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Need to start outsourcing for teen son (long post)

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OK, I know the time of the year is a factor here, but this kid is driving me nuts. I think I need to outsource some/many of his classes so I am no longer the meanie taking away all his free time. I'm looking for some online classes that match his goals:


1. Wants to study international law... at Harvard or Yale :ohmy:

2. He's a junior, 17, really smart, pretty lazy. He scored really well on the PSAT and will probably be a NMSC finalist.

3. Plans to go to Baylor Honors College. He can pretty much write his own curriculum, so it will be heavy in great texts and pre-law stuff. He can only go there if he gets their national merit scholarship (very likely) and must maintain a 3.5 GPA, so he needs to figure out how to apply himself.

4. GPA 3.8, which is generous on my part. All his B's are in math and an online AP English Lang & Comp.

5. He's taking some DC now. Just finished Intro to Chem (A) and Trig (probably a "B") and will take Pre-Calc next semester. He's studying Arabic I on his own to test into a summer DC Arabic II class.

6. He's been competing in speech/debate/moot court/mock trial most of his life and is an excellent public speaker.


So what's the problem? I'm tired of his griping that he never has any free time! It's really difficult to get him to (1) read what I think is an adequate amount of literature and (2) write well. Everyone we talk to reiterates that in order to do well in law school he must read and write well. So, I'm not too worried about the B's in math. I AM worried that he's lazy in humanities and can't organize his time.


I would like to outsource reading/writing/history if I could find something I like. So far, I haven't found anything I like as well as my own curriculum, but he just won't take me seriously. We have some local co-ops (Austin, TX) but none are rigorous and the discussions I've sat in on are pretty lame. I'm considering Veritas Omnibus online. Has anyone tried this? I am not considering DC for lit/writing because of the really trashy literature our local CC uses. It doesn't have to be Christian, Baylor won't be, just decent literature instead of trash.


I'm also thinking of having him study for AP US History and/or US Gov't on his own. I've told him I'll award whatever he makes on the test for his semester grade. 4-5/A, 3/B, 2/C. Does that seem reasonable? It also means I have to be prepared to give him NO credit if he doesn't get around to taking the test.


Any other outsourcing ideas I might have missed?


I really need to somehow get him to "buy into" his own curriculum planning. He does help plan at the start of the year, but as the year drags on he starts complaining about no free time. It's true. He procrastinates, so he has school dragging out over the Christmas holidays. I feel like I just need someone else to hold him accountable. I feel like if I just back-off and let some things slide, he will really struggle in college. And he really does need some free time and time with his friends; I just don't know how to make that happen. When I ask him to write out his goals (still Harvard law school) and what he needs to do to get there and how much free time he needs, he just gets upset. I can't push him toward those goals, I would want to push anyone that hard. He wants it, I'm just not sure he's willing to do what it takes to get there. How do I make him see that?


Thanks for listening!

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Take speech/debate away until goals set by you are accomplished. He needs to learn time management. Try finding a local tutor for Literature and writing. That way he will be accountable to someone else


Set some goals and then weekly evaluate progress made on goals. Also, set up some "punishments" for wasted time. If at all possible find someone that could be accountability partner for him.


If he wants to go into law, try to find someone that specializes in international law locally, and see if he can volunteer in the office part of the spring/summer semesters.

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I feel your pain. I have been there with my oldest and am in the midst of this with my next one. Almost everyone I know IRL with a junior (male) complains that their kids cannot manage their own time. This includes homeschoolers and kids who go to B & M schools. What that tells me is that it is something they need to learn. They need someone to TEACH them how to manage time and someone to coach them through the process. Outsourcing the classes will not all of the suddenly make them more able to manage things. They just have someone else to be on their case:). I outsource many classes and we still deal with this.


What helps my kids is for us to go over our goals for the week. We look over assignments and help determine how to get them done. We use a weekly planner by subjects to list what should be done each day. Then, every night, we go over the day's work and look ahead to the next day. We then plan how long each task should take and schedule it in for the next day. I have an hourly planner for this job. (I think I got both of these from Donna Young's site.) This helps my boys realize how long things should take, when they should take breaks, and how much free time they can realistically expect. This may seem like a lot of hand-holding, but, I knew that we needed to do this in order for them to succeed. By mid-senior year, I no longer needed to be so hands-on with my oldest and he is doing great in college now.


