Monday, September 19, 2011

Fixing frustration

I knew that I was going to have some battles to fight when it came to homeschooling Iris, but so far they haven't presented themselves in the way I thought they would. I assumed we would have the usual screaming "I hate you! You're stupid!" and outright refusal to work. So far, the only time I had that was on the very first day when I asked Iris to get a pencil. That day I was sure I had completely set us both up for failure, but we carried on just fine.

What I have begun to notice with Iris, however, is not a refusal to work, but if she can't answer a question immediately, usually with math so far, she fidgets, scribbles, slides off her chair, writes the numbers all big and crazy, breaks the lead on her pencil, gets up to sharpen it, you get the idea. Any little thing to procrastinate the task at hand and also, apparently, get her anxious energy out.

Pretty much every day I have had to send Iris to her room (and not in a "go to your room!" sort of a way, more of a "why don't you go take a break and we'll resume math in 10 minutes" sort of way). It works in that she comes back about 50% calmer and we can at least finish things.

The other thing that has been coming up is how tired she is. It's true, Iris gets much less sleep than kids her age are "supposed to" have. We have battled it for years and now she has a later bedtime, since an earlier bedtime just left her cranky and awake in bed. Now she's awake and happy in the living room. It wasn't until homeschooling that she ever complained of being tired. Now, I have a lovely schedule and it may appear I am attempting a lot, but it's much less than she ever did at her private school. And there she never complained to me of being tired. So I can't tell if the tiredness is a way to try and eek out of the work, or if she really is tired. I will probably try to push up her bedtime a bit and see if it helps her fall asleep earlier.

I don't really know how to combat the ADD-like tendencies she is showing over this work, though. I wish I was a super creative homeschooling mama who could find a bunch of different exciting ways to teach math, but I just am not. We work through the workbook together and so far that is about it. The concepts aren't even that difficult, she just doesn't want to do it. I could probably be asking her to add two plus two (and honestly, today we basically are, as we're adding two digit numbers to two digit numbers by adding the tens and ones up separately).

I'll keep brainstorming. And waiting for CVA to finally call me to finish our enrollment. I am so anxious! I can't help but feel a very outlines curriculum would at least help ME immensely right now.


  1. I don't have any personal experience with ADD, but I do have a suggestion: Let her stand up / fidget while working on math. You might need a blackboard, but she might be able to stand to do it at a low table. Who says you have to sit to focus?

    Otherwise, manipulative are great! Some counting bears or even beans to move around with the math problems might make it more interesting for her.

    I hope that helps. I'll be interested to "hear" how things go with enrollment. I have a friend that has had a LOT of trouble with it, but she is transferring FROM homeschooling (without a set curriculum).

  2. Hey :) I hear your frustration mama! Like Momma Jorje commented, I think it's ok to allow your DD to fidget or balance on one leg while she's doing the work. Give her a one legged stool to sit on ;)

    My DD is similar to yours and she just CAN'T sit still; I've learned that now. She's not being deliberately obnoxious (most of the time ;-) ) she's almost wired differently I guess.

    So you could make math very physical - throwing bean bags in rhythm while asking her times table questions, or you could draw big numbers on the floor and have her jump onto the answer.

    Turn maths into a game if you can. I found with my DD the 2D approach to maths in workbooks literally was not her language; she needed to FEEL and EXPERIENCE math - I gave her marbles or things to count and for division we cut up pizzas and cakes, so it was all very real to her. Otherwise I could see her thinking 'What is the point and the relevancy to THAT?'...

    ENjoy the journey!

  3. ditto to the first two commenters! what if you tried to use the nervous energy instead of do away with it? what if you took her away from the table for math-- like outside or into the kitchen cupboards, and incorporated that into your lesson. i am a kinesthetic learner, mearning that i need to be able to DO something to truly comprehend it. math was hard for me in the conceptual form until i could actually use my hands or feet to figure it out... then voila, the concept stuck with me forever! maybe iris needs a slightly different way to do it? hopefully dr. google might have some concrete examples of how to tweak it a little bit! good luck, sounds like you're off to a great start!!

  4. Have you considered trying to add some unschooling aspects to your schooling day? I don't mean to completely throw all the books out of the window, but maybe Google whatever you're trying to teach and add +unschooling.

    My oldest went through this when we first started to homeschool. I found out one of the reasons he was acting this way was because he needed to move. But another reason (when he was stumped for an answer) was because I reacted negatively to wrong answers. I wasn't even aware of it! Once I changed "That's wrong" into "Now, let's see if we can figure out where this answer came from" his attitude toward being incorrect changed. It was no longer a "bad" thing to be wrong, it just meant we'd have to work on that problem a little more. The bonus was that he learned how to analyze his answers for himself very quickly and often knew his initial answer was wrong before I did!

  5. It sounds a lot like how Emma June is with her homework. She CAN do the work, but actually getting her to sit still and do it is torture for all of us. She'll focus at school but all bets are off at home. I wish I had a solution but at least I can say it actually sounds pretty normal - at least the procrastinating thing does. That doesn't make it any less frustrating though!


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