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MP 3rd grade and "pencil-twirlers"

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  • Courtney
    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).

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  • tanya

    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.



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  • Mrs Bee
    started a topic MP 3rd grade and "pencil-twirlers"

    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?