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He said "I hate school," so obviously I've failed, right?


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My son was in Kindergarten for six weeks before I pulled him out and started homeschooling him. Now we're mired in first grade, trying to get all of our Saxon math done before I have a baby in August, and he comes out with "I hate school."

 

WHAT? I mean....WHAT?

 

I have spent hours, days and weeks researching, agonizing over and planning his education over the past year and a half so I would never have to hear that again. So it wouldn't be true. So he would be happy and whole and well. And now...now this.

 

He loves being home. He has no desire to go back to public school. But he doesn't want to complete his phonics pages or his math fact sheets or write science reports or practice his handwriting. He doesn't want to learn the basic things he needs to know before he can get to the more complicated things that sound interesting to him but that he won't be able to grasp without the proper foundations. He doesn't want to do things the way I know and love: methodical, logical, in order. I thrived in public school. I loved being told I was good and smart and getting an A and following steps. I love following steps. Recipes, algorithms that have predictable outcomes, formulas. I actually struggle with any math above algebra, but I seem to constantly search for formulas for everything nevertheless. I write fiction, a creative process, right? But I have to outline everything and follows seven steps and use a spreadsheet before I write the thing to make sure I know where I'm headed, because if I don't I'm too afraid of where I'll end up to ever start.

 

*DEEP BREATH*

 

So back to my child. He loves reading. He'll try anything, but mostly he likes Garfield comics and horrible junk like Captain Underpants and his ilk. He wants to do addition without carrying the one, despite how often he gets the wrong answer and can clearly not handle the problem without writing that little one in the ten's column. He wants to do all his spelling and phonics orally despite the fact that you remember things so much better when you write them down, and that unless someone yells to him, "How do you spell Wednesday?" the application of the practice will be WRITTEN. He wants to spend all day drawing stick figures in his steno notebook, and then explaining the picture to me with sound effects. He wants to play video games. He wants to do all sorts of things that are great and fun but are just NOT SCHOOL. And because I don't roll with the punches very well, and because I can't drop the weekly lesson plan and say, "Sure, today let's just throw the plastic coins everywhere and sing, "I'm swimming in money" instead of doing the math lesson," I get, "I hate school."

(Side note: I did let him swim in money. I even took a video. Then I made him clean it up and sit at the table and learn how to represent a number pictorially. I even added things to his steno-notebook pictures, an activity he dubbed, "fun art.")

 

He doesn't say it everyday. He doesn't say it all day long. It's mostly only whining about things he doesn't want to write down. But it makes me question everything I am doing and everything I have done for the past 2 years. I obviously don't know my child well enough if this is where his education is taking him. I should somehow become different, and learn to unschool *shudder* and step away from my plans of how it will all work out so nice and neat.

 

But I can't. Or I haven't been able to yet. That's not who I am. So what am I supposed to do?

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My kids don't particularly like doing academic work. They like not having to go to school, and doing academic work with me is the price to pay to avoid that.

 

Look, phonics doesn't exactly rock my socks either. I can see where he's coming from. You can expect that he does it with a limited amount of complaining, but expecting him to think it's great fun may be beyond him.

 

If you are doing more than a couple hours a day with a first grader, I think you are doing too much. Also, in the future, Saxon might not be the way to go with this particular child. It's a rule-following, do-the-next-step curriculum. And you might be doing too much writing. Writing is physically quite difficult for a lot of young kids, and takes quite a lot of energy and effort. If he remembers it well orally, then other than the handwriting practice, I'd probably go with that.

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Perhaps you can make writing one subject, and let yourself scribe for him in the other areas.  Don't skip the interesting things.  Have fun.

 

Also, consider if he knows this is a button he can push on you to really get your goat.  If he knows this, then treat it as a discipline issue (well, I would treat complaining like that as a discipline issue anyways, but I would also try to figure out why my child was feeling that way and try to adjust the way we generally do things to suit said child better - in my life it was Explode the Code - I thought it seemed great - kid hated it).

 

 

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If you add the time we are actually sitting and doing school, it isn't more than 2-3 hours, sometimes less. It does seem to take us all day to get through it. Sometimes I'm alright with that, because if we finish everything by, say, 3 pm, he just wants to play video games and watch TV the rest of the day, since he's not allowed until he finishes school. So if we don't finish until 6 pm, his screen time is less.

 

That said, I would like to find a way to get through everything in a timely fashion and with a smile on everyone's face.

 

And he actually does carry the one now, but it took me a few days to figure out how to prove to him that it was necessary and good.

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My suggestions: write for him on math. Let him do his spelling words on a whiteboard, without being picky about handwriting. The only thing he *has* to write on his paper is handwriting practice, and that can be very short. He doesn't need to do science reports in first grade. I'm not one for delayed academics, but you do have to think of how to get the most learning with the least amount of work for a first grader.

 

Phonics is about learning to read, so I wouldn't use a phonics program that required written worksheets. Maybe a phonics-based spelling program would cover both subjects at once, and you could add reading practice.

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He's 6. My 6 yo says that stuff too. I also dreamed of my kids loving learning, but it is just not as much fun as superheroes or Legos or videogames! Kids would also rather eat candy than veggies. We just keep plugging away, although I do try to inject as much fun as possible.

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If you add the time we are actually sitting and doing school, it isn't more than 2-3 hours, sometimes less. It does seem to take us all day to get through it. Sometimes I'm alright with that, because if we finish everything by, say, 3 pm, he just wants to play video games and watch TV the rest of the day, since he's not allowed until he finishes school. So if we don't finish until 6 pm, his screen time is less.

 

That said, I would like to find a way to get through everything in a timely fashion and with a smile on everyone's face.

 

And he actually does carry the one now, but it took me a few days to figure out how to prove to him that it was necessary and good.

 

Easy enough to solve the screen thing - make a rule - no screens until after 3pm (or some other time).  You have to mean it and do it consistently, but it works very well.

 

I find things get done in a more timely way the earlier we start in the day.  And I do some things with them over food (breakfast, lunch...).

 

HTH

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If you add the time we are actually sitting and doing school, it isn't more than 2-3 hours, sometimes less. It does seem to take us all day to get through it.

 

Well, to start with I never did more than 1 hour of seat work with my kids at that age.  I taught them to read (on the sofa) with no curricula, just books for about 30 minutes a day.  I had them do 10 minutes of handwriting and 10 minutes of copywork.  My younger did 20 minutes of math in first grade, but my older boy only did math orally when we went on walks (and I might add that now at age 13 he is one of the top math students in the country, so clearly it did not hurt him to wait until 2nd grade),

 

Besides the seat work, my kids

Played

did art

read books

went on walks

practiced violin

visited the musuem

shopped at the grocery store

explored the botanical gardens

took the train for fun

baked

cleaned the house

I don't know, just not seat work.  I read a lot to them, and we talked a lot. 

 

I am definitely an academic homeschooler, but little kids learn so much from just living.  I would suggest you put it all away and let him read and draw.

 

 

 

So if we don't finish until 6 pm, his screen time is less.

 

Why don't you just stop all the screen time and see where the free time leads him?

 

Ruth in NZ

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After homeschooling for 18 years, I have learned most children do not love school.  Like someone else said, it is just not as fun as legos or any kind of playing.  I about killed myself trying to make it fun, but they never like it much.  It is a good skill, though, to learn to do something you don't like.  If they quickly do those things they don't like, then there is a lot of free time for those fun things they enjoy.  To me, that is a huge benefit of homeschooling---the time they have to spend being children.  Get those basics done quickly then go play. 

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I would add to the chorus that they don't always love it. I try to make school enjoyable here, for all of us, and yet I get complaints and praise- often on the same day :) 

 

It does sound like you are doing too much. I'd just make a new screen time rule. I let mine watch some after lunch, usually an educational show, how much I let them watch depends on how I feel. I started this when I was pregnant and exhausted and needed a break. Next school year that will be changing as I'm getting my energy back. 

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It's a well known but little discussed dirty secret about home schooling. Some kids don't like it. Some kids don't  like 'school' despite the one on one tuition, the sleep-ins, the customised curriculum, the efforts Mom goes to to make things 'fun'. Even when Mom does CM style short lessons, they'd rather play.

 

It doesn't mean the child is stupid. It doesn't mean the mom has failed.

 

If a child is under 7, I'd consider that normal :)

 

...

 

I also have two school lovers. So I know it's not me :)

Yep. I have both, too. With my whiny one, when he pulls out the "I don't like school" or "I don't want to do school" or "You're not a real teacher and you can't make me" he gets a deadpan, "I know. What do you want to do next. Handwriting? Math?" No emotion, no persuading.  Just the facts.  You don't have to like it, but you do have to do it.  99% of the time, once he gets going, he's FINE, can rock through it, and gets to run off and play for the rest of the day.  

