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What can I do to make 1st-2nd grade more fun?


T'smom
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I have a very, very stubborn strong-willed child. I have high academic expectations. He's pretty bright and doesn't like it when things don't come super-easy to him.

 

He is fighting me every.step. of the way. He really needs phonics practice, but he HATES OPGTR and Explode the Code. Right now, I am insisting on one lesson of OPGTR and 2 pages of ETC (we are in book 3 1/2). We also (at a different time of day) read one or two of those early reader books (usually level 2) he reads a page and I read a page. He doesn't fight this (much) but he is still very laboriously sounding things out, so I really think he needs the other. I don't want him to hate school. I do want him to learn to read!! What can I do to replace ETC and/or OPGTR to make it more fun? I really don't think I am asking him to work at a level that is too hard. He used to tolerate OPGTR and liked ETC. He liked to color the pictures when he was done. But now he cries every time I pull the book out.

 

We use RightStart for math and we are almost done with B. (we have about 25 lessons left). He also used to like this, but doesn't anymore. We are working on two digit addition and he does not like having to think through more than one step. I thought maybe it was too hard, so we took a couple weeks off and worked on math facts and some MIquon, but he doesn't like it any better now. He does like solving word problems and playing the games. He doesn't like using the abacus (or anything really) to help solve problems, he wants to just know the answer without having to work for it.

 

He is okay with WWE and FLL.

 

He does love to do projects and activities. BUT by the time I have dragged him kicking and screaming through math, reading, and handwriting there is not a lot of patience left for projects and fun history/science. We even have the Magic School Bus kits delivered and we haven't even opened the last 3 or 4.

 

I'm also pregnant and having some complications...(very painful, but not actually harmful).

 

Any advice on how to change things up now and for next year? Any ideas on sparking a love of learning? We homeschool for academic reasons and I'm finding it difficult to insist on learning the basics but nurturing a love of learning too.

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I have a very, very stubborn strong-willed child. I have high academic expectations. He's pretty bright and doesn't like it when things don't come super-easy to him.

 

He is fighting me every.step. of the way. He really needs phonics practice, but he HATES OPGTR and Explode the Code. Right now, I am insisting on one lesson of OPGTR and 2 pages of ETC (we are in book 3 1/2). We also (at a different time of day) read one or two of those early reader books (usually level 2) he reads a page and I read a page. He doesn't fight this (much) but he is still very laboriously sounding things out, so I really think he needs the other. I don't want him to hate school. I do want him to learn to read!! What can I do to replace ETC and/or OPGTR to make it more fun? I really don't think I am asking him to work at a level that is too hard. He used to tolerate OPGTR and liked ETC. He liked to color the pictures when he was done. But now he cries every time I pull the book out.

 

We use RightStart for math and we are almost done with B. (we have about 25 lessons left). He also used to like this, but doesn't anymore. We are working on two digit addition and he does not like having to think through more than one step. I thought maybe it was too hard, so we took a couple weeks off and worked on math facts and some MIquon, but he doesn't like it any better now. He does like solving word problems and playing the games. He doesn't like using the abacus (or anything really) to help solve problems, he wants to just know the answer without having to work for it.

 

He is okay with WWE and FLL.

 

He does love to do projects and activities. BUT by the time I have dragged him kicking and screaming through math, reading, and handwriting there is not a lot of patience left for projects and fun history/science. We even have the Magic School Bus kits delivered and we haven't even opened the last 3 or 4.

 

I'm also pregnant and having some complications...(very painful, but not actually harmful).

 

Any advice on how to change things up now and for next year? Any ideas on sparking a love of learning? We homeschool for academic reasons and I'm finding it difficult to insist on learning the basics but nurturing a love of learning too.

 

I would not continue trying to use something that my dc HATED, so OPGTR would be out the window yesterday. Ditto with RightStart. Gone, gone, gone.

 

My children and I would have hated having to use an abacus. Try something more traditional, such as Rod and Staff's arithmetic.

 

I would not do vocabulary-controlled basal readers. In fact, at this point, because things are so tense, I would only read aloud to him from good, worthy books and not require him to read aloud.

 

I think it might be good to rethink your vocabulary when describing him--things like "He doesn't like it when things don't come super easy to him," and he wants to know the answer "without having to work for it." Those are so destructive to his self esteem. You might not say them aloud to him, but your actions and reactions are saying it.

 

I'd take out those Magic School Bus kits and call it a day. And I'd consider something like Spalding or one of its spin-offs/look-alikes, or *only* ETC for awhile. If he likes math games, check out the Wonder Number game.

 

You might look into Charlotte Mason, or a unit study such as KONOS or the Weaver.

 

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First: how old is DS? If he's a young 1st/2nd grader, perhaps he's really not ready yet for this level of work maturity-wise and is trying to tell you in the only way a young child can (pitching a fit). Just a thought!

 

Second: how long are you spending at these activities? At this age, the I would estimate an average attention span to be about 20-25 minutes for math, 10-12 minutes for OPGTR, 5-10 minutes for ETC. If it's taking significantly longer than that, then stop the lesson when you hit the time limit, and you can continue the same lesson the next day. That might also slow things down a bit which can help him if he's pitching a fit due to "not getting it by giving him more time to absorb a lesson.

 

A few ideas:

 

1. To "spice up" your phonics and decoding:

Letter Factory DVD -- and sequels

Starfall free website

Owl and Mouse website/software (some free)

Reader Rabbit software

Bailey's Book House software

free printable phonics board games

 

2. To "spice up" ETC -- instead of writing in the workbook...

- use foam or magnetic letters to spell out the words

- write on a whiteboard or window or sliding glass door with dry erase markers

- spell with finger in a tray of sand or cornmeal

- roll out "snakes" from clay and form into letters

- write one letter each on index cards; spread all over the floor; jump from letter to letter

(outside version: write letters BIG with sidewalk chalk, and jump)

 

3. Intersperse ETC and OPGTR with other resources, such as:

Complete Book of Phonics

Complete Book of Reading

 

4. Make the words read/learned in OPGTR an accomplishment to take pride in:

- write each learned word on an index card, which DS gets to keep in his specially decorated "word box"

 

5. General scheduling ideas:

- start your morning with a nature walk, trampoline or jump roping, bouncing on a bouncy-ball, running to the corner and back, marching or dancing vigorously to upbeat music, or other physical activity -- repeat in between the "tough" subjects of math and LA

- intersperse math and language arts activities with science, art, physical activity, and enjoyed activities

- try dropping one subject each day (have DS pull an index card from the jar each morning, and that's the subject that gets skipped for the day; once all the cards have been picked and 1 subject dropped each day over the course of a week or so, then put them all back and start that cycle again)

- have each day of the week have a special emphasis to look forward to: Monday = educational games day; Tuesday = tea (or hot cocoa) and poetry; Wednesday = wacky Wednesday (do school in goofy ways); Thursday = science extravaganza; Friday = field trip or art day

 

Here are some past threads that might help with general ideas:

- How do I make school more fun?

- My 7yo says school is boring

- Wacky Wednesdays: need goofy ideas

- Son's idea of how to make school fun

 

 

BEST of luck! Warmly, Lori D.

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How old is he?

Sounds like it might be too much writing?  My 7.5 yr old has a very limited amount of writing she can/will do before she starts to have melt-downs.  And when she was really struggling with reading, it seemed to really compound that frustration.  There's no way we could've done a lesson in OPGTR plus 2 pages in ETC.  OPGTR can be mentally challenging... and ETC has a lot of writing.  Maybe alternate the days you do them?

 

RightStart...  I've never used this.  But it's a pricey curriculum and you've only got 25 lessons left.  I say *modify* and finish up the level and THEN maybe look around for something that he likes better.  Can the work be done without the abacus?  Can you do most of it orally or via games?  

 

Maybe do reading in the a.m. and math in the afternoon.  Break up the challenging subjects like that?  If you're not opposed to rewards, you could always give an ice cream sprinkle per problem completed with a good attitude (or mini-M&M or something). :)

 

ETA:  maybe he would enjoy some semi-independent craft projects?  I try to pull a few Pinterest crafts/art activities each month (seasonal themed, usually) that we try to do.  Just so it doesn't feel like we only do work-work-work.  (Now, I don't always follow through... I haven't yet TOUCHED our January craft list  :glare:  but that happens... :o)

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Whether or not you change the programs that your son does not enjoy, in order to keep that love of learning you have to include the stuff that he thinks is fun.  The basics are important, and I understand having to keep plugging away at them, but no matter how long you spend on them you need to make time for the fun stuff.  Start the day by setting the timer for 30 minutes and opening up one of the Magic School Bus kits and letting him enjoy it until the timer goes off.  Do some phonics or math for a short time, then find a picture book that he enjoys and read to him.  Practice some handwriting or do ETC, then read to him on a subject that he enjoys (my 1st grader likes Story of the World).  Finish up the phonics or math that you didn't do earlier, ask him to read you a page or two from his reader (that is plenty if he is still working on sounding words out), and he is done for the day.

