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My 9yo 4th grader is cheating. He paraphrased the outline in a lesson from Writing & Rhetoric Book 3.

He insists he didn’t. I think because he changed up some of the words, he literally thinks the cheating is unprovable!

What to do? I’ve been homeschooling for a long time. I’m a little bit in the disgruntled homeschooling mom phase at this point when the last two don’t do any work independently if I’m not sitting in the same room with them. And now this. Makes me not want to waste my time doing school with him anymore. But, while I am, what should I do about the cheating? There really are no consequences/punishments such as loss of privileges to do. Their days are full, they don’t watch tv or play video games. They also cannot be expected to accomplish anything independently. 

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Well... mine didn't work independently for more than 15 minutes or so until around age 10.  She's pretty great about it now, at 12, though I still stay in the area.  Maybe that just needs time to mature and longer scaffolding.

I don't have good advice on the cheating. 😞 I'd be pretty upset.

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Age 9?
I have one of those here.  I can tell you that mine right now is very...literal is not quite the right word, but he does see things as clearly black and white and refuses to see nuance unless it works in his favor.
My 9yo rarely works alone.  He wrote a short story today for English and I sat there at the table as well.  He read me the first part and then continued until he finished and read the entire thing out loud.

I think there are two issues at play here:

1. You need some mom time.  Homeschooling in elementary can be intensive. It's a time the serenity prayer is needed, even if you're not religious.  Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to accept the things we cannot change and meet it face to face, without wishing it was different.

2. The work was not done correctly.  Not cheating, the nuance is not there, but that the work was not done correctly.  If he was not to use the outline you need to give him a different outline to do correctly.

This isn't a character failing.  It's a teachable moment.  There is more work to do when it isn't done right the first time, because the goal is understanding the lesson, not writing for the sake of writing.

 

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At that age, I wouldn’t be sure he truly doesn’t understand that what he did is cheating. Have you calmly explained why it is cheating? Then have him do the assignment again. I think that is a natural consequence.

Based on your signature, your children still seem fairly young to be doing the majority of work independently, even if previous children were able to do so at their ages. It sounds like maybe you are feeling burnt out with homeschooling. Perhaps a combination of making sure you are getting time to do things you like alone or with your spouse or friends and making sure you are doing plenty of fun stuff with the kids (reading together, playing games, field trips, nature walks, etc.) will recharge everyone’s batteries.

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Oh no! I realize now I was super vague about the actual cheating. What I meant was that he sort of paraphrased the outline from the teacher book. So he copied it from my book and just changed up some words, maybe used a synonym here or there or changed the order of the words in the phrases. He definitely copied it from the answer book though. He definitely knew he cheated although would not admit to it.

This is the second time he’s actually done it!   Of course, I did talk to him about cheating, my disappointment, etc. I did tell him he would have to do it over again. But here he did it again in the next lesson. 

Also, I realized I probably haven’t updated my signature in ages. I don’t even know what it says. Ha ha. I can’t see it on my phone. My kids are now DS almost 10, DS12, and DD15 who I homeschooled through 7th grade and is now in 9th charter school.

I’m definitely feeling burned out at times but I’ve found that me time isn’t really helping that because I’m burned out about the two boys not doing what I expect of them! I’m burned out with things like cheating, losing their papers, ruining 5,000 pencils and markers in a week. Stuffing bowls of food in their desk drawers, and so much more. They behave like Ferrell children or kids that have never been parented a day in their lives, but they’re not. It literally takes five minutes of me walking out of the room for the atrocities to begin. That’s what is killing the joy.

Anyway, aside from all the things that are ruining my own homeschooling experience right now. I really am at a loss as to what to try next specifically with cheating and maybe also with not working independently on things like writing that may take 15-30 min after I’ve done my part of the lesson.

 

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Why does he have access to the teacher book? It sounds like a temptation he can’t handle right now.

Do the boys feed off each other when it comes to the behaviors you don’t like? Does separating them and going back and forth between them help? Are they getting tons of vigorous exercise each day? What are their learning styles? Do the materials you are using fit their learning styles?

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Honestly, since I have been homeschooling for a while now, I have done things like take a break for a week and do field trips or projects, baking, etc. and we do some of those things regularly anyway. That all goes well and seems to have no impact when we “get back to work” so to speak. They get tons of exercise, they both do ballroom and other dance classes most of the weekdays. They go jump on the trampoline at lunch time, etc.

I think this curriculum is the best for him right now. I’m aware that he probably feels it’s difficult and obviously copying from the book is easier. 

They do seem to be complicit in each others “bad behavior”, “poor choices”, whatever you want to call it. We work in a small homeschool room so it’s hard to separate them too much and be on top of them both at the same time but I do occasionally send one out into the hall.

Last night, my daughter and I were looking for a boat for her school project in baskets I keep on top of the bookshelves. I found two ruined expensive markers, two pages of writing worksheets that someone didn’t want to do, small potato chip bag (we don’t buy those), a small book about Fossils with part of the cover cut out, and a bunch of dust bunnies. 😬 Seriously, it reads like I’m never there. But I am, with the exception of moments here and there. For example, I go to the adjacent bathroom for two minutes, at the most, I have a dentist appointment, leave them with a list of things they can do independently (my husband works from home in another room in the house). Inevitably, I come back and they accomplished next to nothing, except what they pretended they’d been working on when they heard the garage door open.

The teacher books are totally accessible, if someone is going to cheat, it is a problem. With other things in the house, I have found I can’t hide stuff or put it high enough that they won’t get it. I’ve even put things in my room before and recently bought a small safe. Sadly, it’s not big enough to put all my teacher books, baking supplies, expensive markers, etc in there every day. 

I have let them know that we’re all aware the teacher books are right there and I expect them to have integrity to not take them out and that their work would have no value should they chose to cheat and that it would be obvious to me if they did.

I also had their Dad address the cheating with him yesterday in addition to my lecture.

I’m thinking tying them to the chair when I leave the room may be the only solution here. 🤣😩 I need something to get them to want to do the hard things and to want to do their own tasks independently when they don’t require my guidance or presence. Basically I need an injection of integrity I can give them. I can’t even think of any rewards at this point that we haven’t tried before. 

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Kids are a work in progress. Every single thing you have mentioned is a common thing that I have experienced with my kids and I know many others have experienced. Sure, you should continue to parent them. That means continuing to supervise, to  teach them instead of expecting them to do it all on their own and to discipline and train them as needed. They aren’t going to learn it all at once but hang in there. Parenting and homeschooling is a marathon, as they say. 

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1 hour ago, LolaT said:

The teacher books are totally accessible, if someone is going to cheat, it is a problem. With other things in the house, I have found I can’t hide stuff or put it high enough that they won’t get it. I’ve even put things in my room before and recently bought a small safe. Sadly, it’s not big enough to put all my teacher books, baking supplies, expensive markers, etc in there every day. 
 

I agree that cheating is a problem, and it's going to be an ongoing problem if you leave the answers totally accessible. A locking file cabinet is a reasonable purchase for a homeschooling family, and you can frequently find them used. Or lock your bedroom door or the door to another room. If your husband works from home, how does he keep his work files and such secure? Does he have a file cabinet you could put the books in? 

Like Jean said, kids are a work in progress. The behaviors you describe are frustrating but also very typical. Ruined markers and torn dust jackets are part of the gig (if the expensive markers are for school, simply quit buying them, prettier projects are not worth it). There's no way to force them to be ready for independent work just because they hit a arbitrary age. Remember, kids in school are never unsupervised for long and they are constantly redirected. And of course you want them to resist cheating on their own, but they're not there yet. You know they're not there yet, so the answers can't be readily accessible. 

Buy a locking file cabinet big enough to hold teacher books and the best of your baking supplies, lol. 

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I'm going to disagree that it's normal for a 10yo and a 12yo to get into your baking supplies and destroy your school materials, stuff bowls of food into their desks, and to not be reliable enough for you to leave them unattended while you use the bathroom. You mentioned that no rewards have helped to modify their behavior. Have you tried consequences? 

Your children are behaving in disrespectful and destructive ways. Some level of this is normal for children, but we have to teach them not to. What happens to them, beyond lecturing?

Do you have any reason to believe that they might have learning differences or behavioral challenges that would require evaluation and diagnosis, and a treatment plan? How do they behave for others, at dance class, for example?

I've raised four boys. Some have ADHD, some are on the autism spectrum, so I do know how challenging boys can be. It's my opinion that ages ten and twelve are too old to be acting this way on a daily basis. There must be a reason. It may be as simple as needing to find other disciplinary approaches; they might just be very different children from their older sister. Or if you think there's something more to it, now might be the time to start the evaluation process.

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4 minutes ago, Lang Syne Boardie said:

I'm going to disagree that it's normal for a 10yo and a 12yo to get into your baking supplies and destroy your school materials, stuff bowls of food into their desks, and to not be reliable enough for you to leave them unattended while you use the bathroom. You mentioned that no rewards have helped to modify their behavior. Have you tried consequences? 

Your children are behaving in disrespectful and destructive ways. Some level of this is normal for children, but we have to teach them not to. What happens to them, beyond lecturing?

Do you have any reason to believe that they might have learning differences or behavioral challenges that would require evaluation and diagnosis, and a treatment plan? How do they behave for others, at dance class, for example?

I've raised four boys. Some have ADHD, some are on the autism spectrum, so I do know how challenging boys can be. It's my opinion that ages ten and twelve are too old to be acting this way on a daily basis. There must be a reason. It may be as simple as needing to find other disciplinary approaches; they might just be very different children from their older sister. Or if you think there's something more to it, now might be the time to start the evaluation process.

I think the boys are 9 and 6, and the girl is 12.

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14 hours ago, LolaT said:

Oh no! I realize now I was super vague about the actual cheating. What I meant was that he sort of paraphrased the outline from the teacher book. So he copied it from my book and just changed up some words, maybe used a synonym here or there or changed the order of the words in the phrases. He definitely copied it from the answer book though. He definitely knew he cheated although would not admit to it.

This is the second time he’s actually done it!   Of course, I did talk to him about cheating, my disappointment, etc. I did tell him he would have to do it over again. But here he did it again in the next lesson. 

Also, I realized I probably haven’t updated my signature in ages. I don’t even know what it says. Ha ha. I can’t see it on my phone. My kids are now DS almost 10, DS12, and DD15 who I homeschooled through 7th grade and is now in 9th charter school.

I’m definitely feeling burned out at times but I’ve found that me time isn’t really helping that because I’m burned out about the two boys not doing what I expect of them! I’m burned out with things like cheating, losing their papers, ruining 5,000 pencils and markers in a week. Stuffing bowls of food in their desk drawers, and so much more. They behave like Ferrell children or kids that have never been parented a day in their lives, but they’re not. It literally takes five minutes of me walking out of the room for the atrocities to begin. That’s what is killing the joy.

Anyway, aside from all the things that are ruining my own homeschooling experience right now. I really am at a loss as to what to try next specifically with cheating and maybe also with not working independently on things like writing that may take 15-30 min after I’ve done my part of the lesson.

 

 

2 minutes ago, HomeAgain said:

I think the boys are 9 and 6, and the girl is 12.

 

I thought so, too, but the OP updated. The boys are 12 and almost 10.

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2 minutes ago, Lang Syne Boardie said:

 

 

I thought so, too, but the OP updated. The boys are 12 and almost 10.

Oooooh. That's a whole new ball game.
It sounds like more of either a parenting issues, then, or a child development issue that needs to be gone over with a doctor.  It borders on normal but not being able to use the bathroom with those ages?  That's a new ball of wax.

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Between us adults I'll throw out the possibility that maybe they should go to school so you can focus on just the parenting part of the relationship. I don't mean you are doing badly, just that it sounds like you have a lot on your plate with them! Not being able to confidently go to the bathroom would be crazy-making for me.

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Don't leave him alone when he is working on an assignment. He can't cheat if you are right there supervising. If you have to leave the room then take the teacher's book with you. 

Also, I have never expected my kids to get schoolwork done while I am not home. It just doesn't work. Yes they have work they can do independently, but they still need someone to be there to help as needed and keep them on task.

Susan in TX

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If you're done with homeschooling, that is okay! You don't have to keep going if you don't want to.

What does your husband say about the behaviour of his sons? Does he step in? I have similar aged boys (12 & 9- the 9 year old isn't an easy kid), while they can be annoying and rambunctious and lazy and messy and..., and not much work gets done when I'm out of sight- unless they're separated, your boys' behaviour does sound a bit extreme to me.

My first instinct would be to pare down school work and stuff to manageable levels. I would give them a pencil case each and fine them if they need to replace anything due to neglect or misuse (fine with either money or jobs, replace an eraser with sweeping the floor, that kind of thing) - even let them pick out or personalise their own case. I wouldn't give them access to the nice markers, I would put them far away and let them know that until they respect my things they can't touch them.

What did you enjoy about homeschooling them? Get some of that back! Make it a priority. Go back to read alouds and Lego and narrations (no answer book to cheat from 😉) for a while.

How are they with non-school tasks/behaviour? Is this an issue mostly only with the school part of their day, or a generalised issue?

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5 hours ago, parent said:

I'd leave one in the room and move another to the kitchen/dining table.  Or could you move the more troublesome child near your husband's office?

Maybe consistent chart with stickers for completing tasks on time.  Or even a checklist they can mark off what is done.  My kids are all super competitive.   I use that to keep them working.  It's probably not considered  best mothering technique, but it absolutely works and they aren't mean about it.  They just both want to succeed.  I know that won't work with some kids because they just don't care. 

Yes, on occasion, I have moved one to the kitchen table and even to his dad's office if he was being overly disruptive although they are not normally or regularly disruptive. But again, without my constant hovering and nudging, I can't expect a whole lot to get done that way and honestly it does make me a little sad to banish one out of the room so I only do that as a last resort, more so because I'm fed up with them.

I do think that resorting to get them to compete with each other might be worth pursuing. And this worked a lot better one when the younger one was very enthusiastic about school and got it done very quickly as a comparison poker for the older one. I can't use sticker charts, they would find a way to cheat. And i do use lists all the time i put up on the white board for what I expect them to work on or complete if I have to leave them alone. I also bought them both very nice student planners with slots to write down each subject each day, a place to mark things off that are done. They were both super excited about them, but now, I'm constantly reminding them to utilize them. It's crazy.

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5 hours ago, katilac said:

I agree that cheating is a problem, and it's going to be an ongoing problem if you leave the answers totally accessible. A locking file cabinet is a reasonable purchase for a homeschooling family, and you can frequently find them used. Or lock your bedroom door or the door to another room. If your husband works from home, how does he keep his work files and such secure? Does he have a file cabinet you could put the books in? 

Like Jean said, kids are a work in progress. The behaviors you describe are frustrating but also very typical. Ruined markers and torn dust jackets are part of the gig (if the expensive markers are for school, simply quit buying them, prettier projects are not worth it). There's no way to force them to be ready for independent work just because they hit a arbitrary age. Remember, kids in school are never unsupervised for long and they are constantly redirected. And of course you want them to resist cheating on their own, but they're not there yet. You know they're not there yet, so the answers can't be readily accessible. 

Buy a locking file cabinet big enough to hold teacher books and the best of your baking supplies, lol. 

OK. Yeah. I honestly don't think it has seriously occurred to me to by a locking cabinet for the homeschool room!  I've probably exclaimed it in exasperation, " What! Am I going to have to buy a locking file cabinet now?!! That's ridiculous!" But the rational part of my brain I don't think has realized that, yep, that's what I may need to do at this point. 

I just didn't grown up like a juvenile delinquent. It's not normal to me.

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It is very disturbing to me that you are calling normal childish behavior as being a "juvenile delinquent".  Most likely these kids didn't suddenly wake up one morning and start having these behaviors.  They should have been trained and parented all along and to label kids like that takes away the responsibility from the PARENTS to actually PARENT. 

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4 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

It is very disturbing to me that you are calling normal childish behavior as being a "juvenile delinquent".  Most likely these kids didn't suddenly wake up one morning and start having these behaviors.  They should have been trained and parented all along and to label kids like that takes away the responsibility from the PARENTS to actually PARENT. 

 

I was just thinking the same thing. You don't just say, "Hmm, my kids are feral. Well, this isn't any fun," Or "I don't understand juvenile delinquents, so it didn't occur to me to lock up answer keys."

Figure out whether they are impaired in some way, or whether they need more direction and consequences. That's your job, as their parent. You could consult their pediatrician, and ask for resources for counseling, special needs evaluation, or whatever else makes sense for your particular situation.

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5 hours ago, Lang Syne Boardie said:

I'm going to disagree that it's normal for a 10yo and a 12yo to get into your baking supplies and destroy your school materials, stuff bowls of food into their desks, and to not be reliable enough for you to leave them unattended while you use the bathroom. You mentioned that no rewards have helped to modify their behavior. Have you tried consequences? 

Your children are behaving in disrespectful and destructive ways. Some level of this is normal for children, but we have to teach them not to. What happens to them, beyond lecturing?

Do you have any reason to believe that they might have learning differences or behavioral challenges that would require evaluation and diagnosis, and a treatment plan? How do they behave for others, at dance class, for example?

I've raised four boys. Some have ADHD, some are on the autism spectrum, so I do know how challenging boys can be. It's my opinion that ages ten and twelve are too old to be acting this way on a daily basis. There must be a reason. It may be as simple as needing to find other disciplinary approaches; they might just be very different children from their older sister. Or if you think there's something more to it, now might be the time to start the evaluation process.


Yes. Completely agree with what you are saying here. I also don't feel it's "normal".

The thing is, when I was growing up, I was the youngest, I had two older trouble-making brothers that I didn't associate with that much, I was always around adults, and my personality was such that I just didn't do any of that sh!#. My brother stole my homework one day in the 2nd grade, and I almost had an anxiety attack because it was the first time ever, I wasn't prepared to class. In high school, my best friend stupidly passed me a note during a test re-take in French III and our teacher thought we were cheating. Neither of us were actually cheating. I wanted to die of humiliation, I could never look him in the eye again after losing his respect. And we hadn't even cheated! I felt horrible about it even years later.

My husband, on the other hand, has plenty of humorous anecdotes of his childhood such as puling a plastic knife from his arm-cast on his Kindergarten teacher and running all the way home; having his dad sign a piece of paper which he would then cut and staple to the form which said his parents had verified he'd done his homework; and a few more. I thought they were funny, since he didn't grow up to be much of a criminal in his adult life, but now I see it as potentially the source of all the evil that is happening with the boys. So, I do try to explain to myself, not all kids can be expected to be models of good behavior like I was and that's OK, etc. But the truth is, enough already, at this point, I do feel they need to be accountable for their actions one way or the other.  They are certainly not hellion children, but wow, do they manage to do some destructive, stupid, or otherwise disrespectful stuff to their home and it's not really stopping. 

My older daughter does actually have ADHD, it was diagnosed early when she was going to a private preschool. It was, in part, was spurred on the whole homeschooling journey. It presented challenges at times, mostly with very slow executive function. So I did have her tested for learning disabilities along with DS12 a few years ago at the school district. They found them well-dressed, charming, and smart. Nothing at all. She was later evaluated by a psychiatrist who also didn't qualify her for a learning disability but did confirm the extremely slow executive function.  DS12 does have a form of Dislexia (diagnosed by me, as we know school's don't do that). His reading is still pretty decent, it seems to affect mostly his writing which is pretty atrocious. It does affect organization skills quite a bit though. Now, DS9 (the cheating one) had speech therapy as a toddler and a year of group speech therapy in pre-k which he graduated from with flying colors. He barely qualified for the program.  I think they gave him very basic tests to rule out other learning disabilities. So, nothing glaring in that category.

They behave pretty well compared to most kids in group dance classes. No issues. I think it's because I've raised them with different expectations for their behavior than our community. I find it hilarious, when they are often appalled at the behavior of other kids. In their private ballroom classes, they behave extremely well as the environment is much more serious or professional so to speak. 

So, yes, I do feel, I'm not dolling out the proper consequences for their behavior because other than teaching them how to be decent human beings on a general basis and then talking to them about their poor choices when that happens, I'm at a loss as to what else to do. They already don't play video games, nor have free reign of the tv, electronics are very limited as that has also been a problem in the past, to the point that they only have authorized access for school purposes only. They do violate that rule sometimes too. I can ground them, but that has little effect, as we do homeschool during the day and they often have 2-4 hours of dance the rest of the day. (Something they want to do, that is not imposed by me). So that's the day. I have told the older one he cannot text or ask me if he can do things with friends this whole week due to whatever his last transgression was. But although, it's upsetting to him, I don't feel it's enough of a deterrent.  I literally don't know what privileges to take away from them nor can come up with other forms of consequences.

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4 hours ago, SusanC said:

Between us adults I'll throw out the possibility that maybe they should go to school so you can focus on just the parenting part of the relationship. I don't mean you are doing badly, just that it sounds like you have a lot on your plate with them! Not being able to confidently go to the bathroom would be crazy-making for me.

I've definitely considered it for the DS12 but I don't think he would do very well at school at least not at this point. (It would also make it more difficult as he dances ballroom competitively at a high level and often has classes during what would be the regular school hours). I did essentially end up doing that with DD after 7th grade because I felt I was all things to her, and she needed to get out in the world and learn how to navigate more on her own and be accountable and responsible on her own without me. It also, allowed me to stop trying to juggle so many balls, and focus more on the boys.

I'm not there yet with the boys though.

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31 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

It is very disturbing to me that you are calling normal childish behavior as being a "juvenile delinquent".  Most likely these kids didn't suddenly wake up one morning and start having these behaviors.  They should have been trained and parented all along and to label kids like that takes away the responsibility from the PARENTS to actually PARENT. 