 

eta: My whiny one is my 6.5yo 1st grader, too, and he only HAS to write handwriting/copywork.  I am happy to scribe for math or anything else that requires written work. He just doesn't have the stamina to do all that writing on his own.

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My 7yo does not like school. But he hated being sent to school more. So the "you do this at home, or you do it somewhere else, you choose" usually results in grudging compliance.

 

I do try to do different things with him. I think lower level Saxon math is different from higher levels, but just the title "Saxon" makes me want to go take a nap after using 7/8 once myself. Sometimes we play math bingo for adding and subtracting. I taught him to add and subtract decimals using a worksheet that showed pictures of money (and I put actual money on the table for him to use with it). I use Khan videos to introduce concepts, and some videos on youtube for multiplication tables.

 

And I try to do a subject he likes every day. "When we're done with this we can do Science" (or read Fred, or draw). So "school" isn't just about boring stuff he hates. Have him read Garfield aloud to you. Correct his pronunciation. Encourage him to read with expression. Have him retell the narrative. It's not Potter or Milne, I know. But it is still valuable.

 

And, yes, at this point oral learning is fine. In his life he will eventually write Wednesday a million times. FLL 1/2 is largely oral, so I don't think SWB would disagree.

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As far as, "I hate school" -- doesn't really phase me. My son hangs out in his pajamas, cuddling me, eating, and has a cat in his lap. He doesn't have homework - ever. I don't feel bad for the little man.

 

As for spelling out loud, I find doing it orally has better retention. It is harder to spell something out loud than write it. With my son, I go through the list, about 15 words a day. I put a check next to the words he misspells. When we reach 10, those become written words that we study.

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Another to say that it may in part just be age and/or his personality. I have two boys who both hated school at the age of 7. One is currently 7 so still in that age. :) The older one is 10 and I've seen that with time his attitude has changed. There are things now that he likes and things he doesn't and he's mature enough to realize he still has to do the things he doesn't like so he just does them and gets it done. My 7 year old still doesn't realize that whining about something for an hour doesn't mean that he doesn't have to do it and really only takes away from his own play time. 

 

I think it's always good to look at curriculum and ask if it's a good fit or to see what you can do to make things more fun or engaging. My 7 year old loves art, we make sure to do art weekly. But one thing I've learned is that you cannot make all school fun and I"m not sure it even should be. It's not a bad thing for kids to learn that sometimes you just have to do things because you have to do them. I've also learned that some kids (and I have some) are just more Eyeorish. They may actually like the thing they are doing ok but they are still going to complain about it.

 

What I've done when we've gone through the "I hate school" phase:

-Look at what we are doing and see what I can adjust. Is there a particular curriculum that causes the most problem or a particular subject? Can you drop it or change it? 

-Sit down with my kids and explain that they have to go to school. For us homeschooling isn't the only option so I tell them they can go to school somewhere else or they can go to school at home but its's not an option to not do school. 

-When we've gone through times of a lot of complaining and it's really affecting the rest of the family we've spent some time talking about words and how they make people feel. I explain that hearing "I hate school" makes me feel bad. I tell them they don't have to love it and they don't have to lie but they need to find nicer ways of expresing themselves. It's ok to say "I don't like Math." but it's not ok to say "I hate school and you are mean." 

-I also talk to them about what they like and what they don't to get ideas of what to change and to help them see that often they don't really hate everything. I remember my oldest once told me he hated school at that age and I finally got him to see and admit that he liked the following: math, science, history, reading, and latin. But he hated grammar and writing. (He still feels that way.) But in his mind he was equating "school" with what he hated and everything else was kind of fun stuff. So he would say he "hated" school. 

 

And then mostly I'd say try not to worry about it. It doesn't mean he'll hate it forever and it doesn't mean you've done anything wrong. 

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If it's specifically the regrouping, my daughter (in ps) wasn't taught regrouping until second grade! I worried about that, I knew it was late compared to others, but when she got it, she got it quickly and she feels such confidence about it now. I tried to teach it to her myself when she was 6, and she just did not. Understand. She hated math in K and first and now she feels accomplished, even though she just learned how to tell time! She would have down well not starting formal math until second grade.

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A friend gave this advice and I would say this to my son: "my job as a parent and your teacher is to raise you and train you to someday live on your own. You will have to be able to support yourself. So we can either do 1-2 hours of school or we can do hard labor for 12."

 

This, and having a more rigid schedule (4 days a week. Usually Friday off.) has helped.

 

But I think it's very common for boys to hate school so it's nothing you are doing wrong.

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My suggestions: write for him on math. Let him do his spelling words on a whiteboard, without being picky about handwriting. The only thing he *has* to write on his paper is handwriting practice, and that can be very short. He doesn't need to do science reports in first grade. I'm not one for delayed academics, but you do have to think of how to get the most learning with the least amount of work for a first grader.

 

Phonics is about learning to read, so I wouldn't use a phonics program that required written worksheets. Maybe a phonics-based spelling program would cover both subjects at once, and you could add reading practice.

 

I agree with this.

 

I'm going to throw out a few ideas of what we do in case any of them sound like something that will work for you. :-)

 

We do spelling on a whiteboard and finish up spelling lessons with games of hangman. I scribe 90% of math for him because I want him to be able to concentrate on just math during math lessons. As he gets more proficient in handwriting, I'll scribe less, but for now, this is working for us. I do have him do some for sure, but there's no gnashing of teeth when he can just concentrate on his math rather than math + handwriting. 

 

If he reads well already, I agree to just do a phonics based spelling program (that was recommended to me before we started this school year and it's working out well). We spend time reading on the couch every day. I read something of my choosing to him and have him read something that he picks to me. I've been listening to a lot of Nate the Great recently.  I try to make science and history fun. This year we're doing social studies to adhere to state regs and we've visited local farms - pumpkin picking, apple orchards, maple syrup sugar houses, fire departments, as part of  learning about our state. We did a snowflake study and read Snowflake Bentley, a tree study of local trees and how they change over the year, weather studies and anatomy (his two favorites). And we've learned about different animals through encyclopedia entries, books in the library, youtube and netflix documentaries. I can't wait to delve into the ancients next year!

 

My kid does not do well if given video game time. He will constantly ask if it's time to play a game or when he can use my computer. When it's time to be all done, he gets mad and has a bad attitude. So he's on a semi-permanent break from video games and apps for the foreseeable future. He does get limited amounts of TV time. Usually one 20 min show first thing in the am while I'm waking up and one after dinner while I'm doing dishes. It is working out well and isn't tied to school time. Sometimes we'll watch a documentary or a magic school bus episode or something as well. 

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My kid is a 6yo girl and she has been trying everything she can think of (and everything she hears from friends) to see what will make me backflip.  I think there is an age where they discover that words might make others might overreact and they need to try that out on us.

 

Also, my mom put me in a B&M school for second grade because I was such a little punk in first.  I'm preparing myself to push through a little punkiness. 

 

Last, I hear the same dislike from every other little kid I know, and I know a few because I teach beginning piano lessons.  They are all using the same tone and words.  I think they don't enjoy working so hard, and learning is work.

 

This week, she likes school.  We'll see about next week!

 

 

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I second (third?  fourth?) the comment about kids needing to learn to do what they don't want to do.  I can also sympathize with you about not necessarily being able to school a dc in the way that would probably work best.  (Dd7 would, I am certain, absolutely thrive with a well-done unschooling method.  But my goal-oriented, routine-functioning, to-do list personality just. can't. do it.)  You've already gotten a lot of good advice.  I'm not sure if anything I can add is needed or not, but I'll try anyway:

 

Pick your battles.  Some things he's just going to have to do your way.  You can try to tweak the curriculum to fit him a little better, but he'll have to deal.

 

In the non-battle subjects, let his learning style lead.  Should science be interest-led, with progress notated by stick-figure drawings labeled with terms, etc. (maybe in your handwriting, but with him dictating)? 

 

One trick I try for dc who don't want to do something repetitive (like math facts) is the "nibbled-to-death-by-ducks" approach.  You bring it up, just a little bit at a time, continuously throughout the day.  For instance, for a math-"hater," I might have a worksheet of 6 long division problems.  She does one problem first thing in the morning, one before snack, one before lunch, one before afternoon school, etc. until it's done.  Then she's never mired in the muck, spinning her wheels in the confusing chaos for 45 minutes to an hour at a time - but the practice of doing them is still there.  Or, if it's math facts, I might do a set with hand-jive a couple separate times each morning in order to help with recall.  Basically, break down one or more of the subjects he utterly despises and scatter the pieces throughout the day.  Use small rewards if necessary.

