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Educating the unmotivated, intellectually uncurious child


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I need some thoughts on this, because I'm at the end of my rope, and now I'm just frustrating myself and my DD11. This child is not motivated to do much of anything, and I'm not sure how to approach continuing to homeschool her. She definitely does not want to go to school. She also does not want me to teach her anything, but she doesn't want to learn anything on her own. I've asked her what she DOES want to learn, and she's told me she wants to get involved in cooking and baking. To that end, I've called her and asked if she wanted to help me when I'm cooking, and she says, "Eeehhh, not really." I've tried encouraging her to cook or bake simple things on her own, and she says, "Can't you just do it?"

 

I've tried giving her control of her learning in various ways, and she balks and asks if we can't just try following our curriculum again. I encourage her to do things like enter writing or drawing contests, and she always decides not to bother at the last minute. I've encouraged her to talk to her like-minded friends about writing, drawing, reading, etc., and she doesn't want to. 

 

Yet when I set a schedule and a checklist and lead her through time with me and give her reading and writing assignments, it's like pulling teeth to get her to do them. She doesn't want to write, or read, or learn about much of anything. She doesn't even want to watch videos about anything remotely educational. This has always been my kid who would ask me questions, and if I didn't know the answer to hand to her, she didn't want the answer anymore. I tried forcing her to sit beside me and look things up and search for answers, and I tried handing her the pertinent book or material and encouraging her to do it herself. But if she has to expend any kind of energy looking for the answer, she won't do it, and it doesn't faze her that she may never know the answer to the question she just asked me. 

 

She's a very smart child, and I'm trying to figure out what lights her fire. The problem is that there seems to be nothing that does. She does like art classes, but only if they're extremely light--she's not interested in anything that means significant work. She took an art class last year that she really enjoyed and excelled in, and she still speaks highly of it. When I asked her if she wanted to take it again, or take the next-level class, she said, "Eeeehhh, maybe later on." 

 

I don't know what to do anymore. The more I try to schedule/prod/cajole/encourage/threaten/force/lead/guide her into an education, the more she leans back. Assignments don't get done for days, and she moans about them the whole time. But when I say instead that she can stop reading her assigned books and instead "unschool" those subjects as she likes, she complains about that too. When we were doing Latin, she loved spotting words that she recognized from Latin lessons in everyday life, but she complained and complained about the lessons to the point where I let it go. She likes learning the occasional Spanish word from her dad, so I mentioned that it was time for us to start doing Spanish for school, and I thought she was going to cry. She's moaned and dragged on about math for the last several years, and then she told me the other day that she thinks math is the subject she likes most and is best at right now  :huh:

 

There's even more of this that I could tell, but hopefully what I've described so far is enough background for some thoughts on how I should handle this. I'm feeling quite beaten down over this these days. I can't handle anymore moaning and groaning from her, and I can't handle anymore nagging from me. I want to inspire her and guide her, but she appears to have no interests whatsoever. How is that even possible? What do I do with that? How can I light fires for which there appears to be no kindling? She's such a sharp, analytical kid, she amazes me with her insight sometimes. I want to help her direct her energy into something positive, but I don't know how to do this.

 

I would really love any thoughts on how to deal with this child. I'm teetering on the brink of throwing my hands up and telling her to get herself an education somehow, because I am finished with dragging her by her hair through every single day. 

 

Thanks in advance.

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I don't have any wise words but I just wanted to let you know you aren't alone and I understand your frustration.  My middle ds who is 12 sounds very much like your daughter.  He doesn't really have any hobbies or interests that he's passionate about and school is a nightmare.  He wants me to help but he doesn't want me to help.  He doesn't want to show me his work.  He's not interested in doing any work except math but then only what is assigned and not beyond.  I've tried all sorts of approaches with him and we even enrolled our state's virtual school for a year as I was desperate and thought maybe some outside accountability would motivate him.  No luck there either.    

 

My ds is a talented artist so I signed him up for art class.  He enjoyed it until he was bumped up to the advanced class and then it was tears every time because he never wanted to do any of the assignments.  He complained that everyone else was better than him but he wouldn't ask the teacher for tips or practice at home. He does like to read but even with that he will read the same books over and over again and then complain that he doesn't have anything new to read.  However, when we go to the library he can never find anything to read by himself.   

 

Last summer he wanted to go to camp.  I offered him about 20 choices.  None of them appealed to them and he asked me, "Aren't there any other options?" 

 

It's very stressful and tiring.  I really want my son to succeed but he doesn't seem interested in succeeding so that pretty much renders my attempts useless.  

