Engaging them in learning?

(26 Posts)
GarlicDoughballsInGlitter Fri 24-Jul-15 15:17:44

I am new to home ed. I know about unschooling and autonomous but dh really wants to get results from the start so we are doing a seminstructured approach.

I have a geography lesson plan (computer based with games and audio books) , a maths curriculum (mep maths), a history curriculum (arts and crafts based), and the cpg English books. Dc also attends science club for two hours a week.

The problem is, dc is high functioning autistic plus has adhd and does not want to engage in the lessons. If it was up to him he would spend all day every day on mine craft. He also learns an mfl via duo lingo.

I try to make things as hand on as possible but still need to cover the national curriculum.

We do quite a few trips as well.

Due to his SEN is it best I just set a routine (which is what we have been doing) and religiously stick to it? He tends to be better when timid that way but will try and negotiate his way outbid as much as possible and can become defiant when forced. Obviously I don't want to force the work as it becomes counter productive! But he is nownusingbthatbas a technique to get out of sound any work at all.

If I ask him what he wants to learn we can go along with that but leads to gaps all over he place and him not engaging in essentials. Plus he thinks he is at a higher level than he is and will refuse to do things. Plus even if it less to harder stuff if it mentions the easier stuff in the intro he switches off. So we try the harder stuff for him to realise he can't do it immediately so he refuses ( he is a bit of a perfectionist too and doesnt want to work towards it, wants to know it straight away, which is why he was falling behind despite being incredibly bright!)

Sorry for the long ramble but eant ti get it right when we start up again in September! (And need time to plan!)

GarlicDoughballsInGlitter Fri 24-Jul-15 15:19:06

Argh! Typos! Hopefully you get what I mean!

ommmward Fri 24-Jul-15 20:24:46

How old is your child? You absolutely need to de-school - to allow him recovery time. Rule of thumb is one month for every year in school, assuming no trauma. You need to read up on this, and get your DH to read up on it too, so that you have shared expectations that nothing school shaped will happen to your child until he has recovered from his previous experience.

During that recovery time, go on fun trips - and yes, of course it can be to a castle or museum or zoo or whatever, but just let him enjoy it, don't give him worksheets or anything. Don't force reading, writing. Lots of time for free play, and that includes minecraft.

After that, your most efficient approach will be to follow his interests, answer his questions, do most of the learning through purposive conversation, especially if he is struggling with ADHD and all the sensory stuff that goes with autism. What's the point trying to follow the national curriculum if he hates it, resents you, and doesn't learn anything? Much better to actually really learn SOMETHING that he is interested in. And it does not have to use text books or workbooks or a syllabus - google makes all that stuff pretty obsolete, TBH.

(often, the people who most need to recover from the schooled mindset are the parents... just saying!)

Murdermysteryreader Fri 24-Jul-15 20:30:03

How old is he? What teaching experience do you have?

Tinuviel Fri 24-Jul-15 20:33:12

You might want to join us at A Little Bit of Structure for some ideas. There are some parents home edding kids with HFA on there.

ommmward Fri 24-Jul-15 21:02:56

@Murdermysteryreader@ - don't worry - previous teaching experience is totally irrelevant when it comes to home education. The skill set you need in order to steer 30 recalcitrant children of differing interests and abilities into roughly the same direction, while maintaining a calm and peaceful classroom atmosphere, is completely different from the skill set you need to help one or more of your own children learn. Very favourable adult-child ratios make it all infinitely more effective and efficient (because the adult can respond with pinpoint accuracy to the child's interests, needs and understanding at any given point).

GarlicDoughballsInGlitter Fri 24-Jul-15 21:48:50

Thanks omm! In wasn't sure how to address that bit!

Ds is nine.

Yes he is very Anti school, even his paediatrician picked up on it and has commented on it in his review. His
Blood pressure was raised as a result of talking about secondary school so we have to get it re taken at the gp when he is less anxious!

