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Educating their Boys - Moms Share Great Tips!

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, May 28, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 42 May 28, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- 'Work Avoidance' Syndrome
Helpful Tips
-- Educating Active Boys
Reader Question
-- Son with Autism
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

What to do for a child who has 'Work Avoidance Syndrome'?


A mom named Mary wrote in to our HomeschoolingBOYS.com group
seeking some advice about her son. I thought one particular
response to her question might be a great help to some of our
readers, since different approaches work for different children
and you never know when that 'one' simple suggestion just might
really be a life saver!

In her email, Mary described her son's 'work avoidance syndrome'.
She concluded with, "What do you do? I have tried not allowing him
to play... then he NEVER gets any exercise. I have tried punishment,
but then he develops the 'woe is me' attitude. He is behind and
I want him to improve; he wants to... any ideas?? This is not my
first child, not my first difficult child, but he is my last one
(the baby). HELP!! PLEASE!!"

Work Avoidance Syndrome

"Hi Mary -- we have struggled here, too. We have one son who has
learned avoidance. He imagines that a task is hard and then he
does everything he can think of to avoid it. This is one of our
top 5 reasons for homeschooling. When we had him in school, he
would be given an assignment and while the other children worked,
he would go to the bathroom, sharpen his pencil, find something
that needed to be thrown away so he could walk slowly to the trash
can -- and then if he ran out of things to do he would sit and stare
into space. When the teacher had the class sitting in a circle in
front of her, he would remove himself and go to the back of the room.
He wouldn't hear the lesson and then he wouldn't know what to do.
She learned to let him because she couldn't conduct a class with 22
students and continually redirect him.

When I withdrew him, I saw that redirecting him was truly a full-time
job. Now we have been at this a year. He has grown so much and I
have learned a lot about how to motivate him. We have maintained
the constant expectation that he is not done until his work is done.
This is non-negotiable. I won't go into all the things we tried that
didn't work; I will only say that we tried everything, we thought.
Then we got it! I made a different kind of schedule than we had
ever tried before. And believe me we have tried 'schedules' of all

The day begins at 8:30 and ends at 3 pm. The day is broken up into
30 minute 'classes'. Each thirty minutes has an assignment in it.
Here's the magic: He can free up time by completing his assignments
early. His assignments are broken up into small manageable pieces.
He can complete the work from one 'class' and be free again until
his next one. For example, at 10:30, he has a handwriting lesson.
He can finish this in under 10 minutes. He is free until 11. Or,
he can do many subjects early and free up large blocks of time.

His math will take the full 30 minutes, his Latin takes the full 30
minutes, he reads aloud for a full 30 minutes, and he does a differ-
ent exercise in grammar at a different time of the day (bringing his
total time spent on grammar up to about 15 minutes a day). But I
don't put these first. I always put the quickies in first so he
sees how much free time he earns by getting his work done.

The first day we tried this he did so much work, so quickly, that at
10:10, he had completed everything on his schedule until 1:30 when he
had to return for Latin. So we went and played raquetball and came
back in time for his Latin 'class'. Grandma stayed home with my other
child who was so motivated that he wanted to skip Raquetball and do
ALL his work FIRST and have the free time at the end. He even some-
times starts school early because he is so eager.

Here's a sample schedule, if this helps.

3rd grader:

8:30 listen to classical music and read his affirmation
9:00 math (full 30 minutes)
9:30 history (10 minutes)
10:00 break
10:30 handwriting (5-10 minutes)
11:00 grammar rules (page that take about 3 minutes)
11:30 grammar parts of speech (5-10 minutes), spelling (5 minutes)
12:00 lunch
12:30 reading (full 30 minutes)
1:00 typing (takes 2 minutes for a typing lesson usually)
1:30 Latin (full 30 minutes)
2:00 math flashcards (5-8 minutes)
2:30 French (10 minutes)

We have other subjects we rotate in. They do tae-kwon-do in the
evenings for exercise. I make their schedule each morning, so I can
vary it. This is just an example. When they free up hours, we can do
projects, art, and other fun things (these are our 'unschooling' hours).
It has really worked for us. They learn discipline. They learn that
we all have responsibilities. We must get those done so that we have
more time to play. And they are learning to manage their time wisely."
Sandra - member, http://www.HomeschoolingBOYS.com


I always like to hear when something in the newsletter was helpful
to you! If you have comments to share, or a suggestion for a future
feature article or topic, please send your feedback to:





Helpful Tip

Educating Boys - Utilizing Physical Activity

"I have a theory... activate a boy's body and you can activate his
mind. My 9 year old son has difficulty memorizing anything. Multi-
plication tables, spelling words, vocabulary words, etc. We had
tried flashcards, we had tried writing them multiple times - nothing
was working. It was one day last year when I was watching a football
practice that I noticed that my son was aware of what the coaches
were saying; he was concentrating on the ball and could call out
information to the coach when asked.

The next day I conducted an experiment....

I donned a baseball glove and handed him his - and a ball. We began
playing catch. As we threw the ball back and forth, I began reciting
math facts. Then I began asking him questions. He seemed to auto-
matically be able to answer questions that just the night before he
was unable to retrieve the answers to!

