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DS11 is driving me batty with not getting his school work finished.  He has a weekly checklist broken down into specific assignments for each day.  I check his work as he completes it and give it back to him to make corrections.  Everything is spelled out very clearly for what he has to accomplish each day. 

 

For a typical day, he wakes up around 8 am, eats breakfast, usually while doing some reading, and gets settled in to work around 9.  But then he sits there.  For hours.  He stares out the window.  He pets the cat.  He drops his pencil.  He drops his eraser.  Then he drops the pencil again.  Then he puts on his slippers.  Then he takes them off.  Then he watches a bird that landed on the porch.  Then he puts on his bathrobe.  Then he needs to go to the bathroom.  All. Day. Long.  And by bedtime, he is, of course, still not finished with his work, which means he starts the next day behind.  And stares out the window, watches the squirrels, plays with his eraser, etc., etc.  I am getting so frustrated!  I know he can do the work.  Occasionally, he’s gone in there and gotten it completely finished by lunchtime. 

 

I cannot just sit there and make him work all day.  I have my own schoolwork (I’m a grad student) and work and my daughter who needs some attention, too.  And by 3 pm or so, I’m finished, completely worn out.  School is done for the day at 3 pm, IMO. 

 

I would love for him to work on the system my daughter uses.  She starts work at 7:30 and works until noon (with a 30-minute break for breakfast during which she does her reading), and then does all of her music stuff in the afternoon (clarinet, piano, music theory, and music history).  That’s it.  She does a good amount of academic work in a nice, solid 4.5 hours before lunch.  But I’m afraid if I let DS be on this type of schedule, we’d be lucky to get two assignments finished with all his stalling and poking around.  I’m afraid he’d be in the 5th grade for the next three years if I try that.  But I just cannot keep having these battles with him every single day to get him to do his work.  I’m at a loss.  This might be a JAWM because I feel like I’ve tried everything under the sun with him.  I just don’t know what to do and I’m incredibly frustrated.

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Am I understanding that your 11 yo boy is expected to work on his own all day? I would consider that an unrealistic expectation for many 11 yo boys, although I am sure your dd was quite capable at an earlier age, so there is no need to tell me about her :).

 

ETA: That sounded really harsh on re-read. I totally sympathize with how frustrating 11 yo boys can be to keep on track. Some 11 yo girls too for that matter. Can you sit beside him and work on your school work while he works on his and redirect often?

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OK JAWM :D

 

Tween boys- lol. What ya gonna do?

 

Since it doesn't sound like a surriculum issue, other than staying right on top of him, I have no answer. (Unless you think it is all right to close the blinds, lock up the cat, have him wear blinders like a horse, and duct tape him to the chair and his pencil to his hand.)

 

Sorry. This too shall pass.

Mandy

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Am I understanding that your 11 yo boy is expected to work on his own all day? I would consider that an unrealistic expectation for many 11 yo boys, although I am sure your dd was quite capable at an earlier age, so there is no need to tell me about her :).

 

ETA: That sounded really harsh on re-read. I totally sympathize with how frustrating 11 yo boys can be to keep on track. Some 11 yo girls too for that matter. Can you sit beside him and work on your school work while he works on his and redirect often?

 

Oh, no.  He's most certainly not alone all day.  We all sit in the office/school room together.  DD does her work, I do mine ( and check theirs and answer questions, etc), and he is supposed to be doing his.  I feel badly for DD because my constant redirection and reminding him to stay focused and getting him back on track is distracting to her (working somewhere else is not an option as she doesn't like to be alone).  And really, I can't get my own work done because I'm having to stay on him constantly to do his.

 

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I sympathize. My 11 year old just can't keep on task either. i also do teh daily checklist. He KNOWS what we're going to do for the day. 

 

One thing that does help (at times) is to take away freetime. I've just had to point out to him time and time again, that if he just simply does it, then he has a whole afternoon of doing what he wants to do. 

 

Also like a pp said, I wouldn't expect him to do everything independently. This age is notorious, I think, for being difficult.

 

My dh subbed in a middle school. I have a friend who teaches in a middle school. The consensus is in that this age is "hopeless." LOL.

 

I had my own classes last Fall, so I understand how tricky it can be, but other than JAWM, which I do, I would try to carve out some time to actively teach and do some assignments with him. 

 

ETA; Can you give him something educational but fun to work on first in the morning. I found that i did best working on some of my school in the mornings, so I would let my oldest read , watch an educational doc, or work on some math etc that he could complete on his own. Then I'd keep my mid morning and afternoon free to work on more content and topics he needed my attention with, then study more in the evening on my own. I also tried to complete as many of my own assignments as possible for the week on the the weekends. 

 

Being in school and homeschooling is hard. It's why I decided not to continue taking classes this spring. A whole year of a distracted mother would have set us back by a lot!

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OK JAWM :D

 

Tween boys- lol. What ya gonna do?

 

Since it doesn't sound like a surriculum issue, other than staying right on top of him, I have no answer. (Unless you think it is all right to close the blinds, lock up the cat, have him wear blinders like a horse, and duct tape him to the chair and his pencil to his hand.)

 

Sorry. This too shall pass.

Mandy

 

This may not be a bad idea. :D  (j/k, of course).

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I sympathize. My 11 year old just can't keep on task either. i also do teh daily checklist. He KNOWS what we're going to do for the day. 

 

One thing that does help (at times) is to take away freetime. I've just had to point out to him time and time again, that if he just simply does it, then he has a whole afternoon of doing what he wants to do. 