 

I am sorry you are going through this.  Hopefully someone else will have some actual ideas and strategies.  

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I feel like you're talking about my daughter. She's almost 10. The only difference is that she does have interests. I use them to motivate her but it's a daily struggle. She responds to grades as a motivation but then accuses me of saying "it's not good enough" when she knows it's not true.

 

One thing I know she's learned from me is how to push buttons. I see so much of myself in her. I've actually recently apologized to my own mother for being like that. My parents got divorced when I was my daughters age and I know I was disrespectful and ungrateful to my mom. :(

 

As I read both of your comments a thought came to my mind. What if they wee responsible for reaching a younger sibling or child relative how to do something? Would they gain confidence from that? I only have one child so this won't be easy for me to facilitate and I can't read your profiles while using my phone.

 

Is it confidence related? I don't know, just throwing it out there.

 

Michelle

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I have absolutely no help or advice, but misery loves company and I could have written your post, except I really did what you said about throwing up your hands and giving up. I've been nagging DD11 since kindergarten and after last weekend of spending the entire weekend reminding her to finish the remaining problems in her math set, I couldn't take it anymore. I told her I'd been trying to force her to learn for years, it wasn't working, and that she was going to have to be in charge of her own education. I told her I was more than happy to assist her with anything she needed me for. Initially, she stomped off to her room and sulked, but she ended up up doing most of the work I would have assigned for the week. She only did 1 math lesson, and I did walk away from her after she asked for help with an English lesson because once I started helping her she started whining "this is stupid. I don't see why I need to do this."

 

She attended school for K and 1, and it was the same thing. Every. Single. Day. She brought home unfinished work that the entire rest of the class had completed. I would sit with her for HOURS after dinner dragging her through it. She got detentions, she lost recess, and she didn't care. Since we've been homeschooling, she still doesn't care. She does have some learning disabilities, but we work around those and work on her strengths. We keep a consistent schedule and she knows the expectations. When she has unfinished work she loses fun weekend activities, but she doesn't care. I've seen her sit all weekend staring at the wall rather than finish 5 math problems.

 

Luckily, she loves to read and learns a ton just by reading, but I really don't know what to do with her at this point.

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What happens when you guys take a break from school work? Does she have hobbies? What kinds of things does she do?

 

You mentioned unschooling but you're still setting it up as something you initiate rather then her.

 

I think there are two ways to go about dealing with this.

 

1) Soldier on and start treating her complaints as noise that doesn't need a lot of consideration. Resolve to calmly and persistantly nag without getting resentful. Expect this behaviour and work over it, like a bulldozer, so that you're not getting frustrated by your expectations of what learning should like not being met by her. 

 

2) Deschool. Stop school work for a while. A couple of months at least. Let her command her own time. Let her get bored. Let her come to you when an interest or idea strikes. Meanwhile go out for dessert or walks or lots of relationship building stuff that's not stealthily educational. I think you guys have got a pattern of you initiate and she resists. Why not hit the reset and give her the space to find her own initiative and drive and discover that she can come to you rather then wait for you to tell her what she has to do? Resist the urge to be sneaky about learning ("Oh! let's watch this documentary together honey!") and spend your time reading up on unschooling ideas like strewing and such. 

 

I think the second approach is the one that will ultimately help your daughter and you the most. It's also the one that takes some faith. 

 

ETA: Deschooling gets suggested a lot when parents first take their kids out of school but I think a lot of homeschoolers should be open to using it when they're hitting a wall with homeschooling. The kind of issues you guys are talking about are, to me, an indication that something's not working right in your homeschooling. Deschooling would give not just your child some space but also you some time to get some new ideas and inspiration yourselves. 

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Thank goodness you posted. I was feeling alone. My problem is my child only has passion for his imaginative world. It's an amazing place, he acts out books and invents huge fantasy world. He plays for hours. Problem I have is he never wants to buckle down and learn. Everyday has been a fight lately. I understand your frustration but have no real ideas. I have been trying to relax about it. Last week on a particularly crabby day we ditch everything and went on a nature walk. It's exhausting. FYI he is 11.

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giving the thread a bump

 

 

Thank goodness you posted. I was feeling alone. My problem is my child only has passion for his imaginative world. It's an amazing place, he acts out books and invents huge fantasy world. He plays for hours. Problem I have is he never wants to buckle down and learn. Everyday has been a fight lately. I understand your frustration but have no real ideas. I have been trying to relax about it. Last week on a particularly crabby day we ditch everything and went on a nature walk. It's exhausting. FYI he is 11.

My ds5.5 is like this and honestly I think he's probably going to get an adhd (at least, maybe brushing on aspie) label when I get him eval'd. There's a book The Myth of Laziness that applies to some of these kids.  And yes, he'd float in his imaginary world all day.  With him there just needs to be a consistent routine so he doesn't feel like he's getting jerked from what was on his mind.  Also checklists, visible charts, that kind of thing can help.  I'm just saying your situation to me seems a little different from the op's and you might look for some techniques like that.  Some of the people on the LC board could give you tips.  

 

Oh, and that over the top creativity also fits under what some people describe as "right-brain dominance" which again can indicate some kind of adhd, spectrum, dyslexia, that kind of thing.  People don't really understand the over the top creativity till they've lived it.  Right Side of Normal would get you started in that vein.  She's sort of anti-intervention, which I don't agree with, but it's just helpful to see pictures of how this can be normal and worked with.  And btw, I started corresponding with a friend from the boards here years ago because my dd was doing something (in that over the top imaginative realm, creating a full circus in the house) and that was before our evals and labels and all that.  It's absolutely a different (and very recognizable) level of play.  :)

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There's even more of this that I could tell, but hopefully what I've described so far is enough background for some thoughts on how I should handle this. I'm feeling quite beaten down over this these days. I can't handle anymore moaning and groaning from her, and I can't handle anymore nagging from me. I want to inspire her and guide her, but she appears to have no interests whatsoever. How is that even possible? What do I do with that? How can I light fires for which there appears to be no kindling? She's such a sharp, analytical kid, she amazes me with her insight sometimes. I want to help her direct her energy into something positive, but I don't know how to do this.

 

I would really love any thoughts on how to deal with this child. I'm teetering on the brink of throwing my hands up and telling her to get herself an education somehow, because I am finished with dragging her by her hair through every single day. 

 

Thanks in advance.

I want to second Wishbone's suggestions and just make the comment that it's easier to help people when they fill out their sig.  You might consider it.  There might be some pattern in what you're using that you don't even recognize or things people would suggest, alternate ways to use what you're already using, etc.  

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Stuart, is there a way you could incorporate his fantasy world into his work? Help him write stories related to it, draw maps of his worlds, classify the creatures in it, build landscapes, etc?

We do a lot of this. It's always the way I get the best work but sometimes I need to "move on". It can be very tiring. I love his uniqueness, he is brilliant and amazing.

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Thanks everyone. It's a relief to know I'm not entirely alone, at least. I too think WishboneDawn is right, but when I start to let myself go down that road, I just get so anxious about potentially failing her! Given her personality, I can totally see her being the kind of kid who gets to adulthood, realizes how much work she has to do to catch up if she actually finds a path she wants to take, and then never goes anywhere in life because it's all just too much work. I feel like, maybe if I at least drag her through the basics, she won't have so far to go when the fire does light up. But I know that's not really realistic either, because there's only so much I can force her to do before damaging our relationship. 

 

OhElizabeth, I don't have a sig anymore because I know too many people IRL who read here occasionally (or more than occasionally), and I really need a safe space where I can come to discuss issues I can't bring up with my IRL friends and family. One person already recognized me just from my writing style! Thankfully she's someone I share everything with anyway, but it makes me very wary of giving out too much info here. 

 

Anyway, what WishboneDawn described is what I'm going to do (except for math, since we're already more behind there than I'm comfortable with due to switching programs and having to backtrack a bit so we didn't miss key concepts). I'd been kicking the idea around anyway, and thankfully my youngest is a self-motivated and natural learner, so I should be able to do the same with both of them. I really can't even imagine what the coming months will look like here, but frankly, I could really use the break from the daily struggle too, so I'm looking forward to it! It will take supreme willpower though, because I've trained myself to look for "teachable moments" all the time, and that's exactly what I can't be doing. 

 

If anyone else has any experience or advice to share, I would love to hear it. Thanks everyone!

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 It will take supreme willpower though, because I've trained myself to look for "teachable moments" all the time, and that's exactly what I can't be doing. 

 

If anyone else has any experience or advice to share, I would love to hear it. Thanks everyone!

Get a new hobby.  Seriously.  Take a college class or an online class or something and just totally transition your mind off it.  Busy yourself with your OWN learning and let them be bored enough that they figure out what they want to learn.  