You may also want to sit down with him and look over his long-term goals (like getting into Harvard or Yale.) Talk about what it will take to get there. If he is not willing to put in the work involved (and neither of these are just "get good grades" kind of schools - you really have to stand out) then he may have to reevaluate those goals. With my oldest - he is so smart, but he struggled with time management and he was not willing to work hard enough to get into a really prestigious school. I had to let go of MY pie in the sky goals for him and help him figure out where he belonged.

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I feel your pain.



Thank you! We do the planner thing on a weekly basis already. He is amazingly able to organize his time for outside classes. I just need someone else to really push him to read and think deeply and write well. For me, he does the bare minimum and wants to argue about everything. I want him to think and argue, but Geez! He's very into checking off boxes - taking lots of DC and AP courses and Arabic because it sounds impressive. Since he is automatically accepted into the Baylor Honors Program as a NMS, those things don't matter so much any more. He really needs to spend his time LEARNING how to think and argue critically so he can do WELL in college. You know, I don't think I've ever explained that to him. Hmmmm....

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You sound like you have a gem!

Is he really lazy? From what you describe, I would say not. Why are you taking away his free time? Because he will not discuss the great books with you? Who knows, maybe it's a controlling issue, or he is blossoming into a young man and needs a bit of independence from you. It's too late for the pahomeschoolers classes for this yr, but if he is only a jr, I would consider having him take AP literature next yr. He would be writing a ton and discussing great lit w his classmates. From what you describe, I would say you have done an amazing job!!!!

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Well, I've had to set rules: If he isn't caught up in school, he can't go to a friend's party or whatever. If he knows an event is coming, he can get caught up (usually). But most of the time, a friend calls at the last minute and he has to tell them "no" because he has homework. This happens all the time. You would think by now he would just get it done so he could be free, but he doesn't do that. And I'm really tired of missing things as a family because the kids have homework. That's why I want to outsource. I would so love to be able to smile on Saturday morning and say, "Let's go do something fun!" Instead of, "You need to finish your homework."

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I can commiserate! Maybe w homeschooling it is never done? But, dd has two AP classes now and one online class. She has missed a few piano and violin lessons because of the outsourced deadlines. It seems like something is always getting short-shrift! Good luck and look into online ap literature for next yr. btw, having many outsourced classes means that each instructor has their own holiday schedule. For example, dd has 4 different spring breaks. None of her classes match up. So, our annual family vacation to the desert in the spring is not happening this yr. good luck!

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Outsourcing really motivated my kids. Somehow due dates from "real" teachers sparked fear, whereas consequences from Mom just wasn't nearly as motivating.


I would tread carefully when really takiing away outside activities like friends and debate. Presumably you value his involvement with both. You really don't want to stir up the resentment that might result from removing GOOD things from his life.


Outsource. Find a tutor. Find online classes. Enroll him in the local CC, even if the standards of the classes aren't up to yours.


I think sometimes young men needs their moms to be moms, without the teacher hat. That means handing the teacher roll to someone else. Then you can be supportive and you can commiserate with him about those "tough" deadlines instead of nagging him about them!

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I wrote a long reply that fell victim to the board glitches... argh.

I'll try to rewrite:


First of all, when you describe your son, I do not see "lazy". How time consuming are his two dual enrollment courses?

My DD took two classes at the university this past semester; each was 4 credit hours and required not only 4 resp 5 hours in class, but also about 8 hours of outside work per class per week. So, just for each of these two classes, she spent 2-3 hours every day. Not much else got done.

Do I wish we had fit in more history and literature and finished math? Absolutely. But I see her choice to postpone work for winter break and summer as a smart, deliberate prioritizing strategy that kept her sane.


It is great that your son manages two college courses. Let's not forget that each corresponds to one complete high school credit, compressed into a 15 week semester. He will learn to juggle a full load when he actually IS in college. I would not expect a high school student to manage a full college load, and in fact, I would not want a high school student to have a full college load and the corresponding 60 hour study week.