 

Also like a pp said, I wouldn't expect him to do everything independently. This age is notorious, I think, for being difficult.

 

My dh subbed in a middle school. I have a friend who teaches in a middle school. The consensus is in that this age is "hopeless." LOL.

 

I had my own classes last Fall, so I understand how tricky it can be, but other than JAWM, which I do, I would try to carve out some time to actively teach and do some assignments with him. 

 

Thanks for the commiseration.  I do work with him each day, usually on his corrections or when he doesn't understand a lesson.  And we usually do Story Grammar together (he'd rather pull out all his teeth with rusty pliers than to put six words together in a sentence).  So it's not like he's being ignored or left all alone all day.  We're all in there trying to work.

 

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Maybe he needs some hard physical exercise before trying to sit for so long. And maybe a really interesting hobby to look forward to if school is done for the day. I don't know, but that's what I do to motivate my kids.

 

I've tried this, too.  He likes to run laps around the house in between subjects sometimes (and he does it "for luck" before he takes a test; LOL) but even that doesn't really help.  It seems to just provide yet another distraction to keep him from doing any work.

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ETA; Can you give him something educational but fun to work on first in the morning. I found that i did best working on some of my school in the mornings, so I would let my oldest read , watch an educational doc, or work on some math etc that he could complete on his own. Then I'd keep my mid morning and afternoon free to work on more content and topics he needed my attention with, then study more in the evening on my own. I also tried to complete as many of my own assignments as possible for the week on the the weekends. 

 

Being in school and homeschooling is hard. It's why I decided not to continue taking classes this spring. A whole year of a distracted mother would have set us back by a lot!

 

He can work on anything he chooses in whatever order he'd like.  The problem is that he just doesn't want to do anything.  So it's not a matter of having fun stuff to do first and then get the other stuff done later.  He just isn't getting any of it done, even the things he likes.  And I am almost always free to work with him on things that he's having trouble with.  The problem is that he doesn't even get so far as to BE having trouble on something.  One would have to actually read the lesson or maybe put pencil to paper and try to work a problem in order to determine if one is having trouble with it. :rolleyes:

 

I'm sorry.  I feel like I'm just shooting down everyone's suggestions, but I really do feel like I've tried everything.  Just venting is helping, and I really do appreciate the sympathy and commiseration.  It's nice to know I'm not the only one having this problem.

 

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Oh, no. He's most certainly not alone all day. We all sit in the office/school room together. DD does her work, I do mine ( and check theirs and answer questions, etc), and he is supposed to be doing his. I feel badly for DD because my constant redirection and reminding him to stay focused and getting him back on track is distracting to her (working somewhere else is not an option as she doesn't like to be alone). And really, I can't get my own work done because I'm having to stay on him constantly to do his.

Personally, I think there is little difference between being expected to work "on his own" and working alone. Being in a room with others while working on his own still involves working in (relative) solitude.

 

I do work with him each day, usually on his corrections or when he doesn't understand a lesson. And we usually do Story Grammar together (he'd rather pull out all his teeth with rusty pliers than to put six words together in a sentence). So it's not like he's being ignored or left all alone all day. We're all in there trying to work.

How much do you work with him, actively discussing, engaging with him in material for the different subjects, interesting content, etc.? My DS11 benefits so much from partnership learning and discussion. He can (and does) work independently for some things, but if I expected most of his work to be done independently ("on his own" even if not technically "alone"), I know from experience that he would behave just as your DS11 does. But he can work very well independently once I get his buy-in and he is engaged.

 

It seems to me that all the time you are spending in an effort to redirect him and get him to focus could be better spent broken into parts: one part one-on-one work with him in areas that would benefit from discussion and engagement (and here that is not just skillwork) and one part supervising his independent work (which I imagine would go better once he has had more interaction).

 

I sympathize about you having your own work to do, but it does seem like your work and your DD's (awesome but rare) level of independence are skewing your expectations for your DS. What would your homeschool look like if you did not have your own schoolwork right now?

 

He can work on anything he chooses in whatever order he'd like. The problem is that he just doesn't want to do anything. So it's not a matter of having fun stuff to do first and then get the other stuff done later. He just isn't getting any of it done, even the things he likes. And I am almost always free to work with him on things that he's having trouble with. The problem is that he doesn't even get so far as to BE having trouble on something. One would have to actually read the lesson or maybe put pencil to paper and try to work a problem in order to determine if one is having trouble with it.

 

I'm sorry. I feel like I'm just shooting down everyone's suggestions, but I really do feel like I've tried everything. Just venting is helping, and I really do appreciate the sympathy and commiseration. It's nice to know I'm not the only one having this problem.

Your last post screams out to me that what he really needs is engagement. With a person. About the material. And if he is in the habit of being careless, uninterested, unmotivated, etc, the engagement may take a while to appear, even with your direct interaction. It is not something you can necessarily get back in a morning, or even a week. Personally, in your shoes, I would make radical changes in an effort to light his spark. But even then it will need to be tended.

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This year I put together weekly folders. Last year and the year before had periods of time where I felt like I was dragging a boulder through mud. This year I purposefully chose things that were workbook based or printed from online. I had bindings removed, hole-punched everything and put it by week into paper school folders with pockets and brads. I don't care what he does each day. I don't care if he does all his geography one day or spreads it out all week. There was some tweaking with my choices at the end of first quarter and again at the end of second quarter. This week was the end of third quarter and there is no need to tweak for the last quarter. He is doing Write@Home for composition, and those assignments are due on Wednesdays.

