been a lot of ideas tossed around about ways to get our boys "going"
on different subjects, but here is where I am stuck. The average
idea is to get the boy moving along by providing "lessons" on his favorite
subject, but my son (8) has no favorite subject! I mean, he does
Legos, plays on the computer and listens to his books on tape (he is
still a beginning reader). He would do this all day long and does
this far into the night. Granted he listens to "books" that are
well beyond his reading ability, and he can tell you every detail sometimes,
but he still has no interest in anything else: no dinosaurs, no
bike, no tree houses, in fact he hates to go outside. I give the
Legos a lot of space because I believe learning takes place in them,
but he is not the kind of kid who seems to be motivated to learn.
THIS MOM is going out of her head to motivate him to move beyond where
he is because he seems to be at a stand still and its been a long time
at this point. I want to spark the love of learning in him but
I can't seem to find a big enough blow torch.
some tricks that I have found helpful with my 10 year old boy:
God is blessing your efforts. All He expects from you is to care
enough to try!
- Don't fret...he is learning more than you think.
- Never let him know that he is learning something.
- Schedule a certain time of day that you "expect" something from
him. We started with a feeding the animals rotation. Our
biggest problem was the lack of ability to follow instructions and
carry out tasks. But when I would try to drop too much on him
at once, he would get discouraged and not even try.
- Sneak in little teaching moments (science, for instance) and point
things out like, "Hey, look at that bird! I wonder what kind
of bird that is!" Then ask him to help you find out. Or
ask him how to spell words when you are writing a letter. He
thinks that you need them.
- Love goes a long way. I have found that love and acceptance
with discipline as a sidekick has been the formula for progress in
our family, whether it be in homeschooling or family relationships.
- Don't try to change too much at once.
- If this doesn't work, try something else. This was just my
last week's plan. :)
- In every plan, pray without ceasing!
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Sometimes, you just gotta MAKE them. I used
to have a rule when kids were little: "If it is nice outside, kids are
outside." Period. They'd counter with, "there's nothing
to do..." meaning, "I haven't any imagination to play by myself."
And I'd come back with "FIND something." End of subject.
Over and over and over again. Then one day, they LIKED going outside
and began to find things to do, and I actually had to go looking for
them to bring them back in (we live in the country adjacent to 80 acres
of woodland where they can roam free but not get lost).
Your son likes math. Legos (and patterning, building) develop
pre-math skills. I have yet to find a way to present memory by
rote (which has to take place in mathematics) and make it loads of fun.
You can divide up the Legos and make him count them, add them, subtract
them. How many Legos make whatever it is you made? How did
you figure out how to place the Legos to make the creation stable?
He likes to read, too. Only try reading TO him, instead of using
the tapes. He doesn't HAVE to sit still while you read (that rule
was made by teachers to keep order in a classroom) unless he wants to
see the pictures. (I like the heavily illustrated texts for this:
Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan collectors editions, Pooh, Dinotopia
-- yes, go Dinotopia! THEN you can discuss how ridiculous the
theory of evolution is!!) The nice thing about those titles is
that they are not written down to the kids, but force the kid to elevate
his/her understanding while being interesting.
I have found that sometimes I have to be really involved in their learning
processes, that even unschooling takes MY time. It isn't all the
child choosing and doing, but there is a partnership. Try a LOT
of crafts, hands-on stuff. He's eight: he can bake cookies,
make rock crystals, bake a cake, subscribe to Experiment
of the Week. Have him write a poem for you (don't be shocked:
boy poems go something like Levi's classic "Terrible Fish" where he
eats the terrible fish and it is just a silly sing-song rhyme).
He can make his own clay.
I suspect he isn't "interested" because he doesn't know HOW to begin
and he is overwhelmed by the prospect of a change in his routine.
Sometimes it isn't so much that kids are unmotivated to learn, but they
are overwhelmed by the possibilities and they don't know where to start.
It's hard to find out what they are truly interested in until they explore
a little. His routine, what you described to us, that's his comfort
zone. Your job is to get him out of that zone and exploring.
If you lived near ponds like us, now is the time to go study froggies,
if you are close to a wetlands. (Note: he's too young to wander
into a wetlands alone. Mom has to learn to like slime. hehehe)
I hope I helped, not added to your confusion... Jaci
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Hi! I get the feeling that even though you
are very frustrated, there is a forest hidden among all your trees.
You say he's very interested in computer; I would capitalize on that!
What kinds of things does he do on computer? The sky is the limit
on subject matter via computer, and he may find interest in something
off the wall after being exposed to it through the computer. Provide
lots of different programs for him, including creative writing programs,
they can be a lot of fun! And then pour a cup of coffee, and relax!
He sounds completely normal for an eight year old!
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Have you tried "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy
Lessons"? I just bought it and my 12 year old daughter who is
just beginning to be able to sit still and pay attention long enough
to get through a few sentences is having great success with it.
Here's why: the print for what she needs to read is real big, large
enough for her to be able to trace letters with her finger when she
doesn't remember them on sight; they use special tricks that really
work to key her on special sounds, like the letters 'th' and 'sh' are
connected, and every long vowel has the line over it, and silent letters
are smaller. (Before this book, I would have to provide constant
running commentary to her on how to approach these letters, she would
never remember.) And, every little story in the book comes with
a cartoon illustrating it, placed conveniently after the story so you
can hide it with a piece of paper (they tell you to do this), so the
motivation is to read the story, then you get to see the funny picture.
This really works for us. Tonight Esma was asking for a new Bible,
and I was explaining I had been waiting until she would really be able
to read it. She said that the big book (that's "Teach Your Child")
would help her enough so that she will be able to read her Bible.
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I think there is a book out by Mary Hood about setting
up learning centers in your home. I haven't looked at it, so can't
necessarily recommend it, but it sounds interesting.
I think the biggest part of a 'learning environment' is being available
to your children. Listen to their questions and help them find
answers. For the younger ones especially, let them be part of
your daily routine as much as possible. This one is hard for me...
when I cook dinner, I prefer to do it alone. I really like to
retreat to my upstairs room and work on my projects. For my sanity,
I need a certain amount of alone time, but I try to balance it. Another
biggie is that the parents model lifelong learning. I try to let
my kids see my reading, whether it be the newspaper or a magazine or
a novel or a non-fiction. Verbalize to the kids your frustrations
about learning the computer and let them see how you overcome that.
I know there is a stage where your hobbies are pretty much put on hold
because of the demands of very young children, but I think a curiosity
about the world modeled by the parents goes a long way.
Beyond those.... stick up posters with the alphabet or numbers where
the younger ones can see and ask questions... give the older ones access
to the kitchen for cooking (and cleanup)... games, whether they are
'educational' or not (even the simplest board game includes counting)...
Letting the kids use 'real' tools as much as possible rather than toys.
A real hammer and saw for messing around with wood rather than a kids
tool set, for instance.
Collections are always good.... I know Jami has his coin collection...
that could bring up many questions... who are the people on the coins?
How were they chosen to be on the coins? What metals are the coins
made of and why? Or maybe go for walks and gather leaves and identify
I think having reference books handy is great if they are used.
Again, the parents need to model this.
I have at different times kept a notebook handy for the kids to record
their questions. Maybe right now they're not interested in pursuing
the answer, but at some time they might be. Joby went through a stage
where he carried around a small (3x5) notebook as his 'scientist notebook'
to write down questions he had or observations he made.
Hope this helps,
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