Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Time Management Issues

What should have been an easy enough day was way too long and stressful. The difference between by girls and my boys becomes more and more apparent with each passing day! We began on time (which we mostly do do) but by lunch time we were already beginning to lag a bit. J2 , A & P were doing OK. E had done some number work, but J1 was supposed to have done 2 exercises of his maths, and had only done half of one! So the boys stayed back to finish off their maths while the girls and I went to get C, however, when I got back J2 had finished his book work, but surprise surprise J1 declared he had 'accidentally' taken half an hours break and he still hadn't finished that first exercise!! No - I wasn't mad!! I contained myself though - just sent him to work upstairs so he would be less distracted, but he can distract himself with nothing that boy! By the time the others had finished off their mornings work, played, A&P had made & cooked scones together, I'd fed everyone lunch (yummy fresh scones - Boo is getting quite expert now!) - you guessed it - he STILL hadn't finished just one exercise! Abbie had even done a whole MPH revision this morning - in one go, something I don't think the boys EVER have done in one sitting! I was amazed how many different methods she seemed to be employing to find the answers. The boys had always forgotten how by the time they got to a revision. I think the fact that she has taken it slow and steady has really been a plus for her - and she has a good memory :)

Anyway, I told Jake he would have to do his maths in his own time now (like after everyone else finished school) but to go & help E feed the bunnies - that only took him another 45 mins!! Meanwhile we waited... P did some, A did the lunch dishes, J drummed and E played. N whined on my knee and C was busy somewhere.

Eventually - at 3pm (should have been 1.30) we started on Geography, followed by Spanish. Tuesday should be a fun afternoon. We are learning about volcanoes in geography and it is pretty interesting, but with both of these lessons the kids all seem to get a bit silly and it's really hard to not loose my patience. I spend so much time waiting for them to stop fooling about so that I can teach them the next bit. I want to have fun, but not larking about - there is a difference! So when P arrived home at 5pm we were still doing Spanish! I was going to babysit at 6.30 so that made the evening very tight. I left Paul with the commission of Jake finishing another 3 exercises of maths (he is supposed to do 2 x 45 mins (broken up for concentration sake supposedly) and get 4 exercises done - I wish!! - PLUS anything that he needs to get finished ready for tomorrow. I returned home to find that he went to bed at 9.45 having just finished his 3rd exercise!! P has told him he has to get up at 7 to do the 4th one. He was supposed to be having an early night (8.30) due to having had a string of later ones.

Now some of you may be thinking that I am simply asking too much of Jake, but there are some things you must understand...he IS capable of this work - it is not too easy or too demanding, he can do it relatively easily and with very little help from anyone once he gets into his stride. Saturday night I got so fed up of his dawdling with his homework I went to bed and left him to it. I had sat and had a frank conversation with him about making the right choices and not drifting along with events and distractions. He had been asked to do his h/w earlier in the day but he had spent too much time allowing himself to do anything but and it had taken ALL DAY to do less than an exercise (
oooh - do I hear and echo here!!). I told him he had to do three exercises before he went to bed. He was on no.12 (of 30) on the first one when I left him downstairs at the table at 11pm! He tells me he went to bed at just gone twelve and he did the rest of that exercise and 2 more - in an hour - in a silent house!! Now we do NOT have a silent house at anytime unless everyone is sleeping, so this is not going to be possible to provide for him on a regular basis. He is not a morning person so suggesting he rises before anyone else is not going to happen. I have suggested he removes himself to the library for maths, but he was pretty adamant he did not want to do that, so somehow he is going to have to learn to work with how it is here. To be honest though, if he were not such a disruption himself, school time could be a lot quieter! But what the silent night work did prove to me is that he CAN produce the required amount of work in a reasonable amount of time IF he determines to do so. He was desperate to get to bed that night, but he KNEW he would be in deep if he did not get the work done first, so he did it, because he HAD to! I was hoping that it might show HIM that he can do it too and be an incentive to him to carry on working in that way and at that pace - but that seems to have fallen flat :( He is only part way through chapter 3 of his GP SYRWTL Maths 1 at the end of almost a term. If he were going to finish the book in a year (as he should) he would need to be on about chapter 9 or 10. The rate he is going he is going to have to work through his holidays too, which I was trying to avoid :( He does know all this - I made the expectations very clear at the beginning of the year and have reiterated many times since, but somehow knowing it makes no difference to him 'in the moment'. Same old, same old with him! I really thought he had changed from being at school, but tbh, I think he just got away with so much in his last 2 years there that he feels I am demanding too much of him. In all honesty though I do not believe I am - he is capable of what I ask and I am asking no more than would be expected of him were he at secondary school. I know his school pals got quite a shock when they got there at the amount of homework they have to do!

