I need some suggestions on how to motivate my 9-year-old to do any school work. I took Derek out of public school about a month ago after a lot of prayers and heart ache. He was in the third grade and we spent more time at night doing his work because he won’t do it at school. He has never liked school… any part of it… hates to read, hates any part of it and so I have been trying to give him a positive atmosphere to work in and some one-on-one time to help him want to try, but it is a continual fight to get him to do anything. He just says he is dumb and it is too hard. I have only been doing some basic math, a journal, some spelling, some reading—but he fights all of it. Do you have any suggestions to get him to see how smart he is and maybe some way to teach him that will get him going with out me forcing the issue? I have backed off and let him decide when to do it or I have tried to force a time to get stuff done… he wants me to do it for him. I am very frustrated and I have a 5th grader who wants me to homeschool her. I can’t even get this to work with one. I welcome any advice you have.
Oh, I sympathize! I think one of the most difficult things I have ever done was to “detox” my 9-year-old son from public school! By the time I decided to homeschool, and got him out, he was pretty burned out in every way. He hated school, wouldn’t do his work, thought he was stupid and beyond hope, showed physical signs of stress and wasn’t “in the mood” for any learning whatsoever. (Now he is a brilliant mechanical engineer!)
I was overeager to jump right into this new project of homeschool with him (the rest of my children were in public school), but I learned the hard way that he sorely needed a break to refresh his mental attitude towards learning. So, after some tears on my part (and his too), I took the advice of an older, wiser homeschool mother and took the pressure off him and let him “detox”. I read Summer of the Monkeys and James and the Giant Peach aloud to him and didn’t ask him to read a word. We talked about it and had fun. I did science experiments with him, and asked him what he thought. We went on nature walks together and looked at birds and went home and looked them up in the encyclopedia.
I “courted” him after a manner, and won back his friendship and his respect in me as his teacher. We listened to CD’s that had facts on them, like multiplication facts, the planets, etc. (see Musical Notebooks, Geography Songs, Multiplication Songs, etc.) and without any effort on my part, he began to be able to repeat facts and feel pretty smart. We watched Christian science videos and geography videos. We played math games. I had a scheduled time that we started school (9:00 am) and ended (noon) and I was diligent in doing school all morning, and he began to enjoy the things I had planned each day.
I put a calendar up which had my academic topics listed, so he could look forward to them. He began to anticipate that we’d be learning about “The Ocean” in science next week, for example, and he’d began to notice things, pick up books he suggested we could use for it, etc. It became his learning project too. I expected him to help me with the baby, and help cook lunch. He began to feel more capable and confident as the weeks went on, and look forward to school, and especially initiate his own projects.
We got some chickens and rabbits and he took care of them. We taught him to use some woodworking tools. We planted a garden together. There are so many ways to learn! I gradually began to make demands on him: “You do your journal entry and then we’ll read our read aloud book” or “I want you to do this math facts page before we do our science experiments”. I was careful not to overwhelm him, and I was nearby—I didn’t just send him off to do his work.
By the time a few months had passed by, he was a different person. He had reclaimed his personality and his zest for life and learning. He respected me as his teacher, and he knew what I expected each day, and the standard of neatness and correctness I required. He had eased “into the saddle” and was able to do his writing and math and reading happily and look forward to our read aloud time and hands-on projects.
As for your 5th grader wanting to homeschool, I often have felt that homeschooling works “cheaper by the dozen”. It takes just as much planning on my part to homeschool one as all of my seven children. If you are going to study Egypt for example, it is just as easy to gather the library books, plan making cardboard pyramids, write hieroglyphics and see a video on Egypt with many as with one. And it is definitely more fun for the family if everyone is involved. Plus, mother can kill 2 birds with one stone. Well, that didn’t sound very nice, but you know what I mean, I think. You can educate two children with the effort of one!
May I recommend: