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I need some thoughtful brainstorming on getting 5th graders more independent


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We are at a hard juncture in my family. My father has Alzheimer's. It progressed very slowly for a long time but recently .... it's pretty rough. My mother needs me a lot - to stay with him when she's out and also just to be there to run interference. He is sometimes quite hostile and/or depressed, and my presence seems to have a good effect.

 

So that's fine. It's a privilege to be able to do that. And my boys are aware of everything that his happening and have always had a close relationship with them.

 

But I am looking at next year, and I would like to use my time as efficiently as possible. My boys are very involved in swimming and tennis (one each) and Suzuki Violin. DH does not want them to cut back on any of those things. He's very "enrichment" oriented.

 

Most days I homeschool until about 2:00 and then we have sports or music lessons. I usually get home in time to do something for dinner - work housework in around the homeschooling and try to shop on Saturdays. So as you can see, I am pretty busy (as all of you are, I know).

 

I'm just kind of brainstorming different ideas for how to get the boys to do a little more teaching and self monitoring. I thought about having a day planner for each of them like my older son did when he was in public school - to write down assignments and maybe have homework. That way when one is playing tennis or swimming, the other could be resonsible himself for knowing that work he should be getting done.

 

I don't know. I'm not a major planning kind of Mom. I'm very much a "seat of your pants" kind of girl. I don't enjoy the planning so many of you do, but my boys are very dependant on me everyday to tell them what we are doing that day. They do what I ask - very cooperative kids - but they have no self starter instincts, other than that they will read anything they can find if I am not directing them toward something else. It's really my fault, because I mostly just get up and figure it out as we do. I just work my way throught the various curricula a day at a time and we usually finish by the end of the school year.

 

Maybe I need to choose curricula that encourages independent learning, and maybe you could suggest something. It's hard because I really like learning right along with my children. I feel like the teaching is FUN for me to be part of.

 

We will do a math program but I don't know which because we are leaving Right Start. Maybe Singapore? Henle Latin. Ancients for History. I don't know. I guess I am sort of rambling, but I am really panicked about how I am going to manage this, given that organization and paperwork are not my strong points. Maybe I need to discipline myself to use some sort of homeschool planner software. Do any of you do that and have one your recommend? Maybe someone who isn't the queen of planning? lol

 

Enough rambling. Anyone who go this far and has suggestions, I'd love to hear them. I wish my sister would just come do this for me. I tend to think that's the reason we HAVE older sisters after all.

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I don't know if this will work for you, but since I started attending school full-time, and since I'm sure grad school is going to be just as hectic, I bought Switched On Schoolhouse for my 7th grader. While I'm in class, he's doing his schoolwork and asking Grandma for help on the hard stuff--or he waits until I get home and we go over it together.

 

I put in the dates I want him to do his lessons (he stays here Monday-Thursday and does SOTW and writing at Dad's on Friday), and the software plugs in the lessons for me. I can add and delete lessons and projects at my leisure, and the software automatically grades most questions for me. The ones I have to look at pop up in the "Admin" section when I log on and I grade essays individually.

 

Organization and paperwork are definitely not my strong points, either. I find it much easier to teach and not muck about with bookkeeping.

 

I hate going to this kind of format, but he is still learning something as well as learning some independence--and learning that most teachers don't stick around until you've mastered something and he had better ask some questions. He has a built-in planner with the lessons already there so he knows when he sits down what he needs to do each day. You can also program the same software for different children, and you can buy individual disks or the whole grade at once, depending on where they are.

 

http://www.aop.com

:)

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What we do:

 

I print out our schedule in Microsoft Outlook (calendar program). My schedule has the work of both children on it. I was going to type in and print out the week's schedule every weekend but it has degenerated into every morning I print out that morning's schedule in a panic! I print out two copies of the schedule- one for me to use with dd6 and one for ds10. It has the subjects by "time" but we ignore the time-slots. Now, most of our curriculum this year comes in "lessons" so we just choose the next one.

 

Ds10 puts his schedule on his clipboard. He is responsible for doing the work in any order as long as it is done by 4 pm. Anything not done by 4 pm is "assigned" by a mom who stands over him!

 

History - we do Beautiful feet. He reads independently and does the papers etc. pretty independently. I don't think I'd recommend this for most families unless their child was wired for writing etc. all on their own.

 

Math - we do Singapore. I will spend 5 min. at the start of a new concept to make sure he understands it. The rest is independent.