There was some trauma at school, as evidenced above(!) dominos think we need to de school. Hard as we still have two in school. I would
Like to pull them out as well ( for different reasons) but DH is reluctant. I will do some more reading around de schooling and send some like to dh to read.

Thanks for the link to the group. Is it fairly active?

ommmward Fri 24-Jul-15 22:19:30

Read Paths are made by walking: Home educating our autistic spectrum children. There is everything in there, from highly structured to completely child led, so you and your dh can read the case studies and think about where your family culture fits around those examples. The thing that leaped out of that book, for me, was the way each parent worked out what kind of education their child needed, and it wasn't always what they expected. Also read Thomas and Pattison How Children Learn at Home. Also a really useful one for your dh - proper scholarly research, which finds that (surprise surprise) informal and child led is much more effective than adult led top down.

Saracen Fri 24-Jul-15 23:08:54

Agree completely with everything ommmward said! grin

It is quite likely that you will find children like your son at your local home ed group. You and your dh might find it very useful to talk with their parents about what they've tried and what has worked.

There are all sorts of different approaches which can work for different children. Many people report achieving a breakthrough after stepping back from school-type expectations and observing how their children learn.

GarlicDoughballsInGlitter Fri 24-Jul-15 23:51:32

Thanks both! Any tips for getting him off screens?

ommmward Sat 25-Jul-15 09:08:10

Time. Each of my children has gone through a very screen focused phase. In each case, we tried to give them really interesting things to do on their screens - that certainly includes Minecraft, unlimited stampylpngnose videos on YouTube, and lots of games. In fact, screen time covered / covers a lot of "literacy" - closed captions on when a dvd is playing, learning to google search and decipher the answer. One of mine does a lot of making cartoons now - that's sequencing, making stories, creating dialogue, and some seriously impressive drawing-with-a-mouse skills, which have translated off screen into vastly improved drawing and handwriting. It might be worth giving it a month, where you give him free rein and play along and watch, and chat about his passions, and keep a daily note of the moments you realised he was totally engaged and learning something worthwhile. Then see how you feel after that.

We have also always had a flexible but strong routine of going out in the mornings most days - trip somewhere interesting, seeing friends, park, bike ride, going to the charity shops, whatever - so there is non screen time just built into our daily routine. Car trips are where the best educational conversations happen. And they often go for a long walk with their dad in the afternoon or another trip out.

So the short answer is: We limit the environment so that they are not where the screens are for several hours a day, and we let them get through that very screen focused period, so now they know it wont be arbitrarily limited and therefore they begin to feel confident and secure doing other stuff for hours a day smile

Murdermysteryreader Sat 25-Jul-15 21:29:06

Okay and the adult has the necessary subject knowledge and skills to ensure that the hold makes progress?

Murdermysteryreader Sat 25-Jul-15 21:29:32

Their child makes progress..

ommmward Sat 25-Jul-15 21:42:35

Skills required: able to source good resources (books, games, other people, internet, material equipment, documentaries, trips to relevant places); genuine interest in helping their child answer the child's questions.

ommmward Sat 25-Jul-15 21:44:07

I don't need subject specific knowledge in every area in order for my child to learn effectively. That's what a wider network of family and friends is for - I fill some people's gaps in knowledge; they fill my gaps; and the bits that fall between the cracks, me and my children research together.

ommmward Sat 25-Jul-15 21:56:11

Here's the thing. Transfer of academic knowledge is a big part of school, and it is a huge part of what we tend to think of as education. If that is your mindset, then of course HE is going to sound completely irresponsible as a life choice, and especially child led HE.