 

I expect the folder to be completed by Friday at lunch because we have a German group we attend and then we go to park day. Several times this year it wasn't finished by Friday after lunch and he lost park day. A few times it wasn't finished by Friday night and he had to do school on Saturday. Only a couple of times has he needed to do school on Sunday. He has also had to stay up and finish composition a couple of times. I do grammar with him, and I like to read his poetry aloud with him. I also prod him along periodically by suggesting that perhaps he should have completed more work on during the day. However, as you can see above, I have also let him have the natural consequences of missing things and working on the weekend. We do have living books we read outside the folder, some things we do online, lectures we watch from The Great Courses, and instruments/ music theory, but these things either I manage, he enjoys, or they just happen when they happen.

 

Anyway, I have been much calmer this year. I haven't tried to mother him through his schoolwork, dictate his schedule, or even usher him through his day. Sure, there have been days that I have wanted to wring his little neck and there is still a 50/50 chance that I will want to hide in the closet at some point during the day, but all in all I think he is learning how to better manage his time. (I can say this today, because this week he finished his folder on Thursday before lunch. :p)

 

HTH-

Mandy

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This year I put together weekly folders. Last year and the year before had periods of time where I felt like I was dragging a boulder through mud. This year I purposefully chose things that were workbook based or printed from online. I had bindings removed, hole-punched everything and put it by week into paper school folders with pockets and brads. I don't care what he does each day. I don't care if he does all his geography one day or spreads it out all week. There was some tweaking with my choices at the end of first quarter and again at the end of second quarter. This week was the end of third quarter and there is no need to tweak for the last quarter. He is doing Write@Home for composition, and those assignments are due on Wednesdays.

 

I expect the folder to be completed by Friday at lunch because we have a German group we attend and then we go to park day. Several times this year it wasn't finished by Friday after lunch and he lost park day. A few times it wasn't finished by Friday night and he had to do school on Saturday. Only a couple of times has he needed to do school on Sunday. He has also had to stay up and finish composition a couple of times. I do grammar with him, and I like to read his poetry aloud with him. I also prod him along periodically by suggesting that perhaps he should have completed more work on during the day. However, as you can see above, I have also let him have the natural consequences of missing things and working on the weekend. We do have living books we read outside the folder, some things we do online, lectures we watch from The Great Courses, and instruments/ music theory, but these things either I manage, he enjoys, or they just happen when they happen.

 

Anyway, I have been much calmer this year. I haven't tried to mother him through his schoolwork, dictate his schedule, or even usher him through his day. Sure, there have been days that I have wanted to wring his little neck and there is still a 50/50 chance that I will want to hide in the closet at some point during the day, but all in all I think he is learning how to better manage his time. (I can say this today, because this week he finished his folder on Thursday before lunch. :p)

 

HTH-

Mandy

 

You might be on to something here.  DS does a ton of math (by his choice, though in light of how things are going this year, we're cutting back on this some next year).  For a couple of his math things, I just assign a number of pages that must be finished by Friday and it is up to him to decide how much to do each day.  Thus far, he's always finished those things, but whether that's because it's math (which he likes) or because he gets to plan his time, I don't know.  Maybe I need to see if I can do a few other things that way, though, and see what happens.  Thanks for the suggestion.

 

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Personally, I think there is little difference between being expected to work "on his own" and working alone. Being in a room with others while working on his own still involves working in (relative) solitude.

 

 

How much do you work with him, actively discussing, engaging with him in material for the different subjects, interesting content, etc.? My DS11 benefits so much from partnership learning and discussion. He can (and does) work independently for some things, but if I expected most of his work to be done independently ("on his own" even if not technically "alone"), I know from experience that he would behave just as your DS11 does. But he can work very well independently once I get his buy-in and he is engaged.

 

It seems to me that all the time you are spending in an effort to redirect him and get him to focus could be better spent broken into parts: one part one-on-one work with him in areas that would benefit from discussion and engagement (and here that is not just skillwork) and one part supervising his independent work (which I imagine would go better once he has had more interaction).

 

I sympathize about you having your own work to do, but it does seem like your work and your DD's (awesome but rare) level of independence are skewing your expectations for your DS. What would your homeschool look like if you did not have your own schoolwork right now?

 

 

Your last post screams out to me that what he really needs is engagement. With a person. About the material. And if he is in the habit of being careless, uninterested, unmotivated, etc, the engagement may take a while to appear, even with your direct interaction. It is not something you can necessarily get back in a morning, or even a week. Personally, in your shoes, I would make radical changes in an effort to light his spark. But even then it will need to be tended.

 

 

Thanks for your suggestions.  DS is not a "discusser" really.  One of the problems we have when we work together, whether it's on Story Grammar or corrections or whatever, is that DS will just sit there and say "I don't know" and wait for me to tell him what to write down.  He doesn't want to discuss and think things through.  He wants me to just tell him the answers so he can write them down and move on.  And on the occasions where he is cheerful and engaged, then he's also wild and over the top (acting out every example I give or every point of the lesson, flopping on the floor to show just how hungry those poor pioneers were, etc.; of course, he has no interest in theater and wouldn't do a skit or anything as an assignment; it's only fun when he's being silly) and we still don't get anything done.  If we did school his way, he would do math, maybe do a little reading, watch some videos for science or history, and be finished. 

 

 

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Well, we just had our best week of work all year with my 11 year old. I have been going through this all year, so I am with you. Let me tell you where we ended up and maybe there is something there that can work.

 

I kept threatening to take things away, etc... we were just butting heads all the time.

