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help needed with 7-yo boy


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I need some help with this guy! He's so different than my older kids (14 yob, 12yog, 10yog).

What he's like: he's bright as anything (the older are, too), but I feel like he fights my every step. He's very physically adept and has been great at every sport he's tried (basketball, baseball, swimming). He spontaneously wrestles people. He tends to be the most popular kid in any group he's part of. He fights me every inch of the way on schoolwork most days, except when he decides he wants to do school. Then it takes minutes. Fighting may look like wailing and screaming or melting in his chair or even trying to wrestle me. He is 7 but looks 9 and weighs more than my nearly-11-year-old girl.

When he went to a highly structured gifted school he did exceptionally well; we just didn't like him being gone 9 hours per day and were frustrated by a multitude of things going on during the bus ride. 

I just don't know how to do school/parent this kid. I have my older kids and my toddler, too, and by the time I do math with this one, I feel so drained.

Any suggestions? We did see a lot of growth last year, but as soon as we take a few days off, it seems like everything is down the toilet and I have to start everything again.

Emily

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24 minutes ago, square_25 said:

What does his schoolwork look like? Is he interested in any of it?

We were doing a Mason curriculum last year and I kept detailed notes on his attitude. We did math (RightStart), copywork/spelling, him read to me (he did not need any reading instruction), two short readings with narrations, and something else (drawing, paper constructions, etc). He would join us for a read aloud in the afternoon, which went fine as long as he had a coloring sheet to color. Over the year, his attitude improved and narrations were very good for books he didn't like (often he'd throw a fit when I *stopped* reading the book). He likes math a lot but isn't a super fan of RightStart. He has a ton of time to play, which he does with sisters, and he likes to explore on the piano and guitar.

6 minutes ago, Mommyof1 said:

Did he want to homeschool or was he happy at school?

He generally wanted to homeschool. He was gone 6:40 to 3:40 every day, though, with homework in the evening, and that just wasn't a reasonable schedule for our family. 

Emily

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😂 I have one of these. So many days I threatened to send the child to a brick & mortar school! 

I suggest that you start your day with him but make it clear that if he fights you, you will give him more (independent) work. If he resists, melts, rages, or even whines (IMO), you hand him a grade level-appropriate workbook and keep him at the table while you move onto a sibling's work. He stays there working on the workbook (or just quietly sitting) until lunch. Do NOT engage him. Just calmly hand him the workbook. If he has done the workbook or sat quietly (once he calms himself down), I'd try his work again immediately after lunch. (Hopefully you've gained yourself some wiggle room by moving up work with his siblings. If not, do the absolute minimum you can that day & try again the next day.) If he is disruptive during his workbook time or he fights you again after lunch, give him the workbook again, keep him at the table, and restrict his favorite activities (but not his physical activity - in fact, you might have to send him to run or jump rope or something with a responsible older sibling to keep him safe. I often had kids doing jumping jacks or running around the block when they wouldn't settle down).

The benefit for him is that if he doesn't fight you, he gets done quickly & is free until the afternoon read aloud. If you are very consistent in *not* engaging him when he throws a fit, he will eventually realize his free time is being sacrificed. He needs to feel the pain of fighting you.

I don't have a magic bullet for how drained you feel after teaching him math other than say if the above doesn't help, I'd consider a different math that required less (not none, just less) hands-on work from you.

I found with some of my kids, this was a phase they outgrew. With others, it was just *them* and they performed better for an outside teacher. (I ended up outsourcing some starting in 8th grade for the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Still had to nag to get the home stuff done, but the outside (live) classes went much better than what that child would ever done for me.)

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10 hours ago, EmilyGF said:

even trying to wrestle me.

You mentioned this twice, and pairing it with your thread on CHAT I'll suggest he needs an OT eval for sensory. He may need some strategies to help his body get in a place where he's ready to work. There's probably more going on, but that's where you start.

