Encouragement - Motivating a 7th grader

Issues specific to teaching 6th to 8th graders, including the transition to Saxon math, Apologia science, Progeny Press guides, and grammar lessons
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faithannj
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Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 6:51 pm

Encouragement - Motivating a 7th grader

Unread post by faithannj » Thu Dec 14, 2006 11:12 am

kellybell wrote:Okay, we're struggling (again? still?) with our seventh grader, who is the oldest child but not a typical "oldest." She "works" (okay, appears to work) for long stretches but when we review her work it is mediocre in quality and quantity. We are at wit's end with her.

She missed five days of school due to appendicitis in October. With a naturally motivated child, we'd probably let it slide, but she's not a motivated child. So, she started out five days behind on her work (this is just her "individual" work, not the MFW unit study stuff -- we just let her skip what she missed there), and tomorrow is her deadline. How did she do on catching up? Suffice it to say that she is now TEN days behind.

She's a bright girl (her standardized test scores are always above average, in the 80 and 90th percentiles). Are we asking too much of her?
This post jumped out at me because when my parents started homeschooling us, I was a 7th grader. I remember plenty of battles about getting my work done. Part of it is the age. Part of it is not being motivated enough.

For me, it became very motivating to get my school work done when I realized I could make a lot of money babysitting during normal school hours when most kids were in school. Is there something similar that could get her fired up?
Faith
mom to Hunter (6) and Connor (4.5)

Shelly Best
Posts: 26
Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2004 11:42 pm

Unread post by Shelly Best » Thu Dec 14, 2006 11:17 am

Kelly,

Seems like the sat scores always tell beyond our ability!

I have a 6th grader (my attitude child- second born, middle child, oldest son) he has all the labels....fact is I struggle with this child most in character training. I have had to strip him of everything but the clothes on his back to keep him motivated to complete school. [a little different circumstance, but effective in all cases]

You may need to apply this to all your children so you do not single out your 7th grader....this is the preteen attitude age, and self-complex runs high. You daughter may also just be healing slow from stress. Sounds like a good time for mom to take a long hot bath, or better yet a long massage!

I do have a 7th grade dd! She has a heavy load this year also. But handles the stress much better than my ds.
Blessings,
Shelly of CA
wife to Mike;
mother of Hannah(13), Michael(12), Thomas(9)
MFW since 2000

faithannj
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 6:51 pm

Unread post by faithannj » Thu Dec 14, 2006 2:21 pm

My impressions (which I admit is very limited), are two fold.

#1 Your daughter sounds bored. Like she has nothing about her school (and maybe outside life either) that she really enjoys. The beauty of homeschooling is that it doesn't have to be just "school" at home...it can be so much more. You've got to find something she likes or you're going to kill any love of learning. Which brings me to...

#2 I am betting your daughter hears you talk a lot about what she needs to be doing so maybe it's time to let her do the talking. Voltaire said, "The road to the heart...is the ear." Put the ball in her court. Ask her what she wants to do. Clearly doing nothing isn't an option but make it more practical. Ask her what she thinks the solution is. You might be surprised by what she comes up with. Adolescence is a period of identity development. This is just my opinion, but I would take off some time in the formal studies and have her do some exercises to help her find out where she wants to be.

- Have her take a sheet of paper and write "Who am I?" at the top and then quickly write 20 answers to the question. When you go over it together ask her to explain her answers and use open ended responses to get her talking. The focus is letting her express herself.

- Then have her do another page with "Who I would Like to Be" at the top. She can use pictures out of magazines and write descriptions of each one. Then talk about who she learned about herself.

For example, If she wants to venture into the medical field then you have the opportunity to express the importance of those science classes...she'd need plenty of them.

If she's headed to college at all, she needs to know how that translates to course work now. Writing papers especially. I started homeschooling in 7th grade and went to college a year early. Those four years really flew by. I just doesn't sound like she has any vision or joy.