 

We started using an egg timer. He has it with him all day. 20 minutes of work, 5 minutes of free time where he is not allowed to be sitting. He still drifts off, but at least after 20 minutes there is a bell going off, he has his free time and tries again. Things were a little better with this.

 

I started writing out what he had to do each day, and that helped for a few days, but then not. Now what we are doing is that I have written out a weekly time table of subjects. He has a cool new book (we got the well planned day student book at a discount as the year is almost over to try.) He writes what he has done in there. The subject and the page or lesson number. He seems to be liking this. His work is in his writing, and he seems happy as he sees the week filling up. I don't know if  am explaining that correctly. Visually for him, instead of moms handwriting everywhere that he checks off, he has a blank week that gets filled in, in his writing. 

 

We then discussed what we both want out of homeschool. That I was really reduced on energy for the fun stuff as I was using it all up during the day. We came up with a weekly consequence. We have a fun activity that he loves on Friday. We have gone down to a 4 day school week. He needs to have everything done, and his room clean, Thursday night or no activity Friday. Friday is a built in catch up day, OR, a day off to play with friends and go to his activity. He likes that it is like starting over every week.

 

It was really hard, but the first week he did not make it, so I didn't take him and he spent Friday working. The next week he was so close. He tried so hard, but it is hard to break a cycle. I told him that for one week only, he could wake up early Friday and finish the work and we would still go. He was so grateful that I had acknowledged how hard he tried. He woke up, finished, and we went. This last week, was fantastic. He is so proud of himself.

 

It has been a long year, but what I realized out of all of this is that my ds wants to be able to focus and get stuff done. Once we started working together, it has been wonderful. Now, I have a tween, next week we could be back to duct tape, but I have a new understanding of ds, and I think we have finally found a way for this to work for us.

 

Best of luck.  :grouphug:

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Well, we just had our best week of work all year with my 11 year old. I have been going through this all year, so I am with you. Let me tell you where we ended up and maybe there is something there that can work.

 

I kept threatening to take things away, etc... we were just butting heads all the time.

 

We started using an egg timer. He has it with him all day. 20 minutes of work, 5 minutes of free time where he is not allowed to be sitting. He still drifts off, but at least after 20 minutes there is a bell going off, he has his free time and tries again. Things were a little better with this.

 

I started writing out what he had to do each day, and that helped for a few days, but then not. Now what we are doing is that I have written out a weekly time table of subjects. He has a cool new book (we got the well planned day student book at a discount as the year is almost over to try.) He writes what he has done in there. The subject and the page or lesson number. He seems to be liking this. His work is in his writing, and he seems happy as he sees the week filling up. I don't know if  am explaining that correctly. Visually for him, instead of moms handwriting everywhere that he checks off, he has a blank week that gets filled in, in his writing. 

 

We then discussed what we both want out of homeschool. That I was really reduced on energy for the fun stuff as I was using it all up during the day. We came up with a weekly consequence. We have a fun activity that he loves on Friday. We have gone down to a 4 day school week. He needs to have everything done, and his room clean, Thursday night or no activity Friday. Friday is a built in catch up day, OR, a day off to play with friends and go to his activity. He likes that it is like starting over every week.

 

It was really hard, but the first week he did not make it, so I didn't take him and he spent Friday working. The next week he was so close. He tried so hard, but it is hard to break a cycle. I told him that for one week only, he could wake up early Friday and finish the work and we would still go. He was so grateful that I had acknowledged how hard he tried. He woke up, finished, and we went. This last week, was fantastic. He is so proud of himself.

 

It has been a long year, but what I realized out of all of this is that my ds wants to be able to focus and get stuff done. Once we started working together, it has been wonderful. Now, I have a tween, next week we could be back to duct tape, but I have a new understanding of ds, and I think we have finally found a way for this to work for us.

 

Best of luck.  :grouphug:

 

 

Thanks for this.  Your notebook idea is exactly what DD does.  She just uses a composition notebook, one page per day, and she lists what she did that day.  Your idea sounds like a combination of what DD does and what a PP mentioned about giving the week's assignments and letting DS work through them at his own preference.  Thanks for your suggestion.  I'm formulating ideas here for how we might change things up and see if DS will rise to it.  Hmmm.....

 

 

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Thanks for your suggestions. DS is not a "discusser" really. One of the problems we have when we work together, whether it's on Story Grammar or corrections or whatever, is that DS will just sit there and say "I don't know" and wait for me to tell him what to write down. He doesn't want to discuss and think things through. He wants me to just tell him the answers so he can write them down and move on. And on the occasions where he is cheerful and engaged, then he's also wild and over the top (acting out every example I give or every point of the lesson, flopping on the floor to show just how hungry those poor pioneers were, etc.; of course, he has no interest in theater and wouldn't do a skit or anything as an assignment; it's only fun when he's being silly) and we still don't get anything done. If we did school his way, he would do math, maybe do a little reading, watch some videos for science or history, and be finished.

 

 

These issues are problems in your technique. And I'm not saying this in a blaming way.

 

If he will sit there and say, "I don't know," then you tell him to think of an answer and sit and stare at him for a while.

 

If he continues to sit there, then you can ask more leading questions and try to prompt an answer. You can ask him to give you even a single word to get it going.

 

If he still sits there, then you provide the answer and then re-ask the question. This time, he has the answer, but must say it out loud. He must keep saying it out loud until it is answers exactly as he should. Don't let him get sloppy. You can keep prompting the right answer, but always go back to re-asking the question until he answers it out loud.

 

This teaches him that he HAS to engage.

