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Noreen Claire

DS7 and refusal to do *some* school work

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A few weeks ago, DS7 decided he didn't want to do penmanship anymore. I told him we could skip the manuscript review (even though he really needs it, he's a lefty who forms all his letter bottom-up and right-to-left) and go on to the cursive section. He agreed, and hasn't refused penmanship work since. (He writes for himself all the time, this is not a physical issue.)

The next week, he started refusing to do narrations. We are using WWE2, and he had no problems doing it last year. He will still listen and answer comprehension questions, but won't do the  oral narration part. This week, he refuses to do the copywork and the dictations. So, he'll only answer the comprehension questions. When I tell him to do the other work, he just sits and doodles and tells me he doesn't want to do it.

Last week, he started refusing to do certain pages in the spelling book (SWO2), and won't write his word lists (once per day). I'm asking him to spell the words out loud, and he's getting them all right, so I'm not worried too much right now, especially because he will still do the pages that have puzzles/rhymes/proofreading. 

I'm not sure what to do with him. He will still happily do the work that he likes (cursive, math, logic, grammar, phonics, history, science, reading, Greek, coding). His personality has always been to dig in and refuse to do things that he doesn't want, which can be a struggle when you are trying to get everyone dressed and out the door. However, it's never extended to school work before. He has plenty of free time each morning and afternoon to read and play. He has had some testing, and shows signs of both giftedness and possible selective mutism/social anxiety. The school work is an appropriate level for him. Does anyone have any 'been there, done that' advice?

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Refusing worked, so why not try it for the rest?

I take a gentle reinforcement policy during stages like this along with a refusal to do anything for the child. "When, then" as the saying goes.  I don't make a fuss, I don't say anything more than "it's on the to-do list", but I'm not doing a thing for the kid or enabling the kid until he does the to-do list.  Sorry, work not done, he does not go to the park because we are leaving now. 
or
When he has finished, then yes, he may watch tv with us. 

But I'm not interested in battling a child with more energy than myself.  I will quietly and consistently enforce the standards of the house and draw the line in what I enable my kid to do.

On another note, we also do monthly or so conferences, where we each air our complaints and things we'd like to change along with discussing what has been working.  Knowing there's an outlet and a willingness to compromise during these conferences helps head off problems between.

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2 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

What do you do if he refuses to do anything else you ask him to do?  School shouldn't get a pass from obeying a parent/teacher. 

If he refuses to get dressed/ready to go, I physically get him ready (he doesn't put up a fight, but will complain) and bring him to the car. He *always* gets over himself in the car ride and forgets his objections once we are wherever we were going.  

If he doesn't finish his school work before quiet time, he doesn't get his audiobook. If it's tv time and it's still not done, he doesn't get to watch with his brothers. If it's Wednesday, he will usually do the barest minimum in order to go to his coding lesson (with my father), but there is much arguing involved. 

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2 minutes ago, Noreen Claire said:

If he refuses to get dressed/ready to go, I physically get him ready (he doesn't put up a fight, but will complain) and bring him to the car. He *always* gets over himself in the car ride and forgets his objections once we are wherever we were going.  

If he doesn't finish his school work before quiet time, he doesn't get his audiobook. If it's tv time and it's still not done, he doesn't get to watch with his brothers. If it's Wednesday, he will usually do the barest minimum in order to go to his coding lesson (with my father), but there is much arguing involved. 

 

He's 7.  I would stop getting him ready.  He either gets himself ready, or he gets in the car as is.  If that means underwear and socks, then he wears underwear and socks while he's out and about. 
I'd do the same with the school work.  He either completes his list (and I don't argue with children) or he doesn't go.  There is no bare minimum.  There is done and not done.

Holding a kid accountable for their own decisions is not being mean.  It will make them uncomfortable for a while until they figure it out, but they will figure it out.  It also lets you give grace during the few times that a child is just having a rough day and is out of their norm, and have the child understand it is grace.  I'm up front with what will happen: "Today we're doing x.  Before x, y and z need to be done. If they are not done, you will not do x." Or, "everyone needs to be ready at 8.  We are leaving at that time even if you are not ready.  And if you are not ready, you will go as you are.  I am setting the timer for 7:55 so we know when to put our shoes on."

