What to Do with a Restless Little Boy?

I find it a rather interesting fact that 80% of all homeschooled children are boys. That makes a definite statement about the inability of most little boys to sit in desks and endure the regimentation of public school. Little boys are wiggles and adventure. Sitting in a desk for hours on end sounds like cruel and unusual punishment to an energetic little man.

What can be done with those particular little boys that can’t seem to do well in homeschool either? It seems that in the past 14 years of homeschooling my children, I have rotated in and out of having a restless little boy many of those years. It gets very tempting to consider public school, especially when I have a baby. Public school seems like a good solution until you really study it out.

Advantages of Sending Your Restless Boy to Public School:
1. He would be out of your hair for several hours a day, meaning you could get something done (such as homeschooling your more compliant children, cleaning house, nursing the baby, etc.)
2. The school schedule would discipline him to being on time and preparing his homework ahead of time.
3. The teacher would teach him to obey and follow directions.
4. He would have other children to play with and tousle with, teaching him how to act and get along while diverting some of his boundless energy.
5. He would learn academics, which would be more than seems to be getting through in homeschool.

Let’s Consider Each So-Called “Advantage”
1. He would be out of your hair for several hours a day, meaning you could get something done (such as homeschooling your more compliant children, cleaning house, nursing the baby, etc.)
Mothers are to be about the vital business of teaching and nurturing the precious children that God has entrusted to them. You love him more than any other person on this earth loves him, and you care about his daily doings. No teacher could rouse the same amount of interest or concern for his success. Just because he is out of your hair doesn’t mean that he is no longer totally your responsibility. Often the problems school creates only stress and strain your relationship further, putting more pressure on you. Your son can easily sense why he was put in school. Instead of feeling loved and wanted, he will feel that he is a problem too great for you to handle. Mothers, this kind of heavenly, motherly teaching takes lots of time and devotion, but it pays big dividends. Never give up!

Besides, maintaining your homeschool plus keeping up with the needs, demands, and homework of public school is extra exhausting.

2. The school schedule would discipline him to being on time and preparing his homework ahead of time.
Fat chance. If you haven’t been able to teach and guide your son to be on time and prepare ahead of time, the problem will only get worse with going to school. In homeschool you can be patient and lead him along. If he attends public school, it will be a mad dash to get out the door and a scramble to complete homework every school day for the rest of the school year. Talk to mothers who have their children in public school and ask specifically about the morning get-off-to-school stuff. I think you will hear that it is a crazy race to get out the door and that family prayer, a nutritious breakfast, hugs and kisses and other important beginnings to the day are often shrugged off in the hurry of it all. As far as homework goes, I spent several years helping my sons get their homework done after school before we discovered homeschooling, so I have a bit of experience. I firmly believe that it is much easier to teach them a concept in homeschool than it is to try to plow through their homework with them, explaining information (with no idea of how the teacher presented it in class) at the time of day when parents are most exhausted.

3. The teacher would teach him to obey and follow directions.
It is not the school’s job to train up your child. Besides, even if the school could accomplish it, you wouldn’t like the job they did it. Their values may be different from your way of life. The job of training children is best done at home, at an early age. If your little guy is still struggling with obedience, you are the best teacher and home is the best setting. Whatever problems he has at home will just be magnified at school. He will be labeled a troublemaker or a difficult child. The fear of a new situation may make him behave for a few days, but then he will begin to struggle with the same behavior that caused problems in homeschool. Home is the place to learn obedience from a tireless, consistent, loving mother. (God grant us the strength!)

4. He would have other children to play with and tussle with, teaching him how to act and get teamwork-649498_1280along while diverting some of his boundless energy.
Although I think it is important to have other children to play with and interact with, don’t count on public school for enriching your child’s social life. For one thing, you can control the type of friends your son associates with while he does homeschool. But in public school, often children who are restless fit right in with children who have lower standards and less self-discipline. You won’t like the language, play or dress codes that your son will quickly pick up in school. Although it seems like it would drain his energy to roughhouse with other boys, generally it only makes them wilder. Constructive play such as rigorous sports or building a tree house can divert that restlessness. When my boys were young, they dug long tunnels and built teepees and forts. They dragged themselves in from their work/play exhausted. Boys thrive on heavy chore jobs such as carrying wood or hoeing the garden, masculine jobs that need a boy’s muscles and strength to complete. Hobbies such as tying knots, whittling or woodworking can also keep him busy and happy. These are productive ways to channel your son’s energy.

When my sons needed social life, I looked for an older boy who was strong in the gospel for my boys to look up to, someone who could teach them new skills. When my son Daniel was younger he learned to operate a CB radio, connect to the Internet and compose music on the computer from older boys who appreciated having an interested listener and learner. Mark learned to raise chickens and grow a garden from men in our church who enjoyed sharing their wisdom. True socialization comes from following in the footsteps of someone older and wiser who models just how to behave.

5. He would learn academics, which would be more than seems to be getting through in homeschool.
There are more important things to learn than academics, such as the fact that Jesus loves you and died for you, that you need to treat your baby brother gently, to speak respectfully to your parents, to brush and take care of your teeth and health in general, to be patient and attentive to the sick and aged, to remember to feed your pets and be kind to animals, to shovel your elderly neighbor’s sidewalk without pay, and other crucial basics to a happy life.

liquid-415425_1280In addition, consider how public school will teach your son academics. If much of the work will be listening to lectures or doing worksheets while sitting quietly in a desk, your child is likely destined to be a failure. Restlessness in homeschool can be accommodated by hands-on learning, frequent exercise breaks, and alternate ways of gaining knowledge such as watching a video, playing a math game, tutoring little ones or doing a science experiment rather than just reading and filling in worksheets.

Food and Discipline

peanut-butter-684021__180There are a few other things to consider when dealing with a restless little boy. Food allergies can wreck havoc with a child’s ability to sit still and pay attention. Although I feel cautious about “blaming” food for such trouble, I do think it is worth observing. My 6-year-old son Ammon (who is currently the restless little boy in our homeschool) would pay attention and write his letters fastidiously neatly on certain days. Other days, his letters and numbers would be sloppy and backwards. After several weeks of watching, I decided that he was eating peanut butter and whole wheat bread for breakfast on the mornings that school went poorly. Removing whole wheat (difficult to do!) and peanut butter from his diet resulted in a more peaceful homeschool for Ammon, although it didn’t solve the problem entirely.

Lack of discipline and hyperactivity look very similar in behavior. I often think strictness and consistency on the part of the parents of restless boys might be more effective than medicine in many cases. Boys particularly seem to push limits and struggle with learning self-control. Without proper discipline, most little boys are a whirlwind. If you think lack of self-discipline is causing the problem with your little boy, help him learn little by little to control himself. I like reading my children a story from Little House in the Big Woods (pg. 87, chapter entitled “Sundays”) about what self-control little pioneer children were expected to have, to the point of not even laughing on Sunday. Talking about exactly what is expected behavior in home school helps too. For example, when my little guy sits upside down on the couch (meaning head down and feet up) during school, I tell him that had he gone to public school when I was a child, my teacher Mr. Bowen would have hit him with a hickory stick for that trick. Today’s school teacher may have sent him to the principle or held him in from recess. I am not excessively strict on how they sit or what they say during homeschool, but I do feel you must keep order and children must learn not to burst out with whatever pops into their head to say. Judging on some children’s actions that I observe at church, perhaps I expect better behavior than the public schools do.

Remember that your mischievous little boy is first and foremost God’s child, and God loves and values him greatly. Pray for help! If you don’t know what to do next, He knows. Lay claim to His promise: “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you” (John 14:17–18). “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.” If we pray with full energy of heart, He will grant us pure love for our restless little boy. God will change our irritation and annoyance to understanding and charity. He will plant in our mind a strategy, ideas to help this child grow and become that man that He designed him to be. Remember you are the key figure in this plan. Mother forms and shapes the child more than any other influence. Your approval and love is crucial. It is true that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

 

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Ready…Set…Grammar!

grammarpig

Now, I know “excitement” may not be how you describe the subject of grammar, but your kids will think this instant, silly game is plenty of fun, and they’ll get good at knowing their parts of speech too!

Ready?

Set?

Grammar!

#1  Teach or review that a “noun” is a person, place or thing. Have your children look around the room and find nouns. If you can touch it, it is a noun. If you count it, it is a noun. If you can go there, it is a noun.

#2  Teach or review the concept that a “verb” is an action word. Anything you can do is a verb. That would mean hopping, running, swimming, dancing, playing, typing, etc. There are also words for just existing or being and they are verbs too! Is, am, are, be, were, being, was, are all verbs.

Now, for the game!

Have the children stand up and raise their hand. A hand is a thing. The word hand is a noun. So whenever you say a word that is a noun, the children are supposed to raise their hand up.

Now have the children hop. Verbs are action words: hopping, swimming, dancing, running, etc. Tell the children to hop on one foot whenever you say a word that is a verb.

Start easy by just saying random words:

apple (noun—children should raise a hand up)
dancing    (verb—children should hop)
balloon    (noun—children should raise a hand up)
cookie     (noun) . . . continue
whistled (verb)
pet     (noun)
Disneyland (noun)
book     (noun)
slid     (verb)
slither    (verb)
hamburger (noun)
Japan     (noun)
slime     (noun)
sneezed    (verb)
jiggled    (verb)
. . .etc.

Be careful when saying verbs to state them in their -ing form (dancing rather than dance) or in a past tense form (danced instead of dance). The reason is that many verbs are also nouns. A dance could be a noun. Dancing and danced are verbs.

You can pick the silliest words you can think of and go faster and faster so that the children are racing to make their signals. This is lots of action, fun and laughs. When the children get good at this, slip in a few state of being verbs such as is, was, are, be, am. When they are no longer stumped by the “being verbs”, you can start telling them a story slowly, and let them figure out the nouns and verbs. For example, you could say this sentence and expect these signals:

“The pig gobbled his dinner.”
The
pig (noun—children should put their hand up)
gobbled (verb—children should be hopping)
his
dinner (noun—hand up).

“Charley was a large pig and he lived in a muddy pigpen.”
Charley (noun—hand up)
was (verb—hopping)
a
large
pig (noun—hand up)
and
he  (noun—hand up)
lived (verb—hopping)
in
a
muddy
pigpen (noun—hand up).

“Charley loved to eat apples.”
Charley (noun—hand up)
loved     (verb—hopping)
to
eat    (verb—childen should hop)
apples (noun—children should put their hand up).

You can add to the game by teaching a signal for proper nouns. Proper nouns are nouns that are capitalized and mean a certain, specific thing, such as Charley, Mr. Jones, or Disneyland rather than pig, man and amusement park, which are common nouns. Whenever a noun is proper, have your child bow in a proper way. So when you say the word, Charley, your child will not only have his hand up to signal a noun, but he will take a bow to signal a proper noun.

If you aren’t quick in thinking up sentences for your children to do the actions to, then read a simple children’s book aloud, sentence by sentence.

Your children can join right in to make up more signals as you learn more parts of speech. There are 8 parts of speech (nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, coordinating conjunctions, preposition, articles) so this doesn’t get too complicated to have fun with.

Who can resist grammar when it is just fun and games?!

 

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Just Wants to Play

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Question:

I’ve just started homeschooling, and I’m having a horrible time with my 6 year old son today. I’ve said he had to do the lessons before going outside, but playing outside is all he wants . . . what do I do?

Answer:

Easy answer: Go outside with him!

Six years old is pretty young to “do lessons before going out”. Why not make going outside part of the lessons? There is a lot to learn from the real world, and the lessons will really stick when he experiences them in real life, hands-on, rather than on a worksheet!

Start off with your devotional for sure. Every child needs that. Then do chores or breakfast or whatever. Now, when it is time to begin school, have a little “ceremony”. Flag salute, sing a song, check the weather and temperature and mark it on a graph. Put a sticker on the calendar and say the date. Have a prayer. Recite the memory verse or poem aloud together. That should all take about 15 minutes.

Take a little walk together and observe clouds or look for bugs or collect leaves, or etc. When you do go inside, put the leaves into big books to press, or look up the bug you found together on the internet, or read a library book on clouds, etc. Learn together and enjoy it! Plan ahead and do one science unit per week (insects, clouds, seeds, leaves, trees, etc.), getting library books and craft books and experiments lined up ahead of time, and make the most of being outside, observing nature and collecting things.

Don’t dump lots of paper work on him. He is young, and so much of learning can be done hands-on, even math. Boys need lots of big muscle action. I keep a chin-up bar in my school room doorway, and most of my children still swing on it while doing their memory work. You actually learn better when you are moving! I can vouch for that bit of research!

One child of mine had trouble doing bookwork, so I took his Saxon math lesson, and pulled out legos and crayons and toy cars, and taught the concepts that way. I remember one lesson that focused on learning the ordinal numbers (first, second, third, fourth, etc.). I got out toy cars and lined them up. I wrote numbers on little papers. I asked my son to line up the numbers in order. Then I asked him to park his cars, one on each number. Now, we practiced: what color is the fourth car? Which car is first? How many cars down the line is the 6th car? It only took 10 minutes for him to master to concept that he would have grueled over on a math worksheet.

My  reading program is all games. I created it because my young son just needed a fun way to learn.  Little boys can be restless creatures!

You don’t have to sit at a desk and push a pencil to learn. In fact, a 6-year-old probably cannot tolerate much of that. When it is time for history, read him real stories of history aloud, with lots of pictures. Make some hands-on craft, like building a little fort out of twigs, or popsicle sticks. Look in my catalog or in my curriculum guide (free online) for ideas and resources. There are lots of great hands-on craft idea books. Add historical videos to your list of fun things to do.

I am not saying that children don’t have to do their “lessons”. I am just saying, “make it fun!”. Let him go outside, and teach him all about the marvelous world. Do what you can to help him realize that learning is deliciously fun.

 

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Funny Putty

camping_oregon_8

Rebekah

Here’s a fun science recipe to make:

  • 2 cups white glue (regular, not school glue)
  • 2 teaspoons Borax
  • Water

Mix the borax with 1/3 cup water, dissolving well. In another bowl, mix the glue and 3/4 cup water. You can also add a few drops of food coloring. Stir well and add in the borax/water mixture. Amazingly, the putty will clot. Knead together, leaving any excess water that forms in the bowl.

This weird stuff will pick up the print off cartoons from the newspaper. It has a strange oozy effect when placed in small molds and containers. Plastic forks are fun to use to make impressions, because the impressions will disappear.

Store in a ziplock bag, releasing the air. It will last 2-3 weeks.

 

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My Cantaloupe Man

ammonscanteloupe

Ammon (15) loves plants. He cherishes them, in fact. He can spend hours supervising and nurturing his garden. When he was a little boy, I always made sure he had his own large bed in our family garden that he could plant with whatever he wanted. This year, Ammon wanted to plant melons and squashes—both which take more space than our garden would provide, so the idea was born to let Ammon grow his sprawling garden in front of our house. We live our in the country, so this is not so radical a plan as it sounds like . . . but we have had some comments from the neighbors.

Ammon chose his seeds carefully from catalogs during the winter months, with me as his partner. He spent hours upon hours scheming and planning on paper while the snow was still deep. Finally spring arrived and in went the seeds, not haphazardly, but with the greatest of care. All of us in our family were amazed at what detailed care he took.

Now Ammon is enjoying the fruit of his labor—we all are! It is cantaloupe for breakfast, honeydew for lunch and more, more, more for dinner! He wants to taste and relish each variety. He photographs each melon, both on the vine, and cut and ready to eat.

As a mom, I am hoping he will very soon progress to the desire to give them away and reap the joy that comes from sharing something you have worked hard to produce. That would be the ultimate lesson.

While watching Ammon out in the blazing sun tending his melons, I often think of Mark Twain’s remark: “Don’t let your schooling get in the way of your education.” Ammon took a Botany course at the local high school with textbook readings and rather contrived projects. He learned a lot, especially vocabulary terms that he now uses when talking about his plants. But, he has learned a zillion times more about Botany by actually getting his hands in the dirt and growing his melon garden. It is a lot harder in real life than on the pages of a book! There is the constant need for water, weeds to deal with along with bugs, wilting, raccoons, birds, and the scorching sun. Ammon often comes to talk to me about the newest challenge: this week the leaves have developed mildew!

What wonderful preparation for life! Our at-home-Botany-course has taught marvelous lessons that far exceed the textbook, and will ready him for life, including:

*neglect when things are young can ruin them when they are grown (including people, animals and plants)

*the path includes challenges, and joy

*we are dependent on God for every blessing

*growth is a miracle that we take for granted

*you only reap what you sow (corn seeds do not produce cantaloupe, forgetting to practice does not create a concert pianist)

*only God can make the sun shine, can bless us with the necessary elements to create life

*time marches on (get your planting done early in the season, as you cannot delay the killing frost)

. . . and many more lessons! I love homeschooling!

ammoncuttingcanteloupe

 

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