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DS2 getting cheeky - I think the novelty of home ed is wearing off...

(22 Posts)
ToffeeWhirl Fri 13-Jun-14 18:00:53

Has anyone else experienced this? DS2 has never been rude or answered back. He's always been the easy one compared to my elder son, who is more of a challenge. I wonder if it's the flip side of him becoming more relaxed.

At first, he was angelic and would sit down happily at our morning lessons (have insisted he do a bit of handwriting, English and Maths daily - sorry, autonomous home educators). We do lots of other stuff too, though: go for walks, play board games, cook, read, etc. The only thing we haven't been able to do this week is go out for a proper excursion (impossible to do this week for reasons unrelated to home ed).

In the last few days, he's been arguing back with me and refusing to come when I call him. Today, he didn't make any effort with his writing and said he felt 'funny'. No temperature or signs of illnesss. I told him to go and play instead, which he did happily. DH came home for lunch, so we packed a picnic and went for a long walk, which I thought would do him good.

This afternoon, he has a friend round to play and they're making a film together and seem to be very happy.

Maybe I have been making it too routine? Or being too prescriptive about what he's learning? Or is this just what happens when a child is getting used to being out of school? I seem to remember the novelty wearing off for DS1 as well, but I didn't get this rudeness from him.

ommmward Fri 13-Jun-14 18:21:34

It's hard to develop your own intrinsic motivation to learn if someone else is telling you what to learn, in what form, at what point.

Have you been through a period of deschooling yet? (not the same as unschooling - it's a recovery period when you don't do anything school-y at all - rule of thumb is one month per year in school, assuming school was not traumatic).

See, the friend coming to play and the making the film are totally totally educational, right? There are bits of English involved, no question, if there's any narrative involved in the film and it's not just a random sequence of frames. And all sorts of things about team work and socialisation going on.

You may need to let go of your own top-down image of what an education looks like, and start watching him navigate it himself. One of the total glories of home education is that it gives children the opportunity to become self-motivated learners (which most people don't learn, in my extremely considerable experience, until the end of their second year at university). But you have to do quite a bit of leaving them be, and offering activities that might be interesting and challenging, without looking for the opportunity for the educational twist all the time.

But, as you know, I'm one of those autonomous types, so take everything I say with a pinch of salt smile

ToffeeWhirl Fri 13-Jun-14 18:58:24

I have a lot of respect for 'those autonomous types', ommm. grin

I do see the logic of autonomous education, so I'm trying to steer a course between that and my own preferred method of structured learning. That's why I'm keeping the structured stuff quite short and simple. I want him to use this time out of school (which may be temporary) to catch up on some areas where he's been struggling at school, like handwriting and Maths. It's a small amount of discipline in an otherwise free day where he can read, play on his DS, play with Lego and see friends.

And if DS2 goes off on a tangent, I drop the subject we're doing and follow his interest. And I do see the value in things like him making a film with his friend this afternoon.

But you're right that he may be feeling that our morning sessions are a bit too much like school for his liking. I haven't asked him how he felt about it, so it has very much been imposed on him by me and he was so relieved to be out of school that he went along with it. He probably needs to feel more in control of his own learning. Maybe we can discuss it and reach a compromise between what I feel he needs to continue to work on and what he wants to explore.

He had about a month of no work at all after leaving school, which isn't long enough for deschooling, but which I felt was long enough. He started work when his brother started his online learning again and his friends went back to school, so it seemed like a good time for him to get back into the habit. We have been enjoying ourselves until this week.

ommmward Fri 13-Jun-14 19:03:22

Maybe you could talk with him about how you wanting him to do some handwriting and maths is about your anxiety, that you want to see if you can help him be more confident in those areas because school was rubbish at them, and that'd help him do all kinds of things later on in life. And then see if you can come up with ways together of working on them that are mutually enjoyable (I know a reluctant writer who will always cheerfully make a shopping list if (s)he gets to put icecream on it... and who will cheerfully do mental arithmetic at the till to work out how much change there'll be from £5 while buying said icecream. It's all a question of leverage smile )

And yes, just discussing it will probably help you find a good solution together smile

ToffeeWhirl Fri 13-Jun-14 19:16:56

Yes, that discussion is probably the answer, omm. I have tried to tailor the 'lessons' to his interests, eg. getting him to write a guide to Minecraft. He has also done some independent writing this week: he's started writing a newspaper about Minecraft ('The Daily Minecon'). It is unreadable, but at least he is practising his writing and enjoying himself. And I take the point that he is then self-motivated.

Thanks for your advice. It's really helpful.

ommmward Fri 13-Jun-14 19:34:25

Ha ha ha ha ha ha

I know several children who would find his newspaper absolutely riveting reading. You presumably have all the minecraft books?

ToffeeWhirl Fri 13-Jun-14 19:47:37

You presumably have all the minecraft books - we have enough!

He is currently watching 'Watchdog' with DH. It's his favourite programme after anything to do with Minecraft confused. I'm sure that must count as educational too. (I'm always distracted by Anne Robinson's immobile face wink). I just hope he's learning about consumer rights, rather than how to be a rogue trader...

ToffeeWhirl Fri 13-Jun-14 19:48:28

Actually, I should find some DVDs we can watch together next week - that might lighten the mood. I'll see what he's interested in first though!

NettleTea Sat 14-Jun-14 13:36:17

have you looked at minecraft homeschool?

maggi Sat 14-Jun-14 14:10:30

How old is ds2.
When children get to about 10 they suddenly acquire the knowledge that they have an opinion. I guess it is the early part of learning to move away from parent dependence. Biologically they are able to reproduce very shortly after 10 so I guess the brain is beginning to get prepared for being in charge of their own family. Anyway that is my theory as to why year 6's become bolshy and no longer see their parents as gods to be obeyed and respected, at least not in an unquestioning manner. As a homeschooler (correct me if I'm wrong) we have to be both parent and school so in some cases face a two pronged rebellion from an age 10+ child. Or it can be lovely (as my ds is provided I play the game his way).

ToffeeWhirl Sat 14-Jun-14 16:47:47

Nettle - yes, I have, but then forgot all about it! Unfortuately, Minecraft keeps making my computer crash, but I'm intending to get it fixed. Thanks for the reminder. I will suggest it to DS.

maggi - DS2 is 8. His bolshiness may be age related, but I think it's more to do with not being oppressed by school anymore and finally being free to express himself. And I think too, as omm suggested, he is getting bored at having work imposed on him. (Can't even begin to think of him as nearing the age when he can reproduce, by the way!).

Interestingly, I met Christopher Lloyd today, as I took Ds2 to a book event where he was speaking. Christopher home educated his two daughters and started off by replicating school at home. Three months' later, his daughters told him they were really bored. He asked one of them what she wanted to learn about and she said, "Penguins". From that point on, he and his wife followed their daughters' interests, realising that every subject could be covered through any topic. I told Christopher about DS2 getting bored and he said, "It's about ownership". Which is what omm was saying.

On our way home, remembering omm's wise advice, I explained to DS2 why I felt it was important that he continue doing English, Maths and handwriting every day, but I said that it was up to him what else he studied. He thought for a bit, then told me he wanted to study art - both making art and looking at other peoples', particularly Leonardo da Vinci's. I suggested an art class, but he said no, he just wanted to do art at home.

So that is what we're going to do next. smile

omm - how do I get the balance right between facilitating and pressurising? It is both an asset and a drawback that I love projects, so my first thought is to order lapbooks from Currclick, buy / borrow loads of books on Leonardo da Vinci, buy an art set, find relevant DVDs, etc. Then the danger is that it becomes more MY project than DS2's because I get so carried away with it. Any tips on reining myself in so that he still feels ownership of his studies?

ommmward Sat 14-Jun-14 17:27:19

I would start by using the internet. There's a huge amount - particularly with an 8 year old!! - that you can find out about Leonardo da Vinci simply by googling. Be with him as he's doing the googling, read to him the bits he wants to have read.

You have some form of writing implements and paper, right? So you make those available and then, as he's going along, you just say "is that paint ok for you? Are there any other kinds you want to try?"

And I do a certain amount of strewing (in your situation, I'd make sure that, if we were hanging out in the garden on a sunny day, I'd have the chalks out on the patio)

Just hang back - you need to get a sense of how long a craze lasts, too. The art thing might last 45 minutes, and then it's something else. Or it might last 6 months - that's a really good reason to do everything you can for free to start with (local museum or art galleries?), and then allow it to build up gradually if the interest continues.

It's really interesting that you love projects. So do a project. YOUR project, to interest you and occupy you while he is doing his own art project in his own way. Tell him "if there's stuff you need help with, or stuff you need, tell me, and I'll do what I can". and otherwise, let him lead the way.

My children are really really good at getting on with their stuff, and then telling me "I need X". And sometimes I hold off on buying X for 6 months a little while if it is expensive and I really am not convinced that it will be value for money, or I do think it could be value for money but, seriously, £25 is birthday-present type money not just £3 down the charity shop. And those long term "I need X"'s actually usually do turn out to be well used in the end.