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Thanks. There are some great ideas to mull over. He IS young. But in my state he made the cutoff date by a lot. He turned 6 in September, if we lived in a state that had an Aug./Sept cut off date, he wouldn't have made it and would only be in K. But the cut off date is In Dec. which means that half the kids starting kinder are only 4. Full day in most districts around here. There is a chance he will go to school at some point, so I do feel pressure to keep him at grade level with his peers. He is first grade this year, but I've been thinking a lot about next year.....I'd like to get some planning done before the baby gets here.

 

The writing thing is interesting. I had him doing a workbook for handwriting (a reason for handwriting) where you write a couple words several times each from a bible verse then on Thursday you trace the verse and on Friday you write the verse out. He didn't like writing the individual words and he asked if he could just write the verse every day. So, of course, that was fine with me, but it was more writing, so I cut that back to every other day and we write his Awana verses for handwriting. He doesn't mind doing that.

 

School isn't the only thing he has fits about. Also about anything he doesn't want to do, like brush his teeth.

 

But we will do a very short day today and no matter what....we will break out a magic school bus kit!

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Thanks. There are some great ideas to mull over. He IS young. But in my state he made the cutoff date by a lot. He turned 6 in September, if we lived in a state that had an Aug./Sept cut off date, he wouldn't have made it and would only be in K. But the cut off date is In Dec. which means that half the kids starting kinder are only 4. Full day in most districts around here. There is a chance he will go to school at some point, so I do feel pressure to keep him at grade level with his peers. He is first grade this year, but I've been thinking a lot about next year.....I'd like to get some planning done before the baby gets here.

 

The writing thing is interesting. I had him doing a workbook for handwriting (a reason for handwriting) where you write a couple words several times each from a bible verse then on Thursday you trace the verse and on Friday you write the verse out. He didn't like writing the individual words and he asked if he could just write the verse every day. So, of course, that was fine with me, but it was more writing, so I cut that back to every other day and we write his Awana verses for handwriting. He doesn't mind doing that.

 

School isn't the only thing he has fits about. Also about anything he doesn't want to do, like brush his teeth.

 

But we will do a very short day today and no matter what....we will break out a magic school bus kit!

 

Do you think that all children who would be in the same class as your ds in school are "at grade level"? I can assure you that they are not.

 

If you keep up with his reading, handwriting, and arithmetic, he'll be fine.

 

It is normal for children not to want to do things like brush their teeth. It doesn't mean that they are stubborn and strong-willed. It just means that they are children and need to be instructed and corrected consistently. That's what we parents do. :-)

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I like the ideas the ladies here have shared. And Magic Schoolbus is great.

 

For use the fun part of the day was Five In A Row (website with sample week, by the same name). We loved the snuggle time reading a picture book and doing 1 or 2 activities/youtube/vid/etc and Bible verses for the character lessons. Memories that will be with us forever, and the icing is learning was happening.

 

I kept phonics simple with Phonics Pathways and math with Rod and Staff 1. Pentime for handwriting.

 

If your child does go back to school he won't need to be at any certain level for content subjects, so don't let that bother you.

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It is normal for children not to want to do things like brush their teeth. It doesn't mean that they are stubborn and strong-willed. It just means that they are children and need to be instructed and corrected consistently. That's what we parents do. :-)

 

Yes, patience, patience, patience!  He will grow and change!  Patiently instruct and correct him--you won't see immediate results in every area, but with time, eventually he will learn.  

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Y'know I bet a lot of the problems can be traced back to not getting enough physical activity. It's cold here. Really, really cold. Getting out enough is not really an option for another few weeks. He does go out to play some, but it's not nearly as much as in the fall, spring, and summer. In the summer, we are outside almost all the time, swimming and riding bikes. Winter is hard. Especially this one with the pregnancy complications that make getting around difficult, the fact that my snow pants don't fit, we would have to drive 45 minutes to get to a place like a Y, and you have to pay an annual membership and we could only use it in the winter. Driving conditions here have been especially bad this year. We are gone a lot of the summer and a chunk of spring/fall, we can't afford to pay membership fees for something we would only use for a few months. It is something we have looked into before.

 

I don't think he is strong willed because he doesn't want to brush his teeth. I think he is strong willed because of the way he acts when refusing to do it.

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Based on a number of things you have said in all your posts so far I got the impression that your child wants things to mean something - it sounds like he does not want practice of concepts unless it can be meaningful - which is why he would probably rather copy a meaningful phrase that he likes than just single words that together mean nothing. It is also probably why he prefers word problems to adding two digit numbers - can't you teach all maths through word problems that hold meaning for him - this is the point of math anyway - just change those two digit sums into something fun with aliens or dinosaurs or spaceships or whatever he is interested in but that will mean he must still do the math.

