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LAmom

Anyone give up on the Classical Style of homeschooling?

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We are a sinking ship here!  First, I fully understand that the style--classical--is not the reason we aren't doing well.  I take full responsibility.

 

But, anyone ever just quit it and go to a box curriculum?  Would that really change things?  I know we would still have the same struggles with math, english, getting those basics done.  I know there is more to it than I will write here--but so many IRL friends are succeeding with co-ops, like CC, or with using box curriculum like Abeka or CLP.  Me?  I've tried MFW, SOTW, MOH, TOG....we barely get the basics done.  Maybe I am trying too hard to make science and history work as a family but really can't figure it out.  Maybe I could stick with classical and try something more independent (?? is it ??) like Heart of Dakota?  

 

I guess, the bottom line is that is is a discipline issue?  How do I motivate them to do their math, english, etc., without crying or whining or staring off into space.  The child that actually focuses gets a lot wrong.  I am struggling to keep afloat here with a toddler and trying to teach 4 others (the K'er barely getting any instruction or time).

 

I know there are all different ways to make classical style work.  I know it is 2 separate issues: style and family function (motivation, discipline, etc.).  

 

I don't know what the problem is.  I am trying to juggle adding in more for my 6th grader and keeping it simple, but where they will actually remember something, for my 4th and 2nd grader.   I am talking about history/lit/geography.

 

Any suggestions?  

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I would think an A Beka or CLP "box" would be more work. Yes, A Beka will spell out the plans for you, but there are so many worksheets.

 

As far as whining about schoolwork, do not tolerate it. Impose consequences. As a classroom teacher, I was always one of the strictest, in every school I worked for, but I also got the most out of my students because I did not tolerate dilly-dallying or complaining. I don't mean to sound insensitive, but I think the homeschooling community needs a healthy dose of discipline.

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We have gone toward a more eclectic approach, using classical ideas and unit studies that interest us. I don't think there is a one size fits all education ideal, but knowing about different methods enables you to pick and choose the best ideas for your family.

 

If this is a discipline issue, a curriculum change will not fix that. I think all kids whine about schoolwork occasionally, but it doesn't need to be tolerated. My kids have a list every day that must be completed, if it's not, they don't get to play video games, see friends or watch tv. That motivates them to complete most of their work by the time public schools are letting out for the day.

 

My two olders (6th and 4th) do a lot of the same knowledge based work, science, geography, history, etc. I expect more from ds and he has other assignments also, but combining those makes me able to focus and actually get things done. What can you combine? Do you schedule or fly by the seat of your pants? Do your older 2 know what's expected of them every day and every week? Their task list really helps them and they love checking things off for that accomplished feeling.

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I did a couple of years of boxed curriculum (MFW). I won't do it again, I don't think. Maybe for high school.

 

Anyway, I definitely felt like it was more work, and we lost some of our flexibility. We are classical/eclectic. My motto is "do the next thing." So far, we are having a very nice year.

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I am slowly moving away. I hate it. I believe in the Classical philosophy with all my heart. I really do. But I can't keep it up and am slowly moving to A Beka.

1. Literature. Last year with my oldest, we read all novels, and they were wonderful. It was a good year. But, he refuses to read unless I read it to him. And that takes a long time. (He's an excellent reader, it's just that reading requires too much effort) Too much of my time when I have other kids to attend to. I have tried everything, narrations, study guides, everything to insure that he read the chapters, but he didn't. He skimmed. And he didn't understand a thing. So, we're doing A Beka's reading program. I still have to work with him, but it doesn't take as much time. My younger son.... He has reading comprehension trouble, so the shorter selections from A Beka work better for him.

2. History. We did Story of the World when they were younger and that was good. But now, I wrote a wonderful history curriculum, which was based on History Odessey. It really is good. Biographies, map work, timeline, etc. and, my older son does as little work as he can get away with and it's been giving me fits keeping him up on it. It's deep and it's work. And it's good. But he doesn't want to put in the effort, so short of me sitting with him, reading the material to him and asking the questions.... once again, I don't have the time. So, we're doing A Beka history. Do I like it? No! But I am driving myself crazy trying to force feed a good education to my children.

 

You do have to work with the child with a boxed curriculum, but IMO, A Beka is easier if you have completely unmotivated children.

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:grouphug:  :grouphug: Hugs!

 

Sounds like you are very aware of what some of the issues are, and also what your goals are. Take hope! That is good start!

 

Now is also the time to be very gentle with yourself and your family as far as expectations. According to your signature, you have 5 children age 10 and under! The reality is that just getting through the day is tough, without even trying to school young ones on top of that! And because they are all young, you only have one who can do just a little bit independently (and maybe not, depending on personality and possible LDs), and *maybe* two who can watch the little ones for maybe 30 minutes to give you a chance to work one-on-one.

 

A box curriculum -- or a co-op -- or other alternative -- will only help if it is a good match for your family's time/schedule, the individual student learning styles AND YOUR teaching style. Those options could just as easily end up adding a lot more stress and feelings of failure.

 

It sounds like it is more a matter of streamlining, getting children doing some of the work around the house, and getting yourselves on a schedule that works. Some things that may help:

 

- Get help

Ask dad works with oldest 1-2 students for an hour 2-3 evenings a week, or for 2-3 hours on the weekend.

Or have the youngest 2 visit grandma 2 mornings a week.

Or hire a "mother's helper" (teen, retired homeschooler, retired person) for a few afternoons a week.

Or hire a tutor to come in 2x/week to oversee the oldest student's work.

Or, send the toddler to a pre-school and/or the kinder to a morning kinder program.

Getting some help will free up a little time to allow you to give  focused one-on-one time with the others.

 

- One hour quiet time after lunch

Everyone on their own bed, quietly reading, doing puzzles, or listening with headphones to books on tape or music. Much needed sanity time for mom!! Some of the reading can be solo reads of science and history books that go with your curriculum -- so, double dipping!

 

- Non-traditional scheduling

Take more weeks to get through your programs, which also means you don't have to accomplish so much in a day. That could allow you to try a "loop schedule" (stop before burn-out on one day, and pick up the next day in your schedule where you left off), or a rotating schedule (drop out 1 subject each day). Your children are all still young enough it's pretty easy to schedule four days a week for the 3 Rs, and one day a week for art projects, science experiments, history hands-on etc.

 

- Schedule and chores so everyone helps

Everyone has duties at breakfast, lunch, and afternoon to help make the housework, meal preps and clean up be a shared load. Everyone picks up schoolwork and puts it where it belongs at the end of the school time. Everyone, dad too, has specific chores on Saturday for a once-a-week housecleaning, so the house is livable the rest of the week.

 

 

Look for posts for how moms of many schedule everything. I know 8FilltheHeart has posted before on how she does it all… Hang in there! BEST of luck in finding what works best for your family! Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

 

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Please don't beat up on yourself! You sound to have a full plate to begin with.

 

Classical education is NOT some deity deserving worship, even though it is a popular approach. I never bought into its premises, just have espoused a some of its elements.

 

"Boxed education" is not the flipside of classical education. There are many ways "to skin this cat" called educating our children.

 

Someone else already posted the best advice, I feel. Choose what works well (not always identical to "best" -- just "well") for each child AND for you. Working hard and being happy are not mutually exclusive!

 

Relax this weekend, try to take stock, and see what alternatives arise in your mind.

 

Best wishes!

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Thanks so much for the advice and encouragement. We have our ups and downs, and lately it has been more downs.

 

Question: How do I encourage a happy, get-it-done attitude? I don't just want to motivate with rewards. I have "threatened" no iPad time, no movie time, etc...,you do nothing else until your work is done (that makes for a lot of whining and tears!). Why don't they get that they need to just do it and be done and they can have free time!? What could I do differently?

 

I would be tempted to do Veritas self paced if my internet worked properly.

