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Topic: I need some advice

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Subject: I need some advice
Date Posted: 12/7/2007 5:38 PM ET
Member Since: 7/27/2006
Posts: 3
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Hi everyone, I am new here and I desperately need advice.

I have been homeschooling our children for eight years now. My oldest is 11 and is a grade level ahead in everything but writing and vocabulary.

My middle child is a classic underachiever. Nothing motivates him at all. He is almost 10 and he writes and spells like a 6 year old, reads like a 7 year old and does math like an 8 year old. The doctors have told me he is gifted! I can't understand why, if he's gifted, he's not motivated to work harder to get to where he needs to be for his age. He just says he doesn't care if other kids can do it and he can't. He also has behaviour issues. He will spit in his sister's face just to do it. He destroys things, presumably because he is bored, and then lies about it. He is mind-boggling to me and I don't quite know what to do about him.

My youngest is non diagnosed adhd. He is almost 9 and is working generally on a 2nd grade level. If anything gets too hard, he throws a temper tantrum and quits. I don't allow this, and make him do his work, but it is a fight all the way. Between the two boys, there is no joy in homeschooling anymore.

I have tried all the boxed curricula, unit studies (like Konos) and Living Books...even computer programs. Nothing seems to work with them at all. Most days I'm at my wit's end and just want to give up and they know it and use it to their advantage.

On top of all this, when they do their chores, the oldest whines and complains, the middle child starts to do them and quits and leaves, hoping I'll forget and the youngest just quits and starts yelling at me. He is a very angry child. I sent him to school when he was in Kindergarten and he came out at the end of the year extremely angry, whereas before, he was very laid back and easy going.

And another thing....they NEVER get along with each other no matter how much I read the Bible to them or tell them that Jesus doesn't want them to act the way they do. They bicker, tattle, complain and whine almost 24/7.



Thanks for letting me prattle on. I hope you all can help. I don't have a hs group, so nobody I know knows what I'm going through.






Date Posted: 12/7/2007 6:13 PM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2007
Posts: 10,401
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OK, Mary. Deep breaths. You might not like 100% of what I say, but here goes:

  • Whining is a correctable behavior that is partially your fault. Stop allowing it. Stop answering to it. They whine, they get ignored. Same might work for other undesirable behaviors, but especially for the whining.
  • Stop thinking in terms of grade levels and just meet the kids where they are. What interests them? Go with it. If they are outdoorsy, go geocaching or nature hiking. Visit museums. Learn outside the box.
  • STOP changing curricula every time the kids turn around. Find something and give it a LONG chance to work. If the kids know that if they don't like something that you will bend over backward to find something new, they WILL REJECT IT ALL after the initial excitement wears off, because they know you will buy something new. My daughter balks at French, but she's going to do it, says ME.
  • Keep lessons at 20 minutes.
  • Put a dead bug on the table and let them pick at it and investigate it. But don't tell them it's coming. Just do it. (feel free to substitute whatever in place of the dead bug...you're trying to grab their interest).
  • Raise some hermit crabs, some fish, or another animal and study its habitat, eating habits, etc.
  • Please stop letting them walk all over you. It's not working very well, and it's not doing them OR YOU any favors.
  • Make sure school isn't lasting too long. Have a schedule. School is from x time to x time. After that, all day is yours unless you do xyz in school time. FOLLOW THROUGH WITH CONSEQUENCES!!!
  • Bickering is sibling stuff that they all do. Tell them that they are welcome to do so OUT OF EAR SHOT OF YOU. YOU shouldn't have to hear it. I make my girls go outside or in their playroom to bicker. Guess what ends up happening instead. They play. TATTLING is never, ever, ever allowed here unless someone is bleeding or has a protruding bone or is harming themselves or others seriously. If I don't see it happen, it doesn't get discussed. Also, discipline is private here. If you let kid 1 see kid 2 get scolded, kid 1 loves that and will see to it to let you know every time that kid 2 does something wrong, so that kid 1 can see the scolding. Scold in private. Punish in private. Take away the thrill. Complaints must be written in letter form here. Dear Madam, I am writing to express my concern about __________. Yeah, how much fun is it for a kid to write a form letter? Nips those complaints in the bud. YOU MUST STICK WITH IT OR IT WON'T WORK.
  • Since you have really let them push you around until now, it is going to take some time (a month or so) to get them used to the new sherrif in town. STICK WITH IT.
  • Where's the discipline? Your kids yell at YOU? What? Why? How? Why have you allowed that? That is NOT OKAY!!! Fix it! I would have a bar of soap appearing in my hand in a hot second if my kids ever yelled at me. My goodness.
  • No chores, no play time. Take everything away. Make them earn it back.

Bottom line: You have to earn back the respect of your children. Take a month off school to do that. If you don't rein them in, you are going to face the same issue until they flee your home as adults and enter the world as whiny grownup versions of their current selves.

Sorry to sound harsh. I just see the need for a wake-up call.

Date Posted: 12/7/2007 6:29 PM ET
Member Since: 7/27/2006
Posts: 3
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Thanks Michelle.

I see some really good ideas in your post. I personally have a no tolerance policy for back talk, etc. They get punished for what they do. I didn't mean for it to sound like they get away with everything. My dh lets them walk all over him, so it is always a battle that way. I send them outside to argue, but it doesn't stop them and the neighbors give me really strange looks. Sometimes their arguments turn physical, so I have to watch them.

I really like the idea of a form letter and taking everything away. I used to use a bar of soap when they lied, but they tend to run away at the sight of it and I used to chase after them before I realized I was playing their game and quit. My youngest had to have his mouth pried open to use the soap and he screamed so loud my ears rang for a day! Ugh! I'm not sure that would work with my high blood pressure.

I only change curricula once a year. I have to have something to show the evaluator at the end of the year, so just taking them outside and going to museums won't cut it. I am trying lapbooking with them soon. I think they will enjoy that.

Thanks for the input. I really apreciate it.


Date Posted: 12/8/2007 12:07 AM ET
Member Since: 10/26/2005
Posts: 438
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I appreciated your words of wisdom.   I needed to hear them :-)

Rebecca W.

Date Posted: 12/8/2007 12:24 AM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2007
Posts: 10,401
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I have to have something to show the evaluator at the end of the year, so just taking them outside and going to museums won't cut it


A picture and a child-written paragraph in a notebook ought to take care of that. I, too, have yearly evals to consider. They don't have to be test papers. They have to show learning progress. If a child learns about a dinosaur at a museum, is that a lesser education than learning about a dinosaur in a text book? Definitely not.

Date Posted: 12/8/2007 7:18 AM ET
Member Since: 9/6/2007
Posts: 51
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Thanks Michelle for your list!  Helped me too!  And Mary, as to the gifted child and the one that came out angry at end of kindergarten, I have both those rolled into one, so yes dear I know what you are going thru and I have been unwittingly doing just what Michelle suggested--Take time off from school and get control! I don't want to judge your situation here, cause sometimes everybody just needs to vent, and when doing so on a computer, this can make things sound worse than they actually are at your house, so...  Just to let you know you are not alone, here am I! LOL  I, like you, have tried the boxed curricula, the this way, the that way...but guess what...if you think about it, Public schools use a variety of teaching methods also every single day.  They don't just stick to "Boxed curricula".....They go on field trips, they do unit studies, they do "lapbooks" of sorts, they have read-aloud time....and all this is ok with the state, as long as they can show at the end of the year in some form or other what your child has learned.  So why can't you do those same things at home?  I personally don't do homeschooling thru our state (too time-consuming for a mom on an already too-tight schedule), and in our state, homeschooling thru satelitte of a church-related school was our best option.  Mine is great, as they keep track of all his records online for me, so I don't have to actually worry about having a notebook or something somewhere that yes, more than likely, over time, I will lose!  And they leave me free to make my own curriculum choices.  They are also very much into delight-directed learning, curriculum, whatever works best for your child works for them.  They require no end-of-year testing. They also provide transcripts when your child is ready for college.  All this for $70 a year...WOW!  From what I see from time to time, that is quite cheap!  LOL 