 

As for the phonics - phonics readers are notoriously BORING - they have little meaning as the writers are just trying to make sure they all fit some rule. It really would be better in a child like yours to write a sentence that he would be excited to read and then teach him the phonics so he can read that - even if it is phonics that is much further along in the OPGTR book and you think he should have got lots more other phonics first - trust me he will cope if he enjoys what he is reading - you have the whole OPGTR so you can look up what he needs to know and teach it - you don't need to go in order. Also when things have meaning it is easier to string the phonics together once he has sounded out the sentence and you will find his reading becomes less disjointed as he learns that it makes sense and sounds better when read as we speak - give it time though.

 

If he is ok with WWE and is doing copywork in that (which again will be more meaningful copywork) then use that as handwriting practice too - it will be more work for you as you need to make sure everything is correctly written and neat, but you could start by expecting only the first word of the copywork to be in perfect handwriting and gradually increase this.

 

You may find this child does better with unit studies or you may be able to sneak in some math, reading or writing when doing the subjects he likes more - like science or history or geography - it takes more planning from you, but may suit your child better.

 

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Based on a number of things you have said in all your posts so far I got the impression that your child wants things to mean something - it sounds like he does not want practice of concepts unless it can be meaningful - which is why he would probably rather copy a meaningful phrase that he likes than just single words that together mean nothing. It is also probably why he prefers word problems to adding two digit numbers - can't you teach all maths through word problems that hold meaning for him - this is the point of math anyway - just change those two digit sums into something fun with aliens or dinosaurs or spaceships or whatever he is interested in but that will mean he must still do the math.

 

As for the phonics - phonics readers are notoriously BORING - they have little meaning as the writers are just trying to make sure they all fit some rule. It really would be better in a child like yours to write a sentence that he would be excited to read and then teach him the phonics so he can read that - even if it is phonics that is much further along in the OPGTR book and you think he should have got lots more other phonics first - trust me he will cope if he enjoys what he is reading - you have the whole OPGTR so you can look up what he needs to know and teach it - you don't need to go in order. Also when things have meaning it is easier to string the phonics together once he has sounded out the sentence and you will find his reading becomes less disjointed as he learns that it makes sense and sounds better when read as we speak - give it time though.

 

If he is ok with WWE and is doing copywork in that (which again will be more meaningful copywork) then use that as handwriting practice too - it will be more work for you as you need to make sure everything is correctly written and neat, but you could start by expecting only the first word of the copywork to be in perfect handwriting and gradually increase this.

 

You may find this child does better with unit studies or you may be able to sneak in some math, reading or writing when doing the subjects he likes more - like science or history or geography - it takes more planning from you, but may suit your child better.

I think you are right. I do need to devote more energy into making things meaningful. I had sortof sensed that, but hadn't been able to articulate it yet. I do do things like making the math problems about how many ninjas are fighting how many bad guys or if we start out with so many ninjas and so many are killed, how many are left.

 

The leveled readers I was talking about are kindof like that. I'm talking about the "step into reading" or books like that. They usually have levels 1-4. I take him to the library and he picks out whatever he wants in level 1 or 2. It's not like the Bob books.

 

I think I may have made it sound worse than it is because I need advice on the stuff the negative stuff, not the positive stuff. And it hasn't been like this very long. It maybe started in November and we took most of December off because of traveling. I've been laid up a lot and thinking about how I want things to go next year. I'm thinking about implementing several things, like a poetry tea time and fun Fridays where we play a lot of games.

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 He turned 6 in September, if we lived in a state that had an Aug./Sept cut off date, he wouldn't have made it and would only be in K. 

 

Try not to compare him to his PS "peers." Seriously. Kids are all so different, especially at this age. (I've had to learn this the hard way & still fight it with all my kids - both + & -.)

 

I have one kid to whom almost everything comes easily. She actually has a visual memory, so she remembers how words are spelled (unlike her sisters) after she's read them several times. So, when she doesn't get something right the first time or right away, she struggles. It is important to work through those struggles and to HAVE those struggles. However, I learned something important from watching this dd during her horseback riding lessons. Her teacher always makes sure to end the lesson on a positive note - after she's done something correctly. So, dd struggles with something over & over for a short time, but the teacher always has her end with doing it correctly or, if that isn't possible, doing something correct that is very similar to what she was trying to do (but easier enough that she does it right). 

 

So, now, when dd struggles with something, I help her along, deal with the attitude, and then end with success before asking her to attempt something hard again. It is much easier to come back to the subject if you remember you ended on a positive than you ended up in tears trying to do long division or just couldn't remember how to spell 'of.' 

 

I'll end with an echo - short lessons! Keep doing games! (And don't be afraid to review math concepts for awhile with games and a different perspective like MEP. RS B can be pretty advanced for a 6 1/2 yr old.)

