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Question from a first timer :)

Question from a first timer :)

We started school this past Monday.. Barely made it through our first week (we school M-Th). This is our first year homeschooling (kids were in ps till now). I have K, 1st and 3rd. We are using workboxes, which I like very much.. But I'm struggling with getting the kids to complete their work.

Is it because they are at home and in their minds home and school don't go together? My ds (3rd grader) will sit for 2 hours working on one worksheet.. A handwriting worksheet.. He has NO PROBLEM writing. He has beautiful penmanship (he is learning cursive for the first time). Or a math page (he has no problems with math) will take him an hour. It's simply because he just sits there. He didn't have this problem at school (nor did my 1st grade dd). They will complain and drag their feet about the work instead of just doing it. It is like PULLING TEETH to get them to do their work.

My dh and I have thought about setting time limits for each subject, but don't know what to do if their time runs out. We have soccer practice 4 nights a week and can't have them finish at night.. We could make them finish the next day before they can begin that day's work but I'm afraid of the avalanche that might cause. Do I just have to be patient and let them settle in to this new world of doing school at home? HELP!!


re: Question from a first timer :)

I would suggest to you to be a little more at ease, its normal for the ages you have.

Here is what I do actually for my 1st grader:

I tell her what to do on her worksheet, tell her she has X amount of minutes to do it, then plop a egg timer on our school table where she can see it, if it dings before she is finished then we put that paper on my desk and move onto another subject, when we have done every subject for that day, we will go back to the ones she didnt finish, and instead of getting up to go play or have a snack she has to finish that worksheet. Once they realize your not playing around they will get the idea(:

re: Question from a first timer :)

Congratulations on your decision to homeschool : ).
This is our 7th year and it's been amazing!

We have also been workbox users though they have evolved a bit and do not reflect Sue Patrick's system very much at this point.

>>Is it because they are at home and in their minds home and school don't go together? <<
My opinion FWIW is that home should be home. Learning takes place at home in the family, but I do not believe home should resemble school.

Where is your 3rd grade ds doing his work? I ask as I am wondering if he is sitting in the room with you and his siblings or off working alone?
If he is working alone, I'd encourage you to have him at the kitchen table or whatever room you are in.

I would encourage you to adjust your expectations and take some time to observe what methods work and don't work for your dc. I can tell you that our schooling now barely resembles what it did our first year. It takes time to develop the right groove.

The only one I'd give actual work to would be your 3rd grader and it'd be truly minimal. The 3 R's is all I think you need. Reading (if he's reading alone, let him read), writing on his own (cursive does not have to be done at this time, it can easily be done anytime at any age), and then math of some sort. He does not seem to be in tune with worksheets from what you described. Maybe a hands on math. Math-u-see is a fun one. Right start I've heard good things about. Christian light education is another that he might like. If he enjoys reading and silly stories, Life of Fred math is wonderful. Or do no math at all. Wait until next year. No harm at all in waiting.
Another thing worth mentioning may be to examine when your kids learn best. My kids do best breaking up their day in chunks. They have a 1/2 hour of seatwork and 1/2 hour required reading during the day. And then the rest of their reading time is done in the evening in their beds.
I would keep his work to about an hour a day. : )

Good luck to you. I wish you a wonderful homeschooling journey!

re: Question from a first timer :)

Thank you both for your input! We do school at our dining room table, all together. My 3rd grader constantly asks to go off on his own (to the couch, his bedroom, etc) to do his work but at this point I don't let him. Maybe that would be the trick to getting him do his work?! I guess it's worth a try..

Thanks again. We're excited for our homeschooling journey.. Now it's just time to figure it out ;)


re: Question from a first timer :)

Jaime, I don't have any magic solution, but just wanted to encourage you. I wish I could say that after 5 years of HS I have it all organised- but I don't!

A few things to think about. First, I don't think there are any "right/wrong" ways to do HS. I used to think this, that if I did such and such I would be doing it "properly", but over the years I've figured what works for some does not work for us, what's right for some is just not it for us.

Then, I think HS takes a while to get into it. Some even suggest "deschooling" children who were in PS for a season, and then beginning HS but this may not be an option for your family. We HS moms often put a tremedous amount of pressure on ourselves. If only we would relax a little, especially in the early years, and simply enjoy the journey and being together. That said, I also think my children must respect that I have many other things to attend to, and when I am there to teach/assist them, I need their full co-operation. (there is a difference between the playfulness of a K'er and the delaying tactic of a 10yo, and I'll be gracious to the K'er)

I used to think about HS in terms of what curriculum I had lined up and how much I wanted to cover. Then I began to realise there was a lot more to education. In our case as Christians, character and spiritual life was more important to focus on. And if some of those things were out of step, no education would happen. I found a site called "Anne's Homeschool Place" had a little e-book called the Four Foundations to Learning, and I would really recommend it, you can read the first chapter here: My only regret is that I didn't read it sooner, but it is still helpful.