 

Grammar - I've divided the R & S book into 15 min. increments we do every day. I skip the writing assignments. This took advance planning and was a pain in the tush but worth it for me. He hates grammar but when he was describing his perfect curriculum to me one day I noticed that he left it in! Totally independent - except for days he does the oral drill (which could be done written but I think I would have mutiny on my hands!)

 

Latin - I spaced out the lessons in Latina Christiana I into everyday chunks. Except for going over the grammar for 5 min. on Tuesdays and going over derivatives for 5 min. on Thursdays it is totally independent.

 

Science - He does Abeka 7th grade science (1st half of the book). He reads independently and answers questions independently. I've failed miserably at doing the experiments with him. He doesn't seem to mind. This is scheduled for only 2 days/ week.

 

Typing - He does Mavis Beacon for 15 min./day on his own.

 

Music - we have a music lesson once a week. He practices for 15 min/day on his own.

 

Art - we use a computer program called "The Phonics of Drawing". My neighbor often supervises this when she is "subbing" for me once/week. My ds10 could follow the steps by himself (my dd6 couldn't so that's why the neighbor helps).

 

Spelling - we are supposed to have a spelling notebook of misspelled words (from his work). That has fallen by the wayside.

 

Bible he gets in the Beautiful Feet guides, Sunday school and evening devotions with Daddy before bedtime.

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I bought Switched On Schoolhouse for my 7th grader. While I'm in class, he's doing his schoolwork and asking Grandma for help on the hard stuff--or he waits until I get home and we go over it together.

 

 

 

 

Thanks - I will take a look at that. I'm not sure I want to go to that kind of format either, but I guess overtime I will see how this situation resolves itself or doesn't. I have moments when I wonder if helping care for my father will mean putting the boys in school, and since I REALLY don't want to do that, I guess this might provide an alternative.

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Wow Jean, your son is REALLY independent.

 

I think I would be really sad to stop learing the Latin myself - and the history too, because sometimes I am amazed how much history I learn with my boys - things I have leared before but apparently forgot!

 

But I do need to do better at typing out schedules and assignments, and maybe I need to release the idea that I will "keep up" with learning. Sigh.

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Personally I think 5th grade is a bit young to expect a lot of independence. You said your boys are compliant and they do what you ask of them so that is a great asset to your entire "portfolio".

 

I don't know how close you live to your parents - but could your students take some of their school work with you when you visit your parents? Then you could be available on an "as needed" basis for them but also helping your mom. Alternatively could you be with your parents during the boys' outside activities?

 

How wonderful that you want to help your parents, and that your boys are aware of the situation. (are they twins?) And I hear ya on the unhelpful sister thing - my twin sister is the same way :confused:

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Homeschool Tracker allows you to plan out assignments ahead of time and give your kids daily or weekly assignment sheets.

 

For spelling, my 5th grade son does Phonetic Zoo. This is completely child-intensive. Absolutely no help from me.

 

My 7th and 5th grade boys do Veritas for History. Each week, when we move on to the next history card, if I haven't gotten around to picking out a book to go with it, they have a default history book to read. Often, it's Hillyer's Child's History of the World, or another historical overview book. Or sometimes, they listen to our Story of the World cds (we sprung for all 4 volumes!) They've each read through CHOW and others at least a couple of times. I feel like even when I'm not on top of things, they're getting quality material for history. Make sure to have a default plan/book for each subject when things get busy and you're unable to be involved.

 

Also, some subjects simply need daily supervision. If the kids try to go ahead without my help, everything falls apart. In this situation, we'll sometimes lay a subject aside completely for a few days or even a week. Instead, they'll spend time getting ahead in other areas like vocabulary, history, spelling, etc... That way, when I have more time, we can return to whatever we've put aside for more intensive work. Not my ideal, but it keeps them busy and buys me time.

 

When I'm not able, my boys check each other's grammar and math. Then I can briefly see what they got wrong and work with them on any issues. Sometimes, my husband gets my 12 ds to check his own math.

 

When my kids are ready for free time in the afternoons, I have a mental list I go through with them before they finish up. They know if they haven't completed everything, no free time. They have become great self-starters. In fact, my two oldest usually get up at 6 a.m. on their own. I often don't make it out of bed until 7:00. I usually find them eating breakfast. Between 6 and 7 they clean their room, get dressed, and do their bible reading and scripture memory.