 

Next, if when he actually is engaging he's flopping around, then you need to train him not to. That's an entirely different set of skills and I won't go into all of that. You would use the same skills if he decided to flop around during church or in the grocery store or whatever. Once he flops on the floor tell him to get up and start over until he can engage with you without all the flopping.

 

Does he have ADHD?

 

I have an 11 year old and there is precious little that he does without engaging with me in some way or another. We read science out loud together, we work on difficult math problems together, we read and answer questions in our critical thinking book and civics book together. After we have read and discussed and worked together, THEN I will give him very few problems to work on alone.

 

It sounds to me like your son needs someone right on top of him...not re-directing, but engaging. Teaching. Inspiring. Disciplining. (Discipline, not as punishment, but teaching self-discipline.)

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Perhaps a morning meeting, where you go over every subject with him, discuss anything that can be discussed, and run through some practice problems with anything that has problems with him would help. It helps my DS who usually works well independently. He worked well by himself at 8-9yrs old, was a mess from 10-12, and now that he's approaching 13, he works better independently again, but still not as well as when he was younger. He complains about the time we spend discussing, but I can tell he enjoys it. I think I spend about 1-1.5 hrs with DS when I do that and then he can do the rest pretty well on his own.

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This is how it usually works on his good days.  He will choose what he wants to work on, read the lesson and complete the problems/exercises.  If he doesn't understand something, he will ask and we'll discuss.  Once he turns in his work, I check it and give it back to him for corrections (I do this fairly immediately).  Again, if he doesn't understand why something is wrong, he'll ask and we'll discuss.  If he misses a lot of the same types of problems, we'll discuss and do several of them together to make sure he understands and then he'll make the rest of the corrections on his own.  He is free to bring me anything at any time and ask for help, discuss something he isn't sure of, etc.  The problem is not his understanding of the work.  The problem is getting him to DO the work.  And I can not sit there and hold his hand for four or five hours making him work.  I have another child who needs help sometimes, too, and really, at 11 years old, he ought to be able to sit down and do a math lesson or write a few sentences without somebody babysitting him.  And I know he CAN do it.  I've seen him do it.  That's what frustrates me.

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This is how it usually works on his good days. He will choose what he wants to work on, read the lesson and complete the problems/exercises. If he doesn't understand something, he will ask and we'll discuss. Once he turns in his work, I check it and give it back to him for corrections (I do this fairly immediately). Again, if he doesn't understand why something is wrong, he'll ask and we'll discuss. If he misses a lot of the same types of problems, we'll discuss and do several of them together to make sure he understands and then he'll make the rest of the corrections on his own. He is free to bring me anything at any time and ask for help, discuss something he isn't sure of, etc. The problem is not his understanding of the work. The problem is getting him to DO the work. And I can not sit there and hold his hand for four or five hours making him work. I have another child who needs help sometimes, too, and really, at 11 years old, he ought to be able to sit down and do a math lesson or write a few sentences without somebody babysitting him. And I know he CAN do it. I've seen him do it. That's what frustrates me.

What all do you use? Does the first teaching for every subject work this way, with him reading lessons and turning stuff in and/or asking for help if needed? Is there anything that is done with more interaction? Collaboration? Read-alouds? Projects? Field trips? Hands-on anything? What are his interests and strengths and how are they represented in your curriculum choices? I hate to say it, but doing school the way you have described above would absolutely kill my kids' love of learning.

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Thanks for your suggestions. DS is not a "discusser" really. One of the problems we have when we work together, whether it's on Story Grammar or corrections or whatever, is that DS will just sit there and say "I don't know" and wait for me to tell him what to write down. He doesn't want to discuss and think things through. He wants me to just tell him the answers so he can write them down and move on. And on the occasions where he is cheerful and engaged, then he's also wild and over the top (acting out every example I give or every point of the lesson, flopping on the floor to show just how hungry those poor pioneers were, etc.; of course, he has no interest in theater and wouldn't do a skit or anything as an assignment; it's only fun when he's being silly) and we still don't get anything done. If we did school his way, he would do math, maybe do a little reading, watch some videos for science or history, and be finished.

Honestly, to me it sounds like he has been allowed to check out and now is simply in the habit of checking out, making this...

 

I'm formulating ideas here for how we might change things up and see if DS will rise to it. Hmmm.....

...in my mind, kind of unfair. I get the impression that you see him as more responsible for the school problems, and that you think change lies solely with him, his work ethic, his schedule. I mean, yes, the student certainly needs to learn to work, but I also believe that the teacher should tweak the curriculum, schedule, ratio of interactive/independent/active time, etc. to best serve the needs of the child. This is one of those times on the boards when I wonder what parents would say if their kids were in public school and being educated in the same way that isn't working at home. If my 11yo kid was expected to be almost completely independent and his teacher expected him to work the majority of the day on his own, with scant direct teaching, labeling him a non-discusser, I would not be OK with that. I would argue that my kid needs someone to spark engagement and draw out the best in him, not just enforce a schedule change that pretty much just rearranges the status quo.

 

I really, truly, honestly do not mean for this to sound as finger-pointy as it does. And I PROMISE you that I have been similarly challenged at different times with each of my kids. And life is hard to juggle. Just...letting my kids' spark go out is not an option. And nagging all day, with building frustration is also not an option.

