I have two kids in different grade levels – how can I homeschool them when they don’t want to cooperate?
I’m feeling very overwhelmed and super stressed. I have 2 children in different grade levels – 4th and 5th grades. I have a couple of things that I can do with them both like reading/discussions, going on nature walks, watching educational videos on youtube, arts & crafts, etc. When they are together doing these things, they are learning and asking questions, figuring things out – it’s great! But they are very unmotivated to try to learn things separately or on their own. I have tried to sit them down to do different level work but when both of them need me at the same time, it gets difficult to teach one and have the other do quiet time work simply because while I’m working with one child, the other child sees it as a way to run off and play on the Xbox or watch tv. I’ve tried punishment by taking away the electronics & tv but that doesn’t last very long. I have also tried assigning something fun like doing arts and crafts but one kid just isn’t into it. Any suggestions you can give are truly appreciated beyond words. Thank you for reading.
Hello there! First off, I’ve totally been there! I’d suggest trying two different approaches and see which works.
1) Structure a schedule of time blocks. Schedule independent reading/worksheets/workbook in opposite times as lesson work with the other. Write it down or make a chart so they get used to seeing & following the schedule. Work in close proximity so you can monitor the independent, but tell them to save questions until their turn. Collect the remotes & controllers in a basket. They can check the basket out from you at the end of the day. Don’t wait to take them away for misbehaving. Instead, make them earn it in the first place with good behavior.
2) Try unit studies. That way you can work together in every subject through the whole day. You can tailor each portion, as needed, to their grade levels. I’d still have a visible structured schedule and do the same approach with the controllers & remotes.
I hope this helps. Either way, or whatever you choose to do, set a schedule/plan and stick to it. Don’t let them dictate what you do. You’re the parent/teacher, so set clear boundaries and stick to them. They will learn to adapt and you’ll be building solid self control and work habits for high school.
I feel you, Mama! I had three schooling this year (I will have four next year) and my oldest has attention issues. It was almost impossible to keep them focused. My suggestions are these:
1) Combine as many subjects as possible. We put ourselves on a chronological history rotation and we all do history together. Last year we studied ancients. Next year we will study medieval culture. For science, we all study together as well. Only math and reading are separate.
2) Do other subjects in a central location. For instance, everyone sits together at the table for math. The older ones get started on what they can do independently. I work with the youngest child first and work my way up to the oldest. If the older ones have questions, they write them down for when I get to them. When the little ones are finished, they’re free to read or draw or whatever while I work with the older ones. We have budgeted one hour for each subject so we do math from 9-10. If the older ones don’t finish their assigned work by 10, it’s homework (which means that it’s done in the afternoon after we are finished with our regular morning work). This keeps me from spending too much time waiting for one kid to finish a subject thereby giving the other kids a chance to wander off and get distracted.
3) We have a rewards system set up for electronics use. The kids get “bucks” for chore completion and timely completion of schoolwork. They get to trade in those “bucks” for actual money or for time on the play station. That way it gives them motivation to get their work done during the day.
We always try making a schedule at the beginning of the year and it doesn’t take long for us to throw it out and try something different, but one thing that has consistently worked for us is to make a checklist of what needs to be accomplished that day and require that it be finished before any electronics. I get a notebook and write each day’s tasks on a page. They can mark our tasks when they are accomplished and tear the page out and throw it away when everything is done. I don’t know the age of your kids but this is especially good for older kids or motivated workers. Because when they get finished with a task, they can look and see what else they have to do that day and go ahead and get started on it. My oldest will always choose to do math first (because he dislikes it and wants to get it out of the way) and then will save the reading for after lunch so he can do it while he lies in his bed resting.
Hope these ideas help. ❤️
I have 3 and they are all at different levels and learn in different ways. If one needs attention, I don’t have a problem letting the other two run off to play or watch kids youtube on their device — just not in our classroom space so as not to distract. I catch up with them later. I also set up a desk and chair in each of their rooms. Giving them private space to work has made a big difference for one of my kids. Giving them a little freedom might be just the thing to gain cooperation when it is needed.
I’ve homeschooled five, with the two oldest a year apart in age. Because elementary curriculum can be so redundant from year to year, you might easily use the exact curriculum for both. When my two oldest reached 4th and 5th grade, we realized it was pointless to teach them from separate curriculum when they were both capable of performing at the 5th grade level. If more appropriate, they could both use 4th grade level, but you can always pick and choose what YOU want them to learn from either level. Mine carried on the same way until they graduated from high school and went on to college at the same time. You are not bound by dictated grade levels. Simply explain to your students that in homeschooling, grade levels are irrelevant.
Regarding working independently, they could work on projects, presentations, and research together, but each be assigned a different aspect to work on, that then must be organized into the single project, presentation, or assignment. Even in college there will be times they will work as a group. Over time, increase the individual work load, and they will learn the skills they need. You have plenty of time. They will eventually be content to work on their own.
And there are other ways to start small. Have one read an assignment, math lesson, science lesson, etc., and then explain/summarize it to the other. They can take turns each day. It’s important for them “to learn to learn,” but it can happen gradually. While the one is “busy,” the other must have something productive that will interest him long enough to be preoccupied: reading, small chores, making breakfast/lunch for the two of them, Legos, listening to a radio show or audio book, etc…
The important thing is to remember you are in control – not only of your children, but also of your curriculum and skills, and the pace in which you cover them.
And let me just add, I mentioned “projects, presentations, and research projects,” but it can be as simple as watching a YouTube video and each orally summarizing a portion, or each writing a single paragraph. Keep reminding yourself that time is on your side, and quality always trumps quantity.