When my middle son was in state school doing grade 4, his teacher called me in to show me his workbooks. I was stunned to see that none of his activities were completed. The teacher therefore could not mark his incomplete work and had to formulate a term mark for his report based on what he did complete. He would start and never finish the given task. His teacher had over 30 students in the class and could not check each child’s task for every subject, so my son often got away with not completing his work. I suggested my son be kept inside during break to complete his work, but this wasn’t always possible due to various other commitments his teacher had to tend to. When I questioned my son his reasons for not completing his task, he had two reasons. One he didn’t understand the work well enough to continue alone, and two he didn’t have enough time to complete the task.
This was one of the reasons I decided to home-school him. I can now not only make sure he completes his work but also understands it. Whatever he doesn’t complete during the allocated time, is now done as homework. He hates having homework so his learning that there are consequences to incomplete task.
His always struggled with concentration and when he was in school he was on Ritalin, because this was suggested by his teachers. As a parent you never choose to medicate. One of the main benefits of home-schooling is the one on one attention, which means he can be closely monitored and reminded to focus and complete his task. I made a difficult decision when I chose to home-school that I will no longer continue with Ritalin. I decided to face whatever challenges going without medication would bring. It is difficult but not impossible to manage a child with concentration issues. Some days are more challenging than others and there are often tears. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve managed so far. Each child and each situation is different, what has worked for us may not work for others.
One method that I find works for us is a stopwatch. He sets his watch to an hour and this allows him independence to monitor his own time. Every 15 min I check how far he is and encourage him to focus. Often, I find him playing with a toy, drawing or reading a book. Each time I gently remind to focus on completing his work.
I notice his slowest work day is a Monday due to the relaxed weekend. With all the long weekends in April it’s been challenging to say the least. I constantly remind myself that this is very normal and allow him space. He eventually completes all his required work by the end of the week. He achieved three A’s for his weekly test. When we have a successful week, it allows me to relax, knowing that he does understand the work and he is learning something new every week, and to celebrate the small victories.
Deborah Pretorius is a mother of 3 kids and a BCom graduate on the amazing adventure of home schooling her family.