 

If you don't know what you you want to study for a new hobby, try photography.  TwoPeasinaPod has some free tutorials I've linked to in the past, or Clickinmoms is amazing.  Or take up some form of painting.  Hobby Lobby has these kits for japanese (or is it chinese?) style painting I've been intrigued by.  

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My kids are like that. It's Saturday and I haven't seen them all day. They're playing with friends, exploring down by the river. That's what they're interested in. Which is all well and good. For weekends. But honestly, the un-schooling, interest lead educational philosophy would never work in this house. So finally, I just make them do school. And sigh.

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Well, she's only 11. The only thing I was passionate about at that age was weeping over the fact that I didn't have a horse. And pretending I was one.

 

I've got two thoughts on creative minded kids, but it's my own musings and not based on dealing with my own. They are passionate about playing, not school, and that's fine so long as they learn what they need to learn, and don't poke me too much with their complaints.

I was rather...intense creatively as a child, and two things seemed to happen regularly with that tendency. 

 

1)Wildly creative thoughts that would abduct me away into my own world where I would become so absorbed that ANY intrusion was met with a great deal of disgust on my part. Don't you see I'm working here! would be my response. It can still be this way when I get caught up in writing or another activity that is taking my full attention. I didn't have any good way of dealing with this as a child, but as an adult, having a set time for doing specific tasks that MUST be done, regardless of how regretfully I have to take leave of my pet project, has been helpful. That way I am free to focus on just one thing at a time. If I have to go back and forth between creating a work of fiction, and cooking, let's say...well, might as well order take-out.

 

2) The doldrums. Nothing moves. Nothing is interesting. All creative thought has left me. I'm crabby, irritable and while I have a transient enthusiasm for something, it fades quickly. I sometimes come up with ideas for sparking my interest, only to find them too much work. I just want to sit and do nothing. And since that is foreign to me, I tend to go round in circles. I might spend hours playing on the internet, trying to find something, anything to start the fire again. As a child I had no way to deal with this other than mope around, annoy my mother and waste time doodling on pages I was supposed to be doing my math on. As an adult I've learned to treat these periods as a time for my mind to rest up, and to gather fresh energy and information for use. My best method for dealing with this has been intense physical exercise, or getting out into nature and just walking.

 

I don't know if any of that applies, but sometimes a combination of the right amount of discipline ( a regular schedule) and rejuvenating activity (for the doldrums) seems to help.

Anyway, don't know if that helps or not, but just a thought.

 

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Busy yourself with your OWN learning and let them be bored enough that they figure out what they want to learn.

 

This is exactly my plan. I'm really looking forward to having time to focus on the things I want to learn instead of the things I have to teach! 

 

My kids are like that. It's Saturday and I haven't seen them all day. They're playing with friends, exploring down by the river. That's what they're interested in. Which is all well and good. For weekends. But honestly, the un-schooling, interest lead educational philosophy would never work in this house. So finally, I just make them do school. And sigh.

 

I don't know how it will work here either, because it seems to be such an overwhelming prospect for her, but I'm at my wit's end now, so I don't think I have much to lose!

 

How much screen time does she get? I'd consider eliminating all screen time, if you can figure out some way to do it in a non-punitive way, and surround her with interesting things.

 

Not a lot, but more than I'd like. And she is very screen-focused--when she's not using it, she's thinking about using it, or talking about using it, or asking if she can just see my phone for a minute, or asking if she can have five more minutes because she has to reply some emails, etc. Taking it away entirely will feel very punitive to her, but I will be scaling back (I'm thinking 20 minutes a day to start--that should be enough to reply to a few emails!), and then we'll see where it goes from there.

 

Well, she's only 11. The only thing I was passionate about at that age was weeping over the fact that I didn't have a horse. And pretending I was one.

 

I've got two thoughts on creative minded kids, but it's my own musings and not based on dealing with my own. They are passionate about playing, not school, and that's fine so long as they learn what they need to learn, and don't poke me too much with their complaints.

I was rather...intense creatively as a child, and two things seemed to happen regularly with that tendency. 

 

1)Wildly creative thoughts that would abduct me away into my own world where I would become so absorbed that ANY intrusion was met with a great deal of disgust on my part. Don't you see I'm working here! would be my response. It can still be this way when I get caught up in writing or another activity that is taking my full attention. I didn't have any good way of dealing with this as a child, but as an adult, having a set time for doing specific tasks that MUST be done, regardless of how regretfully I have to take leave of my pet project, has been helpful. That way I am free to focus on just one thing at a time. If I have to go back and forth between creating a work of fiction, and cooking, let's say...well, might as well order take-out.