I agree with the pp said, the 3 R's are the important aspects in the academic field. With children 3rd grade and under, I don't think anything else is needed in a stimulating home environment. And I am beginning to think that for the rest, a whole of lot of learning can take place in many other ways besides "school work".

I have found that different things motivate different children. You've got to find what works. One child still takes forever to complete things, pretty much as you explained, unless I am quite strict. These are the measures we're using for him, different ones for different days: timer, as suggested by pp, goal chart drawn up by the child, and then (this probably sounds harsh) punishment if work is not complete. For this child (10 yo) if work is not completed in the morning, and i am sure that adequate time was given, then he may not go and play after lunch until school work is complete.

I have heard some mothers' refuse to let their children go to activities if their work is not done. Work is work, whether at home or PS, and some children just don't like to do work, so I have to help them learn that there are things we don't like but we have to do and we try make the most of it and even enjoy it ;-)

For the younger ones I'd try to do short sessions of work, rather than hours of sitting. Vary the activities. A bit of workbook, then a puzzle, an educational game, then a flash drill. And try get even the youngest to begin to show respect when others' are at work by talking quietly and such. Just don't put too much pressure on them, they're all still young and are probably learning so much by being with you.

Enjoy your homeschool journey,

re: Question from a first timer :)

Thank you so much for your encouraging words! Your post was exactly what I needed!! I know our public schools expect way too much, too soon from our children and I have definitely found myself caught in that trap. And just because the schools are teaching it doesn't mean the children are actually learning it! But I know whatever I'm teaching my children at home, they will learn it because they have individualized attention and the time to grasp new concepts!

Thanks again for your post!


re: Question from a first timer :)

We have a fairly traditional schooling type here with textbooks, workbooks, teacher's manuals, etc. Here are some things that have worked for me:

1. Set a timer. A reasonable time, but not TOO much. If your 3rd grader finishes in time, let him off to his room for a ten minute break. Explain that in order for him to keep earning these breaks, he has to COME BACK cheerfully and quickly, and ready to move on to the next subject. I used this for my ds for two years with great successs. He would run to his room and get all he could out of his LEGO or whatever, and then be re-charged and ready to work again! It really works! If they don't finish in time, then they don't earn the break, but have another chance for the next subject. :o) It seems like 10 minutes times 4 subjects would be a waste of time but it is not because it makes them work really quickly!

2. For the first grader, I recommend working along side her the whole time she is doing anything, and then releasing her for a break between subjects, regardless of how long it took her. I do this with my 2nd grade dd now, and will move her to the timer system by the end of this year. She is happy to work with me, and happy to get a break, and the day goes pretty cheerfully and quickly for her. I would recommend the same thing for your K'er. Of course, this means that your 1st grader will need to entertain herself while you are working with your K'er but I think she will be happy to do that as long as you make it a cheerful thing.

This is how I recommend: Have a "school meeting" with the oldest, where you go over new concepts and circle the page numbers in each book that he has to do next.

Then tell your 2nd grader that he or she can play quietly. Have a lot of interesting things she may do such as Play Doh, a Walkman or Ipod with children's music, puzzles, games, etc. She should play quietly in her room or near by but not right there where you are trying to work with your K'er. Your K'er's school should only take 1 hour or less.

Then work with your 2nd grader off and on for the rest of the day in short increments, being sure to include the K'er whenever possible.

I would keep everything to a minimum for the K and 2nd grader- just the 3 R's and not much more than that for the 3rd grader too until he shows the maturity for more independence. Meanwhile, enjoying good books alone or together will fill in much knowledge.

This post was edited on Sep 09, 2011 07:29 PM

re: Question from a first timer :)

I just want to encourage you also. It takes some time the first year. Try different things and see what works for your individual children.
One of my children in particular never could do a worksheet that had alot of the same problems on it. (like 20 addition) It would take him forever and he would just zone out. (not be disruptive, just in la-la land) I found for him that the work must be spiral. (have several different type problems in a lesson. LIke 5 addition, 5 subtraction, 3 measurement, etc) This was because it changed gears enough to hold his attention. I think for a child, monotony can be torture.

This is our 6th year and I have learned so much, and I'm still learning. The biggest mistake I made in the beginning was trying to recreate school at home. (they came from ps) I thought it had to be a certain way. Now I'm flexible and I've learned to not be afraid to experiment. I have 6 children with one on the way, and they are all different. I try to be sensible, but meet them at their learning style. It makes it more enjoyable for us all.

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