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Homeschool, mental health, nightmare.

(14 Posts)
BulbTherapy Sun 19-Apr-20 23:17:05

In a bit of a shit situation. I am out at work from 8.30am till 7pm five days a week. My bf is working from my house to help with childcare as I cannot work from home. The logistics of getting DS to and from "school" are far to complicated around my hours and location.

DS is very stubborn and just digs his heels in over schoolwork. He refuses point blank to do any of the activities I set out for him - from breakfast and showering to drawing/painting to actual work set online by his teacher. BF is trying to get him involved but he has a work schedule to keep to himself.

This has resulted in DS going into terrible moods, sleeping half the day and getting up in the middle of the night to sneak onto his playstation/tablet/tv.

I come home and he is either asleep or upset that DP hasn't let him have any screentime (rightly so when he refuses to do anything at all that isn't xbox or youtube).

I write a small list/loose timetable each day with activities for him and rewards for what he manages to complete but he just doesn't care. He and DP both seem totally miserable in each others company and I come home feeling like shit that I can't be here to help.

I'm not particularly concerned about the actual schoolwork, more so the refusal to engage in any activity at all - things he usually enjoys, too.

Does anybody have any advice? Absolute last resort would be to try and make it work for him to attend the school for keyworkers, but I feel this puts us all at even more risk and it would be a logistical nightmare getting him there and back as DP wouldnt be able to help with that.

I feel like I'm failing him, he seems so unhappy and disengaged and I dont want to make life miserable by punishing him and removing fun things.

Can anyone give me any advice?

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EducatingArti Sun 19-Apr-20 23:18:41

How old is he?

BulbTherapy Sun 19-Apr-20 23:41:41

10. I've even considered sending him to stay with grandparents. They are both young and fit enough to take care of him and do so often, but my dad is vulenerable. We would need to isolate for a week and goodness knows when he'd be able to come back home sad

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ViciousJackdaw Mon 20-Apr-20 00:46:15

Whilst DS might like your BF very much, do you think he's struggling with having a new male suddenly in his territory? Furthermore, a new male who is telling him what to do in his own lair? I realise that makes them both sound like chimpanzees.

Can you make it so DS thinks he isn't being told what to do but really, he is? Take the emphasis off doing some things (a day without a shower won't hurt) and offer choices (art or schoolwork maybe?) or compromises (read two chapters then you can game for an hour?) to give him a sense of control.

BulbTherapy Mon 20-Apr-20 07:10:33

Thanks Vicious. This isnt exactly new. We have been together a long time and have lived together before but I suppose it could be a case of "you can't tell me what to do".

We have tried giving him more control by asking him what he would like to do in the day but he just shrugs and says he doesn't know. I leave him lots of choices and he can pick and choose as many as he likes in any order, but he just wont do any of it.

List is usually along the lines of ;

Shower/Breakfast/TV

Read two chapters of book and draw a picture of what happened

Water plants

Maths games/Sumdog

Walk

Letter to family member

Brush cat

He can choose what he likes with rewards for completion but it just doesn't work.

I have stopped even putting shower on there every day as I know it wont happen and it really causes havoc.

OP’s posts: |
SophieB100 Mon 20-Apr-20 07:28:02

@BulbTherapy
I can empathise with this, my now adult son would have been very similar to this at 10 years old.
Can I ask, how was your son when he attended his before all of this? Did he enjoy it, engage with the lessons/teachers?
I'm asking because my son hated school, and any thing associated with it would cause problems, so for example he wouldn't join the after school rugby club run from his school, so we had to take him to one at another school, which he loved.
My son was a bit of a rebel! (Not implying your's is btw).

hen10 Mon 20-Apr-20 07:47:13

I teach this age and I agree, you don't need to worry too much about actual school work. What about: 1) night before, 3 of you sit down and agree what you are all doing tomorrow. You direct his morning, he gets to direct his afternoon and bf is just supervising and helping. 2) You decide the non-negotiables that get him what he wants (Xbox for 30mins or whatever) and you give bf obvious strict instructions on this in front of him. 3) does bf have any hobbies or skills that he can teach your ds indoors? Coding? Origami? It's all learning, after all. 4) no secret playing on tech - take away controllers or whatever it takes. 5) Can you call home at lunchtime to check in see how it's going and bring home a treat for both of them if tasks are ticked off? Trying to build a bit of a team mentality between then in the eyes of ds? Just chocolate or something? I sympathise, it must be really tricky - I wish it was safe to have all mine back in class. He is safer at home though, by the sound of it.

ooooohbetty Mon 20-Apr-20 08:01:16

10!! And he's behaving like this. Take the PlayStation and anything else he has from him and keep in in your room at night and in your car during the day. Switch the WiFi off at night. Good suggestions from other people about getting him to do the work but I wouldn't allow him anything he likes while he is refusing to do what he is told to do. If he is doing this at 10 and gets away with it you're in big trouble for the coming teenage years.

EducatingArti Mon 20-Apr-20 08:06:03

I think you could also tell his teacher what you have told us.
She can also help set out clear expectations of what he should be doing.
Don't forget he may also be suffering from grief and upset over the situation so encourage him to talk about his feelings and fears regarding Covid19 and lockdown etc.

practicallyperfectwithprosecco Mon 20-Apr-20 08:14:42

Try

PE with joe
30 min break
45 mins maths
30 min break
45 min English
Lunch 1 hour break
1pm 30 mins reading
45 mins topic

Rest of day do what he wants

Less than 3 hours of school work there but plenty of down time.

