4 Moms: kids behind in school; encouragement

4moms35kidsFrom Julia:
For kids that share rooms…at night, do you let them talk quietly? Do you have a point where they have to be silent? How do you enforce not talking? I have one child that will talk for hours and keeps her sister awake.
We have always allowed ours to talk quietly as long as they are staying in bed and not keeping others awake.  If others begin to complain, then it becomes an issue.  I have found it to be relatively easy to enforce once they start complaining, since the listener can just stop answering.  Under normal circumstances this might be considered rude, but when Mom said to stop talking, it’s just obedience.
Is your talker keeping her listener awake, or a third child?  If I have two willing participants and others in the room are complaining, I tell the complainers that if they are truly tired and their sisters are talking softly, they will be able to sleep.  I keep a close ear out for excessive noise and try to correct quickly if I feel the volume has risen to discourteous levels.
From CrazyHair MamaBear:
I have a 6yr girl and an almost 5yr boy that we homeschool. They play together and squabble together in typical sibling fashion. When we get together with other homeschool families to play, everything is fine. My daughter is getting older and is now playing with friends in the neighborhood. I’ve been noticing that when she has friends over in the yard (boys or girls) that her and her friend(s) tend to leave John out or run away from him which makes him upset and then he chases them of course. You get the picture.
I’ve explained that a sibling is a friend for life while other friends will come and go. What I’m wondering is if they are all in the back yard playing, should I be expecting that they play nice with my son or should I be teaching my son that when she has friends over, to leave them alone and play by himself?
Obviously if she has a girlfriend over and they are playing barbies, I would expect him to leave them alone but if she has boys/girl friends in the yard and they are playing tag, Frisbee, swinging I think they should be able to play as a group. Tips on how to deal would be super appreciated!!
I love your name!
Like you, I try to emphasize that siblings are lifelong friends and ought to be valued above the friends that come and go in life.  In our family, kids are strongly admonished not to exclude siblings from play.  This is a matter of love and courtesy.  Our company manners should not be better than the way that we treat our own family.
That’s not to say that a child and her friend should be subject to constant bombardment from pesky siblings, though.  We just do our best to make sure that good manners run in all directions and everyone is being loving.
I gave an example of how a visit might go here, so you can see how we handle interactions.
From Julie:
Homeschooling question: how do you handle children who are below “grade level”?  Not just one child but several.
This is a very broad and loaded question.  I’ll tell you how I would handle it, but I know nothing about your situation so please take it for what it’s worth.
First, to get a better picture of the situation I would ask myself several questions.
  • How do I know that they are below grade level?
  • Is the scale/test fair and accurate?
  • Who am I comparing them to?
  • Do we have the same priorities, or do my children excel in other areas that are more important to me?
  • Are these areas where a large variation is normal or acceptable, or subjects that I am teaching in a different order/style than others, so that my children would score poorly on a test written for a particular scope & sequence?
  • Are they behind in just one subject or several?
  • Are all of the children struggling in the same areas?
I say “I,” but all of these questions would be a discussion between my husband and me.
If we decided there really was a problem, we would take a look at the children individually and collectively and decide where the problem(s) is.
  • Do we need different curriculum or teaching plan?
  • Are we trying to do too much?
  • Do we need to cut out some extra activities and focus on more structured school time?
  • Do we need to schedule more reading or read alouds?
  • Are they wasting too much time on TV, video games, etc?
  • Are there character issues or learning disabilities that need to be addressed?

I can’t make your list of questions for you, but this is where I would start.