Sorry Jean in NewcastleI wasn't being literal about calling them or myself a juvenile delinquent. I admittedly have a bit (a lot) of a sarcastic humor in my speech. That is all.

As a bit of, probably unnecessary background, I left my career when DD was 3 to be a SAHM and "parent" my kids all day and night. So definitely not shrugging away from responsibility here. It comes naturally to me, but it obviously doesn't come naturally to them (maybe they didn't get that gene). So that's what I'm trying to figure out, what I need to start doing differently to help this.

Thanks for your input, but it goes without saying, it wasn't helpful. There's more important, real things to be disturbed about in this world. 

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I want to go back to your OP and focus on

On 10/8/2019 at 12:10 PM, LolaT said:

But, while I am, what should I do about the cheating? There really are no consequences/punishments such as loss of privileges to do. Their days are full, they don’t watch tv or play video game

I don't condone cheating or lying. Lying is a huge character offense in our home. But, I do wonder if the above might contribute to the compulsion to cheat just so they can be done. I can't fathom being a 10 or 12 yr old boy without lots of freedom to just be a boy. It could be if they had less in their days, they might actually be more positive in taking ownership over themselves. 

Eta: my 9 yod 4th grader finishes in 4 hrs, easily. Thank goodness. She has more important business she wants to get to.

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1 hour ago, LolaT said:


Yes. Completely agree with what you are saying here. I also don't feel it's "normal".

The thing is, when I was growing up, I was the youngest, I had two older trouble-making brothers that I didn't associate with that much, I was always around adults, and my personality was such that I just didn't do any of that sh!#. My brother stole my homework one day in the 2nd grade, and I almost had an anxiety attack because it was the first time ever, I wasn't prepared to class. In high school, my best friend stupidly passed me a note during a test re-take in French III and our teacher thought we were cheating. Neither of us were actually cheating. I wanted to die of humiliation, I could never look him in the eye again after losing his respect. And we hadn't even cheated! I felt horrible about it even years later.

 

Your boys are very typical children. Children who behave as you did as a child are the rare ones. I would stop worrying about rewards and punishments and start focusing on your relationship. Kids who have a close relationship with their parents want to please them. Also you are probably being too hard on them. You need to think in terms of teaching them how to behave not just expecting them to do it and then getting exasperated when they don't. And you don't help them by doing things like having the teacher's book easily accessible to them when you know they struggle with cheating. That just sets them up to fail.

Susan in TX

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1. They are normal. You were abnormal, lol. I say that because I was like that too, abnormally good. But seriously, that's not typical. Don't judge them by you. And just as your husband did this stuff and grew up fine, so will they. 

2. Your expectations are too high. Look at it this way - how much work would a class full of kids at the local school get done if there was no teacher for the entire afternoon, just a list on the board? Not much! Sure, a few kids might be like you and sit and do the work, but most would blow it off, get distracted, search the teacher's desk to see what was there, wave the answer key around, etc. That's why they hire substitute teachers - and even with that not much happens on days the regular teacher is gone. 

3. How much truly FREE time do they have, outside of school work and dance?

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4 hours ago, LolaT said:


So, yes, I do feel, I'm not dolling out the proper consequences for their behavior because other than teaching them how to be decent human beings on a general basis and then talking to them about their poor choices when that happens, I'm at a loss as to what else to do. They already don't play video games, nor have free reign of the tv, electronics are very limited as that has also been a problem in the past, to the point that they only have authorized access for school purposes only. They do violate that rule sometimes too. I can ground them, but that has little effect, as we do homeschool during the day and they often have 2-4 hours of dance the rest of the day. (Something they want to do, that is not imposed by me). So that's the day. I have told the older one he cannot text or ask me if he can do things with friends this whole week due to whatever his last transgression was. But although, it's upsetting to him, I don't feel it's enough of a deterrent.  I literally don't know what privileges to take away from them nor can come up with other forms of consequences.

 

Think in terms of natural consequences. You mentioned that they break a lot of pencils. You could institute a "you break it, you buy it" policy. So if they get allowance, you make them pay for the cost of every pencil they break. If they don't get an allowance you could give them each $5 and every time they break a pencil, they have to give you X amount. After a set period of time...maybe two weeks... let them spend the money they have left on candy or something. Let them know ahead of time that all the money will be theirs to spend if they don't break any pencils.

As far as the cheating is concerned I would first want to know why he felt the need to cheat. Was it not wanting to do the work (boredom/fatigue) or was it not wanting to get it wrong (fear of failure). If it is the first, the work you are having him do may be too easy or simply boring/tedious. If it is the latter then the work may be too hard. If he continues to insist that he didn't cheat it may be possible that he really didn't. I would talk to him about the purpose of the assignment and emphasize that the point isn't just doing it, the point is to learn something, and if he just copies the answers he is defeating the purpose. Then make him do it again without copying or give him another similar assignment. 

The problem of them shoving food into their desks is fixed by not allowing any food outside of the kitchen/dining room. Supervision will be necessary to enforce this rule and make it a habit. If you see them with food where they aren't allowed to have it you correct them and tell them to take it to the designated eating space. If they break the rule and make a mess with food outside the designated eating area you have them clean it up. This isn't a "tell them once and you are done" kind of a thing. This is something you have to continue to enforce. 