I hope this wasn't too opinionated or presumptuous. I wish you the best of luck.
Faith
mom to Hunter (6) and Connor (4.5)

Lucy
Posts: 444
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 9:37 am

Unread post by Lucy » Thu Dec 14, 2006 2:23 pm

Kelly,

I have an 8th grade girl and she is doing better this year but some days she is just not very motivated. My dh and I have decided that after Christmas we need to set (help her to set ) some better goals about finishing.

We have made check off lists but if I do not check to see that they are done on a daily basis she gets behind.

Last year she struggled through the Apologia and only finished half of it. Partly I felt that was my fault. I was expecting a bit much from her. This year she is finishing the last half of Apologia. She has one module left. She is on schedule. We have made this a high priority. But I have hardly helped her at all this year. Part of it is the content and part of it is she struggled through last year and learned how to study from a textbook.

I am encouraged because she is much more independent this year than last.

Anther thing that I finds is helping her is an outside class. This would not be for everyone but it works well for her. We have a great homeschooled group that does classes on Thurs. She is taking writing. I find that she works better for this teacher in this area than for me and it relieves some of the stress from me. They actually offer the Apologia classes but she is doing fine with that at home.

I do not have any earth shattering answers but I know that a key is checking in daily or weekly and then taking away other things they would like to do until the work is done. Amazingly on Tuesdays, which is our youth night at church, all the work is done.

I am right there with you and struggling to keep on top of her. Prayers and grace to you as we walk together on this journey,

Lucy
wife to Lee and mom to Twila 18 (girl) and Noel 16(boy). Happy MFW user since 2002.

MJP
Posts: 109
Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2004 9:25 pm

Unread post by MJP » Thu Dec 14, 2006 10:34 pm

I don't have any answers, but just wanted to check in that I have a seventh grade boy.

Both he and his 5th grade brother do a Bible study and math before breakfast (a good motivator for boys). They each have chores after breakfast and lunch and of course help me bounce that new baby. My boys are very motivated by computer time so I do have leverage. The 7th grader is also passionate about his guitar, and he can't practice until the school work is done. They also like to accompany their Dad if he is able to take them places he needs to travel to for work. They can't go if their work isn't done.

We have days were we are not terribly motivated, but loss of computer time or the carrot of an outing does help here. I can understand how it would be very frustrating if nothing motivates your daughter.

As for your other question, although I think it is a noble and good idea, we have never had much luck at catching up. I usually just have to rearrange the school schedule. I am glad you are praying about it. That always yields the best answers. Each child presents their own challenges.
Melissa
Wife of 1 for 18 yrs. Mom of 7--ages 1-15--1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th and 9th grades & (one on the way)
Psalm 16:8
Currently using--1850 to Modern Times
Previously--MFW K , 1st, CtoG, RTR, Exp. to 1850

kellybell
Posts: 478
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 2:40 pm

Unread post by kellybell » Fri Dec 15, 2006 7:39 am

Melissa,

No, catching up doesn't really work does it? She's trudging through the work, but what is she remembering from the days she "crams?" Like I said, with the other kids, we would've just let it slide, but we KNEW that we'd give an inch and she'd take a yard ("Oh, I'm TIRED today, so I think I'll skip math."). So my dh said, "She missed five days, let's give her eight weeks to make them up." And, only make up the "individual work." As for the unit study work, we sort of put that on hold during her sick week so that she could jump back in. We simply read optional books and played games (we really love the new Journeys of Paul game).
Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).

MJ in IL
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 5:23 pm

Unread post by MJ in IL » Fri Dec 15, 2006 8:18 am

Kelly-
I have a 7th grade daughter also and can relate to your struggles. Mine is a typical first-born in many areas, but is s-l-o-w in doing everything...even things she likes.

For her, social restrictions are the most serious and effective. In our house, unfortunately, it tends to be a struggle with structure and consistency on my part that sets the work standard. I often check an assignment and forget to recheck her corrections; or tell her to complete something and she sweetly asks if I need a load of laundry switched (and of course I do!). She loves to cook too! I find that "catching up" with her math and science-when we've missed-doesn't work because she doesn't retain the material.