 

One other thing; surely he doesn't hate all his subjects.  Like a pp said, find out what he really enjoys.  Use it like dessert at dinner - "you can do x after we finish y."

 

I have no experience with boys, but I've heard that small motor skills develop later for them, so the handwriting he complains about may truly be too much. 

 

This won't be the last time he tells you he hates something you've slaved over.  Remember to keep your self-worth separate from your homeschooling.  It's a trap that is easy to fall into, but it will only suck you toward slavery to perfectionism.  (Personal experience speaks, here!)

 

HTH!

Mama Anna

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When my kids say that I say, "Well then I must be doing it right!"

 

LOL

 

Probably not helpful.  But really I do my best to balance what they want and what I think they need.  They don't always love all of it.  They would rather play computer games, etc.  I get it.  I'd rather do those things than clean the house.  It is what it is.

 

Same here.  My teens know that I don't take whining and complaining unless there's a real basis for it, but if someone else asks if they like school, they'll say, "NO! NO! NO!"

 

And they're doing beautifully with AP classes, high PSATs, etc. etc. When they were little, I had to have DH come home a few times to deal with outright refusal to do school when I was at wit's end, but that was years ago.  Ironically they don't even remember it.  Now they know it is a given, and they will get in trouble for idle complaining and not doing their work.  Like me and the laundry.  Hate it, but I do it.

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He loves being home. He has no desire to go back to public school. But he doesn't want to complete his phonics pages or his math fact sheets or write science reports or practice his handwriting. He doesn't want to learn the basic things he needs to know before he can get to the more complicated things that sound interesting to him but that he won't be able to grasp without the proper foundations. He doesn't want to do things the way I know and love: methodical, logical, in order. I thrived in public school. I loved being told I was good and smart and getting an A and following steps. I love following steps. Recipes, algorithms that have predictable outcomes, formulas. I actually struggle with any math above algebra, but I seem to constantly search for formulas for everything nevertheless. I write fiction, a creative process, right? But I have to outline everything and follows seven steps and use a spreadsheet before I write the thing to make sure I know where I'm headed, because if I don't I'm too afraid of where I'll end up to ever start.

 

Unless he is begging for calculus, let him learn about what sounds interesting to him.  Feed his love of learning, don't smother it.  What does he want to study?  Maybe some of us will have some ideas of things you can use.

 

 

He loves being home. He has no desire to go back to public school. But he doesn't want to complete his phonics pages or his math fact sheets or write science reports or practice his handwriting. He doesn't want to learn the basic things he needs to know before he can get to the more complicated things that sound interesting to him but that he won't be able to grasp without the proper foundations. He doesn't want to do things the way I know and love: methodical, logical, in order. I thrived in public school. I loved being told I was good and smart and getting an A and following steps. I love following steps. Recipes, algorithms that have predictable outcomes, formulas. I actually struggle with any math above algebra, but I seem to constantly search for formulas for everything nevertheless. I write fiction, a creative process, right? But I have to outline everything and follows seven steps and use a spreadsheet before I write the thing to make sure I know where I'm headed, because if I don't I'm too afraid of where I'll end up to ever start.

 

*DEEP BREATH*

 

So back to my child. He loves reading. He'll try anything, but mostly he likes Garfield comics and horrible junk like Captain Underpants and his ilk. He wants to do addition without carrying the one, despite how often he gets the wrong answer and can clearly not handle the problem without writing that little one in the ten's column. He wants to do all his spelling and phonics orally despite the fact that you remember things so much better when you write them down, and that unless someone yells to him, "How do you spell Wednesday?" the application of the practice will be WRITTEN. He wants to spend all day drawing stick figures in his steno notebook, and then explaining the picture to me with sound effects. He wants to play video games. He wants to do all sorts of things that are great and fun but are just NOT SCHOOL. And because I don't roll with the punches very well, and because I can't drop the weekly lesson plan and say, "Sure, today let's just throw the plastic coins everywhere and sing, "I'm swimming in money" instead of doing the math lesson," I get, "I hate school."

(Side note: I did let him swim in money. I even took a video. Then I made him clean it up and sit at the table and learn how to represent a number pictorially. I even added things to his steno-notebook pictures, an activity he dubbed, "fun art.")

 

It sounds like the two of you have very different learning styles.  You are very linear and sequential, and you learn best by writing things down.  He is very big-picture, non-linear, and learns best by talking about it.  Since your goal is to teach him, you need to teach according to his strengths.  I am a very linear thinker, like you, and I learn best by reading.  One of my children is a non-linear thinker and learns best by hearing.  If I make her read her history chapter, she may remember two or three facts at the end of it.  If she reads along in her history book as she listens to an mp3 recording of the chapter, she will remember almost all of it verbatim.  Since my goal is to have her remember and learn from her history reading, I let her listen to it - even though I would learn better by reading it myself.  So I am here to tell you that it is perfectly fine to do many of his subjects aloud...he can and will learn that way, I promise. :001_smile:  

 

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My seven year old son threw me that line this year too, and my reaction was the same. Only, he has no formal school experience from which to draw gratitude for his present circumstances.

 

I agree with you on the fundamentals. I've come to believe the problem isn't that a child hates school, but that a child lacks vision for where they fundamentals will take them. This isn't every child. I didn't need to understand where the fundamentals would take me... I reveled in the short term goal of the worksheet. But my son doesn't. He needs the practical application to be clear before he can see the task before him today as relevant.

 

Heavy sigh.

 

In some things it's easier to do than in others. Every two months I remind him of the tedious nature of phonograms, that then gave way to reading, that then gave way to sweet stories like Mr. putter and Tabby, and more recently My Side of the Mountain and Treasure Island. He knows that every subject can build in this way, but I lack the ability and patience to express it for him often enough...

 

So...

 

I limit myself to two hours of actual table instruction. (DS is a second grader). I also began scribing for my son in math (Saxon 3). Having done this, I can share that I was surprised how very little my son needed the writing aspect to process and learn--I know this is hard to swallow as a methodical mama. But it's easier to understand when you consider that whatever he had gained in writing, was quickly lost in frustration and self defeat. By scribing, much to my surprise, I saw my son fly through math concepts. When he flew, he felt good at math. And here we are 25 lessons from being done with our curriculum, and he is completing 60 percent of his written work on his own after our table time is finished. It is glorious to be on this side of that struggle.

 

I also cut myself slack on making things fun. I use humor a lot, but facts are facts, and when the goal of our fundamental exercise isn't clear, my son is happy to settle for just getting it done--as quickly as possible. I'm happy to make that compromise despite my own desire to bathe in depth. Also, I use a timer. As a method gal, I don't like time limits... Learning this step in the method takes as long as it takes, right? Well. Yes. But mental fatigue is real, and I've been known to inflict it. ;) time limits keep me on course and preserve my son's mental energy to get through our school day.

 

As others have shared, I meet my son's need in these ways... But one thing I insist on is no negative talk. No complaining, whining, slouching, or dawdling. They are death bringers to learning. This means pouring our two hours of table time, I'm with him. I don't leave him. I help focus his efforts and am known to be a hair trigger for removing media privileges.

 

I hope this is helpful in some way. Investing so much into an education only to have the recipient "hate it" is no reward! It can get better, though.

 

Stella

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He doesn't want to do things the way I know and love: methodical, logical, in order. I thrived in public school. I loved being told I was good and smart and getting an A and following steps. I love following steps. Recipes, algorithms that have predictable outcomes, formulas. I actually struggle with any math above algebra, but I seem to constantly search for formulas for everything nevertheless. I write fiction, a creative process, right? But I have to outline everything and follows seven steps and use a spreadsheet before I write the thing to make sure I know where I'm headed, because if I don't I'm too afraid of where I'll end up to ever start.

 

I obviously don't know my child well enough if this is where his education is taking him. I should somehow become different, and learn to unschool *shudder* and step away from my plans of how it will all work out so nice and neat.

 

Agreeing with others...he doesn't have to like everything, he doesn't have to write all day, and you can make new rules about screen time (even if you change the start time, you can also change the length). I was scared to death about all of this with my Kindergartener, but he's really stepped up. If I pressure him, he steps back and gets discouraged. My older one was used to school, but quite frankly, one of the reasons I pulled him out is that the step-by-step, linear, all-or-nothing approach was hurting him and hampering his progress. He prefers well-defined tasks, but he needs some freedom within those tasks to find his own ways of doing things. He also has motor difficulties, and he would have never been able to keep up with the handwriting demands of the higher grades.

