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    Younger child working faster than older

    Hello,
    This is a logistical question that may be covered in another thread, so if anyone has links, I would love to read the comments. It has to do with a younger sibling outpacing an older one.
    My sons are 12 and 10.5 - we started a full 4M core in September, after doing a lot of the 3M the year before. We are finishing up 4M this month and I'm thinking (but not fully decided) we'll start 5M in April.

    My younger son could easily handle the material in the independent way described on this board - i.e. moving along at a steady pace with appropriate, but not excessive, teaching and check-in time with me. My older son struggles with writing and isn't as quick with learning and recall. He needs a lot more time with me beside him to keep him focused and help with overwhelm i.e. my younger son can sit down to a Ludere grammar crossword puzzle and have no trouble completing it. My older son needs me beside him or at the chalkboard asking the questions, which he can answer - he's not as fast as his younger brother maybe, but he knows the material. For his writing struggles, I tried dropping back to SC writing and gr2 Core Skills, but he found it too young and so I've been modifying his written components with the regular 4M and it's working. TSII has been very successful with him.

    My question is - has anyone handled a similar situation with their children? My younger son is incensed that his brother doesn't have to complete as much written work, and my older son gets upset that his younger brother can complete so much more written work in the allotted time. We do many of our lessons together for the teaching days (Math and Spelling are always separate). Also, my younger soon complains that his brother gets all my attention in lesson time. Sometimes, I just sit beside my younger son because he is asking for my company even though he doesn't actually need help with his work.

    Since this has been our first full-core year, these past months have been an exploration of logistics, trying lessons together and lessons apart, the latter is very time consuming. In a classroom setting, these learning differences wouldn't matter so much because all the children would be on a spectrum, but side-by-side at the dining room table, they are very noticeable. And because it is a younger sibling outpacing an older one, there is tension involved.

    Any insights into managing this dynamic, so that my younger son can move along at a good pace and my older isn't hard on himself that he can't work that fast, would be deeply appreciated!

    Monica

    #2
    Originally posted by KikaMarie View Post
    My question is - has anyone handled a similar situation with their children? My younger son is incensed that his brother doesn't have to complete as much written work, and my older son gets upset that his younger brother can complete so much more written work in the allotted time. We do many of our lessons together for the teaching days (Math and Spelling are always separate). Also, my younger soon complains that his brother gets all my attention in lesson time. Sometimes, I just sit beside my younger son because he is asking for my company even though he doesn't actually need help with his work.

    Since this has been our first full-core year, these past months have been an exploration of logistics, trying lessons together and lessons apart, the latter is very time consuming. In a classroom setting, these learning differences wouldn't matter so much because all the children would be on a spectrum, but side-by-side at the dining room table, they are very noticeable. And because it is a younger sibling outpacing an older one, there is tension involved.

    Any insights into managing this dynamic, so that my younger son can move along at a good pace and my older isn't hard on himself that he can't work that fast, would be deeply appreciated!

    Monica
    This has been our experience with combining as well. My older boys are 15 months apart (now 14 and almost 16). They're in the same grade (9th) because the older one struggles academically so he needed to be a grade below his age, which just happened to be his brother's grade. When we started MP, my 6 and 8 year olds were combined in MP1 for the same reasons. This ended up being a very bad idea. If you keep them together (especially as they get another year down the road), you run the risk of your older student giving up and relying on his brother to give the answers in discussions, or your younger son beginning to get prideful and lording it over his older brother. We've experienced both of these things with various children.

    I'm afraid the best thing for both children is to be taught completely separately and I know from continuing experience how hard that is. But it really does give greater peace to all.
    Jennifer


    2018-2019
    DS-14 & DS-15 (MP9 Literature, Novare Intro to Physics, Light to the Nations I (CTP), MPOA for: Latin, Pre-Algebra, Ref/Con
    DS-12 (6M)
    DS-10 (SC3)
    DD-8 (MP2)
    DD-6 (SC2)
    DD-3 (NT using SCB for gradual intro to JrK)

    Comment


      #3
      I am wrestling with this, and generally, the wisdom from all the others that have helped me here in the forum is to say that the program really is designed so that the kids move along with each core. I have 4 (including and an underfoot 2 year old). They are all about 15-17 months apart (the boys). It's not a lot of age gap. My oldest has some challenges that require more attention. I have been lured by the idea of trying to combine combine combine. As one wise person said here, it's a siren song - well, she was much more eloquent. I know the day takes longer. I've had to start using breakfast and lunch times and opportunities to read enrichment and watch Latin DVDs. Overall though, I think when we allow the separation to happen, it absolutely forces us to give both kiddos the one on one attention. I think this is especially true for the literature.