 

2) The doldrums. Nothing moves. Nothing is interesting. All creative thought has left me. I'm crabby, irritable and while I have a transient enthusiasm for something, it fades quickly. I sometimes come up with ideas for sparking my interest, only to find them too much work. I just want to sit and do nothing. And since that is foreign to me, I tend to go round in circles. I might spend hours playing on the internet, trying to find something, anything to start the fire again. As a child I had no way to deal with this other than mope around, annoy my mother and waste time doodling on pages I was supposed to be doing my math on. As an adult I've learned to treat these periods as a time for my mind to rest up, and to gather fresh energy and information for use. My best method for dealing with this has been intense physical exercise, or getting out into nature and just walking.

 

I don't know if any of that applies, but sometimes a combination of the right amount of discipline ( a regular schedule) and rejuvenating activity (for the doldrums) seems to help.

Anyway, don't know if that helps or not, but just a thought.

 

Thanks for sharing this, it's very insightful. I can see her in there a bit, so hearing you describe it from the other side is helpful. I do think she has a little bit of anxiety, but I'm not sure what to do about that. I do think it plays into her schoolwork--she has a hard time starting assignments because she has the need to make sure it's right the first time, so she doesn't have to revise anything, and that's a little bit paralyzing to her, I think. I'm not sure what to do with that? That may be a good topic for another post, actually, or at least a bit of searching by me.

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I can't say that I have any experience, but my first thought is to pare down school to what she has to minimally get done, using curricula that is not busywork and just gets it done.  Arrange school into a non-negotiable routine that must get done.  Don't fight over it. Don't pull teeth.  But they don't get privileges until it is done (whatever works for them--treats, outings, friends, screen time, etc.).  And if screen time is all she wants, then I would eliminate it entirely.  My kids know that when all they want is screen time, it is time to "practice" being without it.  Anyway, I think that some kids have to spend a lot of time being bored before they decide to do something that interests them.  I do think it is important for them to see us doing interesting things, too, as a PP mentioned.  

I have a marble jar that I use as an incentive for various things.  (Right now, it is the cheerful jar.)  When they do what they are supposed to do with only cursory reminders, they get a marble in the jar, and when it fills up, they get something special.  

 

 

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Thanks for sharing this, it's very insightful. I can see her in there a bit, so hearing you describe it from the other side is helpful. I do think she has a little bit of anxiety, but I'm not sure what to do about that. I do think it plays into her schoolwork--she has a hard time starting assignments because she has the need to make sure it's right the first time, so she doesn't have to revise anything, and that's a little bit paralyzing to her, I think. I'm not sure what to do with that? That may be a good topic for another post, actually, or at least a bit of searching by me.

 

It sounds like perhaps she has some Executive Function issues, such as task initiation and goal-directed persistence.  You might try reading Smart but Scattered.  It is a very practical book with lots of tips for helping with different types of practical skills.  

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I can't say that I have any experience, by my first thought is to pare down school to what she has to minimally get done, using curricula that is not busywork and just gets it done.  Arrange school into a non-negotiable routine that must get done.  Don't fight over it. Don't pull teeth.  But they don't get privileges until it is done (whatever works for them--treats, outings, friends, screen time, etc.).  And if screen time is all she wants, then I would eliminate it entirely.  My kids know that when all they want is screen time, it is time to "practice" being without it.  Anyway, I think that some kids have to spend a lot of time being bored before they decide to do something that interests them.  I do think it is important for them to see us doing interesting things, too, as a PP mentioned.  

 

I have a marble jar that I use as an incentive for various things.  (Right now, it is the cheerful jar.)  When they do what the are supposed to do with only cursory reminders, they get a marble in the jar, and when it fills up, they get something special.  

 

This is how I approach the problem with my youngest, but my oldest requires more finesse. She's also eager to please me on things like this...just not WRT schoolwork! I've had to cut them back this past week because of youngest DD's appetite for screens, and DD11 has just gone along with no complaints. She's drawing more, I can say that much. I think it's mainly because she thinks she's ducking doing her schoolwork because I haven't mentioned it. She's trying to stay under my radar :lol:

 

It sounds like perhaps she has some Executive Function issues, such as task initiation and goal-directed persistence.  You might try reading Smart but Scattered.  It is a very practical book with lots of tips for helping with different types of practical skills.  

 

Uh, that's one of the books on my To Read list. I've checked it out of the library several times (for myself!) but haven't managed to read it. I'll get a hold of it again. Thanks.

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When she was a small kid, how much free time to play did she have, and did she play freely? What did she do?