 

Gently and somewhat lightheartedly, I would say that your statements make it clear that you are very discouraged, but that you also see things pretty black and white (and yes, I realize you are probably venting quite a bit too). Step-by-logical-step vs. unschool; predictable outcomes, outline and follow steps, not knowing where you'll end up if you don't map it out. It's okay that you are made this way, but you might need to explore other options if your child is not. I liked school for the reasons you mentioned. I liked algorithms (until I realized that they didn't help me personally learn math). I liked filling in the blanks and getting that affirmation from teachers (until I realized that most of it never allowed me to face a challenge). Others had the same experience and did learn math and did learn to be challenged, but we're all different. Looking around to see how you can change things up is not the same as opening Pandora's box. I promise.

 

At some point, I realized that much of the world is not linear, and I ended up liking deviation, intuition, aiming for a target but fudging it as I go along. It has value. You don't have to change who you are, but you might try to see how you could edge along the spectrum a bit, just as I edge toward structure when I don't want to for the sake of my kids. Trust me that there is a very wide spectrum between Step-by-step Road Map and Free Spirit Moved by the Breeze. :-) I would definitely describe myself as someone with firm boundaries (usually in the form of a destination), but inside that comfort zone, I move all over the place freely.

 

You're pregnant and tired, discouraged, and not wanting to take a big leap of faith right now. That's okay. But, I think you can loosen the reins without letting the horse run totally wild. I don't do anything close to unschooling, but what I do is not like what you do either. I use lots of curriculum that does work step-by-step, but we use it, it doesn't use us. There are materials out there for nearly every approach. You might have to let some of your dreams for order be reborn in another orderly form. Consider trying a new kind of structure on for size, and see how it fits, how it runs, look under the hood, kick the tires. I promise they won't fall off with a little kick. ;-)

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Why don't you just stop all the screen time and see where the free time leads him?

 

Ruth in NZ

 

 

This.   :iagree:  :iagree:  :iagree:

 

 

You've already gotten great advice. I'd reduce the amount of seatwork and writing. My 6.5 yo (though he's technically only in K) does phonics/reading 20 minutes, math 15-20 minutes, handwriting/copywork 10 minutes, memory work 15 minutes.

The rest is "playtime", meaning building toys, audiobooks, lots of outside time, art/crafts, dress up, helping in the kitchen......

Ruth's list is excellent!

He listens in on History and Science, participating when he chooses. 

 

 

No, you haven't failed. Kids recognize that work is work, not play and of course would generally rather be playing. Totally normal. Make some adjustments and carry on! 

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Well, two things come to my mind here....

1) he's a boy and some boys just don't like school. Really. They just don't. No matter what kind of dog and pony show you do, they are not going to like school. So, you just do your best to not take it personally and get on with life. And keep reminding him that with homeschool, if you get your work done early you can play. As opposed to brick and mortar school, where if you get your work done early you're expected to pull out a book and read quietly.

2) my oldest son says stuff like that all the time. He says whatever he is feeling at that moment. That doesn't necessarily mean he feels that way all the time. We've had to figure that out about him. "I don't like school" means that right now "I don't like school." "I don't like Awana" means that he had a bad evening. Not that he doesn't like Awanas forever.

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I haven't read all the responses, but one thing I have found with my first grade boy is that if we do "buddy work" it helps a lot -- I scribe one problem, he writes down the next.  I read one page out loud, he reads the next page.  I think it feels like less of a daunting challenge if he doesn't have to do it all himself.  I also try and encourage him to "improve on his own record" so to speak -- saying things like, "yesterday, you wrote down 8 spelling words.  Do you think you can write down 9 today?"  or "You took five minutes to do those math facts yesterday...do you think you can beat your time by 30 seconds?"   He seems motivated by this sense of self competitiveness. 

 

 

 

 

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Homeschooling is not 24/7 fun and smiles.  I seriously want to meet the person who says it is so that I can sit in on what they are doing and watch.  Homeschooling is a very very worthy cause but if you are only spending yours hours days and weeks agonizing so that he will be happy all the time, its going to end up fruitless.  Sometimes things are hard, and no one enjoys that.  Get to a place where he can complain and you can take it as the light irritation it is.

 

 

 He doesn't want to do things the way I know and love: methodical, logical, in order. I thrived in public school. I loved being told I was good and smart and getting an A and following steps. I love following steps. Recipes, algorithms that have predictable outcomes, formulas. I actually struggle with any math above algebra, but I seem to constantly search for formulas for everything nevertheless. I write fiction, a creative process, right? But I have to outline everything and follows seven steps and use a spreadsheet before I write the thing to make sure I know where I'm headed, because if I don't I'm too afraid of where I'll end up to ever start.

 

 

So back to my child. He loves reading. He'll try anything, but mostly he likes Garfield comics and horrible junk like Captain Underpants and his ilk. He wants to do addition without carrying the one, despite how often he gets the wrong answer and can clearly not handle the problem without writing that little one in the ten's column. He wants to do all his spelling and phonics orally despite the fact that you remember things so much better when you write them down, and that unless someone yells to him, "How do you spell Wednesday?" the application of the practice will be WRITTEN. He wants to spend all day drawing stick figures in his steno notebook, and then explaining the picture to me with sound effects. He wants to play video games. He wants to do all sorts of things that are great and fun but are just NOT SCHOOL.  

 

You have a different learning style than your son.  That's hard but it happens to the best of us.  You may remember things better when you write them down, you may enjoy following steps, you may love formulas and predictability.  Your son obviously doesn't.  But you are teaching him.  Maybe you can find programs that are better fitted to his learning style.  Maybe programs that you would at first glance consider "NOT SCHOOL" but actually are.  LOE is a rigorous spelling program that involved throwing darts, playing baseball, doing relays, and card games.  I think its ridiculous.  My son thinks its his favorite part of the day.  There are many such programs.

 

Many, many first graders do a portion of their work orally.  Hand strength in boys is famously late to develop.  Save the writing for the things that you feel are most important to write,  Maybe make him write his spelling words but offer to write out his math answers for him. 

 

 

If you add the time we are actually sitting and doing school, it isn't more than 2-3 hours, sometimes less. It does seem to take us all day to get through it. Sometimes I'm alright with that, because if we finish everything by, say, 3 pm, he just wants to play video games and watch TV the rest of the day, since he's not allowed until he finishes school. So if we don't finish until 6 pm, his screen time is less.

 

The rule I have heard more times than I can count is 1 hour of sit down work per grade (up to 6th grade).  So a first grader should be doing an hour of sit down.  I'll admit we do about an hour and a half of table sit down work, and another hour of cuddling and reading.  But at least half of our table work is game based.  2-3 hours of sitting and concentrating is a really long time for a 6 year old.  

 

But at the same time I wonder if he is in front of a screen every day from 3 until dinner time, or even bed time, that may be affecting his concentration abilities as well.  That is a lot of screen time.  Maybe it would be worthwhile to cut out some of the TV.  Limit it to an hour a day or so.  You may find he's more willing to do school if his options aren't school vs a screen.  Or you may find that he engages in creative and educational play that makes you more willing to cut down the seatwork.    

 

 

 

 

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I don't require that the boys like school. I just require that they do it. I also encourage them to keep repetitive, unproductive negative comments to themselves.

A thousand times, yes. 

I had a nervous breakdown over my 7yo not wanting to do school this year. We changed all of our curriculum and he still didn't want to do any of it.  I asked him what we could change to make it better. He wanted to stop doing school and just play with legos instead. 

At that point, I had to say too bad, so sad. Suck it up, buttercup.

We did find things he loves, largely by accident. But even if he would prefer cartoons to history, that isn't going to happen.

 

EtA: I want to echo pps. Cut back on the seat work. Try to loosen up a bit. I'm a bit like your son. I used to cry a little every time I looked at curriculum because it looked so dry a painfully tedious and boring. We found some things that were less awful, that my kids learned from(different for each one), and move in a more interest led direction. I can now say that, while we still have our foot dragging moments, my kids at 11 and 7 are actually enjoying their school more than not. I'd say that when asked if they liked school, the answer has generally been yes. 

 

It does get better. Hang in there.

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I'm going to go against the flow here.  And this is not a critique of you, Writermommyy, but I think that first graders *should* like school, and if they don't, then something has got to change.  These are just little kids.  In some countries they are not even of school age yet.  Now they may not like 10 minutes of copy work, or 15 minutes of math, but in general at age 6 school should be a fun, positive experience. Obviously, this is my humble opinion!