I teach that age and I know some of my class are unwilling to work - that's what I have suggested to their parents that are struggling with them.

Noooblerooble Mon 20-Apr-20 08:19:42

Take the PlayStation and anything else he has from him and keep in in your room at night and in your car during the day.

My god please don't do that. We are going through a global crisis. Kids are allowed to act out. We all deal with things differently and some are really struggling. How difficult for him that you are out long hours while things are so scary and if he's clashing with your dp that must be highly stressful for him.

I would back off and go down the 'unschooling' route at present while things are so stressful. Give him a couple of weeks totally free rein to do what he wants in the day and he will hopefully then want some variety and to be doing more. Focus on him and your dp having fun and building a closer relationship above all else. If your dp can get him off a screen and get him doing things like baking right now that's great.

A couple of weeks down the line ask your son to choose a project of sorts to work towards. It could be learning about coding or designing a story around a computer game or writing letters to kids on Postpals but it needs to be his choice and it needs to be fun. Ask him to choose an amount of time he's do it each day. If it's an hour, fine. So many other children aren't keeping up with more than that. If it's something he is interested in he's start doing more of it. The PlayStation needs unplugging and hiding over night and rules set up around that for his mental health.

Please be kind to yourself and him. Schoolwork can be caught up on. If he is unhappy and fighting with the adults in his life and everything is a battle and he is being told off daily, that will leave a greater long term legacy.

Plenty of grown adults are achieving zilch right now beyond pottering around. As long as we all get fresh air each day and some exercise and some good quality connection with others, I think that is what matters. This is temporary afterall.

DBML Mon 20-Apr-20 09:08:54

Hi op,

One thing I’ve had to do with my own child is adapt our home school hours (And I’m a teacher!)

So during the day, I get up and go to work to provide child care or I’m posting work online like today? Marking etc

My son (nearly 15) will not get up until 1pm as he like your son sneaks back up at night to go on his computer. It’s caused a few cross words.

So I finish my day around 3.30pm and I then start my son’s day. I’m there to look at Teams with him and see what work he’s got to do. I can then help him/ watch him/ cajole and get him to do a few hours of work.

Like you, I’m not too worried about the content/work. I know he’ll catch up whenever schools go back. I just want him to be doing something. So our routine goes:

3.30 - 5pm = core subjects
5pm - 5.30pm = break / go for walk/ food
5.30 - 7pm = options subjects

That’s it.

So if your son won’t do anything with dp during the day, do it when you get home from work. Sit him in the room with you or wherever and he works from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. If he doesn’t like it, then he has the option to be doing it earlier.

Either way, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. No child will fall behind. They are all at the same point and all disadvantaged.

00Sassy Mon 20-Apr-20 09:37:29

Our DC’s primary school have advised us to follow their lead.

They sent out a letter to all parents suggesting that if the dc are happy with ‘homeschooling’ then that’s great as some will take comfort from having structure to their day.

Some however will not get along with it because their home is home, not school.

They will find it hard to adapt to that and their parents aren’t necessarily equipped with the same skills as their teachers, so it all becomes a struggle.

These are unprecedented times and children might be scared and confused, their usual routines and structures are gone and they are processing what they know about Covid19 too.

Don’t underestimate the changes in behaviour that this could cause.
They need their feelings acknowledged and reassurance.

It’s honestly okay to just let him enjoy this time and find his own way through it.

If it was my dc I’d take all home working away, at least to start with (perhaps introduce some things slowly when he’s more settled)
And try to do more learning from the normal day to day.
Such as getting involved in home life with cooking, learning how things work, noticing things in nature etc.

Also bear in mind they were due a two week Easter break, has he had a ‘holiday’ from schoolwork?

BulbTherapy Mon 20-Apr-20 21:48:05

Thankyou all so much for your advice and replies.

His controllers and internet access are removed and put away in the evening before bed. We have discovered that he has found ways around this and are trying to put a stop to that. He is smart enough to turn the wi-fi on once we are asleep, sneak in and find his controller which we have hidden and at one point hid the spare controller so that when we took his usual one away he could use it without us noticing.

He didn't get up until after 3pm today and that was with no screens or internet access at all after we physically had to take the router away overnight.

If he can't sleep I am ok with him reading or drawing to pass the time.

It's very difficult to find things for DP to engage in with him as he is required to be actively working during office hours. By the time I get home and we have eaten and had a rest it is too late to do much at all.

He has had a holiday from schoolwork and I hoped that might help to reset things but it hasnt made much difference.

I'm absolutely not bothered if he does any actual schoolwork at this point, I just want him to be happy and engaged in anything he finds enjoyable without it being obviously educational.

On my days off and in the evenings we've been trying to get out for a walk, do cooking, baking, gardening, games.

I am definitely not keen to come down hard on him at the moment and make things more stressful and tense.

A bigger project sounds like a good idea. We might be able to build activities around that theme.

He is a very bright boy and usually enjoys school so I'm a bit perplexed at his reaction to all this. He is normally very keen to please and be rewarded too so its difficult to know how to motivate him when that hasnt worked.

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