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Try not to compare him to his PS "peers." Seriously. Kids are all so different, especially at this age. (I've had to learn this the hard way & still fight it with all my kids - both + & -.)

 

I have one kid to whom almost everything comes easily. She actually has a visual memory, so she remembers how words are spelled (unlike her sisters) after she's read them several times. So, when she doesn't get something right the first time or right away, she struggles. It is important to work through those struggles and to HAVE those struggles. However, I learned something important from watching this dd during her horseback riding lessons. Her teacher always makes sure to end the lesson on a positive note - after she's done something correctly. So, dd struggles with something over & over for a short time, but the teacher always has her end with doing it correctly or, if that isn't possible, doing something correct that is very similar to what she was trying to do (but easier enough that she does it right). 

 

So, now, when dd struggles with something, I help her along, deal with the attitude, and then end with success before asking her to attempt something hard again. It is much easier to come back to the subject if you remember you ended on a positive than you ended up in tears trying to do long division or just couldn't remember how to spell 'of.' 

 

I'll end with an echo - short lessons! Keep doing games! (And don't be afraid to review math concepts for awhile with games and a different perspective like MEP. RS B can be pretty advanced for a 6 1/2 yr old.)

Stealing this!!!!!  Thank you!!!!

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My sons used to start whining when i would get the OPGTR out.  So I start making up index cards for the new words they would learn in each lesson, one word or sentence on each card.  if I thought I might forget something I needed to teach, I would make a little note to myself on the front or back of the card or on a separate card.  Then, when it was time to do phonics, I just pulled out the cards, told them the new information for the lesson and had them sound out each word or read the sentence on the cards.  If they sounded out the word or read the sentence correctly, they got to keep the card.  If not, I would put it last and give them another chance at it.  They loved 'winning' the cards and would count them when we were finished to see how many they had 'won'.

 

When they were a bit older and reading better, I was able to stop doing this.  I think they then understood that, even though the lesson had a lot of words in it (and probably had looked overwhelming to them before) many of the words in the lesson were for the teacher.  We were able to finish the book with no problem and they were reading at a 4th grade level when they were in 1st grade.  It is an awesome book if you can make it work for you.

 

I would personally drop ETC.  I don't think you need both OPGTR and ETC and it just adds more writing, which you also already have covered.  Just one less thing to fight about (I have a son like yours:).

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My sons used to start whining when i would get the OPGTR out. So I start making up index cards for the new words they would learn in each lesson, one word or sentence on each card. if I thought I might forget something I needed to teach, I would make a little note to myself on the front or back of the card or on a separate card. Then, when it was time to do phonics, I just pulled out the cards, told them the new information for the lesson and had them sound out each word or read the sentence on the cards. If they sounded out the word or read the sentence correctly, they got to keep the card. If not, I would put it last and give them another chance at it. They loved 'winning' the cards and would count them when we were finished to see how many they had 'won'.

 

When they were a bit older and reading better, I was able to stop doing this. I think they then understood that, even though the lesson had a lot of words in it (and probably had looked overwhelming to them before) many of the words in the lesson were for the teacher. We were able to finish the book with no problem and they were reading at a 4th grade level when they were in 1st grade. It is an awesome book if you can make it work for you.

 

I would personally drop ETC. I don't think you need both OPGTR and ETC and it just adds more writing, which you also already have covered. Just one less thing to fight about (I have a son like yours:).

I've been thinking about doing something like this. I was thinking maybe writing the rule on one side and four or five words that go along with the rule on the back. I want to be able to periodically review. Maybe keeping them in a box and reviewing two cards per day? I like the idea of earning the cards, but I know that once he had "earned" the card, he would balk at any revisiting the card. And we need to review. How did you handle reviewing?

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I don't have my son read directly out of OPGTR.  I think it overwhelms him.  I started teaching the new sound and then writing the words from the lesson letter by letter on a white board.  After we go through them letter by letter, I go back through a few of them and write the entire word for him to do without me breaking it down for him.  We then do the sentences.  It seems to work better than going through the book although we are doing the exact same thing, just on the white board. 

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I am always tempted to compare my children to what I imagine is going on with their same age peers in public school.  But, that is the beauty of homeschooling. You can do what is age appropriate for your child. A child who is ready to learn to read and ready to advance in math will be so much easier to teach and will enjoy the process so much more.

 

If you do want to compare...

My six year old is only on lesson 56 of OPG, copies one 6 - 10 word sentence, and is on lesson 52 of RS A.  It is probably behind many other 6 year olds, but this is what he (and I) can handle right now.

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My kids NEED history and science. For them, it is the fun stuff that makes learning their skill work have a point. Scale it back to the very most important stuff and slowly add in what is necessary. Once my kids can form their letters, I use writing and spelling and copywork to practice their handwriting. See where your overlap is and eliminate it. Make sure you're hitting the fun stuff and then treat any complaining or moaning as a discipline issue and not a school issue.