Saracen Sat 14-Jun-14 17:57:20

I was going to say exactly the same as ommmward: if you love projects, do your own projects! It's OK if they happen to coincide with your child's interest. That happens sometimes. Just potter off and read the stack of da Vinci books yourself, without pressing them on him or showing disappointment if he doesn't read a single one of them.

I also agree with the idea of holding off buying anything expensive. There are additional bonuses to doing this. Sometimes kids are so eager that they don't want to wait for the expensive kit, so they find a way to raise the money themselves: making money is ALWAYS educational! Sometimes they are motivated to network to find somebody who will give or lend them what they need, and that too is a useful skill which also helps them connect with others who share their interests. Sometimes they manage to build what they need.

ToffeeWhirl Sat 14-Jun-14 23:28:14

OK, so I need to hand over the computer, hand him paper and pen, or let him open Word, then keep shtum and let him explore in his own time, right? Let him find his own way round and follow his own leads. Stop worrying about what subjects he's ticking off as he reads.

Also, I need to hold off on investments in books/equipment, etc that may never get used. (I know that, when I do that, it adds to the pressure for my DS2 and can kill his enthusiasm. I suppose it's like me taking over again.)

Brilliant idea, omm and saracen, for me to do my own projects! grin

I'll do more strewing as well. I did it by chance this evening, funnily enough. I'd bought a book at the event today and brought it home, but didn't unwrap it because DS2 said he wasn't interested. Actually, I forgot all about it. I had also picked up some leaflets featuring reading lists for children, which I left out on the kitchen counter. Later, DS2 asked me to unwrap the book, then spent ages poring over it. And he caught me reading one of the booklists and asked if he could look at it. If I'd asked him to look at either the book or the list, he would have said no.

Of course, as you both point out, there are huge advantages in letting the child learn independently and finding their own ways to raise money, beg or borrow things they need. I think I'm having to learn to do home ed differently this time round because my older son (ASD) needed (and still needs) quite a lot of support, so I have grown used to being that support and it's hard for me to stand back.

Thank you so much for the advice.

Saracen Sun 15-Jun-14 10:01:24

Of course, there is an exception to the general rule of delaying the purchase of expensive stuff that the kids want. The exception is if it is something which I too really want and which will be put to good use even if they don't use it!! grin

Kids: Oh, you bought us magnetic building toys!
Me: These are MY magnetic building toys. I might let you use them sometimes when I am not playing with them.

ommmward Sun 15-Jun-14 10:25:25

what Saracen said

ToffeeWhirl Sun 15-Jun-14 11:44:57

grin grin grin

sarahquilt Sun 15-Jun-14 19:39:33

He's playing up for the same reason children sometimes play up at school. You're making him do something he doesn't feel like doing. However, it's important that kids learn that sometimes they have to knuckle down and do what they don't want to do. It's an important life lesson. I think it's important to make your morning lessons very routine and make sure he does them or else you can mete out consequences. Trust me, if you just allow him free rein, you are not equipping him to deal with the realities of life.

ommmward Sun 15-Jun-14 19:55:04

Personally, I think that we all learn, work and play most effectively when we are self motivated. So I'd have to disagree with the "knuckle down" comment.

(hardly a shock reversal from me there, but never mind smile )

ToffeeWhirl Mon 16-Jun-14 18:18:48

Yes, I realise he's pushing the boundaries, sarah, and I have discussed it with him, so he understands why some stuff is not negotiable. However, I want home ed to be an enjoyable experience for him (and me), and for him to be able to explore what's important to him.

And I agree with omm about self motivation.

Well, I left DS2 exploring the Tate Kids website this afternoon, whilst I went to the library to get art books. Came home with a big stack of books on art and found DS2 completing an observational drawing of a crisp packet. He's now drawing the kitchen clock. I have given him a display folder to put his art into, which he's very pleased with.

DH is taking him to Asda tomorrow to choose some cheap art materials.

I might also ask some artist friends if they would show DS2 how they work and what they do.

It's really lovely to see him so happy and engaged in what he's doing smile.

Saracen Tue 17-Jun-14 00:34:36

Toffee, your son might also like the series on BBC iPlayer "What Do Artists Do All Day?", which my arty daughter quite enjoyed: Not as good as visiting artists, obviously, but gives a glimpse into the working lives of various types of artists. So far, we like the comic book illustrator best.

ToffeeWhirl Tue 17-Jun-14 08:37:42

That's a great link, Saracen, thanks. I think he'll love that smile.

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