      Confession: I have, somewhat unwisely, combined math so that my 1st and 2nd grader are both doing the same math. I'm looking ahead and I'm thinking that while my younger will be able to mentally handle the material, the maturity isn't as far along as I had originally thought. We flew through the first 100 lessons or so, doing every problem and every page of the R&S. Now though, I'm beginning to think it's not the front half of the year that was the problem. Looking ahead to R&S 3, I am worried it will be too much. They compete here too. My younger son is usually done the fastest with the fewest mistakes and he's working a grade level ahead. I don't think this will continue though. I don't see a way to feasibly un-ring this bell though so we will continue onward. But if I had it to do all over again...

      As everyone has kindly and patiently pointed out to me, it is more about maturity than ability. My older son, challenges and all, can still do well with longer writings, longer readings, and more time in school. HIs brother absorbs everything so quickly, but his tolerance and patience reflect the fact that he really is just 17 months younger (503 days to be precise). I think we need every one of those 503 days to bridge the gap between his mental capabilities and maturity capabilities. He's a bit arrogant too. Okay. He's very arrogant. I mean, this kid is hysterical, and he's my helper in everything. He's kind to his sister. He's loving towards strangers. His understanding of scripture is amazing and even a bit challenging. He wants to do well in everything and he gets truly mad at himself if he misses a math problem because he wants and craves an accolade of an A+. But he will toot his own horn - loudly. I have to spend a lot of time nurturing his character and teaching him humility. I explain to him that areas he excels in, that his brother has to work harder. Yet I remind him that although he has amazing talents, his brother's talents are so very different and extraordinary and rare. I tell him that although his brother has a rare and wonderful mind, it has some real struggles that will be ongoing for the rest of his life. However, I've rarely read or heard of any men who were better matched as brothers. I explained that he teaches his brother how to communicate with the world, but his older brother helps him better see the world and enjoy it. I explained that his brother is not just his friend, but he is a champion, and his ally, and that for the rest of his life, he will rarely find another that will be more loyal than his older brother, challenges and all. I told him "He will make you a better man, just as you are making him a better man."

      Okay so I got off on a tangent there. I guess what I'm saying is that some natural competition will always exist amongst men, and especially among siblings. I've reminded them that the competition is not with each other though - it's with the young man you were yesterday. There's no hiding the fact that they have different abilities/learning paths.

      Just a question though...what is happening with one son who is finished with work while the other is still working? What is the entertainment like? Is one wanting to watch TV or play on a smart device? Confession again: I've had to cut ALL screens until ALL work is done by ALL kids and no, they can't watch in the morning before school either. The ones who finish earlier have to find some non-screen entertainment. And I hate it. I swear it's more a punishment for me than anything else. However, I'm noticing a distinct difference in our ability to finish work and do it well. I think it has something to do with allowing the mind to relax too far into entertainment that it just doesn't want to tune back into work. It's made a significant difference in the quality, and frankly, the quantity of work we get done.

      I know you are trying everything you can from your post. And you really are doing a great job. You are scaling back a bit, but not too much, to make sure mastery is achieved. Many people (and yeah, me) are usually too stubborn to do that but the problem is with me and not my kiddo. You are trying to make sure that younger one remains challenged, but unless he's actually at the point where he's not progressing because he truly has mastered it all - content plus maturity, I'd be cautious (as others have sagely guided me) about moving ahead too quickly. If you are finished in April, there's always the summer readings, blacklines, and all the enrichment can be covered again to gain more insights. If there are alternate books for that grade and he's finished literature, add those in too. You might even think about staggering your start dates so that kiddo 2 starts in July, and kiddo 1 starts new material in August. I've read of more than one person staggering start dates.

