Encouragement/Ideas: Help when child grumbles, not focused,

Art, Foreign Language, Music, Nature Walks, as well as general ideas and encouragement
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Re: Can I be real? So frustrated

Unread post by saralynn »

Thank you ladies for being so real. Little sinners it seems we have. I can see that I have pampered my 3 boys a bit too much which has made them a little bit selfish and demanding...on a good day.
My word from God a few days ago was that I am not to try to make their life on earth easy, fun and joyful but to teach them to find the joy in life as they walk through their day that is not a lot of play with a little work but a lot of work with a little play. That is so much easier said than done!!! I always want to smooth out all of the wrinkles, but I am trying to learn how to focus on teaching them to have fun while navigating the wrinkles .
I think the issue is not always what it seems, but is a deeper issue that has not been dealt with. Past conflict being unresolved?

I have been reading to them the book Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends written by 3 siblings. When they start arguing I pull out the book and read it to them. lol
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The magic of 1st has worn off and I'm ready to quit!

Unread post by TriciaMR »

Mom2theteam wrote:Right after I wrote about how well he was doing and focusing up to day 13, everything started to fall apart. He is back to his old ways and I'm about to lose my mind. Today, we've already worked for about 1.5hrs and we aren't even half way done with phonics. We have done the Bible, calendar/number of the day, and the dictation words. We started to learn about long vowels. (We are on day 18. The start of long vowels.) But, we couldn't even get through reading one word.

He is soooo hard to keep focused. We had this problem in K last year, but it was less content, especially at the end. He will find ANYTHING to distract him. He will color on whatever page we are using. He will need to pick the biggest bean for his bean cup. Some days he will want to color the beans he draws on his number chart in great detail. Anything that is in black and white, he wants to color. Today, I sent my 4 year old twins away and I put everything off the table, including all the colored pencils. So, what was he messing with the entire time....his feet! Seriously, even using his pencil to pick at them. :~

If I ask him a question he doesn't know the answer to, he gets upset with me. If I ask him a question he knows the answer to, he gets upset. Today, since he doesn't see a lot of capitals in books and such, he was getting mad saying "why do I never see them?" :~ I finally explained it well enough that he understood, but before we could even read one word, he was complaining that he liked short vowels better because the words are shorter! Ahhhhhhh...... I gave up. It was 12:40 pm and well past time for lunch and almost the toddler's naptime. On top of all this, of course, I have the interruptions of the other 4 kids. They are actually all pretty good, but they are still little kids and interrupt sometimes. When they do, of course, my son generally starts doing something completely different, maybe coloring a picture. Then, he gets mad when I come back and need him to stop. He really hates to stop in the middle of things.

Today, I told him we were going to start making a book called "Animal Tales." He LOVES animals. I was hoping it would motivate him to get the other stuff done. It didn't work. But, I do know full well that when we actually get to making the book, he is not going to be happy at all because the first sentence is "A cat can bake a cake." Well, a cat cannot bake a cake and he is very picky about his animals being realistic, no room for pretend when it comes to animals unless it is realistic pretend. I've been trying to figure out another long vowel "a" word to sub for cake, but I can't think of one. *sigh*

This used to happen all year last year. It worked out okay with phonics because he understood the CVC words so well, we could just fly through the units at the end. This year, I am having a baby in Oct and will probably take a month or so off for that. Plus, I don't think we will be able to rush through at the end because this phonics is more in-depth. I feel like if anything, we will have to slow down to give him more time to learn it. So, I'm very nervous that if we can't get through the full day at least most days that we won't finish by the time we should be starting second.

And, of course, this means, that I can't get laundry done or anything else very well. I also don't have much time at all to focus on my 4 year olds.

So, all that said, I have wondered if my oldest has some sort of ADD/ADHD issue. But, I think he is just a boy full of energy who has a hard time focusing. He has never been a behavioral issue at church or other settings nor has anyone ever complained of him not focusing or paying attention. He doesn't have behavioral issues at home either. I mean, he's 6. So, he certainly isn't perfect. But, he does obey pretty well as long as he isn't bouncing off the walls at the time. He does often have an attitude problem and talk with a mean tone, but we are working on that and from what I hear, that is a typical 6 year old issue to deal with. I can't help but wonder if during school it is a behavioral/character issue that I am not correcting well enough. Sometimes I think his attitude definitely is, but his lack of focus doesn't feel like it's a behavioral issue. Then again, maybe it is.

I know this was long. I'm typing out of my frustration. I would really appreciate any insight or suggestions you might have? Thanks so much for reading my rantings. &)
Oh, {Hugs} Heather...

It is so frustrating when you know they can do something and then they don't/won't/can't.

With kids it can be a 2 steps forward 3 steps back kind of thing (and sometimes 2 steps forward and only 1 step back).

Charlotte Mason would say as soon as they start to act distracted, change it. If you find that phonics is his distract-o situation, start with that, and then as soon as he starts picking at his feet, switch to math. As soon as he wants to color his beans in detail, say, "You can do that when we're done with all our required stuff for the day. Right now we're going to do calendar." And so on. Keep changing it up. I know, it's more work. Been there done that.

Two of my kids are mildly dyslexic. One of the things I notice is if the new thing is "harder" than what they are used to, they go into distract-o city. Tapping pencils, rocking, humming, falling out of their seat (really?!?! doesn't that hurt your bottom after the 3rd time?), crying, "I can't do this perfectly," etc. Feel free to stop for the day. Just stop. He's only 6. Start over tomorrow. Stay with that lesson until it really sinks in. I know, you're thinking, "We'll never finish this!" You will, because there will be days that he gets it right away and you'll move on. Don't panic. Now, you might make sure whatever you do after you stop is not fun (lots of chores, or sitting in a corner, or whatever) so that he doesn't get the idea that if he goofs off you're going to give up.

Another thing I did with my oldest was a "chip cup." She had a bad habit of crying/fussing/complaining. So she started with a cup of 20 chips. If she did one of the things, I took a chip. If she had less than 15 at the end of the school day, then she got extra chores, less than 10 - harder chores, less than 5 - talking with dad. If she had 20, she got a reward. So, whenever he wiggles, etc, pull a chip out of the cup. After a short while he will make a connection to the action. (You have to explain it to them, but for some reason watching that chip get out of that cup made it sink in after just a few days. I only had to do a chip cup for about 3 weeks.)

More {hugs}. Deep breath! It will be okay.

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Re: The magic of 1st has worn off and I'm ready to quit!

Unread post by lea_lpz »

My dd also gets distracted easy and her mind wonders a lot. If she is particularily disruptive, I will make her stand in the corner for a 5 time out and invite her back when she's done. If this fails to do the trick, we will take a long break, but instead of play, she'll do chores or something else not very fun. We also have a chore chart. If at the end of school session she did a average to great job, she'll get her doing school time cheerfully point, if not, she doesn't. It's only one of her 10 chores / character points, so I don't weigh it more than the others, but basically if she were to do all her chores / character traits all week long she could earn up to $10 (a dollar for each), but this hasn't ever happened. For each point she doesn't get, I subtract a quarter from $10. So typically she'll earn somewhere between $5-8.

I know that you are probably already doing this since you've already been doing hs for over a year now, but just thought I'd ask incase, are you breaking it up into increments at a time? Sometimes we don't have time to do this so we plough right through the whole K / preschool thing in one sitting, but I try to generally work in smaller break ups, say 3 or 4, so we do about 30 minutes and then have a 30 minute break, etc. It might mean the whole morning is spent at home, but I do notice my dd is more focused on school, and seems to be more cheerfull about doing it. If she is just frusterated because she's having a hard time getting a concept, and it's taking longer then it should, I will let her finish up school in the afternoon instead (or the next day, or just skip the read alouds and activities) and we'll do something fun instead or whatever. But, that's only if she had a good attitude and tried, and I compliment her. "Sweetie, I know that was hard and that's ok. You're learning, and sometimes it's hard at first to understand something we're knew at. But I love that you kept trying your best and didn't get upset! I just want you to try your best at everything you do. It doesn't have to be perfect, etc."

Sometimes I'll use timers too. Like I'll say, ok, we have a busy day, so we will work on math today for only 10 minutes. When it beeps we are done. That should be enough time to finish. If you don't, it's ok, but we'll have to finish that later this afternoon, and you won't get to play outside with your friends until it's done (or after dinner and no tv or play time until it's done, etc.). But, I know you can do it! Let's see if we can beat the timer! Then you can pick a candy! (I ration out birthday party / holiday party candies through out the year so they can have a mini candy through out the year for good behavior rewards.