 

Suggestions for keeping history simple (while still getting it done)? TOG may be too much right now, I think. Maybe MOH and reasses next year. I want school to be meaningful and enjoyable. I want to instill a love of learning and not have them dread school. I tell them get the basics done because they are important, necessary, and then we can get to the "more fun" stuff like history, drawing, etc. I usually run out of steam because of all the energy it takes to do basics that after lunch we do nothing. :(

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Question: How do I encourage a happy, get-it-done attitude? I don't just want to motivate with rewards. I have "threatened" no iPad time, no movie time, etc...,you do nothing else until your work is done (that makes for a lot of whining and tears!). Why don't they get that they need to just do it and be done and they can have free time!? What could I do differently?

:(

Sometimes it's not you. You can do all you can do, but short of cutting off the top of their head and pouring the knowledge in.... I'm discovering as a parent that sometimes it's not me, not my parenting methods, not my discipline methods.... it's the kid. My oldest is handsome, very bright, very capable, but he dawdles all day long, he's not interested in anything related to school, he is lazy, he will skip math problems he doesn't want to do or are a trifle difficult. He does sloppy and incomplete work. And it's him. My other two that are in school are not like that at all. And I parent them all. I have finally come to the conclusion that I will give him a good education, but I have to give up on my dreams of giving him a great education and the education I never had because he is so resistant.

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Me, kinda.

 

I mean, I no longer do chronological history.  I no teach Classical Languages (OK my son is going to be doing Greek but that doesn't count because we are just going with momentum there.) I no longer require a set of literature, other than because I think it will stretch and be interesting to that particular child...I no longer worry about whether anything I do is Classical or not, basically.

 

Neither of my kids are doing sentence diagramming this year.  Both are taking traditional style grammar workbooks which focus on lists, and usage.  

 

I just look at each child, and decide what is best for them, with the needs that they have and hte goals that they have, and what is available to me as far as time.  My son has a very time consuming interest in Comp Sci and my daughter's piano now consumes a good 45 minutes per day and they both love their swim team.  So we have been forced to drop many ideals in favor of what we can accomplish and just have plain old time for.  :)  

 

I still think that, at least real literature, in depth history, not relying on textbooks, and using traditional means of memorization and drill especially in the early years are some things I will not give up easily.  But, I wouldn't call myself a Classical homeschooler any more.

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Thanks so much for the advice and encouragement. We have our ups and downs, and lately it has been more downs.

 

Question: How do I encourage a happy, get-it-done attitude? I don't just want to motivate with rewards. I have "threatened" no iPad time, no movie time, etc...,you do nothing else until your work is done (that makes for a lot of whining and tears!). Why don't they get that they need to just do it and be done and they can have free time!? What could I do differently?

 

I would be tempted to do Veritas self paced if my internet worked properly.

 

Suggestions for keeping history simple (while still getting it done)? TOG may be too much right now, I think. Maybe MOH and reasses next year. I want school to be meaningful and enjoyable. I want to instill a love of learning and not have them dread school. I tell them get the basics done because they are important, necessary, and then we can get to the "more fun" stuff like history, drawing, etc. I usually run out of steam because of all the energy it takes to do basics that after lunch we do nothing. :(

I think it's okay to go through seasons of just getting the basics done.  Your children are still young.  Can you read aloud after lunch and cover some of the "extra" bases?

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I do not understand the dawdling.  WHY???  But mine do it too sometimes.  They're learning that it doesn't really get them anywhere, that it just means they don't get any computer time.  (And tbh, it doesn't hurt that they have a weekly activity that they really, really like and don't want to miss -- nobody wants to be the one who has to tell the instructor that they'll be sitting out that day, and since they all go at the same time during the day, they all have to go with me, even if they won't be participating.  This has been highly motivating for them.  But so has routine routine routine.  I've really hammered that this year, and I've been very neutral and matter-of-fact: this is what we're doing, yep, again today, no you can't have off today.  It does seem to have helped.)

 

Are your children getting enough breaks?  We are doing 45 minutes on, 15 minutes off, and I encourage physical activity on the breaks.  It has helped with attitudes and focus too.

 

My children are allowed to mix up their order of work to a degree.  Sometimes they want to bang out the fun subjects, like languages and typing, and sometimes they want to start early with their lit reading.  Other times they are motivated to get a harder subject out of the way.  Can you do some of the fun subjects first some days?

 

I loved doing history as a group, but it just got to the point where it wasn't working.  So now they have independent history (History Odyssey), and I check/discuss it with them, and while DD doesn't always love it (it's sometimes a little tedious), it's getting done.

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I am not going to make curriculum suggestions because I doubt that is the problem. I think it is a combo of lack of discipline/habits and the fact that their resistance exhausts you and wears you down. I've been there, where the downs leave you completely worn out. :grouphug:

 

In your shoes, I would take a two prong approach.

 

Thanks so much for the advice and encouragement. We have our ups and downs, and lately it has been more downs.

 

Question: How do I encourage a happy, get-it-done attitude? I don't just want to motivate with rewards. I have "threatened" no iPad time, no movie time, etc...,you do nothing else until your work is done (that makes for a lot of whining and tears!). Why don't they get that they need to just do it and be done and they can have free time!? What could I do differently?

For this, I would stop threats and blackmail of any kind. I would have a frank discussion with the kids about the fact that I am required, by law and conscience, to provide them with an education. I would go Little House on the Prairie. Life goes to essentials. No screens during the school week (or for the school year if you want to go for the gusto, LOL). Put the older kids' toys/rooms on lockdown during the school day. Make a daily checklist for each kid, starting with minimums, and let them know that their school day is over when the list is complete.

 

I have posted before about the periodic "zen showdown" I do when my kids are uncooperative. If you search, they might be of some help for the goofing off and staring off into space. I have found that the key is for me to give the appearance of total calm. Be aware that behavior gets worse before it gets better. Stick to your guns, calm as can be. To be clear, I am also nice. I am sympathetic to how hard it is to reform habits. I even (honestly) accept the blame for allowing them to form the bad habits in the first place. I help, answer questions, provide support, etc. but, ultimately, I enforce the work.

 

I want school to be meaningful and enjoyable. I want to instill a love of learning and not have them dread school. I tell them get the basics done because they are important, necessary, and then we can get to the "more fun" stuff like history, drawing, etc. I usually run out of steam because of all the energy it takes to do basics that after lunch we do nothing. :(

For this, I would plan fun and do it first every day. Start with history. Read and let them draw for history notebooks or timelines. Plan a poetry tea with treats. Do some science with a bang. Take them on nature walks. Field trips. Practice math facts and toss them an M&M or a piece of popcorn for each right answer. (This summer, we had "dolphin training" in our backyard pool. The kids answered math facts and I fed them Swedish Fish out of my "chum bucket.") Read about geography and/or current events and cook meals from countries you study. All of you may benefit from seeing that school is not just drudgery. Lure them in. Remember your dreams and don't force them to take a back seat to the daily grind. You don't have to make everything exciting, but it helps immensely for something to be exciting. You can poll your older kids about what they would like more of, what they would like to change, even while demanding more from them.

 

It is give and take here, and we try to have fun, but we always work because we must work. It is not optional.

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Thanks so much for the advice and encouragement. We have our ups and downs, and lately it has been more downs.

 

Question: How do I encourage a happy, get-it-done attitude? I don't just want to motivate with rewards. I have "threatened" no iPad time, no movie time, etc...,you do nothing else until your work is done (that makes for a lot of whining and tears!). Why don't they get that they need to just do it and be done and they can have free time!? What could I do differently?

6

I would be tempted to do Veritas self paced if my internet worked properly.

 

Suggestions for keeping history simple (while still getting it done)? TOG may be too much right now, I think. Maybe MOH and reasses next year. I want school to be meaningful and enjoyable. I want to instill a love of learning and not have them dread school. I tell them get the basics done because they are important, necessary, and then we can get to the "more fun" stuff like history, drawing, etc. I usually run out of steam because of all the energy it takes to do basics that after lunch we do nothing. :(

My suggestion may be different to others, but I would start with breakfast all together and read something short around breakfast while everyone is together and reasonably focussed (even if the focus is on food).