From Alicia:
How do you handle different kids that need different kinds of discipline for the same actions? For example 1 child is very sensitive and respond well to us talking to or a timeout but another is very strong willed and bull headed and need more than that.
Alicia, since you seem to understand that children respond differently to discipline and it’s appropriate for parents to deal with them differently, I’m going to assume that you are most concerned with how to explain the apparent double standard to your children.
We have differences like this among our children, and I am very frank with them, as with most subjects.  Depending on the circumstances and attitude of the child in question, I might say:
I’m correcting you in a way that will help you remember to obey next time.
Your sister obeyed when I talked to her about it.  You got a swat for this because when I talked to you about it the first time, you still didn’t obey.
Your sister’s sin is not your business right now.  Did you disobey?  [Yes]  Do you understand why you were punished? [Yes]  Then make sure you are obeying.
From Amanda:
Encouragement question: I have three sons age 3, 23mo, and 8 weeks; I am SO amazed at how gracious the Lord is and how I myself am learning and growing! But…I am really tired. My husband helps as much as work allows (he’s in the military). We keep things–EVERYthing– simple. I myself am the oldest of 9 homeschooled kids, so I know the little-kid drill well, which helps. That said…what encouragement can you all give? I feel like I can’t, or shouldn’t? voice my feelings of frustration, fatigue, overwhelmed-ness (…I don’t even know what to call it exactly) to folks even in our church who don’t share our convictions about letting the Lord grow our family or how we plan to educate them. I frankly think we’re both becoming afraid of having more kids! Please give me some perspective and any other recommendations??
Amanda, I understand your hesitation to talk about the difficulties of your convictions around those who don’t share your convictions.  I think it’s probably wise.  We don’t want to present a false face to those around us, but it’s probably not helpful or constructive to discuss our problems with people who won’t be able to help or offer encouragement.
 Is your family supportive?  Are you and your husband sure that you are in the right church, if they are not supportive of your strongly held convictions?  Can you seek out people who do share your convictions, either in real life or online?  Just one or two good friends can make a world of difference!
As for perspective, having a new baby is a huge factor: You are only 8 weeks postpartum.  You are exhausted, and everything seems harder.  Everything is harder, but it will get better.  Your new little one will settle into a schedule, you will get more sleep (or learn to function on less), you and the kids will figure out the new normal, and you will feel better.
In the meantime, get as much rest as you can, let things slide a little more, and give yourself a little more time to recover.  You may feel fully recovered, but it really does take longer than 8 weeks, especially if you jumped back into life too soon.  Your hormones take at least 6 months to normalize, and in the meantime you just might be on an emotional rollercoaster.  Just take comfort in the fact that it’s probably not as bad as it seems right nowand someday you’ll look back on these busy times with fondness.  The memories of being overwhelmed will fade like memories of labor, and you’ll be able to treasure the good memories.
From Rebecca:
What have been your all time favorite family read-alouds? And how do you organize your school year?
Did you just ask me a question about organization and time management?  Have you met me?  Let’s just say one of my strong points is flexibility when it comes to scheduling.  Translation: I have the ability to live with no schedule at all.  On the downside, I find it very difficult to create and stick to a schedule.  I like to blame the fact that our daily life is often unpredictable in ways that are outside my control, but it could also be that I’m just very bad at scheduling.  🙂
Really, we just do school year round in a relaxed sort of way, taking days off when the need arises or the fancy strikes us.  My children are very intelligent and articulate until a well-meaning stranger asks what grade they are in.  Then they stare blankly, stammer, and look helplessly at me.
But I can take a stab at your other question.  Some of our favorite read-alouds:
  • The Chronicles of Narnia
  • The Little House on the Prairie series
  • Ramona books
  • Ten Peas in a Pod
  • Boxcar Children series (the first 10-20 books)
  • The Hobbit (currently being read as a bedtime story to the boys by big sister Megan)

There have been many more, and if my children read this post I’m sure they’ll remind me of what I have forgotten so I can update the list.

From Traci:
We adopted a sibling group of three seven years ago. (they are now 12, 12 and 11) We just started another home study so that we can adopt another sibling group… soon we hope. Possibly a group of five that are ages 2-16.
We see a 15 passenger van on our horizon possibly. What other sage advise would you offer knowing we will soon be a “large” family?
Traci, congratulations on your growing family!  I love to hear about Christians adopting children because it is such a beautiful picture of our own adoption as God’s children.
I would definitely skip the 12 passenger van and go straight for the 15 as you said.  I think gas mileage is very similar, and cargo space is infinitely better since you can take a bench out of the 15 passenger van and still have plenty of seating left.
When I am expecting a new baby, I try to work hard on behavior problems that I see creeping up in the other children so that I don’t have everyone testing boundaries at once while we already so busy adjusting to the new normal.
Similarly, I try to make sure we have well-established household routines so that we’re not dealing with more changes than necessary during the adjustment period.  The postpartum period is not the time to try that exciting new curriculum, chore system, or any other big change.  I’m guessing the post-adoption period is also not the best time to tackle big changes like these.
How would you answer the questions above?

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  1. Regarding large families: realize your limitations. Make a list of all the ways your children benefit from being part of our large family, and rejoice in those instead if feeling guilty about the things they miss out on. We have four kids, and they didn’t get to do organized sports (usually 3-4 times a week? No. They did do Upward a couple of times but not every season.) They were limited on how many activities they did (one per kid, and only what we could afford), they don’t have a lot of sleepovers, they didn’t have a friend over for a play date every weekend, they didn’t get many new clothes, and they didn’t have a birthday party with friends every year. (We always had a family celebration.)
    Sometimes I started to feel bad about the things they miss out on. But they have lifelong friends, a loving family, live-in playmates, a mom who is home with them, and sleepovers with their best friends (each other) every night.
    Your ups and downs will be different, but seriously. Write them down, remember them, and don’t get burdened by the limits. And congratulations!

  2. Love all your practical advice. I just wanted to comment on the sleeping together one. I totally agree with your advice. As a child some of the best discussions and bonding times with my sisters were in bed. That is why all our kids share rooms, and some even share beds. We do sometimes get complaints from those who are tired about not being able to sleep, but for the most part as long as the visiting is quiet and respectful we let them visit. Also, my sons enjoy reading together at night. The older son to the younger ones. We got them a reading lamp, so not to keep everyone in the room up. Just wanted to chime in. Oh, and if we find tired or complaining attitudes than we will remind them to get to sleep earlier. Usually, that is all that is needed to get them on track.

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