Hi all! I'm new and have lots of questions so I'll start with this one. I have three kids--11, 8, and 5. We've been homeschooling about 2.5 years. Right away I was drawn to CM and have tried to implement her methods. I've been somewhat inconsistent, sometimes going off on a tangent and trying unit studies or some other method, but am seeing the light and really want to stick with Charlotte's ways. We've done narration and copywork fairly consistently, though. My problem is my 11yo son. He hates "school". Homeschooling has instilled a love of reading in him, so I get no argument on that. However, he complains daily about having to "do school." He cries if he doesn't understand something right away or if he has to do something over, yet his work is usually sloppy--sloppy handwriting (except his copywork), doesn't follow directions, etc. I've tried so many things to get him interested (which fuels the inconsistency because I'm always trying something new) but he just wants to "get school done" everyday. In his free time he likes to read about the middle ages and try to make things like bows, armor, and shields, but other than that no other school topic interests him. He says he wants to go the workbook route (lifepacs, ACE, etc.) but it literally makes my stomach knot to think of educating him this way. But his attitude is rubbing off on the younger two and it disrupts our day. I'm almost ready to give up and stick him in a corner with a pile of workbooks so HELP! Any advice is welcome. In another post Blessedmama (I think) wrote that they took 2 years off formal schooling with their daughter. I've considered this because I think we may need to gain his heart but at 11 years old that's scary to do. I was wondering, blessedmama, if you could tell me more about that.
child who hates school(5 posts) (3 voices)
I'm happy to share what we did, but I will say that my dd was around 8-9, so she was a bit younger.
This particular dd had a hard time sitting still, and also had a hard time obeying! I was getting increasingly frustrated trying to fit her into my "mold" (we weren't textbook homeschoolers, but had just recently relaxed from my "ideal" which was still too intense!). Not to mention the frustration of her constantly challenging *everything*. We had a busy fall and I was expecting #7, and my dh surprised me and said, "Take the rest of the year off." After sputtering about what about this and that (all fears, totally unbased other than "wondering what others would think" and "what if they get behind"), I yielded and realized fairly soon God was teaching lessons bigger than I knew. I can't say we did it initially because of this dd, but I later realized that by taking away the *expectation* of "doing school", I wasn't as tense with this dd. I would be disciplining her or dealing with her on an issue, and in the back of my mind I would be getting more upset with her because everyone else was "getting behind". With that pressure gone, I could respond with more heart to heart than frustration. So maybe it was more for *me*!!!
I didn't just "do nothing", but I didn't plan out every day and hour and half-hour. I required 2-3 days a week in math, but was willing to count "real life math" if they had been cooking, sewing, or sometimes we would make up silly problems for each other. I really tried to keep it low key.
From time to time, I might require a book to be read, or read to them, (hindsight--I wish I'd read more out loud to them!), or I might ask them to write a letter or some short writing project on something they enjoyed.
This particular dd had issues with vision--in fact just last year she did vision therapy, which greatly increased her desire to read (unlike your son, she did not like to read). I wish she could have gotten that sooner, but the Lord worked it out in His time.
If you can get a copy of Simply Homeschooling by Vicky Goodchild, it is a good book. I think she used Konos, and I'm not into unit studies (I *tried* to be!), but she still had a lot of wisdom. I don't have my copy, or I'd look up which chapter it is that she told about one year when she allowed her son, and I think he was older--maybe even 13 or so?--to study what he wanted for a semester. He wanted to study survival skills. The only requirements were that he continue doing math and that at the end of the time, he would be expected to write about what he had learned. She told how he had been reluctant to learn the library's new computer card catalog, but now he had a reason to learn! :) He really dug into it and obviously was sharing along the way at dinner or other moments what he was learning.
She shared how at the end, she was dreading what he would write. He didn't like to write, and she figured it would just be a "here's the facts, ma'am" kind of work. Imagine her surprise when he handed her a short story where he used his learning to craft a piece about a plane going down in the Amazon jungle, and how the characters had to use the survival skills he learned!
