The following is a post from contributing writer Tabitha.
Over the past few months we’ve had a plain and simple uncooperative child. We’ve given him opportunities to learn, to do coursework to show he’s learning, to prove himself academically, and to complete his homeschooling tasks for the school year.
Did he do it? No. Second chances? Yes. Did he do it? No. Threats? Sure. Did they work? No.
Between his father threatening to send him to public school and both of us taking away extras until he at least attempted to get with the program and work with us on making sure he’s done his homeschool learning for the year, nothing worked. We had some major temper tantrums, some serious problem behaviors, and overall, no cooperation on the part of this child.
While his behavior was unacceptable, neither was our response. It made both of us look at the situation again and see what we could do to:
- Not completely turn off this son from learning.
- Not have him completely give up on his parents as being on his side and in his corner.
- Not alienate him from being involved with his family.
So, I tried to look at the whole situation differently. What was this son doing with his time? We corrected the problems with acting out, but after that, I watched. This son takes care of his siblings, and when I say that, I mean he looks out for the youngest of our family. He comforts. He finds what’s wrong and rights it. He helps with whatever he sees needs doing around the house, including dishes, changing diapers, reading to younger kids.
He reads. He is a fast reader like his parents and goes through every book we have and then reads them again. He spends time outside, getting to know our neighbors, many of them elderly, and finding out if they need anything. He is involved with his church duties, and through all this, mostly maintains a positive attitude that makes those around him smile.
Did we object to any of this? No. This is part of who our son is, what makes him tick. What we did object to was the lack of balance between our learning goals for him and his own choices for how he spends his time.
So my challenge lately, since we figured some of this out, has been to include him in his learning and find out how to get him to choose his goals and reach them. How to keep him more balanced in his daily activities. How to keep him focused on his future and not what he wants to do right now.
What We Have Learned
- Make sure your child is getting your time and your attention. Know who your child is.
- Look for the positive in what they ARE doing, and not for the negative or what they are NOT doing.
- Involve them in their goal setting, especially in the teen years. Where do they want to go?
- Ease up… one style of learning doesn’t always work for the next child. Learning isn’t one size fits all.
- Take a HUGE deep breath and take each day as a new opportunity to reach this child that has been trusted to your care.
Agreed! We will be homeschooling for the first time next year. I am a certified high school teacher, but I certainly don’t know much about teaching 3rd grade. After looking at the behavior issues that our son has had in the DODDs school this past year, I decided to let him choose much of his own curriculum (out of ones that I had decided were appropriate). If not the actual curriculum, then I’ve let him choose many of the supplements and activities. As a result, he absolutely cannot wait to start in the fall! (I would start earlier, but we are going back stateside for quite awhile and don’t want to deal with the interrupted schedule.)
Good points. I think that you also need to keep the lines of communication open. Find out why your child is not wanting to do the work. Does he see the value in doing the math or writing assignment. Or is there another reason why he is not doing the work. Is it too hard or too easy.
Great post. Our youngest son (now a 7th grader), is a TAG kid, but has not always been a cooperative learner (either in public school or as a homeschooler). I did all of the things you mentioned above, even threatening to send him back to public school (bad mommy…). It doesn’t help that I work outside the home as a consultant, and juggle homeschool around my work schedule, instead of around my son’s schedule. This year, we made the deliberate choice for me to cut back on my outside the home hours, decrease his independent work time, and increase my direct participation time greatly. The result? We are both happier, he is learning quickly (anything I ask him to do), and we are enjoying spending time with one another. Your advice to spend time together is spot on. Blessings!