We now 'actively learn' in several ways:

Multiplication PIG - Using a basketball, he takes his place to make
a shot. I ask him a multiplication question... if he get's it right
he gets to shoot, if he doesn't then I get to ask him another question.
Once he gets the question right and shoots the ball - if he makes it -
then he can ask me 2 questions. For each shot you make you get a
letter - first 'P', then 'I', then 'G'. He who gets PIG first wins.

Alphabet Hopscotch - Draw 26 boxes with sidewalk chalk (2 rows of 13
works). Fill in the boxes randomly with the letters of the alphabet.
Give your child the word and have him jump on each letter as he spells
the word.

Vocabulary Pop-fly - I start by giving the definition of the word
then throwing a tennis ball as high as I can. He has until he catches
it to tell me the word. If he catches the ball before he recalls
the word then he has to give me the word AND spell it. We sometimes
up the ante on this one with mistaken words being 'worked off' by
jumping jacks, leg lifts or bear crawls (normally when we're in condi-
tioning for football)

I also found a really great way to encourage writing. My son is
dyselxic and HATES writing with a passion - he normally will give
little attention to detail. My son loves sports and is enamored with
professional athletes. Each week he picks an athlete. We research
some statistics on that athlete and then locate the address of the
team. He then writes a letter to the athlete.

He begins by A) introducing himself, then B) telling the athlete what
he likes about them and C) requesting an autograph. He is learning
research and proper letter writing -- and he's building quite the
amazing autograph book!" -- Sonja


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have an 11 year old son who has high-functioning autism. I have
been homeschooling him since 2nd grade. While he has improved
academically and behaviorally, I feel concerned about his long-term
potential as he has trouble paying attention to any group instruction
and he does not talk with other children/adults unless I force it.
He has several opportunities each week to practice listening and
social skills -- he attends church, a weekly co-op, and takes one
lesson a week in some area of interest. Does anyone have any
suggestions? I would especially love to hear from anyone who has
homeschooled a similar child and who is farther down the homeschool
road than I am right now!" -- Sharon

Our Readers' Responses

"I am home schooling a 15 year old son with High Functioning Autism.
His social skills have improved by leaps and bounds this year and it
happened even though that wasn’t our primary objective.

Last June 1, 2006 he started working out in the gym at the YMCA.
He had gone previously with my husband and my other two sons but now
he wanted to really get in shape. (The YMCA has personal trainers
that will work with kids.)

We signed up for 12 sessions, one hour per week over the summer. He
had poor stamina when we started and could barely make it an hour.
But the trainer encouraged him to come everyday, and he did. By the
end of August he was in very good shape. They have a computer pro-
gram called FitLinx where they enter what they do every time they
workout. They get a print-out sent to their home computer every
month that shows what they did and we have kept these for our PE
requirement. He has worked out on his own since we finished the 12
session package we had purchased. He knows how to use all of the
equipment and has a good fitness routine that the trainer helped him
set up.

Although his goal was to get in shape, what happened was a huge
improvement in his social skills. He started having many short con-
versations with many different people every day. There are often
the same people at the gym each day and they started to recognize him.
The other staff and trainers started recognizing him, too. They
would chat with him and he would chat back. Then he started to run
into these people in other places. (One guy works at the video store.)
Now many more people are having short conversations with him.

It is amazing to us how much he has improved in his ability to hold
a conversation, maintain eye contact, and feel comfortable in differ-
ent settings, talking to different people.

He has gotten into great shape and loves going to the Y. The boy
with barely enough stamina to work out one hour now works out at
least three hours at a time and has tremendous stamina.

I know that there is a great deal written about the importance of
physical activity in relation to the brain, but we were just amazed.
We had previously done 'Social Skills' classes with TEACH and they
did nothing. I think because he now has something in common with
everyone else it has also given him something to talk about.

I don’t know if your son would be interested, but my son says to tell
him that he will really feel great." -- Deb M.


"You might check into NATHHAN, www.nathhan.com, which is a type of
support network for parents of special needs children. I would
expect that there are many parents in that group who could help you."
-- Mary Beth A.

Answer our NEW Question

"I have a daughter who is torn between olympic dreams and the laid
back 'hanging with my buds' teen life. She has no interest in
education whatsoever, and my home becomes a battleground everytime
I mention options around her grade 9 studies. My husband wants her
to graduate, preferably through a regular high school, but she has
a mild learning disability that would make it necesary for her to
devote almost all her free time to studies just to pass if she took
that path. I think I could educate her at home so that she does have
time for her athletic goals and still hanging with her friends some,
but she prefers the classroom style of teaching where the kids she
sees each day are pretty much the same. My biggest worry about that
is she will not pay attention (because she's not interested, and it
is harder for her to focus in a classroom setting), and will just
plan to fail until she's old enough to not go anymore. How do I come
up with a plan next year that will honour my husband's concerns, and
guide my daughter into using the gifts God gave her?" -- Raven in BC


Do you have wisdom for Raven?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

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Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

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Tags: work avoidance, homeschool scheduling, educating boys, homeschooling boys, PE, physical education curriculum, homeschooling high-functioning autism, physical activity for boys, NATHHAN, home education tips, homeschooling help, tips, support

Next - More on 'Work Avoidance' Syndrome, Creative Outdoor Math, Olympic Aspirations
Previous - Encouraging a Love for Reading and Writing

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