Saturday, August 9, 2008

School, School Go Away, Come Again Another Day

This appears to be my 8 year old's mantra these days.

We began school about 3 weeks ago. He is miserable. I, apparently, have concocted some kind of medieval torture device and have sentenced him to hours upon hours of painful misery and woe every day. How heinous of me.

He, in turn, is giving me hell. The absolute absurdity I have for expecting him to complete assignments in a timely manner before allowing him to have fun. What was I thinking?

We have tried it a few different ways. My favorite approach - complete work daily in each subject for the required amount of days each week, which in our case is 4 days. Four. That's it. Well, he can find many an excuse or reason that we need to take "breaks" all day long for that. "I'm hungry." "When can we have a snack?" "Aren't you tired, Ma?" "I should go feed the dog." "I need to get dressed." "But I have to pee." "But, but, I'm starving!!" He can go on forever.

So, I read some books. I found some other approaches. I discussed these with him. No, not like, "I allowed my 8-year-old to control me and decide what and where and when we do things." No, I just told him I think we might try something else....whadda you think about it? So we (I) decided to allow him to try and manage his own time, since having me manage his time was causing him such undue pain.

I gave him a list of all the work due for the entire week - looking something like this:

Math: p. 10-17
Reading: Read "Blah, blah, blah", answer comprehension questions on p. 270; and read a book of your choice and write a book report on it
Spelling: Week 3 words, go over list with Mama to make sure you understand definitions, complete p.6-7, write list words 2 times, once in print, once in cursive, take test
Grammar: p.5-8
Religion: p. 10-15, and complete sheet for St. So and So saint of the day for (whatever day it is)
Science: p. 30-35, get Mama to help with any experiments that come up
Social Studies: p. 280, week 3 day 1 & 2 activities, plus Map Skills p.8-9
Handwriting: Week 3 lessons 1-4 p. 15-18
Wordly Wise: p. 19-26

This isn't the exact list, and I may have forgotten something, but it's something like that.

I gave him the list and told him, "You have until Friday evening to complete this. You can do a little in each subject, each day. Or, you can do all of a couple subjects each day. You can get done on Wednesday, or Friday. Just as long as it is all done by Friday evening. If it's not done, you are grounded without food until it is completed."

He thought this idea was rather cool. He promptly spent the entire day Monday and Tuesday playing with friends. On Wednesday, he did some handwriting. On Thursday, he did the Map Skills book and some Grammar. Friday, he whined and cried all day about how he wasn't going to be able to complete everything in one day. I reminded him that I suggested on Monday and Tuesday that he do some work before going out with his friends. He whined and cried some more. I had apparently just chosen a different medieval torture method for this particular week. He tried to get some of the work done.

Then, when dinner rolled around and he didn't get any, he cried and complained about how hungry he was and how it was MY fault that he couldn't finish the rest of his work. Obviously. When I asked him what he meant, and this is good, he told me that since he can't do science without me and I have to help him with his spelling words, and I have to allow him on the computer to finish his social studies, that I was impeding (Ok, that's not the word he used) his ability to complete his work. Little bugger, I was ready and willing to help you many a day this week during the daytime to get your stuff done. I even told you, "I have time today to help you with your work." You chose not to do your work, and I am not staying up all night to help you just because you are not done.

Well, he didn't like that one bit. And he didn't get dinner either. Eventually, I got sick of the whining and sent him to bed.

The next day he got it done. I don't know if the hunger actually played a part in it, or if he dreaded the thought of an entire weekend spent on his bed.

We did the same thing the following week, allowing him to try again at managing his own time. He was convinced he could do it, learn from the err of his ways, and manage to get dinner the following Friday.

Can you finish this story? Not the exact same result, no, but very close to it. Here we are, it's Saturday, and we're still doing school work. Lame. Annoying. I hate having to pester him to get it done, feeling like a nagging, well, nag all the while wishing he would just get the "work hard, play hard" attitude his father has.

Next week, we are back to daily lessons. Daily whining. Although, all whining will promptly be encountered with chores, chores that I hate like cleaning the toilet, hand-scrubbing the kitchen floor, vacuuming the stairs, picking up dog poop, and loading the dishwasher. We've done this before also, and it works quite well. The only problem is when he decides chores are better than schoolwork. Uh.

I'm not really going anywhere with this, other than I need a place vent and complain about my dear, loving son turning into a monster every time I bring out the books. The ironic part - he's darn smart. It's not really hard (not so easy he's bored, I've adjusted the subjects so they're all from the grade level he's at in them). He just doesn't want to do it and figures getting me pissed off will get him out of it. If I didn't feel called by God to do this for my family, there are days I know I would just give up. But I know it is best. I know He knows best. And eventually my little one will figure out this is the best thing for him.


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