      Good luck Monica.

      Melissa
      Melissa

      DS (MP2) - 8
      DS (MP1) - 7
      DS (K) - 5
      DD (Adorable distraction) 2

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by jen1134 View Post

        I'm afraid the best thing for both children is to be taught completely separately and I know from continuing experience how hard that is. But it really does give greater peace to all.
        Absolutely agree here.
        Melissa

        DS (MP2) - 8
        DS (MP1) - 7
        DS (K) - 5
        DD (Adorable distraction) 2

        Comment


          #5
          Agreeing with Jen. I think you might find more harmony if you teach separately. Your older son might be able to do more “work” if he moves more slowly. My oldest sounds like your oldest. This year, I finally accepted that she needs to go at “her” pace and there is much more peace, and she is actually doing all the work. There are days we can do everything, and there are days we can not. We will not complete our core this year, for the first time, but I am amazed at her progress! I had dreams of combing my children similarly spaced, but they cause so much distraction amongst themselves! I pray you find a good solution that is efficient but builds harmony! God Bless!
          Christine

          (2018-2019)
          DD1 8/23/09 - SC4
          DS2 9/1/11 - SC2
          DD3 2/9/13 - MPK

          Previous Years
          DD 1 (MPK, SC2 (with AAR), SC3)
          DS2 (SCB, SCC, MPK)
          DD3 (SCA, SCB, Jr. K workbooks, soaking up from the others!)

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by jen1134 View Post

            This has been our experience with combining as well. My older boys are 15 months apart (now 14 and almost 16). They're in the same grade (9th) because the older one struggles academically so he needed to be a grade below his age, which just happened to be his brother's grade. When we started MP, my 6 and 8 year olds were combined in MP1 for the same reasons. This ended up being a very bad idea. If you keep them together (especially as they get another year down the road), you run the risk of your older student giving up and relying on his brother to give the answers in discussions, or your younger son beginning to get prideful and lording it over his older brother. We've experienced both of these things with various children.

            I'm afraid the best thing for both children is to be taught completely separately and I know from continuing experience how hard that is. But it really does give greater peace to all.
            Thank you, Jen. Since I only have two, my challenge with teaching separately is very minimal compared to larger families like yours! Do you separate everything? We have used Latin and Composition DVDs and done these together. Do you separate these? Part of my learning curve is holding us all to the plan, rather than give way when I am asked too many times, "Do I have to do ..... ?" The subjects like Greek Myths, CS, Astronomy have been okay together, but still there are issues with how much each son writes. I have had Literature separate and that was smoother, although my younger son would still question how much his brother did orally.
            I appreciate your reflections.
            Monica

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by MBentley View Post
              I am wrestling with this, and generally, the wisdom from all the others that have helped me here in the forum is to say that the program really is designed so that the kids move along with each core. I have 4 (including and an underfoot 2 year old). They are all about 15-17 months apart (the boys). It's not a lot of age gap. My oldest has some challenges that require more attention. I have been lured by the idea of trying to combine combine combine. As one wise person said here, it's a siren song - well, she was much more eloquent. I know the day takes longer. I've had to start using breakfast and lunch times and opportunities to read enrichment and watch Latin DVDs. Overall though, I think when we allow the separation to happen, it absolutely forces us to give both kiddos the one on one attention. I think this is especially true for the literature.

              Confession: I have, somewhat unwisely, combined math so that my 1st and 2nd grader are both doing the same math. I'm looking ahead and I'm thinking that while my younger will be able to mentally handle the material, the maturity isn't as far along as I had originally thought. We flew through the first 100 lessons or so, doing every problem and every page of the R&S. Now though, I'm beginning to think it's not the front half of the year that was the problem. Looking ahead to R&S 3, I am worried it will be too much. They compete here too. My younger son is usually done the fastest with the fewest mistakes and he's working a grade level ahead. I don't think this will continue though. I don't see a way to feasibly un-ring this bell though so we will continue onward. But if I had it to do all over again...