 

Then, I'd get a few pre-set morning house jobs with the kids helping just to have an organized area to begin in. I'd keep them together and busy at this time with a timer showing how much work time is left (unless your older children are used to getting some individual chores done on their own).

 

Then, when the timer rings, I'd tell everyone to get their math, spelling and English (either grammar or writing) work and meet me at the dining table, and have coloring and toys available for 4yo and 2yo to do around the same area. Then I'd set a page or two of math or spelling for older two and start working with 6yo. I'd tell them you require them to work quietly, right there at the table where you are. As they finish one thing, you check it and set an amount in the next subject. When something is done in those 3 subjects everyone can stop and play outside for awhile. Then maybe do something fun together like some art or music (this way the 4 and 2yos can join in.)

 

After lunch, I'd have a required rest and read time. Everyone stays on bed and reads or sleeps.( My 2 and 4yo dds still both sleep in the afternoon so I often use this time to do history, science with those I still do it with.) A read aloud time after rest time would be good for adding content subjects. I'd have the kids write or draw about what was read after that. And then done.

 

This might sound harsh and non-fun but, done daily, it will start to build a habit of work. I don't really believe you have to try to make work fun. Sometimes, just the sense of steadily achieving something will bring enjoyment - eventually. Also, I don't think you can necessarily enforce a happy attitude about schoolwork, but that can develop with a regular routine and a sense of achievement. But I wouldn't allow any complaining either - just adamantly require that the kids sit near you and quietly work for whatever time period you feel is required.

 

I hope this helps a little. :)

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We do have morning chores/routine. My husband leaves a little later in the AM so we do family worship together. Once their chores are done we start school and my husband leaves. It is hard to get them settled. So, when complaining happens or when they are distracted and not focused on their work--what would you do? I tend to yell or get irritated. That's helpful, right? :/. I have tried to be patient or separate kids, etc. the behavioral aspect is hard. Do I make the kid sit there until they actually get their math done? Like today, my ds 9, simply had to copy a paragraph from English. I made sure he understood the directions and gave him guidelines (words should be spelled correctly since copied, pencil eraser space in between words, neatly written). He tried 3 times throughout the day and just did not do it. Why can't he space correctly or copy the words correctly (he does most but not all...). I'm gracious with mistakes--they happen--but blah.

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Family worship together and a chores routine is a great start :) . It can be hard to get everyone settled to start with. Would it work to make it a game or race? For example, once dh's car has disappeared around the corner, see who can be the first to run twice around the swing, knock 3 times on the back fence, touch the mailbox, and be sitting at the table with math, spelling, English and a smile. That person gets a high-five and a hug (or whatever...).

 

When someone is unfocussed or distracted, point to a line on the page and have him/her read it aloud to bring focus back. Or ask a question about the work to focus back on it. As for complaining, if I'd already warned the child not to complain and the complaining continued I'd have some sort of consequence that would apply each time the complaint left the mouth. But it's hard to say what because everyone has different types of consequences and different kids respond to different things. One suggestion is that you could 'award' 5 minutes sitting on the step for each complaint while the others enjoy art or playtime. Done consistently, this could eventually break through. Maybe you could have a point chart where points are deleted for complaining. Any child with all points intact at the end of the day wins.....(insert reward - 10 mins free computer time goes down well here).

 

In regards to making sure a child sits there to finish math, I tend to be a bit flexible. I don't set the timer but I take mental note of how long he has been working on a subject. If my ds10 has three pages of math to do and has worked consistently for 40 mins (my approx time for math) but didnt get it finished then I'll let him stop and move on to spelling or handwriting. This just keeps things moving for him and I know he'll get it done next time. I try to make sure I set an amount that can be completed in a reasonable time, but sometimes I misjudge and so I readjust - so long as we are moving forward.

 

With the paragraph of writing, how does he go with just one sentence? Or two? Maybe reduce the amount until he is experiencing success then gradually add more.

 

I really hope this isn't coming across as preachy! I'm just trying to think of ideas to help, but it is sometimes hard to tell how it is coming across online. Blessings to you :)

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 Do I make the kid sit there until they actually get their math done? Like today, my ds 9, simply had to copy a paragraph from English. I made sure he understood the directions and gave him guidelines (words should be spelled correctly since copied, pencil eraser space in between words, neatly written). He tried 3 times throughout the day and just did not do it. Why can't he space correctly or copy the words correctly (he does most but not all...). I'm gracious with mistakes--they happen--but blah.

 

Okay, he's telling you, "This is hard." So you have some options for responding.

 

One option might be saying when giving the assignment, "That looks a bit long, doesn't it? You only have to do one sentence right now." If he does it well, praise him, and do a subject that will give his hand a rest before asking him to do a second sentence.

Another option might be saying, if you feel he really is able to do it in one shot, "How long do you think it will take you to copy this? ... Can you do it neatly in ten minutes? Here's a timer. Bring it to me when you're done and we'll see how it looks." If it's done and it's nice, a high five, kiss, or sticker is a nice thank-you for his effort.

Another response, if the problem seems to be intentional dawdling: "Oh, you haven't finished your copywork! Well, I guess I'll put your snack aside, and you can eat when you're finished."

 

This doesn't sound like a curriculum problem. Possibly a "Don't expect what you won't inspect" problem, and/or the kids need to gently build up to meeting high expectations.

 

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Okay, he's telling you, "This is hard." So you have some options for responding.

 

One option might be saying when giving the assignment, "That looks a bit long, doesn't it? You only have to do one sentence right now." If he does it well, praise him, and do a subject that will give his hand a rest before asking him to do a second sentence.

Another option might be saying, if you feel he really is able to do it in one shot, "How long do you think it will take you to copy this? ... Can you do it neatly in ten minutes? Here's a timer. Bring it to me when you're done and we'll see how it looks." If it's done and it's nice, a high five, kiss, or sticker is a nice thank-you for his effort.

Another response, if the problem seems to be intentional dawdling: "Oh, you haven't finished your copywork! Well, I guess I'll put your snack aside, and you can eat when you're finished."

 

This doesn't sound like a curriculum problem. Possibly a "Don't expect what you won't inspect" problem, and/or the kids need to gently build up to meeting high expectations.

 

 

Just another perspective, my kid's very smart, but has a learning disability that makes copying VERY difficult. It's a processing thing. Going into the brain, then back out onto the paper is REALLY hard for him. Just a thought, soemthing to keep in mind, if this is  a consistent problem. 

 

And a full paragraph may be too much. Go to the smallest amount he can do, and do well. Then build up gradually. Never move ahead if they aren't doing well already.

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Also, yes, we went less classical. It turns out some kids thrive with workbooks. He did very well with CLE math and language arts, and reading. For some of the same reasons you listed. With a reader and workbook he had a set amount to do, could do it, was tested on it, and was DONE, which is what he wanted. When we started doing that he went back to reading for pleasure again, which he had stopped. We used a texbook for history too, Catholic Textbook Projects, and that was also a hit. We supplemented with documentaries.

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Question: How do I encourage a happy, get-it-done attitude? I don't just want to motivate with rewards. I have "threatened" no iPad time, no movie time, etc...,you do nothing else until your work is done (that makes for a lot of whining and tears!). Why don't they get that they need to just do it and be done and they can have free time!? What could I do differently?

 

I'm a pretty laid-back mama, but whining, complaining and playing when I have instructed you to do your school work (speaking of the 8 year old here) is met with a talk about what I expect and that whining, complaining and playing is not that. 

 

I also see nothing wrong with motivating with rewards, just maybe not in the way you are imagining.  We are all motivated by rewards, right?  The rewards can be free time or a movie as a family or something simple.  They can be done as a group (working diligently means mom will put some marbles in the jar and when it is filled we will go for an ice cream or have a popcorn party in which we wear pjs, watch a movie and eat popcorn on the floor). 

 

Sometimes my kids and I just need a "reset".  We are stuck in a negative pattern of behavior, I as much as them.  So doing something like adding a marble jar for positive reinforcement helps to break out of that rut.  It isn't forever.  Good reinforcers tend to drop off naturally when not needed anymore.  I like the positive approaches to behavioral change rather than negative ones anyway, so this fits the bill.

 

Break the work into small chunks, reward with praise, verbally recognize those who are doing their work, ignore those who are not, get plenty of physical activity, do some hands on stuff to break up the day, etc.

 

My 8 year old LOVES art so I tell her something like this, "Ooh, today is art day!  Let's work diligently to finish your written work so you can go paint your mask."  I avoid threats like saying "You'll never get to your art if you don't do this work." 

 

You have your hands full, mama, but I know that there are some ways that you can make your days go more smoothly.  We all need a "reset" sometimes.  I hope you can find a kernel to help you in all of the above.

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Also, yes, we went less classical. It turns out some kids thrive with workbooks. He did very well with CLE math and language arts, and reading. For some of the same reasons you listed. With a reader and workbook he had a set amount to do, could do it, was tested on it, and was DONE, which is what he wanted. When we started doing that he went back to reading for pleasure again, which he had stopped. We used a texbook for history too, Catholic Textbook Projects, and that was also a hit. We supplemented with documentaries.

My son is very excited with text/workbook history. He has a different learning style and needs smaller chunks of info to wrap his mind around. He's gaining confidence because, for some reason, this is what he understands. He asks to do history, he tells my parents the things he's learned.... I'm really learning to give up my ideals (I can be a very idealistic person) and go for what works. The important thing is the kids are learning, progressing and feeling confident. Doesn't matter if it's Classical or boxed or whatever.

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Thanks so much for the advice and encouragement. We have our ups and downs, and lately it has been more downs.

 

Question: How do I encourage a happy, get-it-done attitude? I don't just want to motivate with rewards. I have "threatened" no iPad time, no movie time, etc...,you do nothing else until your work is done (that makes for a lot of whining and tears!). Why don't they get that they need to just do it and be done and they can have free time!? What could I do differently?

 

I would be tempted to do Veritas self paced if my internet worked properly.

 

 

Suggestions for keeping history simple (while still getting it done)? TOG may be too much right now, I think. Maybe MOH and reasses next year. I want school to be meaningful and enjoyable. I want to instill a love of learning and not have them dread school. I tell them get the basics done because they are important, necessary, and then we can get to the "more fun" stuff like history, drawing, etc. I usually run out of steam because of all the energy it takes to do basics that after lunch we do nothing. :(

I have recently started implementing additional worksheets (easy review) for whining. You whine, you get a worksheet. You whine again, you get another. You get three, you get a consequence from Daddy when he comes home. It seems to help

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Routine is the only thing that helps me. Tears still happen, bad attitudes still happen, and so does frustration. I just try to take that time as a learning lesson for that child. 

We are not classical at all. :( I wish we were. This year, I chose curriculum that I knew would get done. period. I have tried to go other routes, but I just wanted a happier, shall I say easier, year. ....sigh

 

Right now I am dealing with a 3year old NOT wanting to go to bed at night :/ 

 

 A lot of times, I just hug my kids. It helps me to like them more during the day and reminds me of why I am homeschooling them in the first place. The days are long, but the years are short. 

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I don't know that a boxed curriculum will solve your problems; I guess it depends on the source of those problems.  Is everything across the board not getting done?  If so, take a look at yourself and your habits and see if there is anything you can do to move things along more positively.  When this happens in my family, it's usually partially or entirely my fault (getting up to late, me not being prepared enough, etc...).  Not saying this is you, and like  PP said, sometimes it's just the kid.  But it's worth examining anyhow,  Trying to combine kids doesn't work for me; I wind up inefficiently popcorning between kids, so I have to schedule school so that I am working with the younger while the older does independent work, and then move onto the older when I am done with the younger.  Are certain subjects getting done not at all or only partially?  If it's partially getting done, perhaps you have too much scheduled?  If an entire subject or two is not getting done, then take a look at the materials for that subject and see if they are suitable for your children.

 

ETA:  If your children are uncooperative, I would really move distractions of little/no value out of their way.  I would remove/highly restrict the TV/video games, non-stop snacking, and telephone interruptions (let it go to voicemail).  Also, can you hire a mom's helper a few mornings a week or use a Mom's Morning Out Program a few times a week for the toddler, have dad take on a few subjects in the evening, or (if dad's not a teacher) educate the older ones when toddler is napping or when dad is home evenings/weekends.

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My DS has tendencies toward being unenthusiastic toward academics.  But he loves SOTW; the one thing he is over-the-top enthusiastic about.  Perhaps try that for history for your kids' ages?

 

Also, I would just remove the option of iPad/TV/electronics on school days/weekdays.  Really, they are still young enough that you can be a dictator about that; when they're older, the lip will be much greater.  They'll take a week or two to adjust, but it will make your life easier in the long run because that will not be a distraction and will not be their motivation for just rushing through work or not doing it in the hopes of wearing you down and having you let them go to the iPad because you are just too exhausted to deal.

Thanks so much for the advice and encouragement. We have our ups and downs, and lately it has been more downs.

Question: How do I encourage a happy, get-it-done attitude? I don't just want to motivate with rewards. I have "threatened" no iPad time, no movie time, etc...,you do nothing else until your work is done (that makes for a lot of whining and tears!). Why don't they get that they need to just do it and be done and they can have free time!? What could I do differently?

I would be tempted to do Veritas self paced if my internet worked properly.

Suggestions for keeping history simple (while still getting it done)? TOG may be too much right now, I think. Maybe MOH and reasses next year. I want school to be meaningful and enjoyable. I want to instill a love of learning and not have them dread school. I tell them get the basics done because they are important, necessary, and then we can get to the "more fun" stuff like history, drawing, etc. I usually run out of steam because of all the energy it takes to do basics that after lunch we do nothing. :(

 

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I don't define myself as a classical educator. And I don't have one box curriculum, either. I don't know what I'd label myself. But for history we are using Elemental History. I don't know if that would appeal to you...

 

http://www.elementalhistory.com/

 

This is our first year doing history (we deliberately avoided programs like SOTW because we were looking for something more secular). Now I don't do all the additional readings (we're only a few weeks into the program and I read reviews on the recommended books, which sometimes aren't favorable so I don't check them out). There's a lot of wiggle room for me, I just leave out what I want and include what I want. I'm using it with my 6yr old. It includes one state a week, too so it's like a history/geography combo.

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I'm another who thinks 5 kids between 2 and 10 is probably the biggest challenge you've got.  

So pure classical isn't working right now?  Well, move to something that will.  

You have time!  You can always try a more classical approach in a few years when the 10 year old is in high school and the youngers are a little less so.  

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I agree that it is not the curriculum itself that is the problem - unless of course you are opening your materials each morning with no plan already set up, "Gee, what do I need to have the kids do today?  Let me slap something together!"  (Ahem, I am speaking from experience on that one!!)

 

For overall planning, I lay everything out roughly by week (1-36) before the school year starts.  We pick a date to start, and from that point, we do it as we can.  When I realize I have a busy week coming up I will skip a week.  If a week gets started strong and we end up missing a lot of the work, I will stretch that week into two weeks (i.e., two weeks to complete "Week 7," etc.)  There is no pre-set date to do each week.  Then throughout the year, I will pre-plan the week out the Friday or Saturday before.  This takes about an hour, sometimes less.  That gives me more of a realistic feel as to what we will be able to complete.  Then for the night before, I make my oldest (who's 7) an assignment checklist for the next day.  This helps her to stay motivated and get as much done independently as possible during the day, as I am dealing with the littles or doing something else.

 

All that said, I struggled at the beginning just like you.  I am only just now getting into the swing, and I find it is more of my issue than my kids, to be honest.  If I am not prepped out the night before, I am just too tired and slow in the mornings to get ready in time to actually get the work done.  We are having to work around my one-year-old's schedule (who, mercifully, still takes 2 naps a day!).  I am still having to do a RESET a few times a year.  That is, I scrap our schedule and plans.  I take my "week-plan" and decide what of the basics MUST be completed that next week.  Then I schedule just those.  And I mean schedule.  When my kids wake up I tell them the day's schedule - this time for these chores, this time for these school tasks.  I try to do a light picking up first thing after breakfast, followed by the bulk of schoolwork.  If that day goes well, the following day I might add back in light history, or science.  It may be a week before we can stick to getting that much done.  Then I may add back in the history outside reading.  Or whatever, you get the idea.  I make a schedule, with only a few things, and make sure we can accomplish it before adding in the next.  And you just add as you go.

 

Does this make any sense at all??  :-)

 

Best of luck - I think most of us have been there at some point!  I'm sure I'll be there many more times again!

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I have been flirting with going away from WTM and toward Ambleside Online for some of the subjects you mentioned. AO has a lovely booklist for literature, history, and geography.

 

Here is what I gather about AO (I just began using some of it)

 

AO history readings are different than SOTW, much less strictly sequenced, more geographically focused. That may or may not be what you are looking for. 

 

Its nature/science books are beautiful works of literature. In the early years much science is accomplished through nature study. 

 

Shakespeare and Plutarch, poetry, and living books comprise the literature. They schedule these for you, so you do not have to come up with the list on your own unless you wish to add or substitute! 

 

*Keep in mind that AO is a Charlotte Mason curriculum. The booklist could be with any method; it is not CM unless you intentionally implement her methods. 

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I guess what I was trying to convey with my own post above, is that you are not a failure because you are not doing a straight Classical education.  Just recently I met a classically educated child with a nasty mouth and a nasty attitude.  There are things which are more important than your style of education (and of course it certainly doesn't have to be either-or..)

 

There are so many individual factors.  My children and I just do not have the time or stamina to pursue the things which are not in keeping with their own personal goals. And while I think it's VERY important to study the great works of western civilization, at least on a cursory level, so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past...I still can see clearly that my children are individuals created by God.  I am thrilled to see them both enjoying their Swim Team.  I am thrilled to see my daughter spending 45 minutes on piano, and actually enjoying it. I am thrilled to see my son working daily and diligently to complete his online Comp Sci course.  For us, there is just not enough time in the day to pursue all of that PLUS Latin, and Chronological History, and in depth literature, and intense grammar study.

 

But, while I love SWB's book and have definitely benefitted from the general Classical model, I actually feel perfectly free and even GLAD that I am not doing it because I KNOW that I am spending time pursuing what God has made my individual children, for.  My daughter loves the arts.  She loves creativity and music.  She needs time, space, money and classes to help her pursue that.  My son loves Computers...and swimming...he needs time and space for that.  

 

Just sharing my two cents.

 

 

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Thank you all so much. Lots of good advice! Lucky for me I get 2 weeks off as I'm getting ready to go out of town with my husband, sadly (I mean it) leaving the kids behind with the in-laws. So, I have time to think things through, get a break, and reassess. Come back and start again...probably failing...but pushing on! :). This is so hard!!

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We've given up on all things classical for this year (except for a little narration and copywork) and it's been the most relaxed, smooth, joyful start to a school year that we've ever had.   Now, before I get flamed I'll add that I believe in the value and beauty of a truly classical education, however...I'm admitting to myself that it is not the best fit for me as a teacher that was never taught that way and doesn't have the time to devote to self education (and no, learning right along side your kids does not always work...especially in high school).  It's not a good fit for my dc who dislike reading (to the degree that classical education requires), dislike history, and are not the type of children who 'love to learn'.  As my dc get older I realize that they all (with the exception of one whose passion is modern\digital art and animation) seem to be leaning towards science\math\technology and I want them all to have the time and resources to support those passions versus spending so much time on subjects that drag on and on because my dc aren't interested in them in the least.

 

We've only been at our new school year for 6 weeks but so far everyone is more relaxed, more interested, more willing to get up and get going in the morning, and I KNOW they've all made more progress in 6 weeks than they did in years past in the first 3 months.  I attribute all of that to having programs that better fit how they prefer to learn and what they want to learn, and also to me being completely at ease this year (something I could never be when I was doing classical because I didn't feel comfortable or confident in my ability to teach that way).   All of the programs I purchased are what I've always considered get it done, school at home type programs.  They are independent or semi-independent and written to the child.  I was concerned about them not being meaty enough or in depth enough, but my dc are so relaxed (because I'm relaxed) that they are really learning better with these programs.  I love that I've got the patience now to really get into a few teacher led programs with them in areas of interest too. 

 

After years of not being willing to let go of the idea of myself as a classical educator and struggling to make it work, I'm relieved to finally admit that it's just not a good fit for us.  :D

 

 

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Dd16 and dd15 are using MUS for their maths, Essentials in Writing,  and Time 4 Learning High School for English, history, government, and science. Dd15 is doing several different art courses online and local. Dd16 is also using a Great Courses lecture series for Astronomy, and Oklahoma State University online German. 

 

Dd11 is using:

Math Mammoth 6

Essentials in Writing 7

Analytical Grammar Season One

Vocabulary Workshop

Prentice Hall Science Explorers Animals

 

Ds8 is using:

Math Mammoth 3

Essentials in Writing 3

R&S Developing Better Reading to firm up his phonics (he's a late reader but finally bloomed over the summer)

AHA! Science along with supplemental fun stuff when he hits a topic he likes

 

Dd5 is using:

Nothing formal - lots of games, cutting, pasting, colorful workbook pages, a morning board, and some Easy Peasy stuff

 

The younger three do together:

Beautiful Feet American Geography with a journaling notebook, and we're reading through the Narnia books while they keep journals. 

 

They all read what they want to read.  They must read for an age appropriate amount of time each day but what they read is completely up to them.  Sometimes they read fiction, sometimes non-fiction, sometimes magazines, news articles or internet articles ranging from gaming reviews, biographies, or how to reports.   They're reading more this year than they did when I gave them lists of required reading. 

 

That's it.  Not a lot of extras for each child but they do a lot on their own - experiments, art, making movies, building models, guitar, piano, sewing, cooking and baking, and part time jobs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We do have morning chores/routine. My husband leaves a little later in the AM so we do family worship together. Once their chores are done we start school and my husband leaves. It is hard to get them settled. So, when complaining happens or when they are distracted and not focused on their work--what would you do? I tend to yell or get irritated. That's helpful, right? :/. I have tried to be patient or separate kids, etc. the behavioral aspect is hard. Do I make the kid sit there until they actually get their math done? Like today, my ds 9, simply had to copy a paragraph from English. I made sure he understood the directions and gave him guidelines (words should be spelled correctly since copied, pencil eraser space in between words, neatly written). He tried 3 times throughout the day and just did not do it. Why can't he space correctly or copy the words correctly (he does most but not all...). I'm gracious with mistakes--they happen--but blah.

You've had a lot of great advice and I don't want to overwhelm you.  

 

For this, we use ELTL, for the first 15-30 minutes of school we listen to the book (I've been able to find them all on audio from the library) while they do their handwriting.  I think this feels like an easier way to start school than with having to think hard right away.

With the audio book I can make sure I've got all my other stuff ready to go.

 

 

About the organization stuff.  I started using a folder system this year.  It is going very, very well.  I just tore apart my books and put the first 8 weeks into folders to start.

My DD is a pretty easy, compliant child.  My DS... can be a different story.  :laugh:   I think he is finally starting to understand that if he just does his work we will get done sooner.  I did let his folder work build up over the first few weeks.  Yesterday he ended up with 8 papers (16  fronts and backs, ETC and Kumon math practice pages) to complete and I told him he couldn't play Wii this weekend if they weren't done.  He ended up finishing them at 9:30pm last night but he was really proud of himself and I was honestly shocked that he did it.  :hurray:

 

But the folders are giving us a much better structure to our days/weeks.  

 

 

My DS does respond to positive rewards much better than punishments.  He gets a sticker for every subject done, he's working toward a k'nex roller coaster.  This works much better for him than threats and punishment.

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I don't know if you are still reading this thread, but I would jump on the opportunity to use this 2 weeks off to re-group and break old habits. When you return home, I would not jump straight back into school, but to fix the major problems. I do not think curriculum is the issue. I know when we had 5 those ages that the success of our homeschool depended upon multiple factors: planning and management on my part; cooperation and effort on the children's part.

 

Momma's issues have to be addressed first b/c the children are going to function within the larger flow of the home and prevailing attitude established. If the household functions in chaos, so are the children. This is another part of the teaching from the state of rest. Nothing is restful if everything depends on the luck of the day and things happening to run smoothly.

 

So my first suggestion would be to evaluate the rhythm of your household. By that, I mean the natural flow of things that are established and you can and need to work around. Your dh's departure time, nap time, outside commitments. Then I would see what sort of pattern you can build around that rhythm. I personally can't run on a schedule, but I learned to have pegs that were tied to that rhythm. The pegs were tasks associated with a daily "rhythm" activity that kept me on task with what I needed to get done.

 

For example, laundry. With 5 kids those ages, it has to be part of the daily plan. So does meal planning b/c feeding a family that size is too expensive to feed without a firm plan. How can you peg those tasks to your daily rhythm? For me, I peg throwing a load of laundry in to the first time I leave my bedroom in the morning. I leave my room and go directly into the laundry room and throw in a load, and I know that I have already started the day with accomplishing one of my tasks. (It also means that the children have to peg taking all their dirty laundry to the laundry room with getting ready for bed at night.) Dinner prep might be pegged to something the night before (chopping onions or soaking beans, etc). I plan for crockpot meals on crazy out of the house days and throw those in after a first school task in the morning. Other meals I prep while a child might be doing a math lesson at the kitchen table or having a discussion. Depending on my kids and their abilities depends on how I peg them together.

 

Anyway, that is where I start. Things that are absolutely going to happen every day. Getting out of bed, breakfast, lunch. naps, dinner, and whatever else are givens in your family. The pegs become the foundation for my schedule.

 

I approached things with the attitude having to fix things just like a business manager with a floundering business needed to evaluate the planning and management to determine why things were broken and how to fix them. Why? Because planning and management bring the order to chaos and order leads to the children knowing what will happen when. But, in my household, it couldn't be sterile like a business and run around a clock, but organic and flow with the day. Sometimes naps are needed earlier, sometimes later. Life happens. Looking a clock meant I felt stressed that our day didn't match the clock. But, pegs can move with the flow. If nap time is my deep instruction time with my oldest, it simply flows with whatever time the baby takes his nap.

 

FWIW, I am absolutely not of the mind that it is ok to relax and say this is a stage of life. My pov is that I took on the responsibility to educate my kids, and, no, it will not necessarily be fine no matter what I do. I see it more as this is a stage of life, how do we embrace their needs and make it work. Which turns the focus to the children and their cooperation and effort and responsibility in making the household function.

 

I expect my younger school-agers to play with the pre-schoolers or, at minimum keep an eye on them. They are also capable of playing with the toddlers for brief periods of time.

 

When our kids were the ages of yours, this is how things would have functioned:

 

I would have gotten up, thrown in a load of laundry, and woken up the oldest before anyone else was awake. I would work with him on new math concepts, and after the lesson, he would complete his math work while I made breakfast. (I always make a filling breakfast for 2 reasons: it is cheaper than cereal and it keeps them full until lunch time so they aren't asking for snacks

or complaining about being hungry.)

 

This approach has always been a good one in our house b/c then my oldest, who has the most school work, also feels that they are ahead for the day. (I suppose if I had a grumpy, non-morning oldest, than I would bump it down to the second oldest.) But being in the kitchen with them working while cooking breakfast means being accessible for answering questions when they need help, etc.

 

Since your dh leaves later, I would do all of the above before your family prayer time. So for me, by that time, I would have gotten dressed, thrown in a load of laundry, finished math with the oldest, and made breakfast for the family, and everyone would have eaten.

 

After prayer time, I would have 10 yr old reading independently while the 8 yr old played with the 4 and 2 yr olds. I would work with the 6 yr old until they finished their school work. (In my house, a 6 yr old is spending approx an hour on work). Then the 6 yr old would have the responsibility of playing with the 4 yr old, and I would take the 2 yr old and put them in the high chair with something to keep them entertained (anything from Cheerios to coloring......depends on the 2 yr old). I would then work on do math instruction with the 8 yr old. After instructing the 8 yr old and they are doing their math beside me, I might call out spelling words to the 10 yr old or work on grammar, etc Something that I can do while paying attention to the 8 yr old, while watching the 2 yr old, etc. Or if my 2 yr old was of the incredibly busy sort, I might have the 10 yr old take a break and take the 2 yr old outside to run around, play ball, or push on the swing, etc. If that is the case, I would focus on the 8 yr olds weakest subject (for my current just turned 9 yr old, that would be reading and spelling.) And so it goes.

 

I never napped during my youngest kids nap time. That was always key instruction time.

 

That is just an example of how we did it. My kids know that their cooperation and attitude are vital to all of our success. I would definitely come up with a reward system to help form new habits. A dry erase board with magnets moving toward a goal for older kids, instantaneous rewards for the younger kids, etc.

 

FWIW, I have never found group teaching to work well for our family. Combining 2 kids for the odd subject, but not more than that. Other families have great success combining. Again, you need to find what works for yours.

 

Homeschooling a houseful of kids does not have to mean pure exhaustion and frazzled nerves. It does take experimenting to find the right mix of how to get things done and done in a way that is both productive and happy.

 

Another FWIW, I had to (and still have to)have daily lesson plans b/c w/o them life could/can take over and appropriate levels of school just don't get completed. They are written in pencil so I can adapt them as needed, but I need to have a clear vision of what is going to get completed during the day.

 

Take the time to create a flow. Have a family meeting and make sure your kids are clear on your expectations. Have firmly established consequences for what happens when kids are uncooperative, etc. But they also need to understand the reward for hard work well done. (Our children are raised with the understanding that we are all created to serve The Lord. In order to serve Him, we must complete our daily duties to the best of our abilities. Our daily duties are a concrete service to Him since we are His creatures and as such, we must contribute to His creation. The duty of children is to use the gift of their intelligence to learn what they are expected to learn. Serving God through our work is the first step to understanding intrinsic rewards. My kids write AMDG on the top of their papers as a reminder: ad majorem Dei gloriam which means "For the greater glory of God."

 

Well, this post is turning into a book. I hope it is at least somewhat helpful.

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I am not a purist.  I subscribe to many of the foundations and implement many of the practices.  You would see that we bounce about and use traditional textbooks for our spines and not literature or history encyclopedias anymore.  We do a lot, but I blend it across several methodologies.  Some practices just work better.  As we move towards to HS, I do box it heavily.  Mine want to move on to dual enrollment, and you can finish a box quick.  :)

 

Just do what you want and what you feel your kids need.  This is the reason that you chose HS - not the classical methodology.  Pick and use what fits your children.  Treat and teach them individually and they will prosper academically.

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I'm eclectic. My kids don't fit well into classical without me throwing a little in from some other philosophies. I do LOVE listening to talks at the Circe Institute though. I have found though, that serious problems are rarely the fault of the curriculum but rather they tend to be because of a mindset or habit that we are bringing into the curriculum. I could be more pure with the classical education and make it work for us. The kids would be ok. I'm lazy though and I don't want to put that much work into making something work for us.

 

In this house we have morning chores that we do the exact same way every day even on weekends so that it has become a part of how the kids function. The entire day runs better if some things are habit.

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I only have three children, but pre-planning is key for me. Rather than buy a school in a box curriculum, I sat down and figured out what I wanted most from it and after reflection what I discovered is that what I really wanted was the sheet with the checkboxes. So I made my own.

 

I take a few weeks during summer break and/or evenings during the current school year to plan the next year. I make my sheets with checkboxes which means not only can I get a picture of a week at a glance, but so can my 4th grader. This makes it easy for him to find something he can do on his own while I work with the younger ones. I still have to check in with him and keep him on task, but there's quite a bit he can do on his own until it's his turn. I do some tweaking along the way, but we mostly stay true to plan. It makes my days run smoother and for much of the year I don't have to think about "now what" - we just do the next thing on the list.

