And good things to report! I got an absolutely GIGANTIC reward this morning. See, last year one of the tricks I tried to make things more palatable was to let the older boys work independently on handwriting, spelling practice, and the phonics workbook. This allowed The Mercenary (an early riser) to get his work done and out of the way, and Technoboy (the consummate sleeper-inner) the chance to finish in the afternoons at his leisure.
This year, because the distribution of lessons was so much different, I’ve been working on everything together with them. When the spelling books finally show up I will probably give them some independent work there, but I’m planning more involvement there as well. I wasn’t happy with their retention of the words last year, but I was too exhausted to do anything about it.
The Mercenary asked me this morning, “Mama, when are we going to start doing more work all by ourselves?”. I explained that we may see some independent stuff after a while, but for now we were going to be doing our work together. That’s when he said it: “I love doing schoolwork together”.
We did have some frowning and grumpy episodes this week, but the boys have been a bit more receptive to talking about it and moving on. Yesterday when presented with a math problem that was unfamiliar, The Mercenary got upset and started clenching teeth and fists, and breathing fast. I stopped him and explained that I wasn’t angry, and that I was going to talk through the problem with him and show him what to do so he had the tools to do another one on his own. I told him that he had to stop getting upset and instead focus on my words and trust me. So he did. It took an effort for him, but as soon as he listened to me, he got it and was able to move on.
Today when he got nervous about a history question, he immediately started writing very sloppily. I pointed out what was happening, and we talked about how emotions hit us and that we can’t control that, but we can control how we choose to act when we’re feeling that way. Writing sloppy will only result in punishing himself, since I’m bound to ask him to correct it. He took a deep breath, erased the word and wrote more neatly. It wasn’t close to his best effort, but it was legible, and I’ll take any victory I can get.
TechnoBoy has for some reason been real anxious and grumpy about math this week. I’m not sure why because we’re going over concepts that he has nailed. We’ll keep working on it, and hopefully math time can be greeted with at least a straight face and not frowns and complaints.
The younger boys are doing very well. I’ve seen a little resistance to stopping what they’re doing to switch gears and ‘do school’ but I’ve taken a multiple pronged approach to that one. First, I try to make sure they both have had turns playing on the computer before I announce school. Second, I keep the TV off until everyone is done with everything. Third, I’ve been tying their work to lunch time. Since they’re already at the table, there’s less of a transition. Once I get them started they have a ball, and everything takes all of 20 minutes in the first place. I’m treading lightly: starting some of the habits of self-discipline yet staying so light and fun that they love it.
Here’s hoping that good trends continue! How is everyone else doing with their school year (public, private, or home-schooling)?
Earnest Parenting: advice for homeschooling parents.