              As everyone has kindly and patiently pointed out to me, it is more about maturity than ability. My older son, challenges and all, can still do well with longer writings, longer readings, and more time in school. HIs brother absorbs everything so quickly, but his tolerance and patience reflect the fact that he really is just 17 months younger (503 days to be precise). I think we need every one of those 503 days to bridge the gap between his mental capabilities and maturity capabilities. He's a bit arrogant too. Okay. He's very arrogant. I mean, this kid is hysterical, and he's my helper in everything. He's kind to his sister. He's loving towards strangers. His understanding of scripture is amazing and even a bit challenging. He wants to do well in everything and he gets truly mad at himself if he misses a math problem because he wants and craves an accolade of an A+. But he will toot his own horn - loudly. I have to spend a lot of time nurturing his character and teaching him humility. I explain to him that areas he excels in, that his brother has to work harder. Yet I remind him that although he has amazing talents, his brother's talents are so very different and extraordinary and rare. I tell him that although his brother has a rare and wonderful mind, it has some real struggles that will be ongoing for the rest of his life. However, I've rarely read or heard of any men who were better matched as brothers. I explained that he teaches his brother how to communicate with the world, but his older brother helps him better see the world and enjoy it. I explained that his brother is not just his friend, but he is a champion, and his ally, and that for the rest of his life, he will rarely find another that will be more loyal than his older brother, challenges and all. I told him "He will make you a better man, just as you are making him a better man."

              Okay so I got off on a tangent there. I guess what I'm saying is that some natural competition will always exist amongst men, and especially among siblings. I've reminded them that the competition is not with each other though - it's with the young man you were yesterday. There's no hiding the fact that they have different abilities/learning paths.

              Just a question though...what is happening with one son who is finished with work while the other is still working? What is the entertainment like? Is one wanting to watch TV or play on a smart device? Confession again: I've had to cut ALL screens until ALL work is done by ALL kids and no, they can't watch in the morning before school either. The ones who finish earlier have to find some non-screen entertainment. And I hate it. I swear it's more a punishment for me than anything else. However, I'm noticing a distinct difference in our ability to finish work and do it well. I think it has something to do with allowing the mind to relax too far into entertainment that it just doesn't want to tune back into work. It's made a significant difference in the quality, and frankly, the quantity of work we get done.

              I know you are trying everything you can from your post. And you really are doing a great job. You are scaling back a bit, but not too much, to make sure mastery is achieved. Many people (and yeah, me) are usually too stubborn to do that but the problem is with me and not my kiddo. You are trying to make sure that younger one remains challenged, but unless he's actually at the point where he's not progressing because he truly has mastered it all - content plus maturity, I'd be cautious (as others have sagely guided me) about moving ahead too quickly. If you are finished in April, there's always the summer readings, blacklines, and all the enrichment can be covered again to gain more insights. If there are alternate books for that grade and he's finished literature, add those in too. You might even think about staggering your start dates so that kiddo 2 starts in July, and kiddo 1 starts new material in August. I've read of more than one person staggering start dates.

              Good luck Monica.

              Melissa
              Thank you Melissa,

              Screens are not an issue around here on weekdays, it's Lego. And taking a boy from Lego is very difficult and yes, the younger one gets into Lego while he waits, even though I have tried to have a no-Lego policy until lessons are done - I haven't held to it. The challenge is that the younger son finishes sooner, even if they are working separately. I figure that I can't just give him more work because he's finished the work for the day. There would be an eruption I couldn't contain!

              Regarding starting 5M in April, rather than doing other items and review (which is still a possibility) I had thought that starting in April would give me the freedom to take two weeks to do a week and get a new system established before September, rather than start in September with new material and increased workload, and a new setup to the day. The new set-up I am hoping for is the more independent work that allows my sons to take more ownership of their lessons. But maybe, just having clarity as to how I'm going to approach this and staggering the start dates could accomplish the same goals.

              As I noted above, my challenge starts with me and my willingness to hold the space when the complaints start. I have grown a lot this past year, in part because I was ready to grow and in part because I now have MP materials and support, which I can lean into for the structure I need.