 

For comparison sake, Emmett turned six at the end of October. He does what it is in my signature.

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I would sit down and talk to your son. Explain that he does need to learn certain things, but ask him how he wants to learn. Listen to him. Compromise and make the decisions together. Obviously you are the parent, and make the decision in the end, but try change the course. The two of you together are an education team, and the team is not working at the moment. My children and I butt heads a lot less when they feel that they have some say and some control in their lives. 

 

Also, as for the weather, DANCE PARTY! We will blare music and just dance. If you are not up to it with the pregnancy, you would be amazed how happy they can be just having you watch and applaud them. 

 

We also use a timer so that we were only sitting for 15 minutes at a time at that age. Then we would do 5 minutes of something. At the moment, they pick, but when we are stuck inside I would have them do jumping jacks, do bear walks around the kitchen island. If you have the energy hide things around the house and then give clues for your son to go find them etc...

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I've been thinking about doing something like this. I was thinking maybe writing the rule on one side and four or five words that go along with the rule on the back. I want to be able to periodically review. Maybe keeping them in a box and reviewing two cards per day? I like the idea of earning the cards, but I know that once he had "earned" the card, he would balk at any revisiting the card. And we need to review. How did you handle reviewing?

 

They always knew that at the end of the lesson, after they had counted their cards, they gave them back to me and I put them away.  I would add them back in with another lesson when I wanted to review them.  Between the sheer number of words they go through and all of the sentences, they didn't really notice or, if they did, did not have an issue with it.  It has been a while now but I may have also told them that we had to review so we would remember better.  I do think reviewing may be a little less noticeable using cards though because it is harder to keep track of them when you go through so many.

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Hi,

 

I'm sorry but I wasn't able to figure out what all of the abbreviations were for:)

 

 

First, I would have to say that RightStart(RS) does not use any manipulatives that are age appropriate for 5 and 6 year olds.  I started using RS for my 5 year old last year.  He was fighting me on RS.  In a year and a half I realized that we had only done 4 lessons.  I finally realized that something's not right ....  this is not for us:)  So at 6 1/2 years I switched his math to Making Math Meaningful (MMM).  We started MMM and he loves it!  And it suddenly, dawned on me as to why.....  Why because the manipulatives are ones that he can relate to and can hold his attention at a 6 year old level.  

 

The RS manipulatives are boring for 5 and 6 year olds.....at least from my experience.  RS doesn't use anything that a 5 and 6 year old would like or use.  There are other math curriculums that do use manipulatives that are interesting for 5 and 6 year olds and likewise with 7 year olds.   MMM is just one of them.  But for example, MMM had him making a race track with spaghetti noodles or straws and using matchbox cars, he was putting red unifex cubes on green construction paper and pretending that there were red barns on a green pasture, etc...... all with the intend with teaching a math principle.  Those are things that a 5 and 6 year old can relate to.  

 

My son is rather stubborn as well and strong willed but after switching the math he put his arm around me and said,  "I love you mom".   Sometimes we write stubborn and strong willed off as just that.....but actually, sometimes those little munchkins could actually be trying to communicate to us if we would just stop being so thick headed and just listen.....     I'm sure there are young children that like RS but from what I have heard from a few others their children don't like math either.  I know a 13 year old that was put through RS the whole time and at 13 she still does not like math.  In my opinion RS just doesn't relate to children on their level.   But just my opinion.  So, I commend you for sticking with this for so long and dealing with the tantrums.....but at this point if he is still fighting you at 6 1/2 I would put the math away and take a break for 4 or 5 months.  Let him rest form all of that.  And then pick it up with something that he can relate to....whatever that would be.  Mathusee also seems rather age appropriate to me as well because of their decimal street story.

 

As for the phonics.....likewise I was using Rod and Staff and then Learning Language Arts Through Literature(LLATL).   After my son fighting me over that I just switched to Alphabet Island Phonics (AIP)......and once again..... I had the same 'epiphany'.....this is something that he can relate to and this is why he loves AIP so much!!!  He loves the stories and do you know what he said to me at 6 1/2 .....mom,   "Those letter people are sooooo much fun!"  Now he looks forward to phonics and math.

 

Really we are talking about 5 and 6 and 7 year olds.....get down on their level.   And, you are having some physical challenges right now.   If you're son loves to be read to like my son does....I would encourage to read some Five In a Row type books to him and some interesting chapter books for young boys to him......knights, castles, frontier life, Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, Lewis and Clark, etc....... and just read to him and relax for while.  I have been reading to my son for hours daily since about 3(prior to that just short chunks of time)  but at about 3 he would sit for 2 or 3 hours and listen to books being read to him..... the funny thing is we only did 4 RightStart lessons in 1 1/2 years and he can do math at a 6 year old level......funny hugh?  So really.... just relax give him a break for a while and take care of yourself for right now.  It will be a breath of fresh air....