But the thing is that, in order to be able to learn effectively, people need to be calm, physically comfortable (no sensory overwhelm) , socially secure enough in their environment to be able to take risks etc etc. For a lot of children, and especially those on the autistic spectrum, school is never going to provide an environment in which they can learn effectively. And that means that pretty much anything that child's parents can provide by way of education provision is going to trump the school experience For That Child.

fuzzpig Sat 25-Jul-15 22:59:24

Hello! I am fairly new to Home Ed too <waves at the lovely MNers who helped me make the best decision I ever made! grin>

I definitely agree about the need to deschool. My DS didn't really seem to need much time (but then he was only halfway through year 1) whereas DD (yr3) spent the first few months constantly stropping and being more defiant than ever - so much so that I really panicked I'd made the wrong choice. But we've turned a corner now - I think we are reaching a level of structure that works for us, although I plan to increase it a little after the 'summer holidays' (it is still a little different from term time, as all their activities are off, schooled friends are around more etc). I had really thought we would be more autonomous, but it seems that DD in particular really needs to know what to expect each day.

At the moment we do our core work in the morning. We call it 'Super Skills Time' grin after they've had breakfast, they get dressed, give their room a quick tidy, do teeth etc and then they play outside for a bit (DD particularly just cannot settle if she's not had fresh air and exercise). Then it's inside for SST - reading aloud, and some numeracy and literacy. We use workbooks/sheets for those - I'm not really following a curriculum as I'm confident in both and find it fairly easy to see what they're ready to learn next IYSWIM. It was important to me to ensure they covered these basics and they have both made massive improvements (DS was pretty much written off because he couldn't communicate at school, and DD had zero confidence in maths) because I've been able to cover what they need and keep going with it until they're ready to move on. This was a major factor in DD's struggles in school maths lessons - they moved on too quickly.

They get screen time after SST (have always limited it, so not new to them). I do also reward them with a lego Mixel or magazine when they've completed a whole workbook (and in DD's case if she finishes a longer chapter book) - I was unsure about this, but it seems to be working well not as the driving force but just a little incentive (eg DD finished her book and was pleased when I reminded her, but she was still mostly sad that she'd finished the book as she loved it so much!). The screen time really helped DS too - he absolutely HATED reading, and could barely manage the word 'cat' after 18 months of school - after a few weeks of doing his reading just so he could play Mario (!) he had made huge leaps, to the point where I've had to return some of the reading scheme books before reading them as I've realised they're too easy for him, and he now picks up anything he can to read.

Other than that, any structure doesn't really revolve around what they learn, but when - again because they respond to predictability. The sheer number of clubs they now belong to adds a natural schedule to our week too (eg "we have to leave for gym at 11, so let's get xxx done before that"). But the topics are pretty much guided by them - for example they love Ancient Egypt because they have a toy pyramid, and they then found out about a particular Greek myth that fascinated them so we are kind of doing both. A lot of the learning is still through playing and crafty stuff though (like building a maze for Theseus and the Minotaur! They did this spontaneously - that was the first time I really accepted how much they were learning without it actually looking like learning)... DD wants to make a pop-up book so that'll encompass loads of different skills. She also wants to learn Japanese (anime obsessed!) so we are learning it together smile I really love finding fun ways of building on what they are learning. The internet is bloody fantastic - I'm on loads of different facebook groups and am always saving links full of ideas. They are both kinaesthetic learners so it's important to find hands on stuff. I love designing games around their learning (huge pack of blank playing cards from Amazon is very cheap and very versatile!) and they will usually happily play anything I make. So that kind of stuff just happens as and when - but I'd usually give them a time frame (DD, who may well have ASD, really needs time to adjust) eg 'half an hour more playing and then we are getting the paints/game out' etc.

Sorry I've waffled like mad and probably haven't even answered your question blush

Thanks Tinuviel for the forum suggestion - I've applied to join (username representing my favourite childhood book series wink)

GarlicDoughballsInGlitter Sat 25-Jul-15 23:53:47

Thanks for more replies.