              I appreciate you taking the time to write - reading about others' experiences helps me imagine more possibilities for us.

              Monica

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by howiecram View Post
                Agreeing with Jen. I think you might find more harmony if you teach separately. Your older son might be able to do more “work” if he moves more slowly. My oldest sounds like your oldest. This year, I finally accepted that she needs to go at “her” pace and there is much more peace, and she is actually doing all the work. There are days we can do everything, and there are days we can not. We will not complete our core this year, for the first time, but I am amazed at her progress! I had dreams of combing my children similarly spaced, but they cause so much distraction amongst themselves! I pray you find a good solution that is efficient but builds harmony! God Bless!
                Thank you Christine,
                I'm seeing the wisdom of the separation. One thought I had was to start the 5M core at the table for a few weeks, until they know the drill and then separate them, but maybe I should just introduce the core separately and set the separation exceptions from the beginning. Do you have tension with similar aged children? Do they compare how much each has done? That concerns me, but maybe I need to think more creatively and agree to let them go each at their own pace. I appreciate your thoughts on this!

                Monica

                Comment


                  #9
                  They’re usually fine being together for the actual lessons, but recitations, discussions, drills, written work, etc need to be separate.

                  For your older son: do you develop the answers together and he then copies them down? There are so many little steps involved in answering a question, but this allows kids to focus on one thing at a time, making progress in each skill that is involved. I would continue this younger-years approach with an older child when writing/processing are a challenge. It might help lessen his frustration while still building the skills he struggles in. You could start with one written answer per lesson, with the modeling described above, and slowly work up from there as his confidence and skills increase.

                  Also, if physical stamina is part of the struggle with writing, you may want to try some shoulder strengthening exercises in addition to hand strengthening. Crab walks, chair push-ups, regular push-ups, etc. will help build the shoulder muscles.

                  As someone else said above though, his brother has to understand that there will be differences in their assignments because their strengths and weaknesses are different. Perhaps explain that you’re modeling and adjusting so that his brother can gradually build greater skill in these areas but that his struggles require smaller, well-supported steps. When I explained to my daughter how things she took for granted were truly difficult for her brother, and that he needed us to be encouraging him, it helped quite a bit. She still has her moments, but it’s better.
                  Jennifer


                  2018-2019
                  DS-14 & DS-15 (MP9 Literature, Novare Intro to Physics, Light to the Nations I (CTP), MPOA for: Latin, Pre-Algebra, Ref/Con
                  DS-12 (6M)
                  DS-10 (SC3)
                  DD-8 (MP2)
                  DD-6 (SC2)
                  DD-3 (NT using SCB for gradual intro to JrK)

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by KikaMarie View Post

                    Thank you Christine,
                    I'm seeing the wisdom of the separation. One thought I had was to start the 5M core at the table for a few weeks, until they know the drill and then separate them, but maybe I should just introduce the core separately and set the separation exceptions from the beginning. Do you have tension with similar aged children? Do they compare how much each has done? That concerns me, but maybe I need to think more creatively and agree to let them go each at their own pace. I appreciate your thoughts on this!

                    Monica
                    Definitely introduce separately.
                    Jennifer


                    2018-2019
                    DS-14 & DS-15 (MP9 Literature, Novare Intro to Physics, Light to the Nations I (CTP), MPOA for: Latin, Pre-Algebra, Ref/Con
                    DS-12 (6M)
                    DS-10 (SC3)
                    DD-8 (MP2)
                    DD-6 (SC2)
                    DD-3 (NT using SCB for gradual intro to JrK)

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by jen1134 View Post
                      They’re usually fine being together for the actual lessons, but recitations, discussions, drills, written work, etc need to be separate.

                      For your older son: do you develop the answers together and he then copies them down? There are so many little steps involved in answering a question, but this allows kids to focus on one thing at a time, making progress in each skill that is involved. I would continue this younger-years approach with an older child when writing/processing are a challenge. It might help lessen his frustration while still building the skills he struggles in. You could start with one written answer per lesson, with the modeling described above, and slowly work up from there as his confidence and skills increase.

