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MP 3rd grade and "pencil-twirlers"

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    MP 3rd grade and "pencil-twirlers"

    Hello everyone -
    I am randomly going through the forum old pages to learn from the pioneers One thing that struck me was how many mothers tell the same tale about a child age 8 or 9, mostly boys but sometimes girls. The child is usually described as a pencil-twirler, or a daydreamer, or as having to be nagged and coaxed into finishing school work. Almost always, the impression is that the issue is very much a physical one, in other words, the child isn't necessarily struggling to understand a particular subject, it just seems that he's unable/unwilling to work well independently, or just stay focused (or plain still!) - things like that.

    I have a boy like that myself, and he's so contradictory: he taught himself to read when he was 5 and generally has a very quick mind, but he's also a master pencil-twirler, and I wonder about my attitude toward him... That "unable/unwilling" ambiguity is actually the crux of the problem. What should a mother do when it may just be a matter of physical/mental development? I get so frustrated and I am so impatient - but what good does it do? I struggle to find the right balance between understanding and accepting where he is in terms of maturity and the unavoidable nagging part.

    I wonder if the real reason of MP 3rd grade being considered challenging has more to do with this difficult stage in the child than the material itself - I guess this is why I am considering the slowed-down option. On the other hand, are lower academical expectations the right answer? Well, maybe not exactly "lower", as we would still expect work well done - it's really just a matter of time taken to complete the year - but I wonder if even that would be a "surrendering" where I should press on instead.

    I also worry that, being new to MP and to a situation where the lesson planning is done for me, I will be too rigid with him, and unwilling to be flexible and adjust and tweak - you know, if MP said you should be able to do this, then you need to do it. This is another reason to consider the slower track.

    Experienced mothers of pencil-twirlers, what do you say? Does it just go away on its own?
    DS (16)
    DD (15)
    DS (7)

    #2
    Hello.

    I can attest to the pencil-twirling disappearing as students mature and are better able to make good decisions about the use of their time. I saw it happen with my child. It just didn't happen quickly enough for me. As to whether or not to slow down the curriculum, my pencil-twirling student did not need a slower-paced curriculum in most subjects. He was totally capable of doing the work if he just had a better work ethic. But he could have benefited from a slower approach to math and Latin because he struggled with those classes and needed more practice and reinforcement. There is a difference in a student being ready to do the work and a student choosing not to do work he is capable of doing in a timely manner. My second son was a poor student and struggled through his classes due to a real learning issue. He would have benefited greatly from a slower approach because the material really was more difficult for him. That said, he is flourishing in college, so even though he wasn't a stellar student, the curriculum certainly did what it was intended to do. He is well-educated and finds college easier than many of his less-educated peers.

    I think the decision to slow down the curriculum has to be made for each individual student. Lazy students who just don't want to work, but are capable of doing the work, should be expected to work at their level regardless of their work ethic. Students who really do struggle academically should work at a pace that allows them to build confidence and gives them the time they need to master difficult material. The beauty of homeschooling is that you have the freedom to make these decisions on a student by student basis.

    Regards,

    Tanya

    Comment


      #3
      I agree Tanya. I have one who is finishing 3rd grade and he still spaces out a little bit, but I have consistently tested him, to see whether it was the actual work or just a problem focusing. For him, it was the latter because he would always excel at the actual work when made to do it. However, he is behind in math. He is only halfway through the third grade math book but it seems like it is starting to click. (Fingers crossed) With that said, timers have helped, making him sit straight, making sure he has no toys and nothing to fiddle with have all helped. Even fiddling with his pencil or the edge of the paper, when I tell him to stop, the work gets done.

      My first inclination had been to slow him down but I'm glad I didn't. (Of course he doesn't have an actual learning disability though).
      Courtney
      Mom to 5 boys-14,13,10,8,5 and the girls- 3 and 1

      Comment


        #4
        Courtney, my dreamer is much the same. Fully capable, and actually, probably one of my brightest kids. She has a memory like I have never seen. And disciplined when motivated...for instance, she has started in ballet, and can come home and tell me (and show me) the entire class!! At the same time, I see the helplessness in her face when she is struggling to concentrate. It is definitely not something she is doing on purpose. So we manage, at this point. Timers, yes, those are helpful. Removing distractions....not always possible, but we do try to minimize.

        As Tanya mentioned, it is up to you to discern where your child really is....willfulness, laziness, overly stimulated....hungry, tired, growth spurt, etc. Could be any number of things. For us, my paying attention to it rather than wishing it away has helped me feel less angry. It is still frustrating, but I know she is frustrated about it too. So we keep trying to make progress, and rejoice when progress is there.