 

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7 hours ago, EmilyGF said:

He was gone 6:40 to 3:40 every day,

Did he have these behaviors in school? How long ago was that? Sometimes they're building in enough breaks and structure that they're naturally nipping these issues in the bud. So then he comes home and loses that structure and isn't ready to do it for himself. 

4 hours ago, RootAnn said:

Do NOT engage him. Just calmly hand him the workbook.

Ok, so this is nothing about RootAnn, but I think it takes a little open-mindedness and snooping to figure out if the issue is he's bored and is just wanting to be disruptive or whatever, or whether he's actually having an issue calming his body and getting to a place where he's green zone and ready to work. So the b&w, point at the schedule, this is what it is, suck it up and go do it really can be part of STRUCTURE. Totally right. But the support that is needed to get the dc there is the thing to watch for. 

My ds needs pretty significant support to get his body calm to be ready to work. It's not really something he has the maturity or volition to handle right now. I mean I suppose you could SCARE him into it, but he just really needs more support than the average bear. And when a kid is crashing into things, sensory seeking, that to me is saying he needs some help to get his body calmed down to be ready to work. So the question is what that is.

7 hours ago, EmilyGF said:

I kept detailed notes on his attitude.

Hmm, maybe make data on when his body is calm and ready to work and what it takes to get there? You can look up Zones of Regulation. There's also a simpler program How Does Your Engine Run? You can do check-ins. For some kids, just that process of talking about what zone we're in, doing a check-in, and making a choice to help our body get to green zone is enough. My ds was not ready to do that for himself. His body started quieting down once we got his reflexes integrated.

But really they're pretty human. If their bodies are being off the charts, they're not going to find it simple to calm it down cognitively. But you know, like you're saying, make data, see what it takes. You can do mindfulness and Zones checkins. He can use the Sitting Like a Frog sound track as his first thing. Or test for retained reflexes. Or have him use the elliptical or treadmill for a bit. 

My ds has needed the reflex work and the Zones instruction and movement breaks and clear structure and and and. It's hard to be fresh for all that. And even if the dc did ok in say K5 or 1st, he might have needed a 504 or IEP in later grades to get some supports in there. My ds was able to blend into a K5 classroom but not later, lol. 

It's very hard for me to step up my energy and be as ON as it takes to keep up with him. He probably also needs some ADHD medication, but we're not sure what, given his more complex profile. I'm going to have to get a new doctor at some point for him and get it worked out, sigh. I'm not saying do meds NOW, because those sensory seeking symptoms are telling you there's more to work on. But it might be a thing to look into at some point. It's not like it has to be allowed to go on forever. But an OT eval, Zones, daily mindfulness, integrating retained reflexes, there's stuff to do first, sure.

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11 hours ago, EmilyGF said:

he went to a highly structured gifted school he did exceptionally well

Oh my. Your load is so much lighter and less stimulating. He's probably bored. He's 7? You could put him in gymnastics or wrestling and see if that gets some of it out. He probably is going to need a lot more structure and more interesting stuff to do. My ds is also bright, and it's a challenge to balance those needs and make it all happen. My ds has SLDs too, so we're kinda doing way behind and way ahead things at the same time, which is kinda crazy. 

Can your ds have some projects that are structured that he can do independently? Muzzle language videos, TOPS science, Fritz & Chesster, learning to code,Snap Circuits kits that he works on a bit each day, origami daily calendar, art kits from Timberdoodle, whatever...

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I haven't disappeared but I've been short on time.

The gifted school was good at giving kids tons of work and getting them good test scores, but kids I've seen go through the school tend to be boring and not that excited about learning. My kids, and many homeschooled kids I know, are excited about life in general and learning in particular, so being there for the next eight years wasn't something I was looking forward to.

I'm leaning towards more structure in general, but I'm not sure how to do it. That isn't my personality AT ALL. I tend more "smart but scattered" so it is something I need help on.

I'm exhausted and need to conk, but I'll respond in more detail later. Thanks for the suggestions.

Emily

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