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The first thing I would do is ask him why he doesn't want to do it. From his answer you should be able to find out if there is something specific about the work that he doesn't like or is too hard or boring etc. I try not to turn school into a battle. If my child is resisting there is usually a reason. There is more than one way to skin a cat so I will be flexible and change assignments or curriculum as long as my goals are being met. So for example my child doesn't want to write out spelling words for the test but would rather do the test orally then we do that. Sometimes an assignment isn't really contributing to the goal and is really just busy work. If my child complains about it and asks not to do it I evaluate the assignment and ask myself if it is really necessary to achieve the goal. If it isn't I might let the child skip the assignment or do part of the assignment. 

Also I find it helps to give the child a sense of control. So I give them as much control over their schoolwork as possible. Little things like choosing which subject to do first or where they do the work can often get oppositional kids to be more cooperative.

Susan in TX

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DS#2 here was oppositional, hated anything that seemed like it had anything to do with school, and had some LDs, and I sometimes had to deal with refusals or meltdowns. My approach was similar to Susan in TX, which was to pick my battles, be flexible about *how* we did it, and give control and responsibility to the child as much as I could. Gah, it was exhausting! (((hugs))) Noreen Claire -- I know you are already dealing with a houseful of children with specific needs, and you really need a schedule to keep everyone moving forward.

I find giving a choice often helped -- the choice is not whether or not to do the work, but rather, choice (control) over *how* it gets done. Or when. So with the narration: "Looks like the schedule says it's time for oral narration. But, you get to choose: do you want us to go in the closet and you whisper your narration, have us go outside and you shout your narration, or we go into the bathroom and you can stand in the shower for a nice reverb and you sing your narration?" Or, you could have several index cards each with a choice on it such as: draw a picture of the narration; physically write it himself, he says it himself, the two of you alternate words in giving a narration, etc. Hand him the cards and he chooses one. OR, shuffle them, hold them fanned out face down and he randomly picks one (with an option of one re-do choice). Now the focus of energy is on choosing *how* to do the narration, not *I don't want to do narration". As Susan above said, another option for giving choice is *when* to do the oral narration (first thing in the morning; before lunch; during lunch; right after lunch before quiet time; at night with daddy; whatever). Putting each choice on an index card and letting him handle the cards and physically choose really helps him shift the focus onto what he can have control over.

A friend had similar difficulties with 2 of her DSs in those early elementary grades, and one thing she did that was very successful was dropping one subject per day. She wrote down 5 subjects (Math, Spelling, Writing ....), one each per slip of paper, and the child got too draw one in the morning and that was the subject skipped for the day. Yes, that meant that those subjects only got hit 4x/week rather than 5, but for some reason, it really helped her DSs complete a disliked subject, knowing that 1 day that week they would get the "surprise bonus" (lol) of NOT having to do that subject.

Also -- could he be expressing boredom? Is he beyond the need for oral narration? Some children have very little tolerance for "busy work", which is what any repeated task becomes once the child knows how to do it. If that is the case, then perhaps assess the program -- what is the purpose of the narration? Can you adapt the program to increase the challenge of it? Is is time to move on from that skill? Perhaps oral narration only needs to be done once every few weeks so as not to get rusty, but not so often as to "drill and kill"??

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There are some great ideas here. I have one that was oppositional in the younger years. Many of these types of things she saw right through and felt they were manipulative and I guarantee she would have still just said no on at times - like the drawing the cards thing. 

I would stay up.so many nights trying to come up with new ideas. At ages five to six, after a rough day I sometimes would call the next day a fun day and do learning completely differently like read a nursery rhyme, make a craft to go with it, play rhyming games, etc. Just a little freebie unit study to break up the tension could work wonders. And she would feel it was part of my plans because I'd wait til after the refusal day. It didn't feel like I was giving in because it wasn't the day she told me no. After a day or two of that, we'd pull the regular stuff out, and often the fight would be gone from it. 

Another tactic I still use with her in high school (not for oppositional behaviour, but for more like brain meltdown or overwhelmed-ness. I just made that word up, lol) is to involve someone else in the lesson so that it's not just pressure on her.. This works for both of mine. I call a sister in, and sister and I brainstorm on the problem on the board and get a conversafion going. Usually the other can kind of seamlessly join in without it being a big deal or feeling like she's giving in. It's more fun when someone else is involved, or at least more tolerable. So if it's a narration problem, we'd all take turns, but I'd make sure the resistant one is last. I would have a younger sib give a narration of the last thing she read, and I might give one too. My child that looked oppositional was very stubborn, but is so so smart. I often would cut the amount of output down, and that helped too. She didn't always need to do all that was required. I'd just casually the next day say, I do think there is more than enough here, but I think it's important work to practice. Let's just do half this page. 

 

Edited by 2_girls_mommy
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