Another idea I have, is, if your son is only 6, you could spread MFW1 over two years or a year and a half so that you don't feel pressured to finish everything in one day and you can repeat the phonics lessons if need be. My dd is 5, born April 15, so not a young K'er or anything, but if we end up taking longer to get through K and 1st, so be it! Right now, we are scheduled to get through K by the end of May, but if she ends up needing to go slower, we will. We're only just going to be starting next week for unit 6, which is where things seem to start being taken up a notch, and so if I feel like she needs more time, we'll take K over an extra half year, start 1st after Christmas vacation or something. And if 1st ends up being longer, well, ok, fine. That's what is nice about homeschool; flexibility in working at the right pace for you kids

My dd is youmg, so I am weary of labeling her with ADD / ADHD at such a young age, but her energy level is very different then my stepson and son's energy level, as is her ability to concentrate. Right now, I just try to stick with routine in her life, like making sure she is getting enough sleep, enough physical activitiy, and a lot of healthy food, limit sugar, etc. This all helps with her behavior a lot and is something I have been doing pretty much since we brought her home from the hospital becasue rather quickly we noticed she didn't do well with her "routine" being changed. She also doesn't have too many behavioral issues, but her ability to stay still, to concentrate, to listen, that's all hard for her.
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Re: The magic of 1st has worn off and I'm ready to quit!

Unread post by Renee413 »

Oh, I feel your pain. Been there, done that. You've gotten some good advice already, but I just want to add that it will get easier with each passing year (at least it did for me). My son just finished 2nd grade and I noticed a huge difference going from 1st to 2nd grade. It just takes a while to click that if they work diligently there will be more time to play and do other things. He works so much quicker than he used to, and his attitude has improved tremendously.
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Re: The magic of 1st has worn off and I'm ready to quit!

Unread post by Yodergoat »

So sorry it is becoming frustrating for you. :(

My daughter has days that are very similar when there is a new skill being learned, except that she doesn't usually get angry, but will tend to whine and do everything in her power to distract from the task. Pencil dropping is her all-time favorite. Drives me absolutely crazy. You would think that pencil was coated with grease or something. Or that it was tied to a string and someone was yanking it out of her hand. Seriously, it just goes flying across the room and yet she didn't throw it... it just slips out of her hand. Then one of us has to go get it and so time is taken away, and she feels like she wins at that moment because it is ten more seconds of putting off the hard thing. I know that must be what it is because when it comes right down to it and she has to attend to the problem she might break down saying she can't do it.

I have tried different ways to deal with it. Just pushing through works, but it is wearing and tiresome. I have punished her for being blatantly disobedient of course, but so much of her issue is claimed to be accidental. The following worked for me once (for a while) but then again it could backfire completely and a kid could think it is the best, most fun day ever. :~

One day I got so tired of the wiggliness that I decided to copy what she had been doing up to that point. I dropped my pencil. I fell out of my chair when I picked it up. While I was on the floor I started messing with something I found there. I climbed back into my chair but then slumped over the table. I rolled the pencil back and forth between my hands until it fell off again. I tried to pick it up with my toes which took a while. I started flipping ahead in the workbook. I messed with the coin cup, rattling it loudly so she couldn't speak to be heard. I will stop the description now but I think you get it... I did all the things she usually does to be a distraction. The whole time she was watching me, bug-eyed.

"What are you doing?" she asked, having to repeat it several times because of course I didn't answer her at first because I was turned around in my seat, humming.

"Oh, I'm just doing what you do." I think I fell out of my chair again.

"But why?" she asked.

"Do you like it?" I asked her, still flopping and picking at stuff and rolling that pencil.

"No, I don't like it," she said. I think I starting tipping my water bottle until it almost spilled on the page she had just done.

"Is it annoying?" I asked her.

She didn't want to answer, because she saw where I was going with this, but she did. "Yes! It's very annoying and can you please just act normal?" she asked.

I stopped, looked at her pointedly. "You think that stuff I was just doing was annoying? Do you realize that's what you do when I am trying to teach you?"

Her only reply was a quiet nod.

"Let's keep going on our lesson, and I'm going to act normal now. I expect you to do the same."

This had a glorious effect that day and for a few days thereafter. I think it showed her how silly she usually acts. But I can't believe the amount of energy it took for me to muster up all that annoying distraction. She must have limitless amounts.

