Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

Alice

Help me with my school hating 4th grader

Recommended Posts

 

I resurrected this zombie thread to give an update...

I'm really struggling with my middle child, a 4th grader. Basically, he hates school and always has. It's a combination of things. Mostly it's personality. He doesn't like anything structured. He wants to play with Legos and read graphic novels all day or if it's nice out he wants to be outside biking and roller blading. He's athletic but resists any kind of structured team or lessons of any kind. He's all about fun and wants all of life to be fun. At the same time, for the past 6 months to a year he's been really moody (he's 9) and so he goes from being crazy/silly/goofy to being sad and mopey. I think I remember my oldest being somewhat the same way at the age but it's still tough to deal with. He mopes around and sulks about anything he doesn't want to do. 

 

I think he would be happier in school and I have told him that. He's an extrovert and I think he would enjoy being with people. I think school would also provide more variety in his day which he likes. I have told him that I love him and that I want to homeschool him but that it worries me that he doesn't seem happy and that I think he might enjoy school. He knows it is an option but he is adamantly dead set against going elsewhere to school, even to the small private school where he has good friends. At this point, I don't think it's an option as it feels like he would view it as punishment. If I still feel like we are having issues in a year or so I might revisit it and tell him I want him to give it a try for one year. I would hope that when he's older he would be able to see it not as a punishment. 

 

I am trying really hard to adjust my own attitude and expectations. I realize that part of the issue is that I want him to be happy and so when he is mopey and sad, I get upset and then that snowballs and creates tension. I think I need to let go of my desire for him to like school.

 

Other than unpleasantness, the main issue is that he is taking up so much of my time that I feel like I am neglecting the 1st grader and 7th grader. He doesn't actually do that much formal school. He works for about half a day on Mon and Wed and full days on Tues and Fri. Thurs we are out for a co-op most of the day. He gets lots of breaks and I try and incorporate what I would think is fun. But he doesn't find anything fun if it is somehow related to school. He loves reading about science but not if it's an assignment. He loves art but not if it's done in a formal way. It's starting to effect our relationship and I hate that.

 

I'm thinking of dropping everything other than the basics. Math. Writing. Reading. And then just doing more with the other two and letting him join in when he wants. For example, we read a lot of books that go along with our world geography/cultures study. I would envision that I would read them out loud and tell him that I'm doing so but not require him to sit with us. The other two have very different personalities so I think they will be ok with doing more than their brother. My 1st grader constantly is asking for more to do and the 7th grader is mature enough to understand that he is older and so has to do more. They also both like school for the most part. 

 

I am not at all an unschooler (and I understand that dropping everything but the basics isn't really true unschooling). I'm not anti-unschooling by philosophy, just by personality. My oldest and youngest have similiar personalities to mine and so it is easy for me to school them. We are all list-checking, structure loving kind of people. But I think the middle guy would do well with an unschooling mother. He is such a different creature than me. 

 

Anyone have a similar kid? Advice? 

 

Edited by Alice
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think your plan sounds great. One thing I try to think of is that if a kid does something on their own, I call it done, and don't tell them they did school. If they are writing stories, that's creative writing and I don't get involved, other than to tell them how much I like the story. If they read science books or history books or lit, I call it done and listen with enthusiasm when they tell me about it. It's always more fun to do something that is your own idea. Good luck with your little guy.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do. My Aries is much like your 9yo. I am often frustrated because I obviously care FAR more than he does about his education. He literally does not care. 

 

We have a similar plan. I'm a free spirit myself, so I struggle with putting together list, making schedules, getting things done in a timely fashion. It's just not me. I do wonder if my Aries needs more structure, but I can't give it, and I won't devote my entire day to pushing pushing pushing pushing him to do his work. It can't be my responsibility.

 

 I outlined some math, reading, and writing and I expect it to be done. Nothing else happens until it's finished. The end. Work first. Then play. 

History, science, music, art, right now, we don't have time or energy for much of that. When it happens, it is more unschooly. They have access to art materials. We watched some YouTube science videos my 13 yo recommended from his science lessons. We watch documentaries. He reads Magic Treehouse books. It's not a fight and I'm happy with that. 

 


 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does your son have "control" of his time (as much as a 9-year-old can)? I'm seeing some parallels to my 9-year-old daughter, but I'm not sure. She does well if I give her a list each day, let her control what she does, and let her finish as quickly or as slowly as she wants.

 

Have you heard the talk from SWB from the summer conference about how she wishes she had sent her child to school who has not really fitting in? He pushed back when she suggested it but she regrets not following through and doing so. It was much more nuanced and worth a listen to see if it parallels your situation.

 

Emily

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does your son have "control" of his time (as much as a 9-year-old can)? I'm seeing some parallels to my 9-year-old daughter, but I'm not sure. She does well if I give her a list each day, let her control what she does, and let her finish as quickly or as slowly as she wants.