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  • 10 months later...
We are at a hard juncture in my family. My father has Alzheimer's. It progressed very slowly for a long time but recently .... it's pretty rough. My mother needs me a lot - to stay with him when she's out and also just to be there to run interference. He is sometimes quite hostile and/or depressed, and my presence seems to have a good effect.

 

So that's fine. It's a privilege to be able to do that. And my boys are aware of everything that his happening and have always had a close relationship with them.

 

But I am looking at next year, and I would like to use my time as efficiently as possible. My boys are very involved in swimming and tennis (one each) and Suzuki Violin. DH does not want them to cut back on any of those things. He's very "enrichment" oriented.

 

Most days I homeschool until about 2:00 and then we have sports or music lessons. I usually get home in time to do something for dinner - work housework in around the homeschooling and try to shop on Saturdays. So as you can see, I am pretty busy (as all of you are, I know).

 

I'm just kind of brainstorming different ideas for how to get the boys to do a little more teaching and self monitoring. I thought about having a day planner for each of them like my older son did when he was in public school - to write down assignments and maybe have homework. That way when one is playing tennis or swimming, the other could be resonsible himself for knowing that work he should be getting done.

 

I don't know. I'm not a major planning kind of Mom. I'm very much a "seat of your pants" kind of girl. I don't enjoy the planning so many of you do, but my boys are very dependant on me everyday to tell them what we are doing that day. They do what I ask - very cooperative kids - but they have no self starter instincts, other than that they will read anything they can find if I am not directing them toward something else. It's really my fault, because I mostly just get up and figure it out as we do. I just work my way throught the various curricula a day at a time and we usually finish by the end of the school year.

 

Maybe I need to choose curricula that encourages independent learning, and maybe you could suggest something. It's hard because I really like learning right along with my children. I feel like the teaching is FUN for me to be part of.

 

We will do a math program but I don't know which because we are leaving Right Start. Maybe Singapore? Henle Latin. Ancients for History. I don't know. I guess I am sort of rambling, but I am really panicked about how I am going to manage this, given that organization and paperwork are not my strong points. Maybe I need to discipline myself to use some sort of homeschool planner software. Do any of you do that and have one your recommend? Maybe someone who isn't the queen of planning? lol

 

Enough rambling. Anyone who go this far and has suggestions, I'd love to hear them. I wish my sister would just come do this for me. I tend to think that's the reason we HAVE older sisters after all.

 

My fifth grader liked me to write what I wanted her to do on a white board. She knew it was a lesson of math, her spelling words, her reading assignment, etc. But when I didn't do it-I often found her writing on the white board with little boxes next to the assignments with checks in them.

 

This year, I have switched to making excel sheets for her of all of her assignments; it takes hours BUT she is not whining at me for what's next. I spent a couple of days going through each book that I bought in the beginning of the year and separated it into weekly chunks. There is a spot to check off and date what she does and then when she is frustrated-she can just look in her booklet (3 ring binder) and see what she has done and what she needs to do.

 

I still help her on most of her subjects but she knows what to do instead of asking me what's next, or spacing out in her room.

 

Blessings to you! You are showing your children an invaluable lesson as you take care of your father...

Edited by CherylG
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Maybe I need to choose curricula that encourages independent learning, and maybe you could suggest something. It's hard because I really like learning right along with my children. I feel like the teaching is FUN for me to be part of.

 

I will repeat what I've said time and time again: CHILDREN NEED TEACHERS. The one-on-one instruction in homeschooling is what makes it such a superb method of education.

 

Your job as a homeschool mom is to do exactly what you say you enjoy - teaching your kids. That said, there's no reason you can't put more responsibility on your children, provided that you give the the proper instruction to begin with. Certain subjects can be done independently: handwriting practice, piano/instrument practice, logic (we used Mind Benders CD ROMS so the kids could work independently), math fact practice (think MathShark or some other self-correcting program). Certain subjects need some parental instruction (ie, a math or English lesson) but then the child can work independently on the day's assignment.

 

I always gave each of my six children a planner, and each day was filled out. They knew what they had to get done each day. If I was instructing one child, the others could practice piano, do handwriting, etc...they could not just sit and do nothing. After I went over their math lesson each day, they knew what assignment they had to finish (the key here is that I spent 5-10 minutes going over the lesson so that I knew they understood it); we did the same with English (we used Rod and Staff). The only subjects that took a lot of my time were history and science (lots of reading aloud and discussing), but we did this as a group so the time worked out about the same. After history and science, the kids always had a paragraph to write about something, so that was another independent activity.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Ria

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