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thepoteetteam

Really need encouragement with my 7 year old son....

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Before I start off, my child who just turned 7 is my 7th child.  I have homeschooled all of my children and have been homeschooling for 16 years now.  This is not my first rodeo. :P  However, I have never had such a HARD TIME schooling any of my kids.  My son is such a busy body and just won't focus.  When I sit with him to do school, he acts "dumb".  I don't mean that in a negative way about him.  He just acts like he has no idea what the answer is to something we have gone over and over again and I KNOW HE KNOWS.  It's the most painful and dreading task schooling him.  It breaks my heart because I feel like I am constantly frustrated with him.  He can't read.  He has NO INTEREST.  He can do math fairly decent.  I tried to start all over with him and just do some simple Explode the Code books with him (he loves them), but we never get around to reading because I am just DONE and frustrated from him always pretending he has no idea what to do or what I am saying.  I have tried rewards, but he loses the possibility of an award immediately.  I am also schooling 2 other busy little boys with him, so I feel like a clown juggling balls for HOURS.  Again, I have never been so frustrated.   I have lost my joy!  Any suggestions?  Sorry to ramble.....

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If he knows how to do a page, and you know that he knows how to do it, then would it really be so bad to just skip it?

 

With kids like that, I tend to 1) eliminate busy work and unnecessary power struggles, 2) give them as much control as possible over how to accomplish the necessary tasks and 3) stay very, very calm as they wail and gnash their teeth and "stick it to the man" by making everyone's lives as difficult as possible.

 

In your shoes, I think I would probably set a firm requirement of 15 minutes of phonics work a day.  Then I would make a list of different activities that he could choose from to fulfill his 15 minutes.  Explode the Code (and I would let him do it orally to remove that hurdle), one of the free Progressive Phonics readers online, buddy reading a high-interest easy reader from the library with you, circling words he can read in a magazine or newspaper, making sentences out of magnetic poetry (I made my own "easy reader" set by cutting up a magnetic sheet and writing appropriate words with magic marker).

 

Often times, I reward a child for being a diligent phonics worker Monday through Thursday by offering extra fun reading practice on Friday.  Sometimes this is just a phonics game on the computer or tablet, but other times I plan an activity like writing the words on water balloons and letting the child throw them at me as he reads them or hiding a scavenger hunt of clues around the house with a special treat at the end...ie. I hand the child a card that says "kids' bath tub" and when he looks there, there is a card that says "fish tank", etc until he eventually finds the prize.

 

Wendy

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Do you have any concerns he might have some learning difficulties?  That learning to delay, to take the focus off school etc sounds JUST like my friend's youngest...she was also a long in the trenches homeschooling mom.  That whole eluding her, fighting until she was exhausted and gave up etc.... he had a whole host of learning challenges, but he was obvs very smart because he learned how to deflect for such a long time.

 

It plays out in a similar manner in public schools...the smart class cut up or troublemaker who is actually struggling with academics. You think that wouldn't work in a homeschool situation, but it can.

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I think it's time for some evaluations----any number of things could be going on----and I think more information & an outside perspective would be helpful.  I'd look into these things:

 

attention issues

working memory issues

processing issues

learning disabilities (dyslexia?)

 

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Yes, this is very similar to what I saw in my daughter who has ADHD. (I am NOT saying he has ADHD, but it sounds like there might be something going on besides just defiance.) With ADHD (and perhaps with other learning challenges) when a child is faced with work that requires effort and isn't intrinsically interesting, their brain can just shut down.

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I wouldn't assume he is pretending unless I had thorough assessments done. A lot of kids teachers said were lazy and needed to work harded turned out to have dyslexia or similar. It seems odd but of my 6 (non homeschooled) siblings only one struggled to read and he turned out to have dyslexia. My father was very confused by this as all his other kids went to school and either could read very well or at least above average.

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If you haven't had a kid with dyslexia before, I would also caution you against assuming he knows it. Seriously, they take ever so much longer to really know something. Even if you've taught it and they knew it then.