Susan in TX

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Are you familiar with the Montessori concept of erdkinder for middle school aged children? Here’s a link I grabbed quickly, but I’m sure there are better, more thorough sources out there. http://www.michaelolaf.net/montessori12-18.html

Said with respect and kindness: It sounds like your boys need a different approach to parenting and education. Free time, much more time outdoors, hard physical work, and meaningful connection between what they’re being asked to do with things they actually want/need to learn will likely improve their character and work ethic. Competitive ballroom dance may be the exact opposite of this philosophy, tbh. (You’ll note I have a DD training as a pre-pro classical ballerina, so I wholeheartedly believe in pursuing the performing arts if it’s right for the child.) 

I ‘read’ major burn-out and a sense of defeat in your op, and I can identify with you. Homeschooling is hard, thankless work sometimes. If you’ve been at it for a decade or more, it’s absolutely justifiable to feel done and ready to move on. I’m homeschooling my 4th child (currently she 10) and I’m really looking forward to my ‘retirement’. She is more challenging than the first three put together, but things are finally clicking and I feel a renewed sense of purpose and optimism I was lacking for the last couple years.

Obviously I’m responding to just a few paragraphs above and it’s possible I’m way off the mark, but if any of this resonates, I hope you feel less alone. Kids are tough! Best of luck to you as you navigate this rough patch.

 

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LolaT, sounds like you are having a tough time of it and that your kids are not meeting your expectations.  This is so hard.  Homeschooling is hard because you are blending being a child's teacher with being their parent, and sometimes those hats should be different.

There seem to be two different camps on this thread, 1) increase discipline to root out unwanted behaviors, and 2) reduce expectations to allow success. This is definitely a philosophical difference, but I will say that if one approach is not working, it is often useful to try the other even just temporarily.

I am in camp 2 - I would reduce expectations to allow success. 1) I would decrease the work load to no more than 4 hours per day.  2) increase the exercise and hands on activities. 3) I would always supervise work and never expect them to get work done independently. 4) I would buy cheaper pens and art supplies. 5) I would have fun non-sneaking snacks available for consumption at any time.

Basically, I would not making schooling a battle, nor would I set it up as me vs them. I would work to create a culture of learning and togetherness. 

But you see, all of us are different. And our children are different. And only you can know what to do. The best thing about threads like these is that you get lots of ideas and then in your own quiet time can go sort through them, take a few, and leave the rest. 

Good Luck with finding your path.

Ruth in NZ

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44 minutes ago, Servant4Christ said:

That's awesome dedication, first off. So they truely have the ability (when they choose) to be self disciplined and focused. Have you discussed with them that dancing lessons are a privilege and that above all else you are raising them to become young men of character and itegriry which includes being truthful, respectful, honorable, ect? As much as you love seeing them and supporting them in dance, privileges can be revoked when necessary for a time until their behavior is at whatever level you and your husband believe to be reasonable.

What Servant4Christ is describing sounds like a loving parent doing their best to raise wonderful children. But I would take a different approach. Hope you don't mind, S4Chist, if I use your response as a jumping off point to describe another possible path. 

I would increase the focus on what they are doing right, so more dance and more activity. And then reduce what is causing strife, which seems to be them working independently. I would be working to make a collaborative learning environment where we all work towards a common goal. I would celebrate their self discipline and focus where it can be found, rather than using it as leverage to control other behaviors. Basically, I have always used strengths to shore up weaknesses. So more time in what they are good at and less time in what they are bad at.  And then as they find success in their strengths, I would use that to my advantage to help them desire to work on their weaknesses.  

 

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2 hours ago, Servant4Christ said:

young men of character and itegriry which includes being truthful, respectful, honorable

 

Of course! I get as many new parenting tools and ideas as I do homeschooling ones here 😀

I agree!  Your description is a good reminder for me that I should spend some more time on character and integrity in these last few years before youngest is off to university. 

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I've found that kids cheat when they are feeling overwhelmed by the assignment, and they are given the opportunity.  So, some suggestions:

  • Stay in the room with your student.  
  • Do not give your student access to any materials that they aren't allowed to use to complete the assignment.  This includes answer keys, textbooks, and the internet.
  • If your student must complete an assignment without you in the room, make sure it is well within their current ability level.  Independent work is not the place to move a student's ability forward--by definition the zone of proximal development is the place where the student needs the guidance of a more experienced individual to make progress.  If it is an overwhelmingly large assignment in your student's eyes, divide it into manageable chunks.  Note that what you think should be manageable is probably a whole lot more that what your student thinks is manageable.  The chunks should be manageable from your student's point of view.
  • Independent work should either be short and sweet or intrinsically engaging.  Giving long, boring assignments to be done independently is just asking for trouble.  Obviously at some point a student needs to be able to do long, boring assignments on their own.  I promise that this will happen, but there is no need to push it at age nine.
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My thoughts are that as much as you would like them to be more independent, they are not ready to work unsupervised. My DS could not or would not work appropriately on his own until 11th grade which was torture for me, and even then it was not for all subjects. Using the idea of natural consequences, the consequence was that he choose to goof off when I was busy, so now he needs to do school work when I have time to sit next to him. That meant he was working evenings, weekends, and holidays. He has even had to do schoolwork on vacations.  

As much as I wanted to, I could not make him “want” to do school work. He proved it time and time again. It made for some very long years, and I am counting down the days until he graduates. 