 

I completely agree with NASDAQ, finishing at 3 (or even 6) is WAY too much.  Your little boy is exhausted.  You need to do less.

 

Ruth in NZ

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For a 6yo, I'd recommend no more than one hour of seatwork.  Read aloud to him (or employ audiobooks) for 2 hours a day.  Break those 2 hours up into 15-30 minute chunks, as makes sense in your routine. 30 minutes in the morning, (30 minutes after lunch, 20minutes in the waiting room at the Dr office, and 40min at bedtime.)  Allow him at least 2 hours of unstructured time to PLAY, preferably outside, every.single.day.  For a 6yo, that unstructured play is more important than phonics.  You can teach a 7 or 8yo to read...you canNOT take an 8yo back to the sandbox with the eyes of a 6yo.  Developmentally, 6yo's need play like they need food.

 

 

Seatwork:

 

Handwriting

Reading Lesson

Math (no more than 30min TOPS!  15-20minutes is the sweet spot.)

 

 

Everything else can be covered quite well in those 2 hours that you are reading aloud to him.  I like to create a shelf for our storytimes, and then give the child the freedom to pick and choose at any given reading.  (I'm really picky about what goes on the shelf.)

 

 

 

Nothing bad will happen if he doesn't finish this book of Saxon Math.  I promise.  Look through to the end of the book.  Jot down the main concepts that are covered at the end.  Cover them briefly.

 

 

Spend time playing games with him.  You could cover all of the math practice a 6yo needs with a few strategically planned games.  Candyland, Go to the Dump....Addition War.  He'll retain more through play anyway.

 

 

 

Recap:

 

1 hr seatwork

2hr read aloud

2hr play outside

1hr playing games with him

 

 

That is 6 hours of school well spent.  The goal is NOT to complete a book.  The goal is to prepare a 6yo to come at 7yo equipped.  (Equipped with curiosity, basic handwriting and reading skills, an affection for number play, a habit of reading when one is stuck inside, a habit of entertaining himself at play.)

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If it's specifically the regrouping, my daughter (in ps) wasn't taught regrouping until second grade! I worried about that, I knew it was late compared to others, but when she got it, she got it quickly and she feels such confidence about it now. I tried to teach it to her myself when she was 6, and she just did not. Understand. She hated math in K and first and now she feels accomplished, even though she just learned how to tell time! She would have down well not starting formal math until second grade.

MEP is not lightweight math, as far as I can determine. It does not have any "carrying of one" until late in year 2, as I recall. I have a child right smack in the middle of y2 and we haven't gotten to it, but the problems involve numbers up to 100 being added (e.g. 36+ 17), and that's how I remember it from my older child, now in year 5: vertical addition came much, much later. The student learns to do it in their head first. In fact, they are led to do all sorts of complex arithmetic in their heads. Any writing down of the one that is "carried" is just there to remind the person doing the math; if he can keep it in his head, who cares. That's my take. 

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My first grader doesn't LOVE school, but he doesn't HATE it either. He has to work hard at reading and writing, so he doesn't like those as much, though we do small enough chunks and found a curriculum he finds reasonably interesting, so he at least likes doing parts of the reading and phonics pages. The parts he doesn't like are still necessary and good (practicing reading words, etc.), and he likes the other parts enough to not be "not this again!" when I tell him to pull them out. Math, my son LOVES. I think Saxon would kill that love though. We do use a spiral curriculum as his main curriculum, but it moves faster than Saxon does. He also uses Beast Academy, which your son might enjoy when he's ready for it. My son begs to do BA!

 

I'm not sure how you're making the day last until 6pm some days?!? If we start at 10, we're easily done by 1pm, and that's with an hour lunch break between, and it includes everything - history/science, etc. You may need to see if there are subjects you don't need right now. Perhaps he's burned out? For screen time, change the rule! My kids aren't allowed to play Wii until 4pm on Friday (and that's only after they've picked up the house). We eat dinner at 5pm. ;) They don't get screen time every day, and some screens are more limited than others, such as the Wii.

 

There is not that much that a first grader NEEDS to do. A little math (and yeah, I'd ditch Saxon if he isn't liking it... my oldest had to suffer through Saxon K and 1 in school, and he was bored to tears... *I* was bored to tears just seeing the homework sheets come home each day, as they were the same exact thing every single day), some reading, a little handwriting (10 minutes or less - you could use copywork from a book he likes), and read aloud some history and science, maybe do a science demonstration at times if he likes that. It's first grade, not middle school. Relax your expectations a bit. You have several years to teach a lot of these things.

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My son was in Kindergarten for six weeks before I pulled him out and started homeschooling him. Now we're mired in first grade, trying to get all of our Saxon math done before I have a baby in August, and he comes out with "I hate school."

 

WHAT? I mean....WHAT?

 

I have spent hours, days and weeks researching, agonizing over and planning his education over the past year and a half so I would never have to hear that again. So it wouldn't be true. So he would be happy and whole and well. And now...now this.

 

He loves being home. He has no desire to go back to public school. But he doesn't want to complete his phonics pages or his math fact sheets or write science reports or practice his handwriting. He doesn't want to learn the basic things he needs to know before he can get to the more complicated things that sound interesting to him but that he won't be able to grasp without the proper foundations. He doesn't want to do things the way I know and love: methodical, logical, in order. I thrived in public school. I loved being told I was good and smart and getting an A and following steps. I love following steps. Recipes, algorithms that have predictable outcomes, formulas. I actually struggle with any math above algebra, but I seem to constantly search for formulas for everything nevertheless. I write fiction, a creative process, right? But I have to outline everything and follows seven steps and use a spreadsheet before I write the thing to make sure I know where I'm headed, because if I don't I'm too afraid of where I'll end up to ever start.

 

*DEEP BREATH*

 

So back to my child. He loves reading. He'll try anything, but mostly he likes Garfield comics and horrible junk like Captain Underpants and his ilk. He wants to do addition without carrying the one, despite how often he gets the wrong answer and can clearly not handle the problem without writing that little one in the ten's column. He wants to do all his spelling and phonics orally despite the fact that you remember things so much better when you write them down, and that unless someone yells to him, "How do you spell Wednesday?" the application of the practice will be WRITTEN. He wants to spend all day drawing stick figures in his steno notebook, and then explaining the picture to me with sound effects. He wants to play video games. He wants to do all sorts of things that are great and fun but are just NOT SCHOOL. And because I don't roll with the punches very well, and because I can't drop the weekly lesson plan and say, "Sure, today let's just throw the plastic coins everywhere and sing, "I'm swimming in money" instead of doing the math lesson," I get, "I hate school."

(Side note: I did let him swim in money. I even took a video. Then I made him clean it up and sit at the table and learn how to represent a number pictorially. I even added things to his steno-notebook pictures, an activity he dubbed, "fun art.")

 

He doesn't say it everyday. He doesn't say it all day long. It's mostly only whining about things he doesn't want to write down. But it makes me question everything I am doing and everything I have done for the past 2 years. I obviously don't know my child well enough if this is where his education is taking him. I should somehow become different, and learn to unschool *shudder* and step away from my plans of how it will all work out so nice and neat.

 

But I can't. Or I haven't been able to yet. That's not who I am. So what am I supposed to do?

Ok, everybody else gave you terrific advice about length of lessons, reality that the homeschooling parent has to be gently firm and consistent, that there is hard work involved and that some kids have to have some help to get over those hurdles, etc.  SO, all that said, how about the rest?

 

-You're pregnant.  That makes you by definition more emotional in response and susceptible to perceiving things sort of emotionally or extremely.  This is normal but might mean you're taking his comments more strongly than what they mean.

 

-You're pregnant, and it sounds like you're pushing to get through your math before fall.  Any time we hear slog and 1st grade, that's a sign that something is amiss.  YOU are stressed (sounds like) and that's carrying over.  Consistent gentle pacing, no stressing.  He could keep going with that math when the new baby comes, no prob.  You've got a pre-assumption and you're pushing to do it.  You don't push 6 yos.  Just doesn't work.

 

-He sounds very bright!  You need to see the school skills in the things he's doing on his own.  I think his self-created narrations with his drawings are fabulous!  He's got a number of interests that are very good and can segue into useful skills (typing, etc.) and even careers.  He's NOT too young to be showing this.  The things my dd was into at age 6 she's STILL into at age 14.  You might as well see it for showing who he is rather than fighting it.  

 

-It might be that *one* change would solve the problem.  Because he's so bright, it might not be that he hates everything you do.  He might just be frustrated by one or two things and he doesn't have the maturity and skill set to solve the problem.  That's where you come in.  You go out for ice cream together or a long walk and you say "If you could pick two things to change about our homeschooling, what would they be?"  You give him room for feedback and comment.  Let him tell you which subject is most problematic and which subjects are fine.  You might totally be surprised.  I did this process with my dd basically once a semester.