 

Have you heard the talk from SWB from the summer conference about how she wishes she had sent her child to school who has not really fitting in? He pushed back when she suggested it but she regrets not following through and doing so. It was much more nuanced and worth a listen to see if it parallels your situation.

 

Emily

 

Yes, he does have some amount of control. I let him choose what order to do his work in and he knows that if he gets more done earlier in the week than he can have more free time on Friday. He expresses that he wants to finish early so I try and push him to do that but maybe I should give him more freedom on that. 

 

I have heard that talk and am planning on listening to them again this weekend. :) I think about it often and don't want to regret homeschooling ultimately. That's where most of my distress comes from, I think. But anytime I bring up school now he gets distraught and clearly sees it as a punishment. We have not presented it that way but he sees it that way and I think would see it even more that way if he went to school but not his siblings. The private school where he has friends has a very unique 6th grade year that would be a great fit for him and I have it in mind that if we are still struggling at that point that we will have him go that year and see how it goes. But even if do that, it's a year and half away so I want him to thrive during that time. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing that is tricky is that if he doesn't know what school is really like, he can't make an informed decision. Its so hard to walk the very thin line of respecting a child's sense of self and individual wants or needs when you might have a broader perspective or more information than them. Sometimes I feel like a real bully when I say that my kids HAVE to do something they clearly don't want to do, even when down the road they love it and thank me for it. (Swim team for my son right now). He might have built it up in his head as being something to be fearful of, and maybe in his mind better the devil you know than the devil you don't. Can he do a trial period of a few months to try it out?

 

My kids have been tricky. They were against much structure in third grade (twins) and gave me a fair amount of grief, and they are much more amenable now and can work much longer periods of time. But I had to cut down the out of house commitments to just one day a week because the constant change made them MUCH less willing to sit down and work in the days they had to. And I have to be there the whole time. There had to be lots of time for interaction, otherwise they feel isolated and bored.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You seem to be focused a lot on what will make him happy. That does not make for good parenting. He is not your husband, he doesn't need a partner. He needs a mom. It sounds like he should go to school. And not because it will make him happy but rather because it is a fit for him. Being at home is clearly to abstract. I do not home school all my children. And, I have the final say on who goes where, and it is not based on where they are happiest. It is based on the best place for that child. Also, you seem focused on adjusting your attitude and not his. Sounds like the only adjusting you need is to be a stronger parent. He needs to adjust. ((((hugs)))) Send him back. And commit to it. Do not back off when he comes home complaining about how awful everyone is. Support the teacher. And so on.

I'm really struggling with my middle child, a 4th grader. Basically, he hates school and always has. It's a combination of things. Mostly it's personality. He doesn't like anything structured. He wants to play with Legos and read graphic novels all day or if it's nice out he wants to be outside biking and roller blading. He's athletic but resists any kind of structured team or lessons of any kind. He's all about fun and wants all of life to be fun. At the same time, for the past 6 months to a year he's been really moody (he's 9) and so he goes from being crazy/silly/goofy to being sad and mopey. I think I remember my oldest being somewhat the same way at the age but it's still tough to deal with. He mopes around and sulks about anything he doesn't want to do. 

 

I think he would be happier in school and I have told him that. He's an extrovert and I think he would enjoy being with people. I think school would also provide more variety in his day which he likes. I have told him that I love him and that I want to homeschool him but that it worries me that he doesn't seem happy and that I think he might enjoy school. He knows it is an option but he is adamantly dead set against going elsewhere to school, even to the small private school where he has good friends. At this point, I don't think it's an option as it feels like he would view it as punishment. If I still feel like we are having issues in a year or so I might revisit it and tell him I want him to give it a try for one year. I would hope that when he's older he would be able to see it not as a punishment. 

 

I am trying really hard to adjust my own attitude and expectations. I realize that part of the issue is that I want him to be happy and so when he is mopey and sad, I get upset and then that snowballs and creates tension. I think I need to let go of my desire for him to like school.

 

Other than unpleasantness, the main issue is that he is taking up so much of my time that I feel like I am neglecting the 1st grader and 7th grader. He doesn't actually do that much formal school. He works for about half a day on Mon and Wed and full days on Tues and Fri. Thurs we are out for a co-op most of the day. He gets lots of breaks and I try and incorporate what I would think is fun. But he doesn't find anything fun if it is somehow related to school. He loves reading about science but not if it's an assignment. He loves art but not if it's done in a formal way. It's starting to effect our relationship and I hate that.

