Friday, February 19, 2010

Dad as Teacher

In an online home schooling forum, a mom whose 13 yos has been dragging his feet during the day has been considering having Dad teach him in the evening, when she's at work. She had a few questions about what to do with him during the day, and what activities he could be involved in when his evenings are taken. Here's my reply:

We have an unusual situation with some similarities. I am the primary teacher, and Mom works five nights a week. We have two boys, 13 and 10 (11 next week). 13 yo has autism. When I was the breadwinner and Mom the main teacher, if they wouldn't listen to her, I'd talk to them, and they'd straighten up. When I lost my job, Mom started working, and I became the primary teacher. We've kept it that way because they're making more progress academically with me, but when they give me the same attitude they gave Mom, now she comes home and lays down the law. I guess that's why God gave them two parents! ;-)

Most outside activities are scheduled in the evenings or on the weekend because of the PS schedule. If your son is going to "night school", evening activities will be limited, (remember when parents strictly limited their kids' activities on a school nights?) but weekends may still be available. I don't have an answer about cost. Sometimes I feel like the people planning these activities assume that all parents would rather have their kids away all the time, so the parents could be at work, earning money for more activities!

I mentioned Civil Air Patrol in another thread. Meetings are one night a week, but most activities are on the weekend. I was looking for an activity for 10yos, but I was so impressed with the organization, I joined it myself. We plan to do it together once he's 12. So far, the cost has been reasonable.

I don't know what's available in your area, but I have taken the boys on field trips to local museums during the day. We have one free museum. It's not huge, but since it's free, we don't mind going for just an hour or two. For those that charge admission, don't go on free day; that's when all the schools go. Hanging out with Mom doesn't sound so bad when the alternatives are dishes or algebra!

We recently had a discussion with 10 yo about how long he has to spend on school. The typical school day in Middle School is 6-7 hours. I lay out a reasonable amount of work in each subject. If he finishes early, fine, he has more free time. If he drags his feet, he still owes me 6 hours. When I was in 7th grade, I went to school all day, and spent the evenings doing homework. I don't know how independently your son works now, but could Dad give him an assignment to be completed during the day? If he wastes his time, that's not your problem; he has Dad to answer to. He might have to start small (read a page or two, or do a few math problems) and build from there. By mid high school, he ought to get some basic instructions and complete all his assignments independently. At least that's what we're aiming for here.

I don't know what chores your son does, but our 10 yo is responsible for all the dishes for a family of four. We have a dishwasher, and he gathers any dishes that didn't make it to the sink, loads and unloads the dishwasher, washes all the hand-wash, and puts the clean dishes away. A 13 yo could do all the dishes even without a dishwasher, or be responsible for the family's laundry. (Assuming a similar family size.) Checklists have been very helpful here. They let him insure that he's not forgetting anything without feeling that we're nagging him.

We do use some educational DVDs and computer games, but no DVDs or computer time until they are done with school and chores! As for friends' and family's expectations, all I can say is that people can be unreasonable, and unless they are harassing your dc, there's not a lot you can do about it. It helps that I have one sister who does the online PS-at-home thing, and considers that home schooling, but the rest of the family thinks we're a little nuts. Of course, they already thought that anyway.

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Blogger Arby said...

Chores! I haven't heard of a dish washing load like that since my mother gave one to me when I was nine. Except that we didn’t have a dishwasher.

It works for me!

February 19, 2010 at 10:26 AM  

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