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This is how it usually works on his good days. He will choose what he wants to work on, read the lesson and complete the problems/exercises. If he doesn't understand something, he will ask and we'll discuss. Once he turns in his work, I check it and give it back to him for corrections (I do this fairly immediately). Again, if he doesn't understand why something is wrong, he'll ask and we'll discuss. If he misses a lot of the same types of problems, we'll discuss and do several of them together to make sure he understands and then he'll make the rest of the corrections on his own. He is free to bring me anything at any time and ask for help, discuss something he isn't sure of, etc. The problem is not his understanding of the work. The problem is getting him to DO the work. And I can not sit there and hold his hand for four or five hours making him work. I have another child who needs help sometimes, too, and really, at 11 years old, he ought to be able to sit down and do a math lesson or write a few sentences without somebody babysitting him. And I know he CAN do it. I've seen him do it. That's what frustrates me.

You are in school yourself, and do you also work? That's a lot on your plate. I can see why you want your son to be independent.

 

Basically, what you are describing above is that your son is teaching himself. The only time you step in if he does something wrong or has a question. Do you ever sit and act as a teacher? Do you guys open a book and you teach from it? Do you lecture him? Do you plan activities that you do together?

 

It sounds like it's not working for him to educate himself with you as a consultant. It sounds like he needs a teacher/tutor. It also sounds like you are very stretched for time (if you work also--why do I think you work also?)

 

If you don't work and just do school, then you may need to revamp your thoughts on education. Unless I am reading this incorrectly, it sounds like your son is expected to teach himself from his books/materials and you only step in when he doesn't understand what he's learned from the books/materials. This does sound to be a dismal way for an 11 year old to learn. Your dd sounds remarkable that she was able to do it that way. I think your son may be the perfectly normal student and your dd is the exception.

 

And just because he has been able to do it in the past doesn't mean it's really working for him or that he can sustain it. <-- not said to accuse, just as an observation.

 

To fix the problem--you may want to find at least 2 or 3 things where you can actively teach him, so that his needs for a teacher and your need for time can both be met.

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Thanks for your suggestions.  DS is not a "discusser" really.  One of the problems we have when we work together, whether it's on Story Grammar or corrections or whatever, is that DS will just sit there and say "I don't know" and wait for me to tell him what to write down.  He doesn't want to discuss and think things through.  He wants me to just tell him the answers so he can write them down and move on. 

 

I don't think this is what people mean by "discussion." Being asked to answer boring questions about boring subjects that he doesn't care about is not going to get him to be more engaged with his work. What does he enjoy outside of school? What does he want to learn about and talk about? Does he truly never talk to you about anything? Is there some subject or topic that he will follow you around babbling excitedly about? Does he come running in the house when he's found a toad, or watched some ants, or noticed a pattern in the way tree branches grow? What turns him on?

 

 

And on the occasions where he is cheerful and engaged, then he's also wild and over the top (acting out every example I give or every point of the lesson, flopping on the floor to show just how hungry those poor pioneers were, etc.; of course, he has no interest in theater and wouldn't do a skit or anything as an assignment; it's only fun when he's being silly) and we still don't get anything done. 

 

I would resist the impulse to turn every activity or response into something that looks as much like "school" as possible. Why isn't acting out how hungry the pioneers are an OK response to a history question? Why does it have to be turned into a theater assignment in order to "count"? It seems like, on the rare occasion when he does start to engage with the material, you shut him down as being "silly" and wasting school time. What if that's part of how he learns, and the real wasted time is the hours he spends staring at assignments that are totally pointless and ineffective for him?

 

 

If we did school his way, he would do math, maybe do a little reading, watch some videos for science or history, and be finished. 

 

So... why don't you try that for a while and see what happens? It sounds like you both desperately need some sort of reset button. He's barely out of elementary school and he's already decided that school is boring and pointless. I'd back up, get him interested again, and then gradually add things in one at a time.

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Unless I am reading this incorrectly, it sounds like your son is expected to teach himself from his books/materials and you only step in when he doesn't understand what he's learned from the books/materials. This does sound to be a dismal way for an 11 year old to learn. Your dd sounds remarkable that she was able to do it that way. I think your son may be the perfectly normal student and your dd is the exception.

 

:iagree:

 

OP, it sounds like you are expecting an 11 yo boy to be self-teaching, while also forcing him to teach himself using materials that you chose and which don't seem to work for him. If you want him to use materials that work for you as a teacher, then at the very least you need to do the teaching. If you want him to be more independent, then you will need to give him more freedom to learn the way he learns best. Or some combination thereof. 

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Your study for you is a job. Home schooling is also a job. You cannot do two jobs well at the same time. I think you need to do what your daughter does, work with your son 4 hours in the morning then do your study afternoon and evenings. If your job was an office job rather than home schooling would you try and study at the same time. The exception being if he has a reading assignment when you could read some of your stuff (provided you have in the past read the book he is reading).

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Hugs and sympathy. My DS is still very young, but I anticipate the same problem as he grows.

 

Finding new ways to engage him sounds reasonable to me, and it may not require constant interaction from you. Just a spoonful of sugar, right? So I'm reading Leigh Bortins' "The Question" right now, and finding it very practical, useful, and inspiring in terms of how I'll tackle those "pre-teen" years "classically," as I try to engage my kids rather than turn them off the way my own education did me. Even if you're not in the CC camp (I'm not, though I appreciate some of their resources), this may be helpful.

 

HTH!

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Just a thought, but have you looked at project-based learning for the non-math subjects? Take a look at Lori Pickert's Camp Creek Blog for inspiration.......if you could discuss with him and let him choose an aspect of a subject that catches his interest, help him to get library books and find videos on Netfilx or something, and let him loose, he might amaze you.

That's not to say to move away from the cycles of classical learning, but you could let him choose what parts of the subjects really engage him and see if it gets him excited about learning again.