 

 

Hope this helps or sheds some light on things.  But if not that's OK.

 

 

Blessings,

Renee

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Just a quick suggestion--If you wanted to reward his learning the cards (suggested above), you could physically give him the cards during the lesson, and then, when you take them back, make them "currency" to buy a sticker or a treat of some sort. 4 cards=a plain sticker, 5 cards=a super shiny sticker, 6 cards=a box of raisins, or whatever you want to stock in your "store." Make sure it's something he likes.

 

 

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Just to clarify, the tantrums are a recent thing (well, tantrums related to school......he's always had tantrums about random things) We did all of RS A and 1/2 of B before they started. He also used to love the ETC books until around book 3. He used to find the sentences funny and the reward of being able to color the pictures when he had finished a page. He used to do extra pages just to get to color them. He still loves to color, but not those books. It does sound like making math meaningful is fun! I have never heard of it and will look into it. I had thought of switching to Singapore next year because it looked colorful and fun.

 

Chris in VA, that is a fabulous idea! I love the idea of using them as currency because then he'll do them over again without a fuss. (At least, I hope so!)

 

I have slowed down and started alternating days with things. It has helped a bit. We completed one of the Magic

School Bus kits which he was thrilled about. I'm still a little nervous about slowing down because I really wanted to finish our first grade plans before the baby comes. It would be so easy for me to tell another mom that it was okay that her child was not quite on grade level......but it's hard when it's your own kid.

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I'm going to agree with the pp about RightStart math. We are enjoying the Games book with the cards, but after looking at the program I wouldn't use it.

 

I know people use it and love it, but I'm just chiming in my opinion as well that RS may not be your best bet. I see no reason that a young child needs to memorize amounts without counting and I see no reason a 6 year old should be adding two digits at this time in their first year. Some can! But would I expect it---not necessarily. 

 

As far as math with my 1st grader we are loving MathMammoth and Miquon. Also I agree with the pp to use manipulatives and make it fun. We have and use soooo many hand son math toys---linking cubes, c-rods, various countables like bears, wooden chips, ABC blocks, poker chips, bead bars, the abacus, a bucket balance, an equation balance, various teaching clocks, stickers, Bingo dot markers, attribute and pattern blocks, paper money, real money and so on....

 

Math IMHO is boring to a young child unless they can get their hands on it. So even though one program suggests one particular type of manipulative, I wouldn't limit myself to just that thing. I also take issue with RS calling itself Montessori math---there's nothing Montessori math about it. 

 

Also there's a tendency to just keep 1st graders in the rut of operations. So many programs have them adding and subtracting ad nauseum until even my eyes want to bleed. They need to learn it and practice it yes!!--but take a break and just play games for a week, do some geometry with shapes and colors and other attributes, calendar work and clock work. Play store. Play some math apps. Do logic puzzles. Don't let the preschoolers and  Kindergartners have all the fun. These sorts of game like activities are important fro the 6 or 7 year old as well.It doesn't have to be all work work work.  Peggy Kaye's Math Games book or Family Math can be a great resource to have on your shelf to pull from. Check out Pinterest as well for fun math ideas. 

 

As far as reading. I think the problem is OPGTR!!! I have long discovered that although OPGTR has all the phonics laid out for me, the actual implementation of that book sucks.

 

My ds hates it on sight! One thing I've done is like others have suggested--taken all the lessons out of the book so my ds never has to actually use it. ETA: I'm actually in the research stage of changing around how I do reading with him. 

 

I use these http://www.montessoriprintshop.com/Make_a_Moveable_Alphabet.html for the lessons. I made several copies of the download from the shop and laminated them and store them in a fishing tackle box. Then we build the words from the lesson. ETA: You can buy AAS letters separately at RainbowResource, paste them onto a magnet strip and use a cookie sheet if you don't have a magnetic white board for another way to do phonics lessons with less writing.

 

The sentences or little stories I either write for him to read or he copywork writes them. The size of the font and the distraction of all the other little text for the teacher makes OPGTR a poorly designed book IMO. 

 

Other times I make booklets for him. Fold and cut printer paper in half and cut then fold several together and staple to make a booklet. Print at the bottom one sentence from the OPGTR stories and then let your child be the illustrator. My ds has also enjoyed using the text as copywork (that I've written out) and done the booklets himself. He then has no problem revisiting it since it's his book.