 

I'm thinking of dropping everything other than the basics. Math. Writing. Reading. And then just doing more with the other two and letting him join in when he wants. For example, we read a lot of books that go along with our world geography/cultures study. I would envision that I would read them out loud and tell him that I'm doing so but not require him to sit with us. The other two have very different personalities so I think they will be ok with doing more than their brother. My 1st grader constantly is asking for more to do and the 7th grader is mature enough to understand that he is older and so has to do more. They also both like school for the most part. 

 

I am not at all an unschooler (and I understand that dropping everything but the basics isn't really true unschooling). I'm not anti-unschooling by philosophy, just by personality. My oldest and youngest have similiar personalities to mine and so it is easy for me to school them. We are all list-checking, structure loving kind of people. But I think the middle guy would do well with an unschooling mother. He is such a different creature than me. 

 

Anyone have a similar kid? Advice? 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You seem to be focused a lot on what will make him happy. That does not make for good parenting. He is not your husband, he doesn't need a partner. He needs a mom. It sounds like he should go to school. And not because it will make him happy but rather because it is a fit for him. Being at home is clearly to abstract. I do not home school all my children. And, I have the final say on who goes where, and it is not based on where they are happiest. It is based on the best place for that child. Also, you seem focused on adjusting your attitude and not his. Sounds like the only adjusting you need is to be a stronger parent. He needs to adjust. ((((hugs)))) Send him back. And commit to it. Do not back off when he comes home complaining about how awful everyone is. Support the teacher. And so on.

 

I thought about your response on my afternoon walk. I do agree that as a parent my job isn't just to make my kids happy. Happiness is often such a fleeting thing.  But I would disagree that it's not part of my job at all. Maybe I just parent differently. Yes, fundamentally I'm the Mom and have the ultimate say (along with dh) on things where I have more experience or wisdom. But I also try to take my kids wishes into consideration and ultimately I do want them to feel....happy.... for lack of a better word. If they are very opposed to something I'm definitely going to consider that in making a decision. I would feel the same if I had a child who really wanted to go to school but who I thought would be better homeschooled. 

 

Going to school is not an option this school year. I think maybe my OP made it sound like that was the big issue. I really only mentioned it so that I wouldn't get a lot of responses from people suggesting that he might do better in school. It may be an option in the future, but that still leaves the rest of this year at a minimum to get through and I'd like to get through it in way that has my son thriving and that he enjoys. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought about your response on my afternoon walk. I do agree that as a parent my job isn't just to make my kids happy. Happiness is often such a fleeting thing.  But I would disagree that it's not part of my job at all. Maybe I just parent differently. Yes, fundamentally I'm the Mom and have the ultimate say (along with dh) on things where I have more experience or wisdom. But I also try to take my kids wishes into consideration and ultimately I do want them to feel....happy.... for lack of a better word. If they are very opposed to something I'm definitely going to consider that in making a decision. I would feel the same if I had a child who really wanted to go to school but who I thought would be better homeschooled. 

 

Going to school is not an option this school year. I think maybe my OP made it sound like that was the big issue. I really only mentioned it so that I wouldn't get a lot of responses from people suggesting that he might do better in school. It may be an option in the future, but that still leaves the rest of this year at a minimum to get through and I'd like to get through it in way that has my son thriving and that he enjoys. 

Oh yes! It is PART of your job!

 

Personally, I am working on my kids being less happy and giving them less room to decide. I realize through issues that have been building that I have given the way too much control. In the end, they won't be happy if they cannot have success. Discipline can lead to happiness...and I do not mean spanking (I don't spank, don't care if you do, but spanking is not what I meant by discipline). I have one that would be absolutely thrilled to rule the roost all day, running amok, taking all my time. I doubt he would do too terribly much I ask. He goes to school. It is what we need for now. I hope that eventually, he too will be home. It is not a punishment, not at all. It is just where he needs to be right now. If I asked him, he might pick home. He didn't want to go in the first place. Honestly though, he loves his teacher. First time the school bus came, he would not get on. My husband said he was scared so don't make him. I finally picked him up and took him on. It took 10 seconds for him to spot another little boy in the front row with a Minecraft toy. Now he lives for the bus. I am not sure how long he will be in public school. But, he will be there while it is what fits him. He might not want to be there. He might prefer to sleep in and play with Legos. But, if he cannot be successful at home, he needs to try something he might be successful at. That is all. And he did find happiness there. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First off, I recommend the book Free to Learn by Peter Gray. It really helped me see the world through my (9 yo last year when I read it) son's eyes. I am a box checker and he is not. This book helped me to bridge that gap, even though it is very against my nature. We reached a compromise where he completed the boxes I need checked - math and writing, he was already a voracious reader - and then I let go of everything else. It didn't improve everything overnight, but it did help.