I share all that to help you see that even though the learning might be lopsided (i.e. no science or American history), there is still learning going on. And you know, science has not been tops here just due to time pressures and real life happening (of course, we butcher our own chickens and milk goats and raise the babies, so plenty of real-life science going on! ;) ) But in the past two years, my older dds have just taken off with science! I think they're catching up! Seriously, we don't just "require" something because the public school does. We try to find a way to cover the material in a way that suits them. I have no problem with them just reading about science, although hands on is great.
My thoughts, if I were in your shoes, are first--does your dh have a job where your ds can go along sometimes? My dh is a self-employed contractor, so obviously as my boys get older, they can spend some time with him. BUT, he will require they do the work we agree upon first. I think boys hit a time in those years around 13 where they are becoming a young man, and they "try their hand" at being in charge--which is how God made them! But they need to learn, like Jesus, to submit themselves for a time! ;)
And that is key--you and your dh deciding what are the essentials and what is okay to let go for now.
Second thought, if dh can't take him to work, or maybe even if he can--tie into what he is obviously passionate about. He loves the middle ages--that could be his "curriculum" for a period of time! You and dh could decide an amount of time that he only has to do 1 or 2 things you require (I would personally make that math and copywork, with Bible being a given already, of course!), and he can study to his heart's content. BUT, you will require he share what he's learned in some way. I have let my girls pick a topic they will spend 6 weeks on, with only math and copywork required, and they can pick how they will present their topic. One year, my oldest studied "homemaking" and came up with her own home management binder that she still uses 5 years later! The second oldest gathered info about pioneer life in Nebraska. The third dd wrote a 1 page how-to sheet on how to keep a salt water aquarium (SHE is the scientist in this family! She also loves to deliver goats! :D ) The youngest of that group surprised me--she is the dd I was referring to earlier. She at that point didn't enjoy reading as much, but she really, really had a hard time writing. So I let her do her project on the computer (remember she was doing copywork for handwriting). She surprised me greatly in writing about caring for a Palomino horse (she wanted to do ALL horse breeds--she learned all about why we need to narrow a topic! LOL!) It was really quite interesting and very well done!
Another year, I happened to have 3 miscarriages in 9 months time, and most of it was over the school year. Two of them were harder on me and took longer for me to recuperate and get back my strength. It was my oldest dd's "freshman year" of high school--I had to let go a LOT of *my* plans! We have an old barn that we use for the goats, but they only need about a 1/3 of it. The girls (I have 7 girls and 2 boys, and this would be the oldest 4 that did this) had made a "town" out of about 1/2 the barn. We gave music lessons, and on "lesson days" the siblings of the students would play with the girls in the "town". (They named it Butterfly because we have two huge wooden monarch butterflies on the barn!) Students would beg their parents to stay longer so they could play, too! The girls devised the town's government, had a museum (including such interesting things as a tooth one of our goats lost!), a library (books we bought from the library sale!), a bank (acorns were the "money"), grocery store, garage (where you parked your bike!), restaurants, visitor's center, etc. The main rule was, you could gather a can of acorns on your first visit--after that, you had to come up with a business! Two brothers that came for lessons created a "water works" and charged to deliver water--extra acorns if you lived on the loft! :) One dd had a "sign shop" where she would design a sign for your business; another made paper clip butterflies to "sell"! They had a blast, and in spite of my inability to have the "school" I thought I would that year, they learned a LOT! My oldest dd even started a newspaper that she wrote out by hand, and I showed her the newsletter template on Microsoft Works--she figured it out! She wrote a wonderful ongoing story--when I read all this, I said to the Lord, "Lord! Who taught her to write like this?" He answered with Isaiah 54:13, "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children." And I'll add--great shall be *my* peace! I have taken that as my "homeschool verse"--we do what we can--but it is truly God teaching our children, and He loves to lead us! I have come to realize that it doesn't all depend upon me--not the right method, not the right schedule, not the right curriculum--it DOES depend on *me* depending upon HIM!