        Sorry I cannot be more specific. My one thing I will say, is to always reinforce that these challenges right now are going to become strengths for them in their adult life, if they direct them in a good way. God has a plan for them, you know? And as Tanya has reminded us often, they do settle down on their own schedule, and can end up being pretty terrific students. I try to cherish now, and realize that someday, these challenges too will have passed.

        AMDG,
        Sarah
        2020-2021
        16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
        DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
        DS, 17
        DD, 15
        DD, 13
        DD, 11
        DD, 9
        DD, 7
        +DS+
        DS, 2

        Comment


          #5
          Food for thought here - thank you! I guess it will be an ongoing struggle for a while. Elimination of distractions helps a lot, but no timer for us: it doesn't help him at all, he just freaks out about the time passing and just melts down...
          DS (16)
          DD (15)
          DS (7)

          Comment


            #6
            Mrs. Bee,

            Something to keep in mind.... people love what they can accomplish and master. That feeling of completely grasping, mastering, accomplishing... priceless.

            If you are at all struggling to decide on the "full 3rd" or the "half 3rd" lesson plans for your pencil twirler, I'd have to give the edge to the "half 3rd", especially if this will be your first year with MP. Don't forget that the "half" is only in SOME subjects, not all, *and* if I remember correctly, you are planning to tackle Latin for the first time with both students. If your pencil-twirler can (guilt free) do the "half" of some subjects, he might gain the sense of ownership that completing work well, and mastering it (!), can give to the student.


            Just some thoughts!


            Jen
            DS, 28 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace)

            DS, 26 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

            DD, 23 yrs, graduated from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC; 2nd grade teacher.

            DS, 13 yrs, 9th grade; attends a private classical school, 7th - 12th.

            All homeschooled for some/all of their K-12 education.

            Me: retired after 16 years of continuous homeschooling, now a high school chemistry teacher at a large Catholic high school

            Comment


              #7
              Jen, thanks for your thoughts. You are right that this will be our first MP year and that my idea is to have both kids start PL. Though I have to say that my major worry right now has more to do with my days still being all baby all the time In my first post someone - maybe even you - suggested taking it slowly at least at the beginning, and it is a good point. The hope is that a slower approach will work for us until this little fellow shows he can cry less and sleep for more than 10 minutes away from me! When it was just the two older ones, my son's "inefficiency" was more manageable - but now with the baby with me all the time it's a lot harder. If not for the baby, I don't think I would be wondering so much about slowing down.
              In this post I was just wondering if there may be something developmentally unavoidable in this kind of behavior, something I need to accept as normal for many kids at this stage - something I need to work on with him, obviously, but without going crazy (and, boy, can he drive me nuts! But I need to remember my attitude is very important to him.)

              By the way, is there a post somewhere with definitive info about the "half-3rd" package idea? I remember the idea being discussed here and there, but I am not sure there is something clearly dedicated to it.
              DS (16)
              DD (15)
              DS (7)

              Comment


                #8
                "Half 3rd":

                I believe that the following will be slowed to about half:

                Latina Christiana I (which you aren't planning on anyway)

                Greek Myths (which both kids could do as "enrichment" next year, the pick it up the next year as both review and a full curriculum)

                Christian Studies I (OT Bible)

                English Grammar I

                Intro to Comp



                Actually, I'm not 100% sure about the last two items. My tendency is to focus on the Latin and Classical Studies.


                The rest of the package is FULL and AS IS (Literature, Timeline, Spelling, Math, States and Capitals, Astronomy)


                As for the tiny baby, I wish you well. I had a late in life baby so I well remember the days of trying to manage Baby's naps around a host of older children's school work and activities. I even hosted book clubs one year (American Girl, Teen boy) while juggling an infant on my hip. I did manage to survive (although I don't remember many details, ha, ha). Also, babies do change their patterns rather often. Baby might be on a more manageable routine by September. Crossing my fingers for you!


                Jen
                DS, 28 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace)

                DS, 26 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                DD, 23 yrs, graduated from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC; 2nd grade teacher.

                DS, 13 yrs, 9th grade; attends a private classical school, 7th - 12th.

                All homeschooled for some/all of their K-12 education.