Murdermysteryreader Ok, I am going to bite. I was going to leave it but I feel I can't. Yes yes to everything Omm said. We did not pull ds out on a whim. He actually asked for years before we did. Every day after school he was exploding and being violent. Taking it out on both me and his younger siblings. Every day all my time was spent trying to get him out the door, home, calming him, seoeratign him from the siblings. He was stressed, anxious, withdrawn from the family, angry. He would not engage with the family except to scream and shout. He was falling behind in classes, unable to access the curriculum due to stress, despite being incredibly gifted.The school wasn't making any adjustments for his condition despite begging and shouting. An incident occurred where die to the school not makinga. Reasonable adjustment he ended up strangling a child. (Not saying who -as. Too identifying).

That was it. We pulled him out. Despite the posts above he is a changed child. He laughs. He is affectionate. The violence has decreased dramatically. He smiles. HE PLAYS!!! With other children!! He talks to adults! He talks and engages with other children outside the family. In fact, he even has a friend!! This is a different child to the one who was in school a month ago. We KNOW we have made the right choice. To us, THAT change is what progress looks like. Not some numbers written In a book scoring our child against other children Who don't face the same challenges as he does.

We knew school had damaged him. We didn't realise how much. He won't engage with anything that has 'school' written on it. At all.

Anyway, thanks to the other posters here flowers I have spoken to DH. We talked about deschooling and around child led learning and them not learning if forced. We talked about secondary. DH said of course he wants him to go but if he doesn't go, if it isn't right for him, then that's fine. We need to do what is best for ds. If that means no school , due to the above issues, then that means no school. There are other routes.

We are going to do some reading, so thank you for the links. The books are a bit pricey though so any web links would be appreciated.

Thanks again for your support!

GarlicDoughballsInGlitter Sat 25-Jul-15 23:57:22

(Also, murdermysteryreader, do you think pulling your child out of school is something parents do lightly? To throw off the norm, face judgement and questions, just for the hell of it? It is a decision that is thought about, endlessly, tirelessly, doubted, reaffirmed, constantly! We dont do it for us. We do it for our child. It is our job to educate our children, what ever that education may look like. Some kids just don't fit the school mould.)

Saracen Sun 26-Jul-15 02:17:22

{Standing ovation}

You are an inspiration, GarlicDoughballs! Thanks for reminding us what it's all about. Your sense of perspective is invaluable. I'm delighted to hear that your son is showing signs of recovering from the bad time he has had.

Sometimes I am inclined to forget that it isn't all about how many times we've been to the museum this month or how fluently my kids can read. Those aren't the sole measures of their education.

Nigglenaggle Sun 26-Jul-15 08:10:19

Lovely to read about how well your DCs are doing Fuzzpig and Garlic smile smile smile

ommmward Sun 26-Jul-15 09:57:13

Have a look on bookfinder.com you can often get books much more cheaply than amazon, there. Also, ask around home edders. Our home ed group has a little.library of books that get lent our routinely.

Saracen Sun 26-Jul-15 12:57:46

Our county library system has a few home ed books. I requested a few more, which they have since bought.

MelamineTeapot Sun 26-Jul-15 22:29:44

Just wanted to add that there are other child-led ways of home educating, in addition to unschooling (autonomous) that also provide structure and utilise curriculum. I tried unschooling with my now 8 year old and it was a disaster. He was unhappy, bored and frustrated which meant he was learning next to nothing. Spending hours and hours on end all day every day on Minecraft was not good for him, despite it's educational benefits.

There are as many ways to educate children, as there are children in the world. No single way is best, unless it is what works for you, your child and your family.

Saracen Mon 27-Jul-15 04:56:49

Good point, MelamineTeapot! And even under the umbrella of autonomous education, some children like and need a structured day, but they make the decisions about what goes into it. For example, the child may recognise that he's happier if he gets some exercise out of the house every day and may want to schedule swimming twice a week after lunch, and a walk or bike ride on other days. Some of my young friends with autism prefer a schedule for their days.

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