 

-Remove captain underpants from your home.  Nuff said.  Garfield is fine.  My dd read comics to burn off steam when she had been working too hard, and it's NOT a sign of future detriment.  Sometimes, with a kid who's very bright (which I go back to it that your dc IS), they need sort of mental potato chips to relax.  My dd used to binge on comics as a way of relaxing after doing hard stuff.  It also showed her appreciation of humor, her VSL side (which your ds might also be, given his interest in video games), etc.  The key is to give them GOOD comics, not crap.  Garfield, Family Circus, Far Side, Beetle Bailey, Calvin & Hobbes.  Calvin & Hobbes is probably the single best thing you could give him right now.  Seriously, like buy a bunch of volumes and for every week he works without complaining, he earns a new volume!  He'll love school, and you'll ditch the complaining.  I heard somebody call that "learn to earn."  In other words, he works (for a kid, school work, learning) and earns things he wants.  Remove the junk and replace it with GOOD comics.

 

-Ok, now for the VSL stuff, sigh.  I have no clue if he is or not.  You've stated you're so linear you couldn't find your way out of a seashell.  He certainly presents as enjoying things very visual/spatial people enjoy (comics, video games, etc.).  Maybe just read about it and try to open your mind.  Pursue some balance.  Your linear abilities give you the ability to make sure he covers skills, but you're NOT TEACHING YOU.  This is about teaching him.  You're not teaching a theoretical class of 30 kids where you tell the kids to suck up.  You're teaching ONE.  Sometimes linear people have a really hard time imagining other ways of interacting with material.  Research and learn.  Try.  Cathy Duffy is great, and read about VSL kids.  Cynthia Tobias has a book The Way They Learn.

 

-Honestly, math is THE HARDEST thing to nail for kids.  I don't think you have to be all wishy-washy and flippy floppy on things in general, but open your mind about changing the math.  There are numerous math programs out there that are really standard, do a really good job, and aren't the most linear, incremental, boring to tears option that can be found on the planet.  It doesn't get any more extreme than Saxon, kwim?  This is NOT a curriculum that appeals to all kids or has lots of modalities or teaching styles built in or accommodations for types of learners.  Cathy Duffy has some really excellent books on curriculum, learning styles, etc., and she points out that when they're very young we need to work WITH them.  Their ability to learn in their non-preferred method comes as they get older.  When they're young (which 6 is young!) they really need to be connected with in the way they think.  There are a ton of math options you have that might make it easier to do that.  Saxon is niched really hard one way, and because it's SO linear, so incremental, so b&w, so not focused on engineering, problem-solving, creativity, application, or any of the other things that thrill some kids, you can't even fix it.  It's not like say BJU, where you have room to select what modalities to emphasize in the lesson.  So seriously consider changing your math.  Buy 6 math programs and let him try them all, then choose.  I'm not joking.  That's what we did at one point.  Math is one of the hardest things for people to figure out, and for us at least it was the thing that if we fixed that ONE THING the rest of our day got better.  

 

Why did you pull him out of K5?  I'm asking, because I'm wondering if you've solved the problem, whatever it was.  Is he is gifted and under challenged?  Was he struggling but bright and you were having a hard time putting a finger on why?  See, I'm wondering if the answer to this will also answer why he's complaining about the writing.  Is he on the young end of 6 with a fall b-day, maybe more like a mature K5er for age but bright enough that you thought he was better as 1st grade?  In a situation like that, you can split things, teaching him at his academic level but letting the motor control requirements fit the lower grade.  

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I'm going to go against the flow here.  And this is not a critique of you, Writermommyy, but I think that first graders *should* like school, and if they don't, then something has got to change.  These are just little kids.  In some countries they are not even of school age yet.  Now they may not like 10 minutes of copy work, or 15 minutes of math, but in general at age 6 school should be a fun, positive experience. Obviously, this is my humble opinion!

 

I completely agree with NASDAQ, finishing at 3 (or even 6) is WAY too much.  Your little boy is exhausted.  You need to do less.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

 

:iagree:  :iagree:  :iagree:

 

 

It's important to keep in mind that kids learn SO much from playing — that's how they're wired at this age. Dragging formal schoolwork out for hours and hours, then "rewarding" a child for putting up with that by letting him veg out in front of screens is probably doing more to restrict his learning than promote or encourage it. And it just reinforces a child's belief that learning is inherently tedious and unpleasant, and not something anyone would voluntarily do without being "paid" for it.

 

Most subjects can be taught informally at this age — math games, read-alouds, magnetic letters & numbers on the fridge, field trips, nature study, "maker" type projects (designing, building, experimenting). I would do the absolute minimum amount of seat work that you feel you need, and then fill the rest of his day with interesting, meaningful activities, not TV & video games. The key to developing life-long learners is to make learning the most interesting and engaging activity available. That does not mean that every learning activity needs to be "fun" — the opposite of a bored, disengaged child is an interested, engaged one, NOT a child doing easy, meaningless fluff (which is often just as boring). 

 

 

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Well, to start with I never did more than 1 hour of seat work with my kids at that age.  I taught them to read (on the sofa) with no curricula, just books for about 30 minutes a day.  I had them do 10 minutes of handwriting and 10 minutes of copywork.  My younger did 20 minutes of math in first grade, but my older boy only did math orally when we went on walks (and I might add that now at age 13 he is one of the top math students in the country, so clearly it did not hurt him to wait until 2nd grade),

 

Besides the seat work, my kids

Played

did art

read books

went on walks

practiced violin

visited the musuem

shopped at the grocery store

explored the botanical gardens

took the train for fun

baked

cleaned the house

I don't know, just not seat work.  I read a lot to them, and we talked a lot. 

 

I am definitely an academic homeschooler, but little kids learn so much from just living.  I would suggest you put it all away and let him read and draw.

 

 

 

 

Why don't you just stop all the screen time and see where the free time leads him?

 

Ruth in NZ

 

I'd "like" this 100 times if I could.

 

OP, this is what I did with DS in K and most of 1st. He was thriving, loved learning, had little interest in gaming or TV (except for science documentaries), and was "ahead" in most subjects, despite his LDs. Like your DS, he also had a little notebook full of stories illustrated with stick-figure men, which he would "read" to me complete with sound effects.  :001_wub:

 

Then I enrolled him in school.  :crying:  Three years later (he repeated 3rd grade in PS), he was 2 years "behind" in math & English, HATED school, had totally stopped reading, and was obsessed with computer & video games. I can't tell you how much I regret having put him in school, and how much I wish I had stuck with what we were doing at home. I've had to undo so. much. damage.  

 

Now that we are back to "schooling" the way he learns, instead of the way public schools teach, or the way that *I* learn (I'm also very linear/logical, in complete contrast to DS's VSL/whole-to-parts way of learning), he is once again thriving: he is engaged, self-motivated, and passionate about learning. He pushes himself much harder than I ever would — I completely disagree with the PP who said that no one enjoys doing hard things. I'm sure it's true that few people enjoy doing hard things that also seem boring, tedious, and pointless, but I think most people — including young children — do enjoy mastering challenging things that are interesting, engaging, and meaningful.

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BTW, you're planning to finish Saxon Math 1 by August. How soon do you intend to start up again? Because there's a massive overlap between Saxon 1 and Saxon 2. If you plan to go on with Saxon (and really, it sounds like a poor fit for your son's personality as you've described) then take a look at Saxon 2 before you stress about finishing too much.

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I'm going to go against the flow here.  And this is not a critique of you, Writermommyy, but I think that first graders *should* like school, and if they don't, then something has got to change.  These are just little kids.  In some countries they are not even of school age yet.  Now they may not like 10 minutes of copy work, or 15 minutes of math, but in general at age 6 school should be a fun, positive experience. Obviously, this is my humble opinion!

 

I completely agree with NASDAQ, finishing at 3 (or even 6) is WAY too much.  Your little boy is exhausted.  You need to do less.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

I agree in principal that 1st graders should like school and that overall it should be positive. But I think the reality is that some kids go through a phase or have a personality that it almost doesn't matter what you do. Both of my boys have gone through I hate school stages as I said previously. We do very little seatwork and do tons of read-alouds, art, field trips, running around outside, free play, etc. With my oldest I went though a period of real discouragement and almost quit homeschooling because I felt like such a failure. Clearly, homeschooling was supposed to "instill a love of learning" and I truly believed when my son said he hated school that meant that I'd killed that love of learning forever and he was doomed to failure. (Yes, it was overly dramatic but I think I was also pregnant at the time. :)). 

 

I think the OP has gotten great advice about areas to examine. Is her school day too long? Could he do more orally? Are there things he could explore that would be more engaging to him? 

 

But I also know that both of my boys are kids that could have a day where we start with snuggling on the couch reading, move to a math game, go for walk and play in a creek and then when we came home and I ask them to do a page of spelling or writing that might take 15 minutes would whine and complain and then say "I hate school." With my current 7 year old he will complain about anything, even fun stuff that he likes if it means I'm asking him to stop playing with Legos for a few minutes. 

 

I don't buy into the "all boys hate school and writing" idea but I do think some kids go through a stage that they do. My oldest now likes almost all of school and even my current 7 year old is getting better about just doing what he needs to do and finding things he likes. 

 

To the OP, change what you can but also realize that this might be one of those things that will just get better with time. 

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Alice, I can totally respect what you are saying, but I did think that the OP was getting post after post suggesting she should say 'suck it up buttercup' to her son. (Thanks Rose for the great phrase!), and I wanted her to know that not all of us felt that way.

 

My kids could never have said 'I hate school' because we never did 'school.'  They might have said (and did say) 'I hate copy work' or 'I hate speed drill in math,' but generalizing to the concept of 'school' never occurred to them.  I do think that I would work very hard to retrain a student to avoid generalizations.  If they already have the 'school' word in their vocabulary, then simply say 'but honey, going to the park/museum is school and you don't hate that.' or whatever that kid likes.  It is actually a mental health issue.  All people should learn to avoid generalizations, like 'I'm terrible at math' because they got one problem wrong. Or an even broader generalization 'I'm a loser' because they got one problem wrong.  Seems like something I would really work on.

 

Ruth in NZ

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Wow, I'm totally overwhelmed (in a good way) by all your responses! Thank you for all your great advice. And I must say, some of you are either psychic or psychologists. I am very black and white. You've found me out!

 

I talked to my son, and he said he most dislikes math, spelling, phonics and science.

 

I feel terrible that science was on the list. I've been having him read a few pages in a DK encyclopedia and write one page about it. It was so easy for me. I didn't realize he hated it so much, since he never complained about it before. So this week I read the pages with him, and today we're going to do a science experiment, which at this level is only slightly more work. Hopefully he'll start to love science again.

 

He suggested we only do phonics on MWF, which I agreed to. I've ordered Spelling Power for spelling because it advertises lots of games, so hopefully he'll like it. As far as math, I told him for now that he just needs to do it because sometimes you have to do things you don't like.

 

A lot of you have suggested getting away from Saxon. I have another secret... I taught in a private school for seven years. I'm very tied to what we did there, which included Saxon. I love it! But... DS doesn't seem to...

 

So what math should we try? The only other I have looked into was Singapore. Is Miquon a whole curriculum, or more of a supplement? I would love some specific input on math. What else is there? I'd like it to be in book form (not online) if possible.

 

Aaaaand as far as screen time goes..., that's a really hard one around here. My husband is a gamer. Still. And while he plays less than he once did, he still does fire up his Xbox quite often. He's made video games cool to my son. Also, letting him play video games after quiet time while DD3 naps is the only way can ensure I get a long enough rest.... So for now, I'll have to keep working on that one!

 

The other thing many of you commented on was the length of our day... I'm still scratching my head on that one, too. We are certainly not doing six hours of school. It just takes him three times as long as it should to do things because he has to stop and complain so often. Getting stated earlier would help, and being less distracted myself would probably help too. If we both focus, I bet we could knock out his seat work in an hour.

 

Thanks again for all your support, and keep it coming! I've enjoyed reading the replies in my email for the past two days. It's been very uplifting.

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Adding in that BOTH of my kids HATED saxon math.  In first grade DD cried every.single.day about math.  Head on the table, sobbing about how hard it was.  I would pull out the books and she would immediately freak out.  I switched to Right Start Math and she never complained about it again. 

 

I gave Saxon another try with DS because I had the materials and I had spent all that $$ on them, but DS hated it too.  Right Start had been borrowed and returned to a friend, so I switched him to Singapore beause it was so inexpensive.  We added some Xtra math and math games, and DS fell in love with math!

 

I sold my Saxon and always caution other families against it for the early years.  (4/5 and up are much better)

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Wow, I'm totally overwhelmed (in a good way) by all your responses! Thank you for all your great advice. And I must say, some of you are either psychic or psychologists. I am very black and white. You've found me out!

 

I talked to my son, and he said he most dislikes math, spelling, phonics and science.

 

I feel terrible that science was on the list. I've been having him read a few pages in a DK encyclopedia and write one page about it. It was so easy for me. I didn't realize he hated it so much, since he never complained about it before. So this week I read the pages with him, and today we're going to do a science experiment, which at this level is only slightly more work. Hopefully he'll start to love science again.

 

He suggested we only do phonics on MWF, which I agreed to. I've ordered Spelling Power for spelling because it advertises lots of games, so hopefully he'll like it. As far as math, I told him for now that he just needs to do it because sometimes you have to do things you don't like.

 

A lot of you have suggested getting away from Saxon. I have another secret... I taught in a private school for seven years. I'm very tied to what we did there, which included Saxon. I love it! But... DS doesn't seem to...

 

So what math should we try? The only other I have looked into was Singapore. Is Miquon a whole curriculum, or more of a supplement? I would love some specific input on math. What else is there? I'd like it to be in book form (not online) if possible.

 

Aaaaand as far as screen time goes..., that's a really hard one around here. My husband is a gamer. Still. And while he plays less than he once did, he still does fire up his Xbox quite often. He's made video games cool to my son. Also, letting him play video games after quiet time while DD3 naps is the only way can ensure I get a long enough rest.... So for now, I'll have to keep working on that one!

 

The other thing many of you commented on was the length of our day... I'm still scratching my head on that one, too. We are certainly not doing six hours of school. It just takes him three times as long as it should to do things because he has to stop and complain so often. Getting stated earlier would help, and being less distracted myself would probably help too. If we both focus, I bet we could knock out his seat work in an hour.

 

Thanks again for all your support, and keep it coming! I've enjoyed reading the replies in my email for the past two days. It's been very uplifting.

Many people who are gamers are drawn to it because it harnesses their VSL abilities.  Do some reading about VSL (visual spatial learners).  

 

Yeah, that was a pretty gross way to teach science.  Have you thought about getting him a curriculum?  The American Chemical Society sells WONDERFUL books aimed at elementary. The have a free middle school chem that totally could work for some bright kids that age.  (7-8)  

 

Math?  Go to CBD or Rainbow and do a search for all the options.  Then order a dab from each thing.  With him, yeah I'd look at RightStart, Singapore, BJU, Math Mammoth, MUS.  Those would be some of the biggees.  Some have sample pages you can print and try.  You won't really see the differences immediately, so dig in.  BJU has some of the best problem-solving for a mainstream curriculum, with gifted supplements, etc. etc.  Singapore tends to be trimmer.  RightStart is very sound conceptually, even if though it only has a few levels.  It creates an AMAZING foundation.  So just try things.  You're home to teach him, so customize and do it.   :)

 

Is Spelling Power the thick manual?  Could be fun.  What some people do is use VSL techniques like visualizing the word and then spelling it aloud *backward*.  Seriously, there are kids who can do this!  

 

Just as a suggestion, you might have some subjects be things he just has to do (like that spelling) and maybe have 1 or 2 things that are *his* to do any way he wants.  For instance, if he really enjoys science, then give him the Home Science Tools catalog and let HIM pick what he wants to do.  Give him some freedom on this.  It's not that a child that age can schedule for themselves, but they definitely might have interests and drive and the ability to work within parameters.  For instance, you might be able to say you want to work together in 1 1/2 hour blocks two times a week and that he should pick things to go in those parameters.  He might decide he likes to shake things up, working through some Usborne books on topics (they typically have text and then something to do) and then kits.  He might like to do TOPS kits.  You're still getting what you want, which is science done 3 hours a week, and he's getting what he wants.  Win, win.  TOPS kits would be awesome for him btw.

 

Has he started typing yet?  

