I’m about ready to chuck my teens out the window. Please help me save their lives. (For reference they are 15 and 14.)
Any time I read out loud they are able to pay attention and narrate beautifully, either oral or written. When they read their individual assignments they can also narrate orally or written. Sometimes it’s not as well done as I’d like, but it’s still clear that they understood it. The part that is driving me crazy is how LONG it takes them to get stuff done.
For example….I’ll assign 20 pages in a living, engaging, exciting history book. (Or 5 pages in a science text. Or whatever is reasonable for a lesson.) This should take less than 30 minutes. I look over and they’re looking out the window, playing with a toy, walking around, getting 10 drinks of water, talking to anyone including themselves, basically doing anything EXCEPT paying complete attention to their work. So instead of the less than 30 minutes it takes an hour. Or they just plain don’t finish it that day. They can never, NEVER, get all their work done in a day. And it’s only 4 1/2 hours of work total. They can NEVER finish before 5 or 6 which means they don’t have any free time or masterly inactivity.
I do sit in the room with them to keep them on track. They used to be allowed to work in different rooms but they basically read non-school books or played the whole time so that was revoked. We vary the subjects so the brain is refreshed. They get physical activity throughout the day. I redirect and redirect and redirect. I want them to learn how to do that on their own though. Because some days I want to redirect with an ice bucket over their heads. They have no privileges to take away. Video games stopped two months ago. They don’t get TV (Netflix) until school is done on time (it’s not).
How do I teach them focused attention when they’re working on their own?albanyaloeParticipant
I could have written almost all that post, crazy4, because your house sounds similar to mine, just different ages, different work loads. I am bumping your post up in the hopes of getting a reply for us.
I do try to tell enforce that my children do the work they do not finish in the required morning time, in the pm, during free time, but it mostly back fires on me, because we’re at the stage that they need me for a lot of things, so then it just means I also lose my afternoon free time. Also, if we have visits or activities planned, they just don’t get it it.
I just cannot figure out what takes them so long. I don’t know what I am doing wrong. Right now, each one goes off to their own little space for certain subjects, to try help them concentrate. But it’s dawdle, dawdle. I do not think I am giving too much for too long either.
I feel they will never learn to be responsible for completing a task in a normal time frame.
And the sad thing is, it almost seems like a spiritual issue, like, they just cannot be bothered. How do I teach them to actually care about whether it is done or not, and to be diligent?
So, I eagerly await answers too.
Crazy4boys, have you seen this recent post, about timed lessons ? I just headed there, and it certainly helped me a lot.
I did see that thread and it was very helpful. I just don’t know what to do when the natural consequences don’t work. They don’t get playtime because they’re still working. Video games were taken away. They can’t do anything except finish their work….and they aren’t finishing it. I feel like we’re trapped at home all the time because it takes them so long to plug in and get it done.
We’ve set timers over and over again and they apathetically accept that they’ll have to finish it instead of do something fun. And it doesn’t change their future behavior.
We’ve had so any talks about stewardship, responsibility, habits, self control, real life, etc and they just stay unfocused and disconnected.
Also, if they are undisciplined to sit and work, then you must sit and be by them to redirect them to the task at hand. Behaving like a small child = treatment like a small child. Unless there is an underlying learning issue, you are not asking for anything unreasonable. They are simply weak willed and need to learn both self discipline and self control.
I know it’s hard, but it’s often necessary to be fully present and available during lessons.
First long post disappeared. Ugh.
An idea – Go where you need. Bring them and some kind of work. Require them to sit off to the side and continue working while rest of family has fun. One friend had to do this with her eldest son for about 3 years. This kid is BRILLIANT, but would never buckle down and actually do his math work. So it went with him everywhere. Eventually, after a long three years, he figured it’s easier to simply do it at home when the time was set aside for it. It took boat loads of patience from my friends, but he did eventually realize he was missing out.
I do sit with them. All day. And I want to poke my eyes out. I redirect them all day long. They can’t listen to music anymore either…it was too distracting.
I like the idea of making them take their work with them so the younger boys and I can do fun things but not sure how to make that work when we’re hiking or touring the zoo or museum. If I leave them home as ‘punishment’ they just goof off.
I swear, they’re good kids! They’re just really struggling in this area.Wings2flyParticipant
Here is my post witth a similar problem. It is going better, but we are still working on things.retrofamParticipant
I have had this struggle with my boys to varying degrees. We used the above suggestions, as well as making sure that I had the best curricula fit possible for each of them in the different subjects. We switched when needed.
I also did as many things orally as I could, and when they were junior high/high school age I discussed their learning preferences often. I told my son yesterday that these were his biology materials, and he could decide how to best use them to learn the material. We discussed options such as using the worksheets vs. narrations. Essay tests are another option. The more your children feel that you are on their side, and you can help them figure out how to get themselves to do their work, the better.
This makes me think of boys in classrooms who are in trouble often for the same issue we are discussing. Many will struggle with independent seatwork, especially in many subjects.
Eventually each of my boys figured out how to make themselves sit and do bookwork. For some it wasn’t until 11th grade.
Last year with my 7th grader he was constantly doing projects instead of bookwork. I was frustrated until I read “The Right Side of Normal ” and looked at project based learning and relaxed homeschooling. I ended up switching his science to delight directed learning. I required that he do “something” for science each day, and I wrote down what he did. It was a good decision, and worked well.
This year he is using a biology curriculum, along with living books.
I am sure that we will continue to have issues this year, but I know that my son is not being malicious. He wants to get his school work done too, but his ability to self regulate and work independently on subjects he would rather not do each day, is not there yet.
Hang in there, and make sure that you get breaks here and there.
It is worth the effort!retrofamParticipant
Sizzlebop.com has good ideas for distracted learners.
Crazy4Boys – hard, physical labor is an essential for boys in my opinion, they need it. But it also works well for those who drop the ball with responsibilities (chores or school work). I view their education as their job and since I have dedicated my life spreading the feast, their job is to partake and do their best in all things and chores are required to eat. No work = no food. Failing to do school work = more physical labor. Idleness isn’t an option so if the academics aren’t being accomplished, other work will be. By the teen years, we should expect the kids to have ownership of their work and lay out for them the options.
In our family, the kids chores are timed before meals. Chores incomplete means that meal is missed. We do not have an open kitchen, but rather set meal and snack times. This alone is incentive to do the chores because they all like to eat!
Also, we have talked with our kids about what’s expected and what the consequences are and we are sure to follow through with them. We had an issue with lackadaisical attitude and chores long a habit being neglected yesterday am. This was unacceptable in general, but since I’m caring for one with pneumonia right now, I wasn’t inspecting. We had a discussion (with ds11, dd8, & ds5) about the importance of looking around and seeing needs without being asked, especially in times of great need. We also imposed restrictions on everything for a week. Whatever they wish to do or play with requires approval and no outside activities until Sunday. This means ds11 is missing a big youth event tonight. He asked if he could go since he was back on track today. The answer was no. We said Sunday and we mean Sunday.
Another thing with teens is to make sure they understand what you expect when they turn 18. Is it to live at home and remain idle and disobedient? Talk it out with your husband and be very clear about what you will and won’t do for them once they are adults. They need to realize it’s their own future. Tough love, I guess you’d say.
My original post appeared. ☺️Tjbowman34Participant
So needing this right now! Bumping!
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