 

Here's one example,my now teen son would be given the word "top" to write from dication. He would concentrate so hard and get it spelled right but when I asked him to read it back immediately afterwards he couldn't. It had only been 30 secs and he had no idea what the word was. He would to through the slow and painful process of sounding it out again. Then when I came back to it a few minutes to read it again,no idea. Same slow process. It might actually take him several weeks of sounding out that word every. single. day and multiple times per day. Before he could read it fluently. Weeks I'm telling you. Luckily my first experience with this was with a very compliant, sweet and easy child. I figured out that there was something going on and we have done fine but had it been a more defiant child, it could have easily looked like what you are describing. He might not actually know it even if you think he does or should.

(I'm not saying your son does have dyslexia. Just using an example from my life)

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It could be a lot of things--a flow chart of ideas and screening tests and signs for each is on my dyslexia page:

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Reading/dyslexia.html

 

I would start him on Read, Write, Type while you work on figuring out if there is a problem, he can do it himself while you work with other children.

 

http://www.talkingfingers.com/read-write-type/

 

Also, you could try Webster, it might motivate him, do a bit of syllables then jump to the "4th grade words" in table 26, he might be more motivated to work on "4th grade level words."  The easiest to start with are the er words if he knows er, the ending y words if he knows ending unaccented y as long e, if not either of those, the easiest are "solo, tulip, ruin, fuel, duel, cruel, gruel" and the other ending l words, although try them last, they slightly modify the vowel sound.

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Reading/WellTaughtPhonicsStudent.html

 

He could also watch some of my YouTube videos, he sounds like he will not sit for my phonics lessons yet, but the YouTube videos should be good:

 

https://www.youtube.com/user/IsobelElizabeth/videos

 

I would start with Know Sight Words 1 and 2, then syllable division part 1 and 2, then webster the secret power of schwa, then fast phonics facts #2, then W can be a vowel.

 

ETA: I made a playlist in order for you:

 

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJLxBWdK_5l0Z941Cy1INrADEO9Sy4ZWz

Edited by ElizabethB
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I have been realizing something lately as I look back. My kids have been and are generally obedient and have wanted to do well. But at the time, it didn't always like that way or feel that way. It just took awhile for me to figure out their learning issues and emotional needs. It would be nice to be able to go back in time with that understanding, but I'm to old and tired to ride those same rodeos again.

Edited by Tiramisu
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I agree with the other posters, you need some outside evaluations or perspective.

 

However, my DS8 would just sit there literally till the cows came home. He would grit his teeth if I asked him to complete his work. There would be no forthcoming answers for his lack of response.

 

We were diagnosed with Dysgraphia (inability to get written work down on the page), sometimes he could answer a few questions and then not be able to.

 

Because of his dysgraphia, anxiety built up to the point it shut down all his learning processes.

 

I decided to reinvent his school experience.

I started with 30 days of field trips, art projects, walks, park days, etc

Then I introduced subjects back. The only ones we covered were reading, writing and arithmetic.

For reading: I read to him, letting him pick the topics/books. Every chapter or book I quizzed him gently on characters, setting and beg/mid/end and then book-specific questions--all orally

For Math: we operated at 1/2 speed, supplemented with with flashcards and math games

For Writing: we did practice copy work only 1 sentence and then build up

This was 4xs weekly; on Friday do art, field trip, park, etc

 

Has it worked, yes, but it has been a slow process of building confidence, lessening anxiety and building up his stamina for school. Honestly, I have never worked so hard. I am proud of strides we have made.

Edited by jgrabuskie
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What does, "I know he knows" mean?  Has he successfully done it before more than once but now he says he doesn't know how?  Do you think he should know because you're worked on it but he hasn't successfully done it yet? 

Is it possible he's a late bloomer who isn't ready for formal phonics yet? I know the cultural pressure inside and out of the homeschooling community often insists kids should all start phonics at 4, 5, 6, or 7 and don't want to hear that some kids without learning disabilities aren't ready for phonics until 7, 8, or 9.  I had one of those.  She started college at 15.

Then, of course, learning disabilities are a real possibility.  There are kids who have them and need a professional evaluation and intervention.