 

Well congrats on being open to changes!  WTM is very, very linear, so you might like to read some other books just to balance you out.  Try Freed's book Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World.  Just something in that vein of working with the kid, giving them more freedom, seeing how they learn.  WTM, for all its helpfulness, seems to imply we can turn off our brains to that.  We can't.   ;)

 

Btw, many kids respond well to increased structure.  He might do well with a clearly typed out plan for the day, boxes to check off, and work he can do largely by himself.  It might kick in his pro-active side.  Some kids whine because there's no clear endpoint, no reward.  Sometimes you can help that by assigning each subject a time slot and saying his time until the next time slot is his own as soon as he's done.  Some people do it by giving a checklist and walking away.  Some people use timers and only allow them to work the prescribed amount of time (say 10 min) on the task and then the remaining work falls as homework that they do later on their own.  Don't let him control the dynamic by making it take 3 hours.  Change the situation.

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Singapore Math is very good. Miquon can be used alone for the early years (it only goes up to third grade or so) but it has a pretty steep learning curve.

 

Gently. Summarising a page of science work alone is not something I could ask my seven-year-old to do. It sounds like you've got a very bright, very capable kid. It also sounds like he's already reading fairly well. I think phonics _and_ spelling is overkill, especially if it's an intensive phonics program. Are you using Saxon phonics?

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Nasdaq, I'm using Rod and Staff Phonics at the second grade level. He thinks it's boring, which it kind of is, but the material is so vital. He's also doing Saxon Math 2, which someone asked about earlier.

 

OhElizabeth, you're a genius. I love the idea of setting time slots, and letting him have free time until the next thing if he finishes early. I will start that next week.

 

I will also read about VSL learners. (Is that what he is if he likes to do things orally?) I don't know what BJU is, but I'll figure it out. He is not typing yet. He wants to, but at the school where I used to work, we didn't start them until 4th grade, supposedly because their hands are too small. He's really tall, though, so maybe he can do it now.

 

He really wants to do chemistry, so maybe instead of telling him he has to wait until 3rd grade as per SWB, I'll be crazy and let him do it next year. Oooh, I'm so wild. I'll check out those science things, too. When I asked him what he wanted to do instead of video games, he said "build something." Dad usually comes home late, and I'm hammer-impaired (I hate Lego's and puzzles, he loves both), but maybe I'll just get him some wood, hammer, nails, wire, pliers, etc, and let him figure something out!

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He really wants to do chemistry, so maybe instead of telling him he has to wait until 3rd grade as per SWB, I'll be crazy and let him do it next year. Oooh, I'm so wild. I'll check out those science things, too. When I asked him what he wanted to do instead of video games, he said "build something." Dad usually comes home late, and I'm hammer-impaired (I hate Lego's and puzzles, he loves both), but maybe I'll just get him some wood, hammer, nails, wire, pliers, etc, and let him figure something out!

 

Or you could just let him do chemistry now, instead of making him wait until next year.  ;)

 

As for the building stuff... I have several huge bins in the closet filled with "maker materials" — everything from wire and duct tape to dowels & little blocks of wood, paperclips & bulldog clips, plastic straws, wooden clothes pins, various sizes of cardboard & foam core, styrofoam cups, tin foil, rubber bands, plastic spoons, pipe cleaners, fimo dough, buttons, bits of foam and fabric, and lots of other crazy stuff. We also have lots of books like Backyard Ballistics, Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction, issues of Make magazine, etc. They can design and build anything they want, whenever the mood strikes them. We also keep lots of wood scraps, hardware, and random bits of stuff (like parts of a dismantled trampoline, tarps, pieces of pipes, etc.) outside if they want to "go big." They once built a catapult out of an old wheelbarrow frame, a broken pooper-scooper, and a whole lot of bungie cords, then spent the afternoon seeing how far they could throw a snowball (80' apparently!).

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Alice, I can totally respect what you are saying, but I did think that the OP was getting post after post suggesting she should say 'suck it up buttercup' to her son. (Thanks Rose for the great phrase!), and I wanted her to know that not all of us felt that way.

 

My kids could never have said 'I hate school' because we never did 'school.'  They might have said (and did say) 'I hate copy work' or 'I hate speed drill in math,' but generalizing to the concept of 'school' never occurred to them.  I do think that I would work very hard to retrain a student to avoid generalizations.  If they already have the 'school' word in their vocabulary, then simply say 'but honey, going to the park/museum is school and you don't hate that.' or whatever that kid likes.  It is actually a mental health issue.  All people should learn to avoid generalizations, like 'I'm terrible at math' because they got one problem wrong. Or an even broader generalization 'I'm a loser' because they got one problem wrong.  Seems like something I would really work on.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

Ruth, I agree. I think I fell into the trap of reading a thread and thinking of it only from my own personal experience. Do you know what I mean? When I heard you say "all kids should like 1st grade and if they don't something needs to change" (or something like that) my mind immediately went to how I would have felt with my oldest if someone had said that to me. I would have been totally discouraged and probably in tears because I had really tried changing everything I could and the only thing left to change was to just wait for him to grow out of it or to stop homeschooling. 

 

BUT. 

 

This is a different OP (than me) and a different kid and I think  you gave great advice, as well as many others here. The OP has a lot to work with. :) 

 

I also agree with working on getting rid of  the words "I hate school". Mine said it even though I never made a big thing about "doing school". But I did spend a lot of time pointing out to them what they did like and that the reading and art and field trips and nature walks and math and latin that they liked was just as much school as the stuff they said they didn't. I also work hard on language in general and how it makes them feel about themselves and others. I have one son who believes he is bad at math even though he isn't. He's just not as natural at it as his brother. So when he says things like "I'm terrible at math" I stop what we're doing and that becomes the focus. We work hard on talking about all the things in math that he does great at. So I agree that the language itself is an important thing to work on. 

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I think rereading The Well Trained Mind would be helpful also. If you're trying to do WTM science, having a first grader write a page is NOT what SWB recommends. She recommends oral narration, which YOU write down for him. She doesn't have the kid write a page until closer to middle school.

 

I agree with letting him do whatever science he wants though. I'm not a fan of WTM science. Library books on whatever topic he wants would be plenty... no writing one page papers necessary! He's first grade, not 6th! :)

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Ruth, I agree. I think I fell into the trap of reading a thread and thinking of it only from my own personal experience. Do you know what I mean? When I heard you say "all kids should like 1st grade and if they don't something needs to change" (or something like that) my mind immediately went to how I would have felt with my oldest if someone had said that to me. I would have been totally discouraged and probably in tears because I had really tried changing everything I could and the only thing left to change was to just wait for him to grow out of it or to stop homeschooling. 

 

BUT. 

 

This is a different OP (than me) and a different kid and I think  you gave great advice, as well as many others here. The OP has a lot to work with. :)

 

I also agree with working on getting rid of  the words "I hate school". Mine said it even though I never made a big thing about "doing school". But I did spend a lot of time pointing out to them what they did like and that the reading and art and field trips and nature walks and math and latin that they liked was just as much school as the stuff they said they didn't. I also work hard on language in general and how it makes them feel about themselves and others. I have one son who believes he is bad at math even though he isn't. He's just not as natural at it as his brother. So when he says things like "I'm terrible at math" I stop what we're doing and that becomes the focus. We work hard on talking about all the things in math that he does great at. So I agree that the language itself is an important thing to work on. 

I was thinking of my own experience as well, if my son says he hates something it is a big deal, I have a mega-thread on here about relaxed math because he had told me he hated math. He is generally easy going so for him to say he hated something is huge and wrong. My daughter on the other hand is very dramatic, she either hates something or loves it. Some days it is one and some days it is another, some days it is both. I have changed around what I use to suite her but the thing she really hates is anything that is the least bit challenging. So, I have to really work to find the right level with her. I only do about an hour of seatwork however with her in first grade.

 

I don't know if I even did that much with my son at this age because he was like the OPs son. He loves to build, loves to listen to stories and do. We took lots of walks and read lots of books.

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My DD6 has said everything from "I hate brushing my teeth," to "I hate eating vegetables." She still has to do both. Why is it a requirement that a child must always be happy doing "school" or even always happy learning. No one can be happy all the time - it requires the opposite emotion at some points to even be able to feel happy - if you never feel sad, how will you know what it means to be happy - happy is a comparative emotion.

 

That being said "hate" is also the opposite of "love" and in order to feel it, you must also have felt the opposite - so what does he love? I wouldn't be too scared of extremes of emotion - many times they are also related to other feelings too - like being too tired, too hungry, too cold or too hot. 

 

Sometimes in order for a child to accept something a strict routine with clear expectations needs to be in place - depending on the child's personality - and a feeling that this thing they dislike will end (so shorter lessons help). Its also why giving them play time after short sessions helps. I do not always like the work I do (I don't think anyone loves every part of their job - even you do not like having to deal with your child not loving his learning - but there must be some pay off else you would stop - you need to find a pay off for your child).

 

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