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I am right there with you sister!  My ds is a total daydreamer and everything he does (from brushing his teeth to putting on a pair of socks) takes him FOREVER-bless his little heart! :banghead:   Mine is good when we do stuff orally, but I have another child who occasionally needs one on one time, too and I cannot hold his hand through every subject.  Math, for instance.  He totally gets it, and is bright.  Yet it has sometimes taken him an hour to do one wkbk page in MUS-we are talking 10 probs or less sometimes!!!  But if I sit there while he does it, and have him even talk it out with me, it's done in less than half that.  Sorry, I can't do that daily!  

 

Here are some things working for us.  Online.  We do TT as well as MUS, and he loves it & whizzes through it.  The same with his spelling words.  Honestly, if I had him do everything online, he'd be in heaven, but I do require written work.  The other good thing is, he's a voracious reader and actually reads quickly & retains it.  I can do lots of oral narration with him. But, now that he's 10, I'm having him start written, and that's taking a while.  And, he does have his favorite subjects, so I have had to tell him that we do math & LA first, and if we don't have time to get to the science he loves, sorry.  (I read Apologia out loud, so he's still getting science, but he likes to do the lapbooks)

 

I wish I had more tips for you.  What about SOS dvd's or things like that?  Or anything on-line.  Currclick mini units; would they engage him?

 

Good luck! :grouphug:

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DragonFaerie, you have gotten some really good advice here, and I know you need some hugs.  :grouphug:  I too had a boy who if left to his own devices would do nothing.  As in nothing.  He would just wait. Wait for HOURS. Doing nothing. Just sitting.  Wait for someone to tell him to work, or to play, or to go out, or to brush his teeth.  You get the picture.  I do believe it is a personality trait, because he had it as a very small child.  But over many years of persistent effort on my part, he is starting to develop some drive. Not just in school work, but in actually working towards something that *he* wants to do.  And I will say that this is one of the biggest achievements of my life.  I have written about developing internal drive in thread linked below.  Not everyone agrees with my methods, but they have worked.  And they were kind, and showed respect for him as a unique individual. The OP in the thread did not have the same problem as you, but similar enough to be worth your while to read it.

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/500278-when-your-child-performs-better-when-not-taught-by-you-vent/

 

Many hugs,

 

Ruth in NZ

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As I've said, we've tried almost everything, including most of what has been mentioned here.  But, thank you all for all the advice and suggestions. I'm sure we'll get through this eventually.

 

:grouphug: Extra hugs.  Don't give up. Just because you have tried something before, does not mean that it won't work now.

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No eleven year old boys here, so definitely not an expert!  But...I can see my five year old being like this eventually, as he looses track of what he's doing half the time (putting on socks, taking dishes to the sink, etc).  Maybe you could or even should do school the way your son would prefer.  No one, young or old, likes to do something they don't have some kind of interest in.  Yeah, there's stuff we have to do, but we don't have to make it boring or drudgery.  I know my two older children don't learn anything and can't seem to pay attention when the method or material is not engaging.  Mr. Factual the five year old turned up his nose and dug in his heels at OPG and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  When we finally started Reading Bears, he started to learn.  He liked it and asked to do it!  Not that we should cater to every whim a child has; I just know that when I get teaching materials that my children like and ask to do, then they learn.  Maybe go watch a video by Carol Barnier (I've  found her suggestions very helpful even though my children are not hugely distractible.)    It's on YouTube, her channel, the one titled something like "letter from reader,is he just lazy?"  (Sorry, tried to copy the link and it didn't work, grrrr...)

 

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What does HE say about all of this?  My dd11 can be a lot like you described, and I often find myself thinking "but... she's 11! Surely by now she should be able to..." Her ideas sometimes sounded unrealistic, but then I'd remind myself that the way I'd dreamed up wasn't working either, so why not try it. Some things worked, others completely flopped. It did help to encourage her to help be part of the solution though. I think she became more invested, and also more aware of what helps her and what doesn't.

 

For these conversations, I take her to the local bookstore/cafe. We get some soup and sink into the comfy chairs. I open with something that I've noticed that IS going well: "it seems like you've been having a great time with your friend M lately..." Once she's done talking about that (if she has anything to say), I talk about what homeschooling experience is like: "you know, when we started the year I was really looking forward to helping you explore microscopic life (or going on field trips, or enjoying history, or...), but somehow that hasn't happened at all. What's going on?" She usually has some sort of self-deprecating remark and we talk about that, her feelings, her experiences. Lots of reflective listening. When she seems ready, we come up with some solutions. I ask her for her thoughts, keeping my non-negotiables in mind (we must do science, but I don't really care what topic she focuses on for the next few months). We agree on something to try, even when it feels preposterous and doomed to failure to me. After all, I have high expectations of her in terms of working independently, so I want to nurture high expectations in terms of problem solving as well. We try out her suggestions, check in about it, and tweak as needed. There's usually something worth keeping, and something that we end up changing differently.

 

This takes time and practice, and there isn't a right answer until the two of you agree on something that's at least partially his idea. I've found it very worthwhile, and it's helped me through many a head-banging experience! (and I still get to that point, and it's not all roses, we're struggling massively with history right now and I'm about to stop it for the year, but at least now it's just history, rather than everything).

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My thoughts in no particular order, which may or may not be helpful:

 

ADD?  Depression?  Attention-seeking for more of mom's time?

 

You mentioned upthread that if left to his own devices, he would do math, read and watch science and history programs.  I think I might do just that.