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I have been realizing something lately as I look back. My kids have been and are generally obedient and have wanted to do well. But at the time, it didn't always like that way or feel that way. It just took awhile for me to figure out their learning issues and emotional needs. It would be nice to be able to go back in time with that understanding, but I'm to old and tired to ride those same rodeos again.

 

Don't want to derail thread, but just wanted to say thank you. My kids are still young, and I am jotting down these wise and generous lines as a reminder to myself.

 

OP, good luck with your son.

Edited by fralala
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Have you had his eyes checked?

 

My son was like this for most of his schooling. This week, we got glasses for him. We knew he would need them eventually but the doctor had told us he just has an astigmatism and 20/30 vision (so he could see close but not far away). Once his vision got to 20/40 vision we had the option of getting him glasses or not. Because he is in a Saturday school (foreign language) we got him the glasses. That day, he did schoolwork without complaint. He has been doing it everyday since without complaint. The astigmatism that we didn't think was "that bad" actually was. The doctor said that he may only need his glasses every now and then, but he actually wears them all the time because he likes to be able to see clear. 

 

Now next week may be another story, but this is really working for us now. 

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I agree with others - get an outside perspective. If you're not ready or able to get an evaluation, at least pawn him off on another trusted homeschooler or teacher friend for a day just to hear a different take. Sometimes we're too close to our kids and can't see them clearly. I also suspect that he doesn't know the way you think he does and that there's a reasonable chance that he has dyslexia or vision tracking issues or something else - ADHD or executive functioning or working memory issues. Or maybe he's just still a little, little kid and not ready yet. Kids can have their own timetables, which is probably something you totally know but are having trouble applying here.

 

I think the hardest thing to do is redo things that you think you've totally got when the circumstances change. You don't want to learn new skills or new methods because, come on, you're already an expert! And yet... I've been there with teaching (not my own kids, but in a small school) and it's killer. It really did me in to realize I had to go back to the drawing board about things I'd been so good at before just because the class changed. And it had changed before... just sometimes kids throw curve balls.

 

Practically speaking, I'd take the emphasis off reading. You need to appreciate him more, right? The reading will come, but stop fighting. Maybe for a few weeks or even just one day a week or something, do something that you know he'll really win at - since you've got a ton of other stuff on your plate, it'll probably be hard to make yourself sit down to play a board game or do math facts that he already knows or let him tell you all about the various species of Pokemon with illustrations or whatever he'll be good at and enjoy, but it seems like you need it.

 

 

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Of course you and your DH set the educational goals for your dc and those goals should be inline, as far as possible, w/ what your state law requires.

 

That said, 7 yrs is still young. I would put away phonics, ETC, etc. for a while and spend time on read alouds, audio books, SOTW audios and maps, etc. Don't keep books from him. One of my favorite stories is of our own Milovany (hope I spelled that right) who typed up a monosyllabic summary of her ds's favorite book (I think it was about cowboys) and his wanting to read that story, yes the one he knew so well since it was read to him often, is what got him over the hurdle and started him reading. Things can change vastly in a few short months. Try again later. 

 

For math, can you play games? Yahtzee, *Sum Swamp (moment of silence for all my warm, fuzzy memories of playing that game w/ my dc*, war, etc. Do you have skip counting songs you can have him listen to? How about a manipulative based curriculum, like Cuisennaire rods and the Unboxed Education videos? 

 

Lastly, I feel foolish saying this to someone w/ more children than I have, but when he was that age, I got more out of my son after 20 minutes of exercise aka playing hard and fast outside (or jumping on the rebounder in bad weather) than I could in 2 hours if he hadn't gotten the wiggles out. He focused better, did better, and it was pleasant. Have you tried that? 

 

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I have twin almost 7-yo boys adopted from the foster system, and one of them has serious impulse control issues.  So, I feel your pain.  I don't have much great advice other than just to encourage you that the fight is one worthy of fighting!  :-)  Whenever I think that I can't do this, I know how much worse off he would be in a regular classroom.  I know he is learning, it just isn't the FUN journey that homeschooling the big kids was!  :-) 

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