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Things aren't going well:( Don't know what to do...

Wee Pip

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It suddenly dawned on me that 7yo dd might be a perfectionist...


Is this even possible? She's the last person on earth that I'd ever consider a perfectionist.


This is going to sound awful, and I feel terrible saying it...her workmanship has always just been crummy. Bad handwriting, careless, doesn't want to do schoolwork, seems to struggle with basic stuff. I mean, some days I start to wonder if she's LD. There isn't really anything I can "pin" on being an LD thing (other than some letter reversals, but this year she's starting to recognize which ones are reversed and correct them).


Math is a struggle. I took it down to a very basic level, have very low expectations for her, and its still taking forever - she's getting answers right and understanding concepts. But somehow, it just seems hard.


Writing. Anything. For spelling - write 1 sentence using a spelling word. She hates this, and we wrestle over it. She writes the shortest sentence possible. Sometimes I give her the sentence to write. Its driving me crazy.


If I call her to better quality work, she's devastated! I'm just so frustrated. We do about 1 hour or less of bookwork per day, and that's it. Math, spelling, grammar, and handwriting. She says she hates to write because she can't spell. Or that she doesn't make it sound exciting like an author does. She seems very frustrated with her schoolwork. I have no idea what level to put her in in anything. She's just sort of floating out there in space as far as ability goes.


It dawned on me that maybe she's actually a perfectionist in disguise. You know...I can't do it nice, so I'll just do it crappy. I can't write a novel so I won't even write a sentence. And then if I correct her, it just seems to confirm what she believed all along, "see, I knew I couldn't do it right". Do you think this is what it is? If so, how do I teach her? I know my getting frustrated isn't helping.


Right now, she makes To Do lists and menus and occasional letters to us - so I know she can write! She's not an avid reader (yet). She really wouldn't do a whole lot beyond barbies and dolls if I didn't do some formal ed with her (in other words, she doesn't seem to be a self-propelled learner). She refuses to do things that seem remotely educational (like, she won't play Leapster or computer games higher than a K level).

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At this age, May I suggest a break?


I've taken too many (and they've been too long) in my time, but if she is a perfectionist, she's got into a rut...and it needs to be got out of. My son was like that--but I could blame it on the public school!


Can you bake? Do paint by numbers? Colour pictures? Do really messy crafts.


Play games, do card games. Stay connected but take the preassure off academics.


Just my 2 cents, really.

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I just wanted to stop by and say I'm sorry you are frustrated today. Your dd sounds just like a 7yo. Why work when there's Barbie? :rolleyes: I have an 8yo ds who is similar; why do school when there are ninjas to battle? Or a sandbox, or a frog, or a ....


For practical ideas:

Read up on Charlotte Mason's teaching techniques. That helped me a lot. And chocolate. And rum. Opps, did I say that out loud?! Sorry!





ps: Love the name!

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I agree with Alana in Canada. A break might be a good thing. My 5yo boy is definitely a perfectionist!! When he struggles w his reading assignment I simply calmly tell him we will take a break and finish later... he melts down!! He can't fathom not finishing. When it's really bad I take a couple days off and try again.


(fyi, the lessons are not incredibly intense ~ I use Jessie Wise' reading program)


We also do a lot of deep breathing excercises!!! Trust me this helps!! I tell him to breath deep in through the nose and out through the mouth several times. He tends to like this, and he likes it when we stop and pray.


I also encourage him that it takes hard work to learn new things, but once we've worked hard it will come easier. This conversation is daily ( :

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I agree with 5wolfcubs. I highly recommend listening to SWB's Writing Without Fear cd which can be purchased from Peace Hill Press. I believe this is addressed in TWTM as well. I like copywork and oral narration for this age. I understand the theory that creating sentences for spelling words seems easy but it's really not. Not only does the child have to understand the spelling, but they have to understand the meaning and use it correctly in context along with all the grammar components as well. While some children might be able to do this and enjoy it, I don't think it's something that every child can do. I'd make writing much more fun. Trust me, you have years ahead for getting more complex. :)

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Ok, so I'm not an experienced 'vet' to homeschooling but I have a 6 yr old son, who will be 7 in three months so I am almost where you are at. ;)


For a 7 year old, I would focus on only phonics, reading, copywork, memory work and a good foundation in concrete math concepts. I would also read aloud to her from good unabridged literature every. single. day.


I would work on manipulative math, learn place value, base 10 and number bonds, etc...for more abstract math later. Sure she can learn the procedures, as we all did, but I just feel, more and more strongly (and my son is quite advanced in math) that young children and abstract math should be opposities. ;) Again, that's just *me*.


Copywork, Memory of poetry and scripture, Oral narration and being read to from the best of books is going to help with creativity in a huge way, IMO. I firmly believe that what goes into a little one's head, comes out *later* via the pencil.


Copywork gives them a good model if we use literature, poetry, etc...they learn writing, introductory grammar and spelling from a master teacher (the author!).


Memory/Recitation gives them practice as well with good, quality sentence structure and builds vocabulary.


Oral narration is a first step in organizing of thoughts in a logical manner for output.


All of the above will help with creative writing....later.


Do I think she is a perfectionsist? Well, I really don't know, she may or may not be. However, I do think that setting her up to succeed *where she is at* is going to be Key with her.

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I don't have anything to add that hasn't already been said but I just wanted to say hang in there. I have a child like that and boy do we struggle at times. School is not his priority. He would rather play. First of all, I have made it clear that there is no play until school is done to my satifaction. Period! Secondly, I had to help him to feel confident in his work. He very often will simply say, "I can't do it well." We went way back to basics and did a lot of oral work for short time then started adding in other things. I always make sure to make a big deal out of the things he does well but I don't let him get away with crummy work that shows no effort. I am starting to see improvements now but there is still usually one bad day a week.