 

Putting on therapist hat (you've been warned ;) ):  You are both stuck in a rut of negative interactions.  In addition, he is stuck in a rut of boredom and noncompliance with schoolwork.  Drastically changing the expectations and/or the situation can "push the reset button" for everyone.  Making drastic changes and "lowering your expectations" for a month or two will not be the ruination of his educational career.  Number one - preserve the relationship.  Take some time soon and do something fun together.  Put some cash in the relationship bank to draw on when you need it.

 

(Also with therapist hat on but some mom hat, too.)  You are spread pretty thin, mama, and you're doing it all alone.  I think that ds is another drain to your time and energy at this point, and the relationship and interactions have become more negative than you (or he) want.  He can't change and doesn't know how.  You can, but I think your blinders are on.  It is hard to see the options in the place you are in.  (BTDT - which is where the mom hat comes in.)

 

Please take what you need of that and leave the rest.  It would be hard for me to hear my feedback to you in your shoes, so please know it is said gently.  And here is a hug for both of you.  (((hugs)))

 

(I do have an 11 year old boy.  :) )

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Am I understanding that your 11 yo boy is expected to work on his own all day? I would consider that an unrealistic expectation for many 11 yo boys, although I am sure your dd was quite capable at an earlier age, so there is no need to tell me about her :).

 

ETA: That sounded really harsh on re-read. I totally sympathize with how frustrating 11 yo boys can be to keep on track. Some 11 yo girls too for that matter. Can you sit beside him and work on your school work while he works on his and redirect often?

I'm going to have to agree, it is unrealistic.  Instead of expecting 4-5 hours of work out of him give him 2  different half hour assignments he can do on his own with a short break(physical activity required).  Then spend 1 hour with him on another subject.  At that point I would see where he's at energy/concentration level.  If its low call yourself done for the day, if he's still good give him another 1/2 hour to work.  When time is up on each segment move on.  This way he knows he's done.  DS had terrible issues similar to your son.  He would sit there for hours.  When I cut back his school to the basics and promised no more then 2 hours (now 3-4) he actually got his work done.  He comes in sits down and does it, not with joy but with determination.  He just wants to be done. Also it really helped to give a list daily that held only 4 items.  I mean even the biggest procrastinator can get 4 things done.  You also might look into herbal supplements that help focus and energy.  Green tea first thing in the morning might be beneficial too. Good luck.

 

ETA: I like TexasMoms suggestions too, and wish I had done that with my own DS.  He's a wonderful person and I nearly broke him with my unreasonable expectations.    

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I'd love to just give DS math and books and videos and call it done.  But if I did that, there would be no grammar, no spelling (which he desperately needs), no writing (in any form).  Obviously I can't do that.

 

DS and I talked last night about how we might change things so that he can get his work finished in a more timely manner and with him being more in control of what he does.  He likes how I assign some of his math assignments (instead of specific pages per day, I list the pages he has to do for the week and he decides how to spread them out so that he's finished by Friday; he's never not gotten math finished).  So, we talked about doing all of his weekly assignments that way and letting him decide how to go about finishing the work.  He likes that his sister gets to choose what she works on and just writes down what she does each day.  I explained to him that in order for him to get to do that, he will have to be responsible for doing the work and he can't keep wasting time.  He agreed and wants to try it.  He really looks up to his sister (can't wait to be in the youth group at church, for example, because of all the cool stuff that he sees her getting to do) and wants to do things like she does.  I'm hoping that will help as incentive to him.  So, we're going to give it a shot.  Instead of giving him a weekly checklist broken out into days, I'm just going to give him a weekly list and he can decide what to do and when and how to spread the work out through the week.  By having him write down what he does each day, he'll be able to look back and see just how much (or how little) he accomplished on any given day.  Maybe the visual will make time management more real for him.

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Good job engaging him in the process.  I do engage both of my boys (13 and 11) in the process of deciding when and how their work is completed, in addition to some input on curricula and co op classes.  I have observed that sort of empowerment leads to responsibility oftentimes.  Big sister sounds like a great role model.

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What curriculum are you using? When my kids get to the point that they are doing everything to avoid doing the work it usually means that they need a different approach to the subject. What they are using is not engaging. It is either too easy or too hard. Also, not every kid is cut out to be a classical scholar. Sometimes it is okay to strip it down to the bare minimum and call it good.

 

Also, some kids just don't like school. It is just not their thing and there isn't anything you or anyone else can do to change that. They will do only what they have to and no more. The work will only get done if the consequences for not doing it are more painful to them than doing the work.

 

Susan in TX

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As I've said, we've tried almost everything, including most of what has been mentioned here. But, thank you all for all the advice and suggestions. I'm sure we'll get through this eventually.

Sending you some :grouphug:

 

If I had to guess, I'd say that your ds is a normal, creative 11yo boy who has more interesting things to think about than his schoolwork.

 

I know that's a worthless thing to tell you, because I don't have a solution for it, but I don't think your ds is all that much different from other boys his age, and I doubt that you've done anything wrong in terms of making him that way. He is what he is.

 

My best suggestion is to cut back to his most basic subjects and work directly with him on them every day for a while. Eventually, have him do a problem or question on his own while you leave the room for a minute (to get a cup of coffee, use the rest room, or do something else that's quick, yet boring enough that he won't want to follow you,) and see how that goes. You can add more time and independent work as he's ready for it.

 

I know it's a nuisance, but I don't know of any other alternative, and if you cut back to the basics, he could be finished with his school day relatively quickly, so you would still have time to get other things done.

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