I think that usually this sort of intentional distracting is a manifestation of the fear of new things.... do anything to avoid the difficult task, even if it gets you into trouble. Or at least it seems to be with her, a girl who can sit quietly and attend at a task that she is good at very well. She can sit and string beads or color or draw for hours,
will listen intently when I'm reading aloud if it's something she is interested in, will sit at a window and watch birds for many minutes. But you give her a task at which she doesn't excel or which isn't her favorite, and she is ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Anyway, I don't have any actual good advice for you and it is only barely likely that the above little stunt would have any effect on your son, but it did work for me... for a while anyway.

But then there is this: the Animal Tales booklet. It kind of bugged my girl that it said "A cat can bake a cake." She said, "Huh, that's weird. I guess they're trying to be funny, not serious or realistic." And she went with it, tried to look past her sense of realism and eventually thought it was quirky and funny. If you truly think your son will balk at this, you could change "can" to "can't." The pronunication isn't any different because of the apostrophe, and it could be a chance to tell him about how they aren't just used for possessive forms. "A cat can't bake a cake."

For the third page, "Five pigs ride on the plane," he doesn't have to think of that as being silly or that the pigs are steering the plane or anything. You could tell him that the pigs were being delivered somewhere. My daughter read the sentence and never thought of pigs flying a plane... she said, "Maybe they are being delivered to poor people, like Gospel For Asia sends out pigs for Christmas." She then drew five realistic pigs.

I am not sure what to do with "A mole had a hot stove." Hmmm. :~ "A mole dug a big hole." ??

For the next one, "A cute bug rode the mule," that shouldn't be so hard because there can be a cute insect of some type on a mule's back... it doesn't have to be cartoonish and sitting on a saddle with a cowboy hat but could be some sort of perfectly realistic attractive beetle sitting in the sun on the mule's back or something.
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Re: The magic of 1st has worn off and I'm ready to quit!

Unread post by HeyChelle »

Just a quick question... (I'm supposed to be writing my schedule out.) I'm guessing you are working on discipline issues already. Have you had his vision checked?
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Re: The magic of 1st has worn off and I'm ready to quit!

Unread post by Mom2theteam »

I'm so sorry I haven't been back and posted. I've read all your responses and I truly appreciate them and the encouragement you provided. I really appreciate all the advice. I've already used some of it today. :-)

As it turned out, last night after dinner, my son asked me if we could do some school before bed. He knew I was frustrated and that he had not been well behaved. I was hesitant to do it because I'd realized after posting this that he was really tired and needed to go to bed early (along with the rest of the family ;) ). But, I told him we could do either math or phonics. He choose math. He was so focused and well behaved that I decided to go ahead and try some phonics after the math (a worksheet and number war). He was perfectly well behaved and focused. He had no problem at all understanding the short v. long vowels. He did the whole thing without one complaint or issue at all. We even did the Animal Tales book and while he did comment on the lack of realism, he wasn't very bothered by it and drew and illustration without hesitation. Actually, he is thrilled about the book and couldn't wait to do it again today. It really went great and was a time of bonding together and refreshing. I'm so glad I decided to let him do it. We both felt much better and he went to bed on time (not early, which I was okay with). It was really what I needed. :-)

So, today, I decided to break up our school time more. We had been doing calendar/number of the day and phonics before lunch together and math if we got finished soon enough with the other. Then after lunch we did math (if we hadn't already) and any other subjects, like science, art, reading aloud, etc. Today, the first thing we did after getting dressed was the calendar and number of the day, before breakfast even. Then, he did a math worksheet while I made breakfast. Right after breakfast, we did Bible and then a short break. Phonics after that, but, as soon as he started getting fidgety and uncooperative and I was getting frustrated, we stopped. We picked it back up after lunch. I had the 4 year olds leave the room and play quietly. The toddlers were napping. So, no distractions. He did his phonics great with no issues and very excited about his Animal Tales book, especially because men can see a green snake. LOL!!

So, I'm hoping with some things changed up a bit in the household and me working on gaining more patience :~ we can get past this bump quickly.

Oh and for those wondering about the Animal Tales, my son just really like animals, but he wants them to be realistic. He doesn't like it when he sees an animal wearing clothes in a cartoon or whatever. Of course, I remind him that it's pretend and imaginative, but he just doesn't like it or understand why they would do that. :~ Even when he is pretending and being creative with animals, it is in a realistic way. Hopefully, that makes sense. So, I was imagining complaining with the Animal Tales. Luckily, that didn't happen. Yay!