 

My ds likes to write and draw however. I think writing/spelling/phonics shouldn't be separated, but if a child wasn't as willing to put pencil to paper like mine are I'd reduce the writing a bit. I wouldn't eliminate it, it's important, but reduce it.

 

ETC---we use those as well. I don't ask my kid to color anything, and especially not as a reward. I think coloring sheets are busywork and if my ds wanted to I wouldn't care, but I don't make coloring anything part of a lesson. I also don't ask him to X or circle things. He can simple just tell me or point. I'm sitting right by him so I know he knows, circling or X-ing something is a classroom technique that I don't need to have him do. That cuts out a lot of pencil time with ETC. He does do any work where he is actually writing the word. We also don't try to do ETC every day. I usually go through a HWOT book with my kids at the beginning of the year. It takes a few weeks, then I don't do any separate handwriitng program the rest of the year. Writing activities, WWE, copywork---all of that is practice in handwriting. 

 

WWE---my 1st grader loves that as well. He loves to draw so we do the copywork in an unlined sketchbook (writing without lines actually helps children internally learn to write well). <I loathe with a hot passion lined handwriting paper> He draws with nice colored pencils the scene from the passage after writing. Narration both orally and illustrated in one swoop. And it's fun. I combine several FLL lessons into one---sometimes we can get 4 FLL lessons in one day. I DON"T read straight from the script. My kids sense the fakeness of that. I read ahead, and then we simply have ongoing conversations about that topic. We do any written activities in a spirit of fun. 

 

I also don't do all of our various lang arts programs or resources in one day, each day. 

 

Science--I'm glad you got the kit out. My ds would be miserable if we didn't have science time. History--can be as simple as read alouds. My d sis enjoying putting together his History Pocket, even if we don't work on it every week. At this age I like to play with maps and globes and learn the states and watch lots of documentaries. You might like the Montessori idea of continent boxes. We've done them this year (I see them becoming an ongoing thing) using decorated shoe boxes. There's printables to help on the PrintShop page. More ideas here. http://www.pinterest.com/brobeejane/continent-boxes/

 

Nature study with Outdoor Hour Challenges is fun (although this winter we haven't done much---it IS cold and miserable!). And don't forget art and music!!! The basics are necessary, but IMHO if you slack a lot on these extras you're cutting out the fun and, frankly more interesting, stuff to learn!

 

And life doesn't need to be an amusement park. Some weeks, in fact a few weeks in a row, it's getting the basics done. And that's okay. But aim high in the other subjects at least a few times a month and you'll see improvements. Makes for a happier Mom too. I've been known to just throw my hands up at the school work and want to do science all day. 

 

Lats week  for example we spontaneously went to WalMart and raided the craft section. We spent the rest of the day painting. It wasn't even a regular Friday Art day. I consider it a good day!! 

 

I also consider any time spent with life skills as important. And i agree with others about movement. You might look into a FitDeck or a yoga program for kids to get the wiggles out inside on miserable days. 

 

Don't worry about keeping up or being on grade level. I fall into the comparison trap as well. You don't necessarily have to slow down---just change the way you look at it. 

 

And take care of yourself. If you need rest for your pregnancy, don't feel bad simply watching docs and reading aloud to your kid while cozy under a quilt!

 

 

 

 

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A little more about Making Math Meaningful...  My husband and I went to a math seminar taught by Tom Clark, the author of Video Text Interactive, http://videotext.com/, about 3 years ago.  Tom Clark wrote curriculum for Harcourt Brace for quite a long time.  He said he could not write math curriculum for HB the way he wanted too because of what the school districts wanted and were telling HB what they wanted.  All along he knew it wasn't good curriculum.  He said that classroom teachers should be explaining the 'why' to math and that is why the text books don't have the 'why' in them because the classroom teacher should be doing that and adding that in their instruction.  But, that does not happen.  So finally, he started his own independent curriculum called Video Text Interactive.  His curriculum starts at Algebra.  

 

In the math seminar he listed 3 elementary math programs that explain the 'why' to math operations and prepare children for Algebra and beyond.  The 3 are as Mr. Clark stated..... Making Math Meaningful(MMM), Mathusee, and RightStart.  He said that MMM is affordable, gets the job done, explains the 'why' and it works!  He did say that the problem with MMM is that David Quine, the author, does not set up at homeschool conventions and so very few people know about.  But he said it is good.  

 

And, this is now coming back to me...... Rightstart does not use age appropriate manipulatives and tends to not relate well to children because of that.  So he said if that comes up the other two MMM or Mathusee are just as good.  He also said that Rightstart is very expensive and not necessary but it is good.  I can't remember the specifics about Mathusee other than that he recommended it.

 

Just some background on how I hard about MMM.

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