As to what works for my son.....I am finding more and more that a mix of stuff works better...one day he is into structured schooling, and sometimes my grandniece comes over and they play school all day (as she wants to be a teacher when she grows up)...she is in 6th grade right now, so she works with both him and her little sister on addition, subtraction, things like that.  Thru their play he learns a whole lot.  Right now, I am planning a unit study on birds, which will take care of a lot (if not all) of the things he would have covered in 2nd grade at public school....IE...extinction, different habitats, geography, history, computer, art, music, math, and english.  He is really excited about it, but he has a different idea in mind than I do about what he is going to learn (he wants to learn how to catch birds so he can feed them to his cat)...I know,....sick, but just the way little boys are sometimes!! LOL  But when I am finished, hopefully he will see that ALL animals deserve a chance to live. and NO you can't disturb the balance of nature by going out and catching EVERY bird in our yard to feed to Skitty, cause then Skitty would lose the joy he gets from chasing and catching birds in our yard, and we would lose the joy of watching them and hearing their beautiful songs!.and possibly if we can take care of a little bird or something of our own for a while, he will develop a real appreciation for that......So that the bird plants a seed in his heart as well. 

I hope some of this rattling and rambling has helped ! LOL

Date Posted: 12/8/2007 7:42 AM ET
Member Since: 9/6/2007
Posts: 51
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Also, one more little thing I have learned about respect.....I have to be a model of respect for my son...If I do not respect him, he does not respect me....IE......punishments for wrongdoing are given in private (not in public in front of everybody else cause I believe that only serves to embarrass him and the bystanders both and doesn't accomplish much else besides a lot of anger towards me), I respect his personal space and he respects mine, I respect his ideas and he respects mine....you get the gist....The only reason I write here now is mainly because with him being in public school for 2 years, I had forgotten a lot of this, and am now having to learn all over again!!! LOL  Which makes for hairy situations!  But one Sunday, I was sitting in church, stressing over just exactly HOW I was supposed to go thru with homeschooling him and all that it involved....How was i to teach him character, virtues, how to treat your fellow man, etc......And the preacher said right then "I teach my son by living my life as best I can in front of him" and here went the light bulb! LOL  If I live my life best I can in front of him, then he will have a positive role model to look up to and that would be better than any book (besides the Bible) that I could offer to him!

Date Posted: 12/8/2007 7:44 AM ET
Member Since: 9/6/2007
Posts: 51
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OH yeah....one more thing...lol  Remember, your child is a mirror...He reflects what he is around most.  Ask yourself what you want to be most reflected about YOU in him/her, and that can help a whole lot!

Date Posted: 12/8/2007 3:24 PM ET
Member Since: 4/11/2007
Posts: 1,640
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Michelle, wow thanks for that advice. I'm printing that off for myself. 

I'm not sure I have any real advice, Mary, but how do your children think you view them?  I'm sure what you wrote was out of frustration but does your middle child view himself as an underachiever? 

I've had to come to grips with some of that myself, I have one son age 10.  I found myself saying some things to him that could be very deflating.  I had to learn how to properly encourage him. Agree with the others, don't base on grade level, my ds is all over the board.  A book that has helped me immensely is called "Strong willed child or dreamer".  Just learning to rephrase how I say something has lessened our behavior problems. 

I also reward good behavior.  he gets a star for each subject that he behaves, it's my call if that happened.  After 15 stars he gets an extra break, after 31 he gets to pick a reward.  We have done this 2 1/2 times now and it has basically eliminated the whining while not calling attention to it. 

I agree with others, take some time to regroup.  Introduce some character studies, even etiquette, and make sure you get time to refresh yourself.