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When my dd said she couldn't spell last year (2nd gr, like your dd), what she meant was she couldn't spell what she WANTED to spell. My dd also went through that list-making and recipe-writing stage, so consider it a good sign. Honestly, to get over the hump we had to write a lot MORE. She doesn't need to do anything creative for writing. I'd give her dictation and lots of it. The spelling workbook may not be connecting with her brain. Have you done a learning styles assessment to see how she learns best? There's a free one at http://www.educate.com I thought my dd was very auditory, and it turned out she's dominantly visual. For spelling, I realized that she needs to SEE the words correctly a lot more, and she needs to use them in meaningful, story-connected (social bug kid remember) context for them to stick. I started doing LOTS of dictation, as in 1/2 to 3/4 of a page daily. Yes this was really torturous at first, so work up. Make it your project for the morning and ditch or streamline out as many things as necessary for a while to make it happen. The other thing I did was to get her the Calvert spelling cd's. I think they start at 3rd grade, but I'll bet your dd would be fine. They're inexpensive, very fun, and adapt to the spelling level of the dc. (harder words if you ace, explanations and lessons if you flop) I don't know why, but my dd really enjoys it. Between doing LOTS more writing and giving her the more visual input on the computer, spelling started to click. It took a couple months, but she stopped the whole "I can't spell" thing. The other thing feeding into that was the way I was teaching spelling, where I inadvertently created a situation where she was often WRONG. In dictation, you're not wrong. It's just a team project and you're working together. I actually focused on learning what to do when you're wrong, emphasizing how good it is to ask for help. It turned not knowing into a positive thing, kwim?


I'd do copywork of a sample a couple times and then give it from dictation, or just do straight dictation, whichever suits her better. When that gets easy, then I'd start having her do simple rewrites of aesop's fables using Imitations in Writing or just a book of fables you have handy. The goal of 2nd grade is to have her able to write her narrations by the end of the year. Have you been doing any narrations? For right now you might like to continue to do them orally and just have her write a sentence as the caption. Or she writes the first sentence and you finish as she dictates. Imitating the fables is a terrific thing because she doesn't have to think up the content. When they're still learning to spell, they don't need the added struggle of considering content. With my dd, if I want her to make up a sentence for a spelling word, I offer to let her and then give her the sentence if she doesn't have one readily forthcoming. There just doesn't need to be any pressure to creativity at this point. The point is the skill, not the creativity.


BTW, I'm not encouraging insensitivity. Your dd may just be very young and not ready for some things. Her reading hasn't taken off, so it's no wonder her spelling hasn't either. Are you taking any steps to work on that? I'd be more concerned about getting a 2nd grade reading than spelling, frankly. You mentioned the Leap Pad and things she does comfortably. I would take that as an indictation of what she has really mastered and build from there. It may be she's a bit between and not ready to function on a full 2nd grade level, kwim? My dd has a spring bday too, and I know I see that youngness in her. Remember you're looking at expections by grade level with kids who could be almost a full calendar year older, if they turned 8 in the beginning of the school year (very common). She's going to read for comfort/pleasure a full grade level below her ability to decode. So if she's comfortable with K5 material, then maybe she's functioning more like at an advanced 1st grade on some things? I would look in WTM and see the PROGRESSION of the skills and pick up right where she is. If where she really is with writing is the copywork stage, not dictation at all, then that's what I would do. See what I mean? You have to teach the dc where they are.

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Thanks so much, everyone, for the replies!! I will definitely back off of some things (like the math drill & the creative writing). OhElizabeth - I may have some questions for you later...thanks so much for the advice, and I think you are right on. About the reading, she isn't "avid" yet, LOL. Meaning, she is actually reading AT 2nd gr, maybe even higher, but she doesn't get that "nose stuck in the book" thing happening yet. In other words, I'm looking more at her interest, and less at her ability. She has been reading her SL Core 2 books very easily, and I think they may be too easy (in fact, dh just mentioned last night that he noticed a HUGE spike in her reading ability, just over the past few weeks!) So maybe her brain is developing those reading skills right now, not the writing & math:) And I am starting to think she is visual (always thought she was auditory before), but I'll check out that quiz in a little while, just to be sure. You are so right about not being wrong in spelling. She hates that & that is why I moved on from SWR - she hated being wrong, even just one time. Anyhow, lots of great suggestions - I will relax more and just let this be a partnership thing (I suspect she's social, too). Thanks so much!

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My dd still listened to a lot of books on tape last year (2nd), so you might do that if you haven't been. It builds their vocabulary so they RECOGNIZE words they are trying to read. 2nd grade is a great time for them to get hooked on the Little House series, the Littles, and the Childhood of Famous Americans books. Your library should have a whole section of easy chapter books so you can go through and find series to interest her.


What I did with my dd and SWR to break the negativity was to go back to the beginning and write all the sentences from dictation. It's an awesome skill, and again it wasn't a test, just a group project. It naturally reinforces the most common words and is systematic. We did that all the way till we got farther than we had ever dictated lists before (the normal way, just as words). Then we switched back to going forward with just the words, so I could pick up the speed. My goal is to get through the lists with just the words then repeat back through a final time with the sentences. If you're considering dictation, you might consider using the sentences in the Wise Guide, starting back at list A. It will reinforce what you've already done and is oh so handy. :)


You still have a lot of months of 2nd grade left, and there's a big change that occurs between now and 3rd. Or at least there was with my dd. So make some changes to keep the tone positive, try the dictation, consider the calvert spelling cd. It will all work out!

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