Our topic for the blog cruise this week is “teaching the chatty, wiggly child”. Oh my, I definitely have two of those. My boys are, well, all boy in the sense that they are always moving-fidgeting-fiddling around kinds of kids. They can’t be still, they ALWAYS have something to say (and more often than not, it is off topic) and they seem to be in a constant state of movement. I have to be honest, to my orderly, organized “teacher-brain”, this is the kind of behavior we try to stop in the classroom. All that movement is distracting, and once one kid is off task, they all get off task! So, learning to deal with (and love) this chase-the-rabbit-trail kind of behavior has been a process for ME in our homeschooling. These are some of the things I do to try and accommodate my active boys while still making sure we get work done.
1. Allow frequent breaks.
Seriously, some days we take a short 5 minute break after each subject. This allows my boys to run outside for a minute, pet the dog, have a conversation, look up something online they just thought of, play guitar, or add a piece to their latest Lego creation. At first, this was really hard for me, because I am a “let’s dig in and get school done” kind of girl. However, I quickly realized that my sons did not have the same attitude, and the more I tried to push them to be like me, the more miserable school became for all of us. By working small breaks into our schedule, my boys know they will have a few minutes to move around and do what they want at the end of each subject. This helps them focus more on the work at hand when they are doing it. Yes, it extends our day a bit, and we finish school around two instead of at noon, but does that really matter? Not to me!
2. Stop and Listen
Although I hate to admit it, when I am “busy” doing something, and one of my kids tries to tell me something, I often only half-listen, giving a nod when they are done and sending them on their way. The thing is, my kids KNOW when I am not paying attention to them and usually, this only causes them to talk more. I have learned that when one of my kids is just bursting to say something (even if it doesn’t really relate to what we are doing at the moment) it is best to just stop what we are doing, let them talk, and pay attention to what they have to say. So if, in the middle of grammar, my youngest suddenly interrupts and asks me if I remember the story that we read last year, about the pirate who does all this cool stuff, instead of telling him to be quiet and get back to work, I answer his question. Oddly enough, just doing that seems to resolve the problem. After we have had our conversation, my son goes back to his assigned work and finishes up. In the past, when I have been more work-focused and would not make room for these interruptions, it often led to a LONG disruption that ended with tears, fighting, and declarations of “you never want to listen to me”.
3. Keep it in Perspective.
This is probably one of the biggest things I have learned about homeschooling and life in general. One of the reasons I wanted to homeschool is to spend time with my boys because I felt they were growing up too fast and I was missing most of it. I try to remind myself that childhood comes in seasons, and that these boys who drive me crazy with their constant movement and chatter won’t always be like this. There will come a time when their lives will be full of jobs and friends and I will miss these moments. When you’re in the middle of the craziness it is hard to see, but I know that these days (however hectic) won’t last forever. At some point I may even long for a random interruption to my day because it is far too quiet. So I strive to remember that when I am trying to teach a science lesson and my boy determines he just has to ask me about last week’s trip to the grocery store right at the minute. Or when a spontaneous light saber war erupts during reading time. Or when someone decides the dog needs to wear a blanket as a cape as I am trying to explain the difference between mixed numbers and improper fractions. God made these boys the way they are for a reason, and the joy they bring to my life is worth all the craziness!
Do you have a chatty, wiggly child at your house? To see what other members of the crew had to say on this topic, check out the blog cruise here: