We survived week 3, but it was a rocky one.
Okay. So last week started out just awful. Monday I told the boys that their spelling books were going to arrive on Tuesday after being on backorder. Last year, spelling took us about ten or fifteen minutes per day. No big deal. Tuesday the FedEx truck pulled in and they cried. I told them to put their noses to the wall (our version of SuperNanny’s naughty spot). They cried again when they discovered that the spelling list is in cursive even though they learned that last year. Then I got complaints like “this is awful” and “nobody is helping me” even though I was sitting AT the table trying to read through the list with them. Hello!?!! What am I, chopped liver??
They were like that Monday and Tuesday. Suddenly schoolwork that had been easy and fun was now torture and suffering. Tears, avoidance techniques, the works. Yet there was NO difference in what we were doing between the end of week two (when, as you recall, I was told “I love doing school with you, Mom”) and those days. I was not a happy camper, let me tell you.
Wednesday the hammer came down. I told them in no uncertain terms that any and all crying, complaining, or whining about school would result in a nose to the wall. For a long time. Usually I let them off the hook after a few minutes. Now, we were going back to a minute per year of age.
It took a few times of me insisting that I really meant what I said, and more than one boy standing nose to a wall, but they pulled themselves together pretty fast. Suddenly, boys could listen to the story and answer questions. Assignments were finished correctly and with (at least) faces that weren’t all dark and frowny. We were totally done – even with the addition of the dreaded spelling book – in less than 3 hours. By lunchtime, boys were playing cheerfully. Well, what do you know?
The rest of the week was about the same. On Thursday, Hubby’s folks came to visit. They arrived after we were done, but the boys were anxious for the arrival (read: staking out the road with binoculars) so focus was a little down. I understood that though, and didn’t make a fuss. Friday they managed to do their work with grandparents present, which is quite a feat. Plus they knew we were packing for a trip, so I’m pretty happy with them finishing their work under those conditions.
All told, what did I learn this week? That I can expect boys to make a focused and cheerful effort at their assignments. That I’m not killing anyone by insisting that they do their best.
Now, I know that some will disagree with my being tough on the boys. And that’s totally fine. Disagree away. I know that my boys need structure and expectations, or they just sit. Like lumps. In front of the biggest screen they can find…TV, computer, whatever. They’re not self-starters when it comes to schoolwork.
This week, we haven’t done a lick of formal schoolwork. Instead, we drove down to Jamestown, Virginia to see the sights since this is the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestowne Colony. But more about that in a few other posts.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who struggle with homeschooling.