. In fact, I'm almost certain. My mother was completely through it by the time she was a year older than I am now (she was 36 when she was completely done).

 

So, the hormones can and are nuts. I go from crying to angry to laughing with-in an hour ;).

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Spectrumy kids work really well with positive reinforcement. I have 2 high functioning autistic kids and one with iadd. I have jars full of small candies, trinkets, stickers, and tickets that can be saved for a big prize. The days I forget to use reinforcers are horrible.

 

Would your aspie benefit from some kind of sensory help? A big excercise ball to sit on instead of a chair or one of those nubby sensory pads? Some kind of a fidgit?

 

As an aside, I have a hard time with one of my kids and math fact retention. I have found a few things that help. My kiddo makes posters of different things she needs to remember. I also have a great book Times Tables the Fun Way which is a picture method for learning times tables and a few funny stories to remember them as well. Have you tried any Life of Fred books as a supplement? They are funny and allow for some "real" math learning.

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I had no clue you had so much on your plate! No wonder you're frantic! Your LA plus math and ditch the rest plan is FABULOUS. Yes, yes, yes you can unschool content. That's exactly when you go to library books and kits and guides and audiotapes or videos or whatever is lying around. Or you decide it happens AFTER the move.

 

So is your move going to resolve that commute? Sure would be lovely for you. :)

 

Well I'm glad you're at least seeing through the fog and have a realistic plan. Good job. You're doing it, you'll survive, and you'll look back a tougher chick for it. :)

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I humbly suggest doing short spurts of academics. Cross off half of those problems in those books. Go back to TT and reinforce with games. Do you have a sizable white board? How about putting up a few sentences on the board and let them use different colors to correct the mistakes? Put them on teams. I use daily grammar and it is light but gets the basics done and can be fun if done on a board with markers. Go to the library and let them take out 4-5 books on topics they will enjoy or create a book basket your self. Let them narrate to you and give them some light copy work. We all get to where you are I think. Every winter I find myself shopping curriculum because I am bored. This year I vowed to stick with it.

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Ok...we're putting our house on the market in the next two weeks. My dh leaves Mondays by noon, is gone working 2.5 hours away all week, and then comes home Friday mornings, goes to sleep by 9 am and isn't up until early evening (he's sleeping b/c he works overnights). This has been happening for almost a year.

 

I admit, I am totally stressed out with putting the house on the market. I'm purging lots of stuff, trying to maintain the house, and homeschooling (oh and driving kids and cooking and disiplining...). I'm very stressed with thinking about how I need to keep the house picked up b/c, if I let it get out of hand, it will take hours and hours to straighten up when we have a house showing. I don't have hours and hours, I have a TODDLER ;). Yes, the kids can and DO help (alot), but they don't do the job that "I" would do, you know?

 

**********************************************************************************

 

THIS is the exact reason I unschooled for 8 months. My dh went to work in another state and I was at home with a 10 yo, 9, yo, and 2 yo, with NO family to help and NO close friends. It was up to ME to keep the house clean for buyers and there was no way I could do that and academics at the same time. There would be times when the realtor would call and say that someone was IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD and wanted to stop by. :scared:

Yea. I still say if you want to unschool, to give it a shot and see how it works out for you and your kids.

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Goodness gracious!!!! No wonder you are struggling. Ok - new advice lol: Do math. Do instruments (as far as I am concerned, that is like math lol but not everybody feels this way). Do science, since it is going to bother you if you don't. THEN do language arts. Honestly, if they skip doing it formally for the rest of the year, it won't matter because they've already made what progress they need to make this year. If you wanted to, you good do something like this: tell them they all have to read for an hour and write or draw about what they read for the next twenty minutes. Don't correct it. If they aren't finished after twenty minutes, they can continue tomorrow or start something new. Just file whatever they've done and make them look at the file once a week. Tell them the object is to show improvement and to have neat looking writing and drawings. Pick books they will like, that aren't too hard to read. Whether they are fiction or non-fiction doesn't matter. What matters is that the material be absorbing so they can manage the whole hour. And very important (just in case you are too frazzled to think of it) - tell them that you are only doing school this way until next fall, when you will begin again with a full schedule.

 

Just in case: Do you know the trick for doing the nine's table? Say you want to do 9 x 6. Hold your two hands out and bend down the sixth finger from the left (your right thumb). What you have left is 5 fingers, a gap, and 4 fingers. Read that as 54. So, this works because if you right out 0 through 9 going down the paper and then start at the top and next to the first numbers write out 9 through 0, you have the nine's tables. 09 18 27 36 45 54 63 72 81 90. He still has to practise them until they are automatic and fast, of course, but it helps at the beginning. Just remember that to KEEP something, he probably needs to review way more frequently than once a day, at least at first. My kids did anyway. Probably not what you wanted to hear, but if you explain how memorizing something works, how you have to get it into your head initially and then review before it goes out of your head again and then at increasingly long intervals, it might help make him willing to review throughout the day. GRIN - you realized that you have to recognize all those multiples in order to do long division, so you must be doing a good job teaching, despite being distracted with moving and all.

 

Ok - so last bit of advice - if you keep drinking water, it helps with the hormone swings. I guess it helps your body to flush out the excess or something like that.

 

You are right. You need your mother. Too bad teleportation isn't invented yet. Showing the house with a toddler OR homeschooling lots of kids OR your husband's long commute would be enough to destabilize everything all by itself. No wonder you are struggling. You are doing great if you can still think clearly enough to want to fix homeschooling.

 

Hugs

Nan

 

 

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:grouphug: :grouphug:

You've already gotten a lot of good advice, but I just want to commiserate and say - I know how you feel, and hang in there.

Looks like you're oldest HS'ed child is 10 or 11, right? If so - you have a lot of wiggle room to un-school/fun school and still not be behind in any way. Enjoy this time while they are young with them and take a lot of that pressure off of yourself.

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Naturally, I'm having technical difficulties with my laptop lately so I can't use quotes or paragraph. DH is on me to replace this laptop. I'm using a 6 day schedule so I can do some subjects every other day or every two days, and all the subjects revolve evenly. We are doing 3-4 subjects a day, and school 5 days a week. One subject at the end of the schedule that carries over, subjects that are done every other day end up alternating between two-three times a week. The skill based items like reading, writing, math take priority. The content subjects only have one line in our schedule, and I have one line of things we do once or twice a week. Next year I'm using mostly level based curriculum like MCT for grammar. I plan to start a few subjects earlier than the rest after our break this year, math and writing. This way we will be able to finish those in a year. We have been testing this out for the past few weeks, school is going well, the house is clean, and the DS4 is getting his share of attention. I let the DS10 take play breaks between each subject. We do one or two in the morning, and if we don't finish we do a few more after lunch. The thought occurred to me last night that I should make a journal of all the other things he accomplishes now as a result. He has a lot of free time to do snap circuits and other pet projects. Things that we were not getting to like art has came back into the picture. A lot of curricula is designed to be done every day for so many weeks a year, I refuse to conform to it. I have promised the DS we will blow up and/or burn the Hake's Grammar book when the weather changes. EDIT: You could use any number of days in the schedule I just needed the 6 slots for the books I'm using.

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