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Managing Disruptions

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I need some suggestions for how to manage disruptions during our school time. All of my kids have been described by former teachers as "model students," quiet, well-behaved, studious, etc. - a "joy to teach" Yet at home, they're the complete opposite, my three boys in particular. This, combined with the fact that they all refuse to work independently on anything, makes for a very long school day & we very seldom finish everything I'd planned. This is a huge problem because as it is, we're only just starting our school year & have A LOT to cover before next year.


Part of my problem is the fact that I work from home - I need to be done teaching by 1-2 at the latest in order to still get a minimum of 5-6 hours in. I almost suspect that because they KNOW school has to end by then, they purposely drag out the morning so that we don't get to everything. These days, poor DH has been cooking dinner (or I *try* to cook while working) & I'm never done with work until 8 o'clock or later. By then I'm so beyond exhausted, I have very little energy for anything else. Actually, by the time we're done with school I'm exhausted! It takes SO much energy to deal with the bickering & fighting, 101 questions, lost pencils, etc.


I think that I need to establish some very clear consequences for disruptions, but am not really sure what's reasonable. How do you guys handle them?

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One is the 'in the moment' feedback.


The other is the 'long term results' feedback.


So, for 'in the moment' feedback, I used a ticket system with my DD. I gave her 10 cards each morning. I would take a card back if she argued or stalled. I gave her 2 extra cards if she finished 3 core subjects by 10 or 1 extra if she finished 2 by 10:30 AM. When we started this, I told her that our arguing about whether or why she had to do something was taking so much time that it was ruining all our fun, and that I needed her to stop. I told her that to help her learn to do that, I was going to give her these cards, and that once she saved up 100 we would go on a cool outing. (Ours was to take the train downtown and eat at Ben and Jerry's.) I told her that she DID NOT WANT TO KNOW what would happen if she lost all 10 cards in one day. Thankfully she never did, as I really had no idea myself.


This worked extremely well. Very shortly she was visibly catching herself instead of complaining. I made it more fun by occasionally giving her an extra card when she did something extraordinary. Seriously, this sytem cured the problem in about 3 weeks. I think that the arguing and stalling had become such a habit that she really didn't know how much she was doing it, and that the cards gave me an 'in the moment' way to convey that information without starting another fight. If she argued when I asked for a card, I would ask for another one.


I want to emphasize that I didn't stop her from asking reasonable questions about her homework or workload. It's more that once I rendered a decision I penalized her if she continued to ask over and over or to complain about it.


For longer term, I would have a set of steps. The first would be to separate the boys from each other, so they would have to work apart. "By not getting your work done on time, you're telling me that you can't focus when you are together, so tomorrow I will need to separate you." Calm, flat tone; more pitying than punitive.


The second would be getting up earlier. "By not getting your work done by 2PM, you're telling me that you need to start sooner. Tomorrow you will be getting up half an hour earlier, and tonight you will be going to bed half an hour earlier." Again, calm, flat, not punitive-sounding.




You can do this!

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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I am a home tutor/nanny for a homeschooling family. Two days a week I do the schooling while their Mom is at work. Our day starts at 8 am and goes until 2-3 depending on the day. There are three of them and they are 12, 9, and 6. Obviously, they are at different levels of academic study as well as different levels of supervision needs. First, if someone seems to be a bit "off" (grumpy, overly emotional, etc.) it needs to be isolated pretty quick. That type of behavioral stuff can be so contagious. Sometimes it is a change in the subject(no need to start with math, if you can warm them up to the idea of school with a little reading or music), a quick talk, or some sort of motivation (the Wii has been hugely helpful) Next, when it comes to good behavior that is displayed be sure to really praise it, they will quickly learn that good stuff gets just as much attention. I also think that taking the time to really plan out the day for each of your children would be helpful. The subjects that can be combined like history read alouds, science experiments, or art can be group activities since it seems like they enjoy working together. However, more independent studies like math and english would simply have to be done separately...maybe in separate zones would help. As for consequences...I would first see what really motivates them, then let them earn time doing that by cooperation with you and being done with school at the goal time. Sorry, this is long...there are a million more ways of trying to work through this...keep it up and good luck.:)

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Thank you so much for the card suggestion Carol, I will definitely give that a shot! And E - thank you also. We do combine everything except Math & English & have a very strict schedule, we're just not getting through everything each day. I think I do need to work harder to catch & praise good behavior because I'm quite sure that at least my eldest is acting out to get more attention.

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