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"cheerful compliance"????

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    "cheerful compliance"????

    I would love some help in gaining cheerful compliance with my explosive, cantankerous first grader. She will be seven years old in a few weeks, and it is absolutely emotionally exhausting trying to parent her, much less teach her! My fourth grader is "there" in the cheerful compliance category. She's not always thrilled about her schoolwork, but she does it with (almost) no complaining.

    I'm not expecting overt enthusiasm or fake happiness about school from the first grader, but just a neutral politeness would be a fantastic improvement. I am able to have that while working with her, despite her animosity, but we are only at day 4, and the rest of the syllabus is looking more daunting by the minute! We are working hard to have a consistent time and schedule for school and have stopped doing the fun homeschool "school time" things so that we do SCHOOL Monday through Friday--even though she rails against structure, I do know that it is what she very much needs.

    I am feeling incredibly committed to MP. I don't think I've ever done four days in a curriculum without seriously considering switching something already! So maybe this is just a time thing, and she will get with the program when she sees that the program isn't going to change. But if there are some tips to engender cheerful compliance sometime before Christmas, I would really appreciate hearing them!
    Ora et Labora!

    Beech Tree Boarding School, 2020-2021
    DD (age 9): 4NU
    DD (age 7): MP 1
    DS (age 4): MP Jr. K
    "I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time, I rest in the grace of the world, and am free." Wendell Berry

    I remember having trouble with my daughter when she was around that age. Everything we'd done for school had been fun and all of a sudden she was expected to work. She still struggles from time to time (when I let up on the consistency), but really it was about establishing a new normal. I specifically told her that school was her job and that it was not always fun but that I wouldn't expect her to do anything I wasn't sure she could do. Over time her complaining decreased as she realized that her complaining wasn't getting her anywhere.

    A (12) - Simply Classical 5/6
    C (11) - Simply Classical 5/6
    G (7) - Simply Classical 1


      Hi Emily,

      Last year, I also struggled with my 1st grader. She was enthusiastic for the first couple weeks actually, but then the novelty wore off and she began complaining and fighting with me most days of the week. We had just moved overseas and she was missing her friends (and her old, easier hybrid school) and the acting out during school was very difficult for several weeks. Good news and spoiler alert....this too passed and she eventually became a pleasant student.😅

      Not sure if my "methods" helped or if it was just the passage of time, but thought I'd pass along the few things I did in case any of them help. I apologize in advance for the lengthy post!

      1. No matter how painful it was for me, I made her do all the work each day----even if it meant excruciatingly long days a few times. I was determined that her complaining and tantrums would never succeed in reducing her workload. (I'm a big believer in what you reward, you get more of.) Even now that she has transitioned to a pleasant student, if she or her sisters start to complain, I ask them if complaining has ever made a drop of work go away and they will sheepishly answer no.

      2. I learned to control my reactions and stay calm but firm (for the most part 😂). This helped de-escalate her outbursts and made me feel less crazy haha. (I found prayer to the Holy Spirit particularly helped me with this challenge.)

      3. I found ways to make her least-liked lessons more fun and silly.
      For example, in the beginning she loathed spelling. (Ironically, she loves reading and would try to sneak a book everytime my back was turned. I learned to hide her book during schoolwork.) The first part of her lesson would have her sorting the spelling words into different categories, e.g. words that begin with sh, br, etc. I would pretend the spelling words were bandits and we had to throw them in their appropriate jail cells. So all the "sh" words were grouped in the "SHeep thieves jail" and so on. I would really play this up throughout the lesson because she responded very positively. (For example, we would call learning the new words "meeting this week's criminals.") She now loves spelling and (will even laugh about her previous bad attitude) but I would NEVER have believed it possible at the beginning of last school year.

      4. I instituted a demerits chart for all 3 of my kids. (By this time, my first grader had settled down into mostly ordinary level complaints but I wanted to work on all my kids being more consistently pleasant and obedient.) The demerits chart was in effect all day---not just schooltime, although it was most needed during schooltime. Anytime you complained, spoke with a disrespectful tone, didn't obey promptly, I put a tally mark by your name. No second chances. (I told them that's why you don't lose a privilege until 5 tally marks.) Once you earned 5 tally marks, you lost one of the day's privileges. A second group of 5 tally marks and you lost a 2nd privilege and so on. It took several days of drama over lost privileges, but after a week or so all my children decided that the consequences just weren't worth it and it completely TRANSFORMED the amount of complaints. I have found that if I stop using the chart because it no longer seems necessary, in a week or so the grumbling and defiance starts to gradually resurface, so I try to remember to use it even on days when they are mostly pleasant and obedient.

      Finally, don't underestimate the power of time. More than anything, I think the weeks of doing the same school lessons over and over became a habit. Working harder and longer in school became the new normal. (It was our first year with MP, coming from a less rigorous classical hybrid school.) In my opinion, 1st grade is one of the bigger school transition years.

      Hang in there! This too shall pass!



        Forgot one more thing...I made breaks tied to completing lessons rather than the clock. For example, one break after math and spelling. That way my daughter had more incentive to get the lesson done because nothing fun was going to happen until she did.

        And I always got the most challenging or disliked subjects done first. (These shifted in and out of favor during the year.) That way, both she and I had the relief of knowing the worst was over early in the day vs. dreading it. This mattered less as time went on and things became pleasant, but it was very important for my sanity in the early contentious days.