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Cooperation help

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    Cooperation help

    So Kate's almost 6. It is technically her K year. We've started but I'm still trying to really get things going. We are working on SC C this year and adding the R&S workbooks from level B to add extra fine motor work. I'm also teaching my three older boys (10th, 7th, and 5th) and have a just about 1 year old underfoot. We homeschool mostly in the living room, which also holds toys for the baby and a bunch of other stuff.

    Kate is having a hard time attending to any lessons. There are times she's focused, and it's not that she's hyperactive, nor that what we are doing isn't appropriate for her. But we don't have a school room where we can have a "this is school time" feel to it. I keep time with her short (I'd love multiple sessions of about 15 minutes each).

    She'll sit for books all day long. But isn't engaging with any other work. We are also struggling with making eye contact and looking at what we are doing. For instance while working on FSR, she doesn't look at the page. I use a bright highlighter to draw her attention to the letters/words, but she still looks elsewhere. (We are doing reading instruction already as her sight word vocabulary is almost 50 words and the recommendation is to start phonics alongside sight word instruction when they are six and have a foundation of sight word reading.)

    Any ideas on how to help attention in a less than perfect situation. Even working at the kitchen table might be tricky with the baby underfoot. And then there are the other theee who also need assistance and such.
    Brit - Catholic homeschooling mom to 5 - 3 big boys ('01, '03, and '06), daughter ('10 - Down syndrome), and one more boy ('15 - always wound up, and non-stop movement and noise)

    Re: Cooperation help

    Hi, Brit.

    Has she had a good vision exam? I would rule out anything that might make visual focusing difficult.

    In the meantime, as I'm sure you know, part of this will come with time and practice. She's only (not-yet) six, and she also learns differently.

    If you have time, you might teach "How We Learn" as a brief, separate lesson each morning. You could do this through any or all of these:

    1. Creating a Social Story that you read to her (because she'll listen readily to books).

    2. Role playing with stuffed animals. (Bear looks at his books and writes with his pencils when it is time for lessons. Bear is being a careful student. Rabbit hops around, will not hold a pencil, and looks all over the room. Rabbit is not being a careful student.)

    3. Pointing out the good habits of older siblings. "XXX is looking at his books and writing with his pencil. This is how he/she learns."

    4. Making an office for Kate. Even if he just place open 3-ring binders or other blank, visual dividers around her little work space, you can say, "Before we begin, let's set up your office, so you can do your work."

    5. Backing up and extending, little by little If she responds to incentives, you can reward 5 minutes of steady writing. If not, tell her "One more" when she wants to quit. Keep extending the time and number.

    6. Doing an informal check with font size to see if acuity is an issue. For example, does she willingly look at flash cards and only balk with smaller-font words on paper? Does she complain of headaches or eye pain? Again, check all of this with a good eye doctor.

    7. Teaching her least favorite work at her best, most responsive time of day. Save her favorite read-alouds for your/her relaxing time.

    8. Posting a quick list of Rules for Good Students. Teach the ways good students attend to lessons through these simple expectations. This de-personalizes it and makes it more about teaching than about being frustrated.

    (I do feel for you. When my daughter was six, she much preferred watching her cat walk elegantly across the kitchen floor than looking at her paper!)

    Others may have more ideas for you.



      Re: Cooperation help

      I will say that i did see those three panel science project display poster board things at Dollar tree. Could use that to make her office. Could leave it plain or minimally decorate it with alphabet chart and phonics cards.

      You could send your older kids to complete their independent work in the kitchen. I know she needs more supervision so you can't really send her off, but maybe reducing the distractions in the room might be helpful.

      For example, I go over the math lesson and then send the child to the kitchen table to complete the workbook pages. I then start teaching the next child and the two rotate from instruction to the kitchen table independent work. This may work for you, but keep Kate at the dining room table.
      DS12- Simply Classical mash-up of SC Spelling 1, intensive reading remediation, and MPOA 4th grade math.
      DD10- Classic Core 4th Grade w/ 5th grade literature
      DD8- Classic Core 2nd Grade

      We've completed:
      Classic Core Jr. kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade
      Simply Classical levels B, C, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5/6


        Re: Cooperation help

        I know you haven't answered yet about the eye exam for Kate, so I'm going to agree with Cheryl (and likely you, because you probably already know this) but vision is a Biggie with Downs. So talking to her eye doctor would be the first step.

        Barring that: When my son (ASD, then almost nonverbal and 6yo) used to have trouble attending to the page I just reminded him gently, "Look at your paper." (Over and over and over and over....) Eventually, it stuck. He didn't want to look at his paper because he doesn't like to attempt something he can't "win" at. And at the time, language or the written word was almost never a "win". We just had to develop comfort with book work in incremental steps. It was hard. He did not want to attend. But after working to gain his attention and giving him positive feedback for doing so, he started to engage and began to understand that book work was interesting, rewarding and enriching. The resistance ceased. Keep at it!
        “If I should fall even a thousand times a day, a thousand times, with peaceful repentance, I will say immediately, Nunc Coepi, ‘Now, I begin.’.”

        ~Venerable Bruno Lanteri
        Boy Wonder 13 ...SC7/8 + MP4 + Rod & Staff 4/5 + Seton 5
        Joy Bubble 11 ...SC7/8 + MP4 + Rod & Staff 4/5 + Seton 5
        Cuddly Cowboy 9 ...SC7/8 + MP4 + Rod & Staff 3/4/5 + Seton 4
        Sassafras 5 ...MPK + Seton K


          Re: Cooperation help

          Thank you all for replying. 😊

          To address the eyes - she sees her eye doctor regularly. She does wear glasses to correct strambismus. Though if it weren't for the turning in of her eye, she wouldn't need glasses at all. (Given family history, she will need them for distance soon enough.) I know people Ds can have very similar issues with eye contact as those on the spectrum even if they aren't otherwise on the spectrum. (As of now we don't have any reason to believe Kate is, rather that these issues are all Ds related.)

          I really like the idea of an "office" area. With the baby I'm not sure how elaborate we can get. But maybe making a thick binder (4" or so) into a slant desk surface for her and making our time together a bit more liturgical could help. I plan on breaking SC C into chunks throughout the day, so maybe I need to get creative and start each session either the same way or with something that signifies we are starting focus time. I can use the prayer for the first session. Maybe a song or rhyme or something ... maybe after more sleep I can be a bit more creative.

          And Anita, your "over and over and over" is so true over here. I know she may take 10x the input her brothers may need and I need to just keep reminding her over and over and over. Worst case, she can do kindergarten during her brother's nap. Lol
          Brit - Catholic homeschooling mom to 5 - 3 big boys ('01, '03, and '06), daughter ('10 - Down syndrome), and one more boy ('15 - always wound up, and non-stop movement and noise)