 

Basically, I'm with 8. If I get my part in order the rest follows much easier than if I'm running to catch up from the very beginning.

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I only have two kids, and they are older than OP's, but the bolded are necessary for our homeschool to function well also.

I don't know if you are still reading this thread, but I would jump on the opportunity to use this 2 weeks off to re-group and break old habits. When you return home, I would not jump straight back into school, but to fix the major problems. I do not think curriculum is the issue. I know when we had 5 those ages that the success of our homeschool depended upon multiple factors: planning and management on my part; cooperation and effort on the children's part.

Momma's issues have to be addressed first b/c the children are going to function within the larger flow of the home and prevailing attitude established. If the household functions in chaos, so are the children. This is another part of the teaching from the state of rest. Nothing is restful if everything depends on the luck of the day and things happening to run smoothly.

So my first suggestion would be to evaluate the rhythm of your household. By that, I mean the natural flow of things that are established and you can and need to work around. Your dh's departure time, nap time, outside commitments. Then I would see what sort of pattern you can build around that rhythm. I personally can't run on a schedule, but I learned to have pegs that were tied to that rhythm. The pegs were tasks associated with a daily "rhythm" activity that kept me on task with what I needed to get done.

For example, laundry. With 5 kids those ages, it has to be part of the daily plan. So does meal planning b/c feeding a family that size is too expensive to feed without a firm plan. How can you peg those tasks to your daily rhythm? For me, I peg throwing a load of laundry in to the first time I leave my bedroom in the morning. I leave my room and go directly into the laundry room and throw in a load, and I know that I have already started the day with accomplishing one of my tasks. (It also means that the children have to peg taking all their dirty laundry to the laundry room with getting ready for bed at night.) Dinner prep might be pegged to something the night before (chopping onions or soaking beans, etc). I plan for crockpot meals on crazy out of the house days and throw those in after a first school task in the morning. Other meals I prep while a child might be doing a math lesson at the kitchen table or having a discussion. Depending on my kids and their abilities depends on how I peg them together.

Anyway, that is where I start. Things that are absolutely going to happen every day. Getting out of bed, breakfast, lunch. naps, dinner, and whatever else are givens in your family. The pegs become the foundation for my schedule.

I approached things with the attitude having to fix things just like a business manager with a floundering business needed to evaluate the planning and management to determine why things were broken and how to fix them. Why? Because planning and management bring the order to chaos and order leads to the children knowing what will happen when. But, in my household, it couldn't be sterile like a business and run around a clock, but organic and flow with the day. Sometimes naps are needed earlier, sometimes later. Life happens. Looking a clock meant I felt stressed that our day didn't match the clock. But, pegs can move with the flow. If nap time is my deep instruction time with my oldest, it simply flows with whatever time the baby takes his nap.

FWIW, I am absolutely not of the mind that it is ok to relax and say this is a stage of life. My pov is that I took on the responsibility to educate my kids, and, no, it will not necessarily be fine no matter what I do. I see it more as this is a stage of life, how do we embrace their needs and make it work. Which turns the focus to the children and their cooperation and effort and responsibility in making the household function.

I expect my younger school-agers to play with the pre-schoolers or, at minimum keep an eye on them. They are also capable of playing with the toddlers for brief periods of time.

When our kids were the ages of yours, this is how things would have functioned:

I would have gotten up, thrown in a load of laundry, and woken up the oldest before anyone else was awake. I would work with him on new math concepts, and after the lesson, he would complete his math work while I made breakfast. (I always make a filling breakfast for 2 reasons: it is cheaper than cereal and it keeps them full until lunch time so they aren't asking for snacks
or complaining about being hungry.)

This approach has always been a good one in our house b/c then my oldest, who has the most school work, also feels that they are ahead for the day. (I suppose if I had a grumpy, non-morning oldest, than I would bump it down to the second oldest.) But being in the kitchen with them working while cooking breakfast means being accessible for answering questions when they need help, etc.

Since your dh leaves later, I would do all of the above before your family prayer time. So for me, by that time, I would have gotten dressed, thrown in a load of laundry, finished math with the oldest, and made breakfast for the family, and everyone would have eaten.

After prayer time, I would have 10 yr old reading independently while the 8 yr old played with the 4 and 2 yr olds. I would work with the 6 yr old until they finished their school work. (In my house, a 6 yr old is spending approx an hour on work). Then the 6 yr old would have the responsibility of playing with the 4 yr old, and I would take the 2 yr old and put them in the high chair with something to keep them entertained (anything from Cheerios to coloring......depends on the 2 yr old). I would then work on do math instruction with the 8 yr old. After instructing the 8 yr old and they are doing their math beside me, I might call out spelling words to the 10 yr old or work on grammar, etc Something that I can do while paying attention to the 8 yr old, while watching the 2 yr old, etc. Or if my 2 yr old was of the incredibly busy sort, I might have the 10 yr old take a break and take the 2 yr old outside to run around, play ball, or push on the swing, etc. If that is the case, I would focus on the 8 yr olds weakest subject (for my current just turned 9 yr old, that would be reading and spelling.) And so it goes.

I never napped during my youngest kids nap time. That was always key instruction time.

That is just an example of how we did it. My kids know that their cooperation and attitude are vital to all of our success. I would definitely come up with a reward system to help form new habits. A dry erase board with magnets moving toward a goal for older kids, instantaneous rewards for the younger kids, etc.

FWIW, I have never found group teaching to work well for our family. Combining 2 kids for the odd subject, but not more than that. Other families have great success combining. Again, you need to find what works for yours.

Homeschooling a houseful of kids does not have to mean pure exhaustion and frazzled nerves. It does take experimenting to find the right mix of how to get things done and done in a way that is both productive and happy.

Another FWIW, I had to (and still have to)have daily lesson plans b/c w/o them life could/can take over and appropriate levels of school just don't get completed. They are written in pencil so I can adapt them as needed, but I need to have a clear vision of what is going to get completed during the day.

Take the time to create a flow. Have a family meeting and make sure your kids are clear on your expectations. Have firmly established consequences for what happens when kids are uncooperative, etc. But they also need to understand the reward for hard work well done. (Our children are raised with the understanding that we are all created to serve The Lord. In order to serve Him, we must complete our daily duties to the best of our abilities. Our daily duties are a concrete service to Him since we are His creatures and as such, we must contribute to His creation. The duty of children is to use the gift of their intelligence to learn what they are expected to learn. Serving God through our work is the first step to understanding intrinsic rewards. My kids write AMDG on the top of their papers as a reminder: ad majorem Dei gloriam which means "For the greater glory of God."

Well, this post is turning into a book. I hope it is at least somewhat helpful.

 

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Well, I do have a flow and get my laundry done, have a meal plan, quick meals for busy days, etc. the pegs of the day are in place. I even work hard at planning subjects and what day to do what. But, once we sit down to actually do the work it falls apart. Usually. This kid is distracted, 2yo is needy for me, 7yo needs help, 9yo needs help...5yo gets neglected schoolwise because I just don't have time. That is what I can't figure out...juggling subjects w/each kid. The 10yo is fairly independent but still needs me for math. If I have the 9yo play w/ younger siblings while teaching 6yo I feel like he gets behind because he has less time to get all his daily required work done.

 

I know a big part is dealing with me--my attitude, etc. But, we don't enjoy school. I wish daily we could afford to send them to school. :(.

 

I have to figure out how to best deal with their attitudes. I've tried several different approaches. They haven't been so disobedient in the past. It seems new that they are daily giving me disrespect, disobedience. It must be partly my attitude and the way I have handled their naughtiness. (Yelling, irritable)

 

Teaching from a state of rest....sounds so nice but it is not happening here. Here, do English, do math, do reading...bare minimum basics and that is school. No joy, no love of learning. What's the point of me trying to find the "best" curriculum and keep them home so I can be their role model, if I'm just failing. I have the house in order. The kids and I just struggle with school!