Anyway, again, thank you for all the insight and reassurance that this is normal. I really appreciate the loving support that this board is! :-)
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Re: The magic of 1st has worn off and I'm ready to quit!

Unread post by Yodergoat »

That is a great, happy update! :)
I'm Shawna...
... a forgiven child of God since 1994 (age 16)
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Re: The magic of 1st has worn off and I'm ready to quit!

Unread post by gratitude »

Hi Heather!!!! :-)

I haven't read any of your great replies, but I did read all of your post and want to respond.

Breathe...breathe...breathe. It is going to be O.K. It really is. When I was at your stage I had a 6, 4, 2, and new born who had just gone through heart surgery. Tough, tough home school year. I have seen so many people quit after K or 1st that I first want to congratulate you on staying with it! I made a decision when my oldest was 6 that is the single best home school decision I have ever made. I made an absolute commitment to do it until he was through 2nd grade; for at least 2 - 3 years. I LOVE home schooling now. LOVE it. I did not love it when I had 4 children 6 and under and you have even more. It is very very very difficult to teach an 'oldest' to do school with toddlers and babies everywhere. An oldest who is a boy. An oldest who is an active boy and needs and wants to run and play. The chaos drove me nearly crazy to be honest. I just stayed with it. With only one toddler in the house my life is so much Easier and manageable. You will get through this season, he will learn despite it all, it will work itself out, and yes all of your children will have a much different home schooling experience in a large family than if it was a smaller family where we could give 100% of attention to their education one-on-one. Both can be wonderful, just different. I can not do as much as my home schooling friends with 2 kids, and I had to accept that fact at some point. I can do more 'school' at home or activities closer to their level; but something has to give. We too choose to have 'more' children and the we have to give up a certain number of expectations as a family while we gain the joy of being a 6 person family. Does this make any sense?

Now for practical help:
*Set the timer for 10 minutes for Proverb copy work and it takes as many days as it takes. Stop at 10 minutes. Take a break.
*Do the spelling at the top of the page in the blue note book. Take a break.
*Do the math. Take a break. Don't spend more than 15 minutes on math with an active 6 year old boy, IMO. Or, do the math orally. My oldest was a very active 6 year old Kindergarten boy who did all of his math orally while on our backyard play set. It save math until he was 7 1/2. At just turned 9 doing math is not an issue with the pencil at all for an entire lesson. Take a break.
*Do the reading. Take a break. It may take all day to do school, and it is OK. My oldest did school from 9 - 3 for MFW1. He did about 1 1/2 hours of actual work in that 6 hours, but it worked. It trained him to focus, to work, to sit, to do school in amounts of time that were manageable in a home environment. Could he sit longer at school? Probably, but there is a reason our state law is age 8 for starting. It was 8 or 9 in early America and it has never been changed on the books.
*Focus on teaching him to do school, and just expect the process to take time in a home environment. He doesn't have the peer pressure of 20 peers to sit. It takes time to teach the oldest, and then the rest learn from the oldest example. If you had seen my oldest at 6 and 7 you would have for sure thought home school would never work. I wondered a few times about ADHD, but I knew it wasn't yet. Just active. Now he sits and reads 3 hours a day at just turned 9; it does change. He can now sit and focus for 1 - 2 hours easily on school work. In MFW1 copying for 10 minutes was torture. It is hard to copy. It looks like Greek to them. I trained him bit by bit 10 minutes at a time for 2 years. Day by day, month by month. It is the best thing I have ever done for my family. It was really really really hard. But I stuck with it and now I see home school fruit and joy and them really being able to work. MFW1 was 100x easier with my second because my first knew how to sit and work. Stay with it. Patience..patience...patience..perseverance. I also didn't take it too seriously until 2nd grade; I couldn't. Much more seriously for 3rd this year.
*If it helps any my spring baby who is now 7 is entering 2nd this fall with 80 days left in MFW1. We just didn't get started on it until last January. He wasn't ready to sit, so I waited. He was ready to read, but not sit. I am planning on starting his Rod and Staff English 2 and Math for 2nd grade with MFW1; so we will still on be on track for later while finishing up MFW1.

Hugs and Prayers. I hope something I said in all of this was helpful. I think home schooling is a wonderful way to educate, but it is a process setting it up with young children.

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