From what you write, your son does not strike me as "lazy".


As for AP US History: no, I do not find it reasonable to tie his course grade and credit exclusively to the AP exam. While I have no problem with a well-designed comprehensive final exam in a subject like math as the sole determinant for mastery, I do not consider a standardized test in humanities a good measure for my learning objectives with a subject like history. And refusing credit if the AP test does not happen? I don't find threatening measures to be very effective with an older teen.


I am sure outsourcing would be a great way to change your dynamic. But I would not require a high schooler to carry a full college load of 12+ credit hours.

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Mommythrice, I mean this gently and with wishing you and your family the very best, and in no way trying to not answer the question you asked, but.... as I read through your post, your DS sounds great and like he is working hard, and it sounds like you are the one in a bit of a panic mode. Perhaps it is time to stop talking to everyone else (which sounds like it is possibly fueling a panic in you about DS's preparedness for law school which will happen after some years down the line after 1.5 years of high school and another 4 years of COLLEGE), and listening to what your DS really IS doing, what DS really is ABLE to do, and what DS really NEEDS right now, at age 16-17 as a high school junior.



First: hurray! You can be grateful! Your DS DOES have a future goal Even better -- he is actively working towards that goal! Many boys do not know what they want to do for their future career, even at age 19, 20, 21.... AND, your DS is working hard towards his goal, with rigorous courses, and extracurriculars which directly tie in with his career goal.



Second: sounds like DS has a pretty hefty load between the dual enrollment courses and extracurriculars.


I know I will probably be in the minority here, but I think I would be looking for ways to back down the load a bit for a few courses to reduce DS's stress level and help him be highly successful in fewer things, rather than burning out in more things.


JMO, BUT... I personally don't think it is reasonable to expect any high school student to do AP/college level work in all subject areas. Your DS is doing AP History and Gov't, PLUS college-level science and math, PLUS a VERY difficult foreign language (Arabic), PLUS some very time-intensive extracurriculars.


That's a heavy load... I would be cautious about adding to that heavy load with more outside online course work -- especially things like Literature, Composition, and History which will require a lot of time for writing -- unless you REALLY are sure DS can handle it.



I feel for you, and understand you are tired of DS's complaining about no free time. But maybe that should be taken as a warning sign that DS is reaching maximum load and moving towards a negative stress level and burn out? Maybe home is the only place DS feels safe to vent the stress he is feeling from the pressure of being a college student (for 2 classes) while still only 16-17yo, and taking AP level or difficult courses for the rest of his academics? Afterall, as adults, don't we feel stressed and complain when we feel overworked for weeks at a time? And don't we look to family as support and as a safe place to vent?


I know there is huge pressure for intense high school to make the scores needed for entrance to prestigious colleges and to get scholarships, but -- at what cost?? Stressed and burned out teens? Loss of family relationship? Driving our kids to live an unbalanced lifestyle? I know this is more my issue, but I really do feel strongly that too often, esp. as homeschoolers, we let fear drive our academic choices, rather than remembering to model healthy lives for our teens/young adults to help them learn how to set good patterns for the rest of their lives... Just a thought, and discard this if it is not of use for you at this time... :)



Third: Ideas on Time Saving -- Think QUALITY, not QUANTITY


- How about stretching out the AP classes and take the tests NEXT year?


- Go with a lighter load of literature, but do ones that will be the most valuable to accomplish.


- For Lit., cover some authors with just a short story or two and an oral discussion.


- For Lit., for some classic works watch the film versions and discuss -- 3 hours and voila! You've just covered in an evening what would have taken 2-4 weeks.


- For a law degree, exposure to advanced sciences and classic Literature will most likely be the least pertinent subjects for DS, so those might be the areas to back off in first, before cutting the extracurriculars which directly tie in with his career goals.


- Don't cut the extracurriculars -- double dip and count as credit. Count the research and writing work DS does with speech/debate and mock trial towards his English credit, rather than feeling as though you must manufacture a full separate credit -- from students I know in the speech/debate program here, your DS REALLY is working on his writing skills -- it is valuable, real-world learning! So give him the credit he deserves for the work he is doing in his extracurriculars and count it towards the English credit!