 

Did my long, depressing ramble make sense?

 

I should add, my frustration right now is trying to add more for my 6th grader, who can handle it and loves reading/history/art, etc., while trying to give some to the youngers. My 4th grader needs history, too, but doesn't remember anything I read to him nor is he interested. I thought TOG would help this balance, and it just might if we didn't peter out by the time it was history time. Could I start with history and get them motivated?

 

Well, I have a lot to think about. Maybe I should look into CC Challenge for my older dd for next year. I know the boards are mixed but she may get more than I can give.

 

Anything I should read for motivation/inspiration while I have the 2 weeks off?

 

Thanks for listening.

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I am kind of looking at your struggles and anticipating the ones we may have when we homeschool. When I was growing up, no amount of threatening to take priveledges away would motivate me to work because spacing out in my own mind and dawdling is exactly what I wanted to be doing in the first place. Forget playing with friends when I could dawdle! I can tell you that I am that person, but I STILL can't figure out how to reach that person. Ideas?

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For me Classical Style represents a method of learning material, so the curriculum, although it can be helpful in implementing the style, makes very little difference in educating classically.  

 

This is the Classical process of learning I am referring to:    

 

1.  Grammar Stage - Learn the facts.

 

2. Dialectic Stage - Learn to explore, question, and discuss the facts.  

 

3. Rhetoric Stage - Have an output about the facts and the information explored.  Present the the material learned through presentation, writing, demonstration, etc... 

 

So, for me, most any curriculum can be used to implement the method.  If you feel that having a boxed type of curriculum will aid you, go for it!  You are the teacher.  You can implement the process.  

 

As for the discipline issue, I think most everyone goes through this.  Just stick to your guns, and don't take it personally.  They are children.  They will try and find the line.  They will try to cross the line.  It is our job to tow the line.  

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Perhaps setting goals for each child individually. In our homeschool, it is pretty hard for a 9 yr old to get behind in what they need to get done b/c the day is long and they only need about a total of 4 hrs to accomplish everything.

 

This is what those grade resemble here:

 

My K age kids need about an hour. That hour is focused on phonics, proper letter formation in their handwriting, math, and reading practice.

 

7, assuming 2nd grade, is about 2 hrs. That includes math, phonics/spelling, copywork for handwriting and basic grammar/mechanics instruction, reading.

 

9, 4th grade, is about 4 hrs. Math, spelling, writing, grammar, reading 30 mins of each of lit, science, history.

 

6th grade= approx 6 hrs. Math, all language arts skills, ~45-60 mins each of reading lit, science, history, plus Latin.

 

I work with my youngest, so let's say Ker, while the 7 yr old plays with the 3 yr old. While that is happening, the older 2 would be reading. Then I would swap kids. I would send the 5 yr old, who has completely finished with her day, off with the 3 yr old. The 7 yr old I would work with on math instruction. Then, I would work on math instruction with the 9 yr old while the 7 yr old works on his math problems. Then, while the 9 yr old works on math problems, I would do spelling/phonics, grammar/copywork with the 7 yr old. When both of them finish, I would let the 9 yr old have a break and have the 7 yr old reading out loud to me. Now the 7 yr old is finished for the day.

 

I would then focus on the 6th grader's direct instruction so that she could complete work independently while I again work directly with the 9 yr old.

 

That is just how we function. There is no right way. The way that works for your specific family is the only one that matters.

 

Big picture=

My kids most definitely feed off my attitude and emotions. My 15 yod, especially, is a mood detector. She can sense how I feel, and if I am unhappy, stressed, or depressed, it in turn depresses her. Mood is a huge thing. This is where creating an atmosphere can help. For example, I paid bills the other day......most depressing day of the month for me. I came downstairs, lit candles, turned on music, and was determined to not create an atmosphere reflecting my interior mood. I am far from always successful, but the correlation between my attitude and our days is absolutely direct, not just indirect.

 

If it were me, I would come back from vacation and focus on rhythm and attitude. Close the books and focus on reading stories to all of them about character traits and personal responsibilities. I would have the older kids writing quotes in a common place book (any notebook will do) which emphasize the ideas you want them contemplating. If it takes it, role play situations you see occurring in their behaviors and how much different the scenarios would turn out with different attitudes. They could write a play or puppet show revolving around various themes.

 

It might slow down your academic calendar yr, but in the long run, you might end farther ahead.

 

Just some random thoughts.

 

ETA: We are Catholic, so I doubt the book would appeal to a general audience, but the book My Path to Heaven is a great visual for my kids. It is full of tiny pictures of a person standing at multiple forks in the road. Each fork leads down a different. path. THat is a daily conversation in our household. Decisions and choices have direct consequences. We can say we are sorry and we can promise to not do something again, but we have already started down a different path than before we made that choice. Once that decision is made, we are on a different path. How do we forge a new path toward the outcome we desire vs the direction of the path we chose? Bad habits, especially, require the difference between clearing a path the hard way (like with a machete) vs walking down an open road. It is hard work. The bad habit will clear its path ahead of us. Decisions have consequences and the negative attitudes are definitely a choice. What are the options?

 

You could make it a group effort to draw a large scale picture of what you all desire from the day (for them it could be anything from playing outside or playing with friends or Legos. For you it could be some quiet time to read a book.....whatever you all decide). Every person starts at the bottom of the page. What are the decisions they can make to reach that goal and what are the detours that throw up obstacles. Dawdling and complaining lead back down toward the bottom of the page instead of up toward their desired goals. It is a real visual for them of what is actually happening.

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The only way I was able to successfully homeschool was to only do the basics (and for many years Latin) and to only use curriculum that could be used independently by the student. I stopped trying to do formal science or history before middle school. History and science in middle school was simple, straightforward, and was done independently by the student. I stopped trying to plan my own curriculum. I worked on getting the older ones working independently so that I could focus on the youngers who could not be independent.

 

I have now had seven of my children transition smoothly to public high school. They have all done quite well academically. Four have graduated high school. Two have graduated college. I have come to the conclusion that rather than "failing" my children by not doing enough, that the "less is more" homeschooling that we fell into is enough.

 

Susan in TX

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I'm not the OP, but I just wanted to say thank you to those of you who are farther along the path and have shared your wisdom. I'm learning a lot!

Ditto to this!

 

OP - you've gotten such great advice!  I'm thankful!!  My children are not the same ages as yours (yet!) but here are a couple things that have helped me recently:  (And my apologies if I'm repeating anything already posted.)

 

  • I made non- open-and-go curriculum more open-and-go.  For us, this looked like spiral binding prepared copywork (or putting into a comp book) and preparing coloring pages/maps/narration pages and having spiral bound.  This has helped me IMMENSELY to not have school papers all over the place, and to just be able to open and and do whatever is next.  Also, now we have "workbooks" that *I* like.  And we can pull them out and work together easier.

 

  • I can get paralyzed by being behind or whatever in History/Science.  I decided to just chill out and read something/have them read something from our library bin, even if it happened to be before bed/Saturday morning.  This led to us becoming more structured.  For me, I was having an "off" day, oh, like EVERY DAY.  And we just needed to do something.  We did the same thing with some projects and art, etc.  We just jumped on it when we had a moment.  I was less stressed, and the kids had a blast.  So what if it didn't happen in a school-y way.

 

  • For fun, I've tried to plan a little something different (and easy!) for 3-4 days out of the week to break out of routine and have more fun.  (For me, too!  I want to have fun!)  We've made play-doh for the littlest ones, gone for walks looking for specific critters we're reading about, the children's museum, etc.  (Most the time we only leave the house for "field trip" maybe once or twice a month though with all the small children I have.)  You are probably already doing those things, but if not, maybe try to do something once a week for a break and for fun.  Or even change up where you do school.  We took our read aloud to our tree house recently since the weather has turned nice.

 

Enjoy your break with your husband!  I hope you come back refreshed in body and mind.  :)

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