I am still at daily lists with her. I have tried several times to move onto weekly only, but she (and I--see above) continues to need the daily checklists to get things done. I make her both lists now to help with transition. We do add Sat in occasionally and I also school into the summer with a list of what I think needs to be completed before we stop.

I know this year I have been harder on her as 7th grade seems more serious. I continue to pray about and work on finding the balance between "school--home--relational skills" as well as working with her strengths and working to strengthen her weaknesses.

Not much help but I can empathize! Molly

PS One thing we did last year that was wonderful was to have a mother-daughter night at least EOW. We went out for dinner and something of her choice (often shopping-ugh!). However, it helped a lot in strengthening our relationship and in connecting on those issues that were not working at home/school at a non-stress time. She did have some great ideas on what she needed help/encouagement with.

GoodCat
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2006 1:00 am

Unread post by GoodCat » Fri Dec 15, 2006 8:47 am

Hi Kelly,

Not sure if this will help. It's kind of along the lines of what some others have said. My oldest is not very motivated either (actually all my children would rather play than do school :>)

In our house, we do one lesson in everything (arithmetic, language, spelling, WS, Etc.) and also the unit studies. We don't always do school every day of the week, but when we do school, we do one lesson in everything.

They have to complete their work or they do nothing else. I've found that I need to check it daily to make sure certain things get done or they "forget." This seems to work pretty well, as long as I don't forget to check. Sometimes the boundaries are a little tighter for some and thats okay!
Hope this helps.

Cathy mother to 6 beautiful children, 8m - 11yrs.

MJP
Posts: 109
Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2004 9:25 pm

Unread post by MJP » Fri Dec 15, 2006 6:46 pm

I could have written theses two comments by Good Cat. They made me smile. I have always felt envious of posts of children begging to do school--OK, I do admit that my 4 year old has done that, but that it just because I have trouble getting his school in.
GoodCat wrote: (actually all my children would rather play then do school :>)
I've found that I need to check it daily to make sure certain things get done or they "forget."
Back on topic: I wanted my oldest two boys to be doing some independent Bible work. This has worked well for us.
Melissa
Wife of 1 for 18 yrs. Mom of 7--ages 1-15--1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th and 9th grades & (one on the way)
Psalm 16:8
Currently using--1850 to Modern Times
Previously--MFW K , 1st, CtoG, RTR, Exp. to 1850

Guest

Unread post by Guest » Sat Dec 16, 2006 11:51 pm

Sounds to me like she needs bite sized pieces or daily assignments. I personally would not require her to make up the time from her appendicitis. It sounds to me like punishment for being sick. If you look back in your TM I believe that the Hazells address this issue by putting each person's tasks on a board and they don't eat unless they get everything done for that day.

Maybe I'm just a softy. We took 7th and 8th grade to complete Apologia General Science. My dc did MUS PreAlgebra for 9th grade. We have yet to make it all the way through any of the Total Language books even though I keep trying.

I do have my dc part time in PS and that does help with their motivation. Maybe your dd isn't passionate because she just isn't a person who gets that excited. My dh is the type that you have to check to see if he is still breathing. You know that opposites attract so of course I am a very passionate person.

kellybell
Posts: 478
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 2:40 pm

Unread post by kellybell » Sun Dec 17, 2006 2:32 pm

Sue, thanks for the tips.

None of the programs are too tough. They DO require work, but she's always quite able to do it. In fact, I cannot remember the last time that she was stumped. I mean, every now and then, she "doesn't get" something but as soon as I tickle her memory, she says, "Oh, I remember." And she does great.

It's just a matter of priorities for her. She is the one who is likely to disappear (I'll assume she's off to the rest room) and reappear with some new crochet project. I'll say, "Oh, you've finished your checklist already?" And, her eyes will grow big as she says, "ooops!"

So, we felt this was a great opportunity for a lesson in responsibility (something that doesn't come naturally for her). And, if what she reaps is missing out on a few extras (ballet, etc.) then so be it. She'll either decide to catch up and rejoin her dance class or she'll stay behind and save us a little cash in dance tuition. Either way, we win???

Thanks again.
Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).

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