were a couple of good points though today - the scones being one. Abbie is really enjoying learning how to follow recipes and cook and feels she has all but mastered scones now, so that's good. In fact when I said I would whip up a batch for lunch she jumped in to offer to make them :) Admittedly she is much slower than I would be, but all the same I let her and P joined in, so she is learning too.
The other high point was that they all seem to be doing pretty well with their Spanish and generally seem to be enjoying it. I am wondering whether J2 will be up to
GCSE level at the same time as Jake - his memory is very good and they are working at the same level. I do set Jake more written work than J2, but at the end of the day it is the spoken word that matters most for them. P does not do any written work and tbh I am not sure how much she remembers, but I am hoping that 2nd time it will be so 'aha' to her and she will know it even though she didn't know she did - iyswim. Ab does a little writing - I just encourage her to 'have a go' and not worry if she gets it wrong or can't keep up. Sadly she is a bit perfectionist and does get a little frustrated at not being able to do as the big boys do, but she remembers a lot of words orally, so I encourage her with that. Mostly we all enjoy it. I did GCSE Spanish and I am amazed how much I never knew, or have deeply forgotten (either could be true), but the pronunciation is so easy and it is a joy to re-learn it all :) I highly recommend the GP book - great structure!

As the days go by I realise more and more how profoundly different my boys are from my girls. Teaching the girls is
SOOO much easier. They are much better at 'getting on with it' - Ab especially. P still needs a fair bit of help and is quite easily distracted, but she CAN work well when she chooses to (which she does most of the time). E on the other hand is a willing worker in 7-10 minute stints, any more than that and I've lost her attention and she makes lots of guesses after that. That is fine for a 5 yo and I can work with that, but it can be hard to remember to call her back to do something else when she is so absorbed in her world upstairs and leaving me in peace to stress over the others! I would still love to do FIAR with her, but in reality I do not know how I would fit it in. If I leave the dining room for more than 5 minutes all bedlam breaks loose, so how I would fit in reading to her and doing the activities with her I really don't know :( Perhaps I need to make Thursdays and Fridays 3-5's school days and the biguns can fend for themselves more - just not sure they would do anything worth calling 'school' work of any description by choice. And how can I do 5 in a row in 2 days? Hmmmm - need to think on that one. Does anyone know how much time (real time) a session of FIAR (inc. activities) would take each day? Perhaps I could make some after-school time for doing it with them (I'd include Caleb in it then) and pretend like it's not school at all!

Signed C up to Ed.City this week when I renewed A&P - he loves it and has done half of it already - no help from me!! He is very bright I think, despite his late speech :)

E eventually seems to be getting the hang of the numbers 6,7,8,9,10, but it is by no means mastered yet. does seem to be helping though :) AND she can sound out to write a few
CVC words. She wrote "it can pop." all by herself yesterday :)

Need to go do some marking now - and it's only midnight!!


Serendipity said...

Hi, I am generally guilty of lurking on your blog but this post particularly caught my eye and I wondered whether my suggestion may help with J1.

My oldest DS(13) and my DD(8) both have a similar problem to J1 in that even fresh air could distract them. What works for us was we bought a hefty pair of noise-blocking headphones from argos (abt £15). They cover the kids ears completely and shut out noise and they use them when completing their work. My DD likes to listen to classical in them at low volume whilst working. Anyway I like it because they can be in the same room as the rest of us but are not distracted. With DD I use a screen as well to minimise distraction. My DS is even allowed to use the same headphones now he is in school.
Anyway, you probably tried it but I just wasnted to mention it.

Sarah said...

Soooo frustrating isn't it. All of mine can be like that at times, I admit! If I need things done within a particular time frame here I use a timer, have you tried that? (again, assuming you probably have!) And then have consequences for what will happen if the goal isn't achieved in a certain time, as well as rewards for what will happen if it *is* achieved in that time.

Ruth said...

I was just wondering if J was especially flighty that day, BECAUSE he needed an early night? I know I can't concentrate when I'm over tired.

Caroline said...

timers, earphones, sanctions and rewards - yup tried them all and in the end I have to just swallow that he is who he is and takes an age to do ANYTHING! I mean he can't exactly wear headphones to feed the rabbits! And tbh - the headphones themselves are a distraction to him! LOL (or rrrr) - whichever!

Caroline said...

regarding the early night - I would ordinarily agree that might be a reason, but Jake is like me actually - better at night than in the mornings (the work he did really late at night is nearly all OK whereas what he does in the day has lots of errors!) and if he was any better when he has had plenty of sleep then I would accept the argument - but he isn't any different! Sigh! If early nights made a big difference he would be in bed early every night (lol)!

CJ said...

I'm not really sure I can offer any other advice than what's been offered.
I guess if he has a rhythm, then it's working around that, but as everyone else has there own rhythms, then there has to be a compromise so all are happy.

Sometimes mine will all get on in the same room, then I have to split them up all over the place to give them their own space, I've only 3 and I find it hard, you are to be commended caroline, because you do actually accomplish a lot with them all.

Can I just pick your brains on the Spanish, did you just get the text book and teachers book, or do you have the cd as well?

CJ x

Caroline said...

I bought the CD too and we use it intermittently - as I can speak it Spanish pretty well it is less necessary, but it helps them to hear the pace of the language at a more natural speed than I speak it, so I would recommend having it. I think at some stage (when I've recovered from Christmas) I'd like to get the additional resources CD too - economical enough for 7 I think - because it has worksheets to do. Meanwhile we use worksheets from ed.City :)

CJ said...

Thank you Caroline :-)