Oh Brother! Stop the insanity!!

Under normal circumstances, I apply a more child directed approach to our homeschooling.  We are not “unschoolers” by any stretch of the imagination, but I believe that if you try to push a child to do more than what they are ready for, it will backfire on you.

For example, Emma has workbooks for phonics and math.  They are fun but challenging for her.  Some days she’ll do 30 pages of her book before I have to tear it from her fingers.  Others, she can only do one or two pages before she is done and needs to move on to a different subject.  I can tell she has put in a good effort and tried her hardest.  That is what matters.  If I push it beyond that, she’ll end up dreading the workbooks, and that is the last thing that I want.

Lucy, however, has interpreted this as “if I don’t want to do it, I don’t have to”.  She literally will just sit there, doing nothing, until I move on to the next subject, which I have no guarantee she’ll participate in either.

I have backed off a little bit because of the morning sickness.  I’m still covering the basics (the 3 R’s) but I’ve let the extra subjects slide a little bit until I’m feeling better.  But I’m beginning to wonder if that is why the problem started in the first place.  I’m not requiring as much, therefore she thinks she doesn’t have to do ANYTHING.  And this has spilled into other aspects, household chores, etc.

But as I said before, I don’t set a quota, but I DO expect her to try.  She doesn’t.  And she has somehow turned something that had been fun for both of us unto a power struggle.

I’ve been especially frustrated lately as her journal entries have become less and less impressive.  She’s done enough for me that I know what she is capable of.  And she is not even bothering to pretend to try. So this week, I assigned her some math and phonics pages.  I told her that I wanted x amount of pages finished by today (Friday).

This is a large leap from my usual approach.  I don’t require a certain number of pages.  I believe it’s counter productive.  But I also believe that if you challenge a child, they will rise to your expectations.  Lucy has proven to me time and again for the last few weeks that she is content with something a little less than mediocrity.  And I am sorry, I am not.  She has spent the last 30 minutes turning her book into a telescope, complaining about a sore wrist/throat/eye, telling me she needs her finger nails trimmed, there is too much noise and basically doing ANYTHING other than looking at her paper.

It wouldn’t bother me so much except that I know what she is capable of.  The child will write 4 page long stories about one picture of a princess, but when I ask her to write something for her journal, she moans and moans about how there is nothing to write about (Princess stories included).  So I give a suggestion (We saw a picture of Speck yesterday, why don’t you write about that?).  So I get a two sentence entry (We saw a picture of Speck yesterday.  It looked weird).  Now come on.  I know she can do better than that.  She will write a story perfectly with better handwriting than I have, but when it comes to school work, it looks like Spencer’s handwriting.  She also easily sounded out the word “domestic” today.  Don’t tell me you can’t read Hop on Pop.  This is the same child who came home from school last year and sat at the table for literally HOURS making up her own subtraction worksheets.  And your trying to convince me that those SAME problems are too hard?  Sorry, I know a girl trying to get away with something when I see one.

The problem is that I don’t live in a state where I have the luxury of waiting for those things to come out on their own.  She has a portfolio due this Summer.

So, long story short.  School + Mom + Lucy = Power Play Tug of War.  And those of you of the opinion that I shouldn’t be homeschooling anyway, just keep that to yourself.  This is not because we homeschool.  It’s because she’s 7 and somehow is of the opinion that she doesn’t have to do what I ask.  I can’t wait until this baby is born and I can get back into my drill sergeant mode again.  I’m sick of trying to do it from the couch.

  • Tara says:

    You're 100% right about it being an age thing… we've been dealing with it from Gabi for a while now. I do remember having to go through various different "approaches" when it came to certain things with homeschooling. Like for journals – I always loved writing prompts, so I bought a book a prompts (I use to make up my own, but some how I ran out or I just wasn't on target). What I loved about it (and Gabi too) was that there were two choices for each day. And I let her choose. She thought she was "in charge" that way. Of course, she also knew she was required to write a minimum of a full page using that guided paper for work on penmanship – which, if it was sloppy, she had to redo it. For a while she preferred copying passages from the books she was reading for penmanship. But either way, she knew she had to answer to both Mom and Dad on that one. We never did get the best situation with math – though I noticed when I approached it when she was in a good mood, we actually made progress. So I started monitoring mood.. it worked. (That's not to say I didn't still hear every excuse under the sun and then some about anything asked of her – that really is an age thing) Good luck with it all.

    PS – would it help if she did her writing to a penpal? Gabi loved that too.

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