                Me: retired after 16 years of continuous homeschooling, now a high school chemistry teacher at a large Catholic high school

                Comment


                  #9
                  We're still working this out, but it does look like we will be doing half of LCI, Greek Myths, Christian Studies I, and English Grammar Recitation. I think we will do all of States & Capitals that first year, and do the US Review and some American biographies for the second year (4th grade). I haven't worked out what we are going to do with science. We may split Astronomy into two years, but I'm not sure that will be enough science. And we are going to leave 3rd grade literature alone and add new literature guides for the second year (4th grade). For composition, I think we'll finish Intro. to Composition in one year since it is tied to the literature and add a new writing course for the new 4th grade. That isn't really worked out yet either. We are making good progress but still wandering around on a couple of subjects!

                  Regards,

                  Tanya

                  Comment


                    #10
                    No pressure, Tanya! Many thanks to you and Jen for making things clear for me.
                    I am so curious to just start and see what happens! The children are also very excited, which is good. I look forward to meeting Paul S. and Sarah at the conference next week.

                    Jen, I am at my wit's end with this baby And yet, I wish these baby days never ended! I joke with my husband that if only I had a live-in maid, a cook, and Mary Poppins, all would be fine, lol. I am in awe of all mothers who manage to accomplish so much while taking care of many little ones!!
                    DS (16)
                    DD (15)
                    DS (7)

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Mrs Bee,
                      I just had to share....we caught an old episode of Brady Bunch a while back....and I had to catch myself from thinking "wow, so many kids!" because we have now surpassed them....but instead, I saw Alice, and realized, "Aw, man! She got an Alice!!!! No fair!!"

                      AMDG,
                      Sarah
                      2020-2021
                      16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
                      DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
                      DS, 17
                      DD, 15
                      DD, 13
                      DD, 11
                      DD, 9
                      DD, 7
                      +DS+
                      DS, 2

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Ah, to have Alice, what a dream!!!
                        I only have 3 children and I'm totally at sea right now
                        DS (16)
                        DD (15)
                        DS (7)

                        Comment


                          #13
                          It does calm. I have always thought being at an odd number was harder than having evens, for some reason. But that is just me! I tend to have little ones who always want to be held too, and have just gotten used to it. I never wanted my regret to be that I wondered if I held them enough....so enjoy this time...it really does go by so quickly!

                          AMDG,
                          Sarah
                          2020-2021
                          16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
                          DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
                          DS, 17
                          DD, 15
                          DD, 13
                          DD, 11
                          DD, 9
                          DD, 7
                          +DS+
                          DS, 2

                          Comment


                            #14
                            "I never wanted my regret to be that I wondered if I held them enough" Exactly, Sarah!
                            This was a much prayed-for baby, and we're so so happy! I just never imagined how difficult it would be for me to juggle all the other responsibilities. That's why having an Alice would be wonderful - it would be just babymoon for me, and all the work for her
                            DS (16)
                            DD (15)
                            DS (7)

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by tanya View Post
                              We're still working this out, but it does look like we will be doing half of LCI, Greek Myths, Christian Studies I, and English Grammar Recitation. I think we will do all of States & Capitals that first year, and do the US Review and some American biographies for the second year (4th grade). I haven't worked out what we are going to do with science. We may split Astronomy into two years, but I'm not sure that will be enough science. And we are going to leave 3rd grade literature alone and add new literature guides for the second year (4th grade). For composition, I think we'll finish Intro. to Composition in one year since it is tied to the literature and add a new writing course for the new 4th grade. That isn't really worked out yet either. We are making good progress but still wandering around on a couple of subjects!

                              Regards,

                              Tanya
                              I don't mean to hijack the thread, but have you been able to come up with a definite plan for the alternate 3rd grade track? I'm trying to customize our plans. We're leaning heavily toward the HLS Cottage School, and I'm trying to figure out what that leaves for me at home. We're thinking about putting her in LC, Greek Myths, English 3 and Composition.

                              Like Mrs Bee, I'm still struggling with trying to figure out how to juggle all these littles at home, working outside the home, and homeschooling. I'm at wit's end.


                              Thanks so much.
                              Plans for 2021-22

                              Year 11 of homeschooling with MP

                              DD1 - 26 - Small Business owner with 2 locations
                              DD2 - 15 - 10th grade - HLS Cottage School/MPOA/True North Academy/Vita Beata - equestrian
                              DS3 - 13 -6A Cottage School - soccer/tennis -dyslexia and dysgraphia
                              DS4 - 13 - 6A Cottage School -soccer -auditory processing disorder
                              DD5 - 9 - 4A, Cottage School/MPOA -equestrian
                              DS6 - 7 - MPK - first time at the Cottage School this fall!

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