I'm really liking Wishbone's idea. Let her get slug stinking bored. Totally bored. (take away all tech) and then let her work her way out of that spot. Summer's coming, you have nothing to lose. 

Meanwhile, you go amuse yourself. :D 

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...--she has a hard time starting assignments because she has the need to make sure it's right the first time, so she doesn't have to revise anything, and that's a little bit paralyzing to her,

My Aspie/ADHD child is like this. Anything that results in having to review or extra work is torture.  My artist child in comparison doesn't like school, but is willing to do what is necessary in order to be allowed to get back to her art. 

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I could have written this post and did write several like it. I tried homeschooling. I tried unschooling. I tried creating all her classes around her interests.Finally, I gave up and put her in a small artsy charter school this year for high school. There she is flourishing -making straight A's, in the top 10% of her school, and loving school and sad when she doesn't get to go. She has leadership roles and socialization opportunities that are not easily replicated at home no matter how great our homeschool groups were. She initially didn't want to go but I had said she had to try it and if it didn't work out by Christmas, we would pull out.

 

For this child, there seemed to be a few issues at hand

1) Self comparison to younger brother who was far more advanced (and far more interested in academics and very internally motivated) so she felt she stupid even though she is not and thus didn't even want to try.

2) She is externally motivated -she likes to compare herself to her classmates and be the best, etc. She likes honor roll and grades and contests (as long as it's not me doing it lol)

3) Mother-Daughter dynamic. She doesn't like to take directions from ME. She acknowledges that I know what I am talking about and even thinks I should open a school and her friends want me to open a school or homeschool them and they love when I sub even though I am "hard." However, for whatever reason she resents learning from me (and has been this way since birth so it's not a teen thing). We are very close outside of the academic relationship. 

4) She is peer oriented. She likes school because there is way more socialization at school (I know homeschoolers hate this but it's true-I can't replicate it at home at the level she gets at school). She likes study groups and working with others more than working at home by herself.

5) Perfectionism issues -if she misses a math problem she feels "judged". It's an issue that she struggle with at school and dance (if she gets a correction or is not the star, she internalizes that as she is not perfect and therefore, so and so hates her). -she is starting to outgrow this now that she person correcting is not me so I can talk to her about it without it being personal against me).

 

 

Anyway, I think it helped to step back and see how she was in a different environment. As I said she is now flourishing. She is top of her class and just signed up for Sophomore classes which are all honors except Math (this school doesn't offer honors math but she is skipping an entire math level as she was put in Math I but it was too easy so she did tutoring for Math II and doing well with it). She is doing two AP's next year and is signed up for a class as a sophomore that is Jr/Sr only -the only sophomore allowed to take the class and she was ASKED to take it after others were turned away. She is taking her foreign language online at home so she didn't have to sacrifice an honors class so she is taking more classes than her peers). She is doing work outside of class -math tutoring, skills class, Life of Fred, writing curriculum. She has set up a math study group to help her skip up a level and has a Spanish Conversational partner. She is doing SAT prep. She is arranging trips to museums, art galleries, zoo, etc. (all of which led to complaints when I did them). I still have to push a bit  as in remind her of her goals that SHE set and ask about her progress and discuss her progress and make sure positive feedback outweighs negative feedback).

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Reading through many of these posts, I thought I could see a tendency to perfectionism. If it can't be done right the first time, why even risk failure?

It took me a long time to see the journey as more important that the end, and to be able to accept that good was good, and that getting better wasn't going to force me to be perfect.

 

I would do some searching on perfectionism and how to combat that. It isn't easy, because anyone who told me that I had done a good job and then marked my work up lost all credibility in my book. Anyone who tried to gently help me correct mistakes confirmed my imperfections. If I had to find my own mistakes and correct them, that was a crushing blow because then I had to confront how BAD I really did. 

I can look back at that and feel rather foolish, but I can only say that I was well into college before I had a class (Biochemistry) that I loved, and it totally kicked around. I came out of the class with a C and I was doing a dance of joy, and I suspect that is the first time I really understood that I didn't have to do a perfect job or get a perfect grade to really have learned something and have loved learning it. It wasn't a passion, but I did really like chemistry, and had always done well in it. 

I learned to confront critical thinking in my work by learning how to read other writers, find places in their work that I didn't like and then express that graciously and with questions for the writers to clarify things so that I could come up with suggestions. Learning to be gentle, not out of a desire to avoid hurting someone's feelings, but out of respect for their work, and admiration of their imagination and their abilities