This allows you to have gentle requirements so it's not a free-for-all, but it also allows for his natural love of learning to blossom. Of course you are available to answer questions and guide where needed. You could also add that he be attentive to certain read alouds, so he is not totally isolated from his younger siblings!
In the story I told above about Vicky Goodchild's son, he was doing this also with his cousin (Vicky's sister lived next door) and their sisters got into it researching edible plants and making their own shelters, etc. So it can become a family thing, too!
The nice thing about having already set your time, is it's not going to go on forever. You can rest in that, and ds will know that he will have to learn other things that might not interest him as much. But the skills he learns as he researches (and take pictures of those swords and shields!) will carry over into other areas. You will eliminate a battle field for awhile and be able to enjoy his learning along with him (vs. seeing it as a competition to what he "should" be learning). He can't help but sense your delight and excitement as he shares with you, and then he will share more (count that as "narration"! ;) ) He will see you as coming alongside of him, not opposing him. But your gentle requirements make the fences, the boundaries that will help his creative learning thrive.
One last thought--if the thought of letting go that much still scares you, how about 2 days your requirements, 2 days what he wants to learn, with the 5th day a bonus if his attitude towards the requirements was good? He gets a bonus day if he cooperates and does a good job, but if he balks, he does your requirements on the 5th day. He still gets his 2 days no matter what, but he has an incentive to have a better attitude on the other 2! I've done that with math--in fact, the Pet Store Math from here is the "carrot" on Fridays if they've been faithful to do their regular math the other 4 days! :)
I hope that is helpful! And I hope I didn't go on and on too long! I will be happy to answer any other questions about this if you have more. I'm sure others will share some things with you, too.
May God bless you richly with wisdom for your son and to understand His will for your homeschool!
Trisch, all I can say is WOW! Thank you so much for not only responding but responding in such an encouraging way. You have no idea how much this helps! I do have a problem letting God take the lead--lately I've been convicted of getting in His way--so I'm praying and working on that. I like to plan and have plans so it's hard for me to "go with the flow." I do have to say if my kids had done the barn town I would've dropped dead with homeschool ecstasy! Maybe someday....:-) You've provided me with wonderful wisdom, advice, verses, resources, and ideas and I thank you so much for your time. Now I'll take it to God and dh and see what they say! I just can't thank you enough!
Yip I agree, we can't thank you enough Trisch. Thank you for the time that you put into answering us new CMers. I am looking forward to the day when I will also be able to encourage others with my experiences.
I haven't read to my children, but since reading CM's way I have begun to read to them. My eldest just loved it and from it has written his own book. He says that one day he is going to publish a book and be famous :) I would have missed out on this opportunity had I not change to the CM way. Is there someone who can give me info or a website on dissecting animals for my 8 year old son?
Oh, I'm humbled! You're quite welcome! I'm grateful my experiences can help others--not that you have to copy me (yikes!) but to encourage one another, and sometimes just spark an idea. We're all traveling together, remember! I don't have all the CM ideals down like I'd like. I first found CM about 10 years ago, but that was the start of a lot of craziness in my life. (bedrest on a pregnancy, dd with an autoimmune disorder, miscarriages, accidents, my dad's deteriorating health and eventual death, etc.) Well, I guess more craziness than usual! I was overwhelmed, but I took some things from it and just did what I could.
So, see, I am still learning, too. I can't seem to get even to history like I'd like some days. But I know it will take time to rebuild some structure where I've let loose too much. I'm *trying* to be patient with myself! ;)
Sorry I can't help with a dissection website! We've only dissected the chickens we butcher!
Another saying I heard years ago that helps with what I want to do as well as when I want more books (clothing and shoes I can resist, but never books!!!) is, "Do what you can, use what you have, and let God perfect it!"
Have a blessed day, ladies!
You must log in to post.