Homeschooling has been incredibly difficult this year. Not so much because of the number of kids but because of the difficulties that Max and Misha have had with various things. One is to be expected: I have had to sit with them through every paper in order to tell them what to do at each new section. They simply couldn't read well enough to move through the worksheets on their own. Even if they could, two part instructions or even simple prepositional phrases proved to be tricky English for my boys.
This gives me a good way to measure their progress, though. I have noticed more and more that Max especially will try and read his own directions and usually get the simple ones right! This is a big help to me.
Another major problem has been that new concepts, and occasionally well-known concepts, cause the boys to just plain shut down. They don't know how to do something so they visibly quit. They will sit and stare at me or at the paper not hearing or caring to learn anything. It is like talking to a wall. I can not tell you how frustrating this is when I have to sit with them and I KNOW that this behavior means my sitting there forever!
The good news is that we seem to finally be conquering this problem. I have done two things. One, this usually occurs in math so that when it happens (So-and-so doesn't know what 5+3 equals today and refuses to put any effort into figuring it out), I just calmly hand them their copy book. This is a book where they have written all the number facts and equivalents that we need to know at this point. 1+1=2, 1+2=3, etc... I send them off to read it aloud. This makes them very upset but it accomplishes some important things: It does not allow their behavior to control my time to excess, It helps to solidify the simple number facts in their minds, and it gives them incentive to avoid having to do this!
I think that I may be dealing with some prenatal alcohol exposure issues in some cases, but even there, the book reading helps because of the repetition. Also, it is an immediate but not overly stimulating consequence/result.
Another thing that I do is to state my intentions and to try and train their attitudes to be more positive. For instance, it makes more sense to them if I say, "Reading your book is not a punishment, it is to help you to learn these things that give you so much trouble! It is a good thing!" They buy that pretty well :-)
Also, I sometimes say what I think is obvious but that I notice does not occur to them. One instance of this is that I might say, "When you don't know how to do something, you can be glad because Mommy can help you to know it! Now you will know a new thing!!" I, at one point noticed that the shut-down that they do is a form of giving up and being defeated. It doesn't seem to occur to them to try.
Anyway, all that to say that I am seeing progress at last! Schoolwork has been quickly and happily done lately. That is HUGE!
Also, Walker, Texas Ranger is on tonight and they want to be sure and get to watch it!