 

Fast forward to this year, he is now 10 and has matured a lot. His attitude is better and he completes his work quickly every day. We have added science and spelling back in but his days are still shorter than most of the kids on this board. Oh well. He is making good progress in his core subjects and we are no longer butting heads. That is all that really matters to me at the end of the day. My goal is not to get my kids to conform to some box, although it would make life easier sometimes. :) It isn't that my ds doesn't like to learn, it is only that he doesn't like to learn about things that aren't meaningful to him. You might find this thread interesting if that sounds like your son.

 

You may eventually decide that PS is the best place for him. I think your plan to drop back to the basics is a good place to start, though. It really did make a difference here. Good luck!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First off, I recommend the book Free to Learn by Peter Gray. It really helped me see the world through my (9 yo last year when I read it) son's eyes. I am a box checker and he is not. This book helped me to bridge that gap, even though it is very against my nature. We reached a compromise where he completed the boxes I need checked - math and writing, he was already a voracious reader - and then I let go of everything else. It didn't improve everything overnight, but it did help.

 

Fast forward to this year, he is now 10 and has matured a lot. His attitude is better and he completes his work quickly every day. We have added science and spelling back in but his days are still shorter than most of the kids on this board. Oh well. He is making good progress in his core subjects and we are no longer butting heads. That is all that really matters to me at the end of the day. My goal is not to get my kids to conform to some box, although it would make life easier sometimes. :) It isn't that my ds doesn't like to learn, it is only that he doesn't like to learn about things that aren't meaningful to him. You might find this thread interesting if that sounds like your son.

 

You may eventually decide that PS is the best place for him. I think your plan to drop back to the basics is a good place to start, though. It really did make a difference here. Good luck!

 

Thanks, Tracy! For the book and link. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am in a similar situation with my 4th grade DS, and I sympathize greatly with your struggle.  

 

No one works this hard on the behalf of another human being expecting, or even vaguely anticipating, the type of reaction we've both encountered.  It's not something a parent quickly and easily processes because knowing there's an issue doesn't mean you know what it is or how to fix it!   

 

((((((Alice))))))) 

 

I think your plan is a good one, just focusing on basics.  One additional thing you can consider is outsourcing a subject.  This year, we outsourced math, the big hairy beast... great things have come from DS being accountable to a great teacher outside of our home.  My DS may not like math, but he's meeting the challenges, and it's happening with minimal wear on our relationship, which is key.  It keeps me fresh for addressing writing, grammar, and spelling.

 

With regard to the subjects I am in charge of, I've found DS needs more help from me behaviorally than academically.  He quite earnestly needs me to hold steady on boundaries that require kindness and openness to learning.  If he exhibits signs of resentment toward my teaching efforts, I remind DS I'm available to help him when he's ready to learn.  I get up and go do something I prefer, and he must go somewhere else if he's stormy.  I always suggest a snack.  

 

Inevitably he comes to me and tells me he's ready... and we get school done.  But it's with us both honoring the relationship.  

 

We are also considering a part-time school option for next year.  DS ardently protests this move, but I think there's a bit of fear there that might be qualmed if he visits with us.  In no way do I think he'll walk away saying he's encouraged and excited about it (even if he is), but he'll know this isn't banishment.  I'm willing to send DS without his expressed agreement, if DH and I believe it's best for him... but he will also know that while he's committed to the school for a season, it is only an option for as long as it is challenging, growing, and honoring him.

 

Big hugs to you on this journey!  

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Resurrecting my own zombie thread. 🙂 I found this thread today when searching for something else that I had followed. 

I thought it might be helpful to anyone else there with outside of the box, school-hating kids to give an update. My now 8th grader is still an outside the box, march to his own drummer kid. But we are still homeschooling and it’s been great. I backed way off for the rest of 4th grade and let him have a lot more autonomy outside of just doing the basics. He remained adamant that he didn’t want to go to school and I respected that. 

We spent the last few years letting him pursue more of his own interests while still doing the minimum for school. Fast-forward to now and he is a kid who still prefers to do things his own way but he’s engaged in learning (for the most part) and has tons of interests. He has taught himself a lot of skills (juggling, knitting, unicycling, computer drawing, power point, more computer skills that I don’t really understand, photography...). He’s happy and thriving. And he’s also now mature enough to realize that there are some hoops he just needs to jump through for school (like standardized testing required by our state) and he sees the value in doing them and moving on rather than fighting it. 

Anyway, I’m glad we kept with it and I’d thought I’d update in case it helps anyone else. When I read my old post I even had trouble remembering the struggles we went through. 

  • Like 17
  • Thanks 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's an awesome update! I posted about my kiddo upthread... he is in 8th now and just like you it is hard to even remember those struggles. It seems so long ago! His story totally mirrors your son's: we backed way off and he has explored his interests over the years. He has matured a ton since then. He is willing to check the boxes now - though I still try to make that as painless as possible for him. He is engaged in what he's learning and excited about picking new topics to learn. It's been great to see.

Thanks for updating!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...