Finally: how about looking for a study skills class for this summer or to do next year? The benefits of this: learning how to schedule; how to streamline efforts; how to study for tests; memorization tricks and tips; possibly speed reading -- all of which will help both now and definitely in college. If you think DS would respond to a DVD course at home, there are several out there. Or, if you prefer an outside source, see if can find a good class through the local university or community college. Or with a tutor. DS can even pick up some good study tips from an SAT prep course.



Wishing you and DS and your family the very BEST as you complete the last stretch of high school! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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Have you considerd having him take a class or two at ACC?


Both of my older girls have had excellent experiences with ACC-- we have been impressed with the smaller class sizes and the quality of instruction-- no teaching assistants!


If you live in the Austin area then your tuition/fees would be covered for 2 classes per semester-- all you pay for are books!


BTW-their writing program (English 1301) is EXCELLENT-- lots of good critiques and personalized helps.


My middle dd completed 28 credit hours at ACC by the time she graduated highschool (homeschooled). All transfered (A&M and now Texas State) without issue).


My oldest dd graduated from ACC this summer with a degree in photography (3 year program)-- again we were highly impressed with her instruction.

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I have used Veritas online for a couple of years now and it works good for us. My son is very smart as well and gets things pretty fast. I have had trouble with him being lazy and not wanting to do much but the minimum, so I know how it can go. Veritas online (VP) has been good for him because he actually gets a grade and feedback from someone other than Mom....The Omnibus classes are good for alot of reading, comprehension, and discussion. If that is what you are looking for than Omnibus would work... There is some writing which consists of a couple of papers during the year but it is not a big writing class. Hope this helps and good luck!

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I would love to feel comfortable letting him back off a little. But, unless I'm misunderstanding something, he isn't doing university level work.


His DC classes at ACC are high school level Trig, Pre-Calc and Intro to Chem; only the Chem was a compressed schedule (1 semester for a 1-yr high school course). I would say his Arabic study is at a college level since he is using our local CC syllabus, but he is studying on his own and has the option to slow way down if necessary. The only reason he is moving at this pace is because he wants to test into Arabic II this summer for study abroad. I will give him credit whenever he has finished level I even if he doesn't test into level II.


He isn't taking any AP classes. He is sort-of studying on his own for the AP Government exam, and thinking about maybe studying for the US History as well. I certainly don't mean to "threaten him" if he doesn't take the test, but if he never gets around to studying & taking practice tests, I have no idea how to give credit or a grade. He has already earned a US Gov't credit from me (he's been very involved in all things government related) and from his online Con Law class. He doesn't need the high school credit, but just wants to get an AP score that college will take. Same thing with US History. He could probably pass both right now, but needs to study up & take practice tests to get a 4 or 5 for college credit. I have looked at these AP's as optional extra credit: if he does the work, he gets credit; if he doesn't do it, he doesn't get credit. I am not requiring them.


Lori D., my panic mode is concerning literature, history, and writing, all of which tend to fall through the cracks. I think those are more important for his goals than sciences and math. All of his speeches and scholarship contest writings are considered writing assignments by me, so he isn't doing those in addition to regular writing assignments. It's just such a struggle to get him to do them on time instead of at the last possible minute. I put them on his school planner 3-4 weeks in advance so he can spend one week discussing & outlining, 1-2 weeks writing, and another week editing. But it never really happens that way. I can't tell you how many times he has wanted me to proof his papers at 11pm when they are due (online) at midnight! We've done the study skills thing several times. He just doesn't get in a hurry until the deadline is drawing near.


I think you are right that he is feeling stressed. He really struggles with wanting to keep up with his overachieving friends (that's where Arabic came from) and wanting to go to all the social events that his other friends go to. I encouraged him to stick with Spanish instead of Arabic and stop math at Pre-Calc instead of moving on to calculus, which he plans to do next year. I am glad he wants to take more difficult subjects, but not at the expense of classes that he is taking from me. I think that is the real problem - he works harder for outside teachers. That's why I would like to outsource literature and writing, but if I do that his teacher isn't going to let him work on speeches and scholarship papers instead of their own assignments.


Jann, I'm going to look into 1301. Do you remember the instructor's name?

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