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On 10/10/2019 at 6:12 AM, fourisenough said:

Are you familiar with the Montessori concept of erdkinder for middle school aged children? Here’s a link I grabbed quickly, but I’m sure there are better, more thorough sources out there. http://www.michaelolaf.net/montessori12-18.html

Said with respect and kindness: It sounds like your boys need a different approach to parenting and education. Free time, much more time outdoors, hard physical work, and meaningful connection between what they’re being asked to do with things they actually want/need to learn will likely improve their character and work ethic. Competitive ballroom dance may be the exact opposite of this philosophy, tbh. (You’ll note I have a DD training as a pre-pro classical ballerina, so I wholeheartedly believe in pursuing the performing arts if it’s right for the child.) 

I ‘read’ major burn-out and a sense of defeat in your op, and I can identify with you. Homeschooling is hard, thankless work sometimes. If you’ve been at it for a decade or more, it’s absolutely justifiable to feel done and ready to move on. I’m homeschooling my 4th child (currently she 10) and I’m really looking forward to my ‘retirement’. She is more challenging than the first three put together, but things are finally clicking and I feel a renewed sense of purpose and optimism I was lacking for the last couple years.

Obviously I’m responding to just a few paragraphs above and it’s possible I’m way off the mark, but if any of this resonates, I hope you feel less alone. Kids are tough! Best of luck to you as you navigate this rough patch.

 


Thanks. I do appreciate the respect and the kindness.

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On 10/10/2019 at 3:09 PM, lewelma said:

LolaT, sounds like you are having a tough time of it and that your kids are not meeting your expectations.  This is so hard.  Homeschooling is hard because you are blending being a child's teacher with being their parent, and sometimes those hats should be different.

There seem to be two different camps on this thread, 1) increase discipline to root out unwanted behaviors, and 2) reduce expectations to allow success. This is definitely a philosophical difference, but I will say that if one approach is not working, it is often useful to try the other even just temporarily.

I am in camp 2 - I would reduce expectations to allow success. 1) I would decrease the work load to no more than 4 hours per day.  2) increase the exercise and hands on activities. 3) I would always supervise work and never expect them to get work done independently. 4) I would buy cheaper pens and art supplies. 5) I would have fun non-sneaking snacks available for consumption at any time.

Basically, I would not making schooling a battle, nor would I set it up as me vs them. I would work to create a culture of learning and togetherness. 

But you see, all of us are different. And our children are different. And only you can know what to do. The best thing about threads like these is that you get lots of ideas and then in your own quiet time can go sort through them, take a few, and leave the rest. 

Good Luck with finding your path.

Ruth in NZ


Thanks. I really appreciate your sentiments here.

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On 10/10/2019 at 5:32 PM, Servant4Christ said:

That's awesome dedication, first off. So they truely have the ability (when they choose) to be self disciplined and focused. Have you discussed with them that dancing lessons are a privilege and that above all else you are raising them to become young men of character and itegriry which includes being truthful, respectful, honorable, ect? As much as you love seeing them and supporting them in dance, privileges can be revoked when necessary for a time until their behavior is at whatever level you and your husband believe to be reasonable.


Yes, definitely have told them the above. 

Dance is a kind of crazy endeavor believe it or not. There are yearly contracts, it's crazy expensive (they both have full tuition scholarships. It's the only way they can go, even though there are still huge hard costs that we must cover), and they have attendance rules in the contract that would prohibit them from competing if they miss x number of times or forfeit their scholarship, etc. So, I can't use dance as a privilege to take away (aside from the following year.) And it's something that I've taught them they must be dedicated to doing once they commit.

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A while after reading this, I remembered that I had the exact same experience with one part of the scenario: there was some behavior I was trying to correct, and I realized they didn't have many privileges to remove, lol. They had nice possessions and did lots of fun things, don't get me wrong, but they didn't really have control or ownership of them happening, if that makes sense. I decided two things: one, I was probably being a little stingy with privileges, lol, and two, to register as a privilege, it had to be more routine and under their control. 

So, instead of randomly announcing we would watch a movie, we started a regular movie night they could look forward to, that registered as part of their routine and a privilege. I'm blanking on other examples, but it was mostly stuff we did sometimes anyway, put on more of a schedule so they could anticipate it and make the connection of, hey, if we all work hard and do our best, we will reward ourselves with this fun thing. 

 

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3 hours ago, katilac said:

A while after reading this, I remembered that I had the exact same experience with one part of the scenario: there was some behavior I was trying to correct, and I realized they didn't have many privileges to remove, lol. They had nice possessions and did lots of fun things, don't get me wrong, but they didn't really have control or ownership of them happening, if that makes sense. I decided two things: one, I was probably being a little stingy with privileges, lol, and two, to register as a privilege, it had to be more routine and under their control. 

So, instead of randomly announcing we would watch a movie, we started a regular movie night they could look forward to, that registered as part of their routine and a privilege. I'm blanking on other examples, but it was mostly stuff we did sometimes anyway, put on more of a schedule so they could anticipate it and make the connection of, hey, if we all work hard and do our best, we will reward ourselves with this fun thing. 

This. 

I think that a mistake a lot of people make in parenting--especially parents who are more strict in general--is to not allow their kids to have any real privileges.  And I know that early on, I fell into this category as well.  Once I realized this, I actually gave privileges with the idea that I could use them as a carrot.  That carrot was screens for a long time.  Now it is also screens, particularly video games and the smart phone, but the biggest one is the use of the car.  

I see families who are really clamped down on stuff like this--no tv, no internet, no cell phone, not allowed to drive until age 18, whatever--and then they wonder why they're having trouble "motivating" their kids to do anything.  

This isn't necessarily directed at the OP, but it is something I've been thinking about.

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This is an interesting thread... I feel like it's a good example of how we frame things and how hard it can be to really tease out when something is outside the bounds of normalcy or not. My teens still do things like leave the tops off the markers. Last year, during DI season, they ruined a bunch of paintbrushes by not washing them. I'm teaching a class locally with most of the same books I used with them last year and I twice now have had to dig around for them and have found them under their beds, which, ugh. Dh keeps getting angry because BalletBoy starts laundry and then doesn't finish it. All the time. And school. Ugh. BalletBoy is so disorganized. We've been having a lot of back and forth about following a daily plan and staying on task. So if I wanted to come here and post a long "my kids are deeply a mess" thread about them, I totally could.

On the other hand... I could come and post a totally different thread about how they love board game nights and how BalletBoy is so dedicated to ballet that he always washes his uniform himself and is always early to class and gets himself there on the bus and never complains, even on a day like today when he's dancing from 9am-7pm. And how he's so excited about his econ class that he spends extra time on it. And how he has been tackling difficult readings for history this year. And how he's doing well in math and figuring out how to navigate outside teachers, even if it's been a bit of a learning curve. So I could come and post a total brag thread too.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's all in the lenses we use and which set of information we lay out, what we emphasize. It sounds like your kids have a lot of good going on and some struggles and that you're really focused on the struggles. I can't really say from this thread whether they're outside the bounds of what's normal. I do echo what others are saying that it's common for kids to try to get out of things at this age, especially if the work is hard.

My impulse would be to change up the assignments so that they're not something he can cheat on, which seems especially good for writing. Maybe a pre-set curriculum just isn't in the cards for him right now.

Another thing that occurs to me is that this age was the most hands on for me as a homeschooler. The work was difficult enough that it took real time and yet they didn't have the skills to do it independently at all. I do think you should be able to leave the room briefly without worrying and all that, but I think maybe your expectations for independence at this stage are off.

Finally, it strikes me that the evaluation you had was through the school district. They're generally terrible. I don't know if you need an eval or not, but if you were able to have one done independently, it would be much more thorough. It might also not show anything. Or it might.

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I loved reading this thread. There are so many interesting opinions and some excellent ideas.

We've got ASD, anxiety, and ADHD in the mix, but the things your boys do sound a lot like what we see over here with my 7.5yo, newly-turned 10yo, and 11.5yo. I caught my 10yo cheating just this morning, in fact. He is in public school and does math as an independent study because he's accelerated, but he doesn't actually seem capable of self-studying for more than 15 minutes in a stretch. He hasn't been getting his work done at school and always seems to end up doing it sitting next to me in the evening. This week I didn't get a chance to do that for several days and I told him he had to have his work done today before he went to a friend's birthday party. His solution? He had his younger brother tell him the answers to all his math questions early this morning. It was impressive teamwork and probably 7yo DS was trying to be kind, but I was so MAD at my 10yo! Thinking about it objectively now that I've cooled off, he was probably really stressed and just trying to make it to his friend's party, so in a way, my own choices brought out the worst in him, and I really could have predicted his response.

A few months ago I started having my bigger boys pay for their own school supplies. (They can earn money doing extra chores around the house/yard and get $20 every time they get a dental check-up with no cavities.) It worked! Well, sort of. They take better care of their stuff. There is still some collateral damage, and one kid just cannot resist taking apart his pens to use the parts in non-standard ways, but it's going better than before. I also made a snack cabinet full of healthy snacks they are allowed to access any time. That has helped with the one that used to sneak food. 

Anyway, you're not alone. Kids do these things. More supervision, altered expectations, and more self-care for you seem like things that may help your situation. 

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Just to throw this out there, a lot of what you describe my oldest daughter did and she ended up diagnosed adhd.  Definitely the food issues (bowls under bed, wrappers shoved everywhere) and the attention to taking care of personal property as well as my own.  Cheated on things she didn't care about so she could get to the things she DID care about. I can tell you what DIDN'T work over the years.  Making it a personal and character flaw.  She is still struggling with self esteem issues over the fact that she always KNEW what she was doing wrong but couldn't control herself.  

Not saying that's what going on here -- just sharing my experience with my kid.  My other two never had those issues, yet I have parented them somewhat similarly.  

I have no words of advice other than maybe try another eval if you can! Because I feel like I literally did nothing right with my oldest over the years -- other than keeping lines of communication open and never letting anything reach an "ultimatum" stage. Consequences absolutely never worked with her.  She found ways to sneak anything past me.  But she's an extremely ethical and hard working young adult now, even though she struggles in a lot of other ways.  

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On 10/8/2019 at 12:10 PM, LolaT said:

My 9yo 4th grader is cheating. He paraphrased the outline in a lesson from Writing & Rhetoric Book 3.

He insists he didn’t. I think because he changed up some of the words, he literally thinks the cheating is unprovable!

What to do? I’ve been homeschooling for a long time. I’m a little bit in the disgruntled homeschooling mom phase at this point when the last two don’t do any work independently if I’m not sitting in the same room with them. And now this. Makes me not want to waste my time doing school with him anymore. But, while I am, what should I do about the cheating? There really are no consequences/punishments such as loss of privileges to do. Their days are full, they don’t watch tv or play video games. They also cannot be expected to accomplish anything independently. 


I think we probably ought to separate out cheating (an intentionally way to get over) from, "I don't know how to write, so I'm essentially re-writing the information and puking it back."  It's actually an acceptable way to learn to write, btw.  This is how many learned to write actually.

A 9yo?  I would not expect him to work out of my sight and I expect to guide and direct.  Independent work consists of what happens after I have actively taught and instructed, ensured he understands, and then still with supervision and in front of me in small chunks.

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