                      Also, if physical stamina is part of the struggle with writing, you may want to try some shoulder strengthening exercises in addition to hand strengthening. Crab walks, chair push-ups, regular push-ups, etc. will help build the shoulder muscles.

                      As someone else said above though, his brother has to understand that there will be differences in their assignments because their strengths and weaknesses are different. Perhaps explain that you’re modeling and adjusting so that his brother can gradually build greater skill in these areas but that his struggles require smaller, well-supported steps. When I explained to my daughter how things she took for granted were truly difficult for her brother, and that he needed us to be encouraging him, it helped quite a bit. She still has her moments, but it’s better.
                      Thank you, Jen. Yes, I do this type of writing with my son and it's been effective. I am really encouraged to see how he has grown in this area the past months. I learned a lot about this type of accommodation by reading posts on this board, and from Cheryl and Christine when I posted on the SC board when I was starting out and trying to figure out how to support my son's writing. I never thought of the issue as physical stamina. I thought it was all anxiety and just a slower style of working. He has good handwriting, while my younger son, who zips through his work needs to be reminded to slow down and make his work neater. (But no matter how slow my younger sons writes, his cursive isn't nearly as lovely as his older brother's.) I'm going to look into incorporating these movements and see what unfolds.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by KikaMarie View Post

                        I never thought of the issue as physical stamina.
                        Oooh... That's a thought. There were these products by a company by Vive - Therapeutic putty. It came in fun colors and is safe for kids. I may grab some of this come to think of it. Get a color for each kid and everyone practices...maybe make it hand practice while I'm firing off recitation questions? Keeps little boys hands busy since mine are young enough to still wiggle.
                        Melissa

                        DS (MP2) - 8
                        DS (MP1) - 7
                        DS (K) - 5
                        DD (Adorable distraction) 2

                        Comment


                          #13
                          We used something called Thinking Putty. Disaster! Did you know it bounces? My kids discovered that within about half a nanosecond. I had unintentionally armed the household with super-bouncesballs. First day....one pile bounced right out the front door, down the sidewalk and was promptly run over by a hay truck. The child was so sad. I, on the other hand, laughed out loud. The two other tins mysteriously jumped into the trash during lunch. Never again.
                          Married to DH for 13 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

                          DS10- Simply Classical 4 / Grade 3 Classic Core,
                          DD8- Grade 2 Classic Core,
                          DD 6- Classic Core Kindergarten

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Colomama View Post
                            We used something called Thinking Putty. Disaster! Did you know it bounces? My kids discovered that within about half a nanosecond. I had unintentionally armed the household with super-bouncesballs. First day....one pile bounced right out the front door, down the sidewalk and was promptly run over by a hay truck. The child was so sad. I, on the other hand, laughed out loud. The two other tins mysteriously jumped into the trash during lunch. Never again.
                            Okay...I have nothing to add to the thread, but this ^^^ is hysterical!
                            --Amanda

                            DD #1 - Second Grade Core
                            DD #2 - Jr. K

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Monica,
                              I also wanted to offer the reminder that what you are doing in trying to address it is fantastic, and hopefully the ideas you have been given will make a tough situation better. But I will also add, it’s probably not going to go away completely. Truth is, if it wasn’t this, it would probably be something else causing the friction, you know? Kids, and siblings especially, tend to compete with each other. And siblings especially are highly attuned to what seems fair, equal, etc. I am constantly having to reinforce that we are not shooting for fairness here, we are seeking justice - that is, giving to each person what he or she really needs. I don’t help everyone the same way because everyone does not need the same level of help. Applies to what each one is doing, too. It sounds like you already have to have these sorts of conversations with your boys, but I didn’t want you to stress if you had to continue. That’s just the ongoing work of teaching your sons how to have good character. Life lessons, and all that.

                              Hang in there, and keep at it!

                              AMDG,
                              Sarah
                              2018-2019
                              DD 18 - 12th || DS 15 - 10th || DD 13 - 8th || DD 11 - 6th || DD 9 - 4th
                              DD 7 - 1st || DD 5 - mix of 1st & JrK || +DS, 2-21-16+ || DS 14 months

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