Cooperation Is Such a Joy

I’ve been a bit of a bummer lately I think, complaining about stress and a new school year and so on. So today?? Good news! I’m seeing some cooperation! We’re stopping for lunch shortly with almost everyone done with half their schoolwork. Several things have contributed to this happy state.

  • I made them daily checklists. We did this last year as well. I’ve been putting a daily list of tasks on the marker board this month, but finally got the schedule typed out for each boy to have at his desk. Then when a task is done he can cross it off himself as well as have a visual of what is coming every day. I hadn’t gotten this typed out sooner because I was trying to get the new grading program to do it for me. I know it will; I just have to learn how to use it better. For now, the old standby is good.
  • I started timing myself teaching. TechnoBoy and The Mercenary are consummate experts at wasting time. It’s epic, let me tell you. I am very good at getting off-track myself and have lengthened many a lesson with an interesting conversation. I whipped out the stopwatch this morning, taught a lesson, and then said, “There, see?? 14 minutes. That’s how long I took to teach this item.” TechnoBoy in particular was impressed, and I took the opportunity to point out that focused work means faster work.
  • The boys chose to work independently today. By this I mean that when I said, “You practice the piano while you do your cursive,” they actually did it. Up until now there’s been a lot of doing work when your twin does, which makes for lots of wasted time waiting for the other guy to catch up.
  • TechnoBoy listened to me when I said that taking a break would be a bad idea because he doesn’t notice how much time he’s taking and the day slides past too quickly. Instead, he buckled right down and did his assigned work. He’s the first one done!!! I’m so proud.
  • The younger boys relaxed especially in their spelling lesson. We changed to a dramatically different program this year and it was really hard on them to make that change. But they’re doing it, their spelling is visibly improving, and they’re starting to have fun with the program.

I’m off to lunch, singing a happy song.

Earnest Parenting: tips to improve your child’s education.

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18 Responses to “Cooperation Is Such a Joy”

  1. Hi Amy, Sound like you have a plan and the plan is working. Good for you. When it comes to corporating you definetly need a plan. especially when you are working with children. I just love the way you can work up a plan and also go with the flow. You really put a smile on my face. keep up the good work.

  2. I started the parenting thing pretty stress-free – except for the sleeping part. I coasted along, 2 years was easy. Now that i”m at almost 7 years old I’ve had to go back and re-do the Love and Logic Program. BINGO

    I love parenting again.

    Good Luck Amy. I’ve got no advice. Just kudos!

    • Amy LeForge says:

      Michelle, I’ve read a lot of parenting books over the years, and it keeps coming back to the Love and Logic stuff doesn’t it? There’s other nuggets of wisdom that supplement and enhance, but that approach definitely does so much good.

  3. Bruce says:

    Glad to see you managed to persevere after last year. Great. Keep up the persistent effort.

  4. Joel says:

    Time wasting experts? Sounds like they’re destined for a home-based blogging business if my personal experience is anything to go by πŸ™‚

  5. Benjamin says:

    Nice, Amy.

    I need to get back to the checklist myself. I find that I am very good at appearing productive but not quite as good at being productive πŸ˜‰

    If your boys realize the power of focused attention this early, they’ll be way ahead of the pack.

    keep smiling,


    • Amy LeForge says:

      Benjamin I hope they get the lesson. We have days in which work is done, but they are not as frequent as I would like. I supposed it’s easy and comfortable to slip back into lethargy – that’s only human. A friend of mine keeps reminding me of the fact that they’ll turn out all right in the end.

  6. Lisa says:

    Thanks for the checklist reminder! Staying focused is key, and I can get so off track! I am going to make a checklist for me, my husband and my son today, and we’ll have a competition to see who can check off the most items. It’s a sure guarantee my son will win — he’s very competitive! :o)

  7. David Rogers says:

    Time wasting and optimising our productivity is something we all seem to struggle with. If you can instils good habits now then they should thank you for ever – not that it will occur to do so of course πŸ™‚

    • Amy LeForge says:

      David I’m not looking for thanks until they’re at least 25. That way there’s no need to be disappointed in the wait. πŸ™‚ I’m sure it’ll happen when I’m not looking. And it’s fun to smile sweetly at them when I’ve just been annoying and say, “You’ll thank me later.” πŸ˜€

  8. Thanks Amy,

    I needed to hear a good homeschooling story. Getting a system down that gets you consistent cooperation is a magnificent accomplishment! I live by a check-list or I would forget my head, which doesn’t seem to be attached to my body at all times. My mind was lost long ago as well.

    I’m homeschool my son, who is 15, and the only subject I’m extremely structured about is math. But that gets off track because of one of my part time jobs. That schedule is all over the ballpark, and so are his math lessons. It’s hard for him to focus when I can’t focus or schedule things consistently.

    At his current age, discussions about subject matter are important and refreshing. I wish we had had this chance in high school to discuss things between students and teachers. I took seminars in college because of the open format and discussions. The flow of ideas and original thinking is fantastic. He’s grasping the importance and context of what we discuss, not just the knowledge and facts. He comes up with things I didn’t think of until I was in my mid-twenties.

    Discussion and debate become more important as they get older and are expected to think critically and defend their positions, whether spoken or in writing. I’m not sure how old your boys are, but when they use discussion to waste time, maybe you can make a note and table it until lunch or supper when they can discuss all they want? That’s what I used to do until Nate was older. It got us on to the next lesson and we still got to have those discussions.

    Best wishes and great job! I know how hard you’re working to do this,

    • Amy LeForge says:

      Sherri I know you’re working just as hard! The older boys are 12 (7th grade) and the younger boys are almost 8 (3rd grade). I agree about discussion and debate increasing in importance; the idea of the high school years focusing on the rhetorical is a foundational piece of our curriculum. I think we need to have the discussions focus on academics a little more though. πŸ™‚

  9. Your post is taking me down memory lane … to when my sons were kids. Your list making reminds me of one of the best methods I stumbled upon at the time, to get cooperation going. The three of us sat together and – jointly – listed the 50-plus things that needed doing in and around the house in an average month. Then in turn each of us picked one, until all the tasks were distributed. It basically ended disagreements over what needed doing when and by whom – a cooperative stroke of genius it was. Like in your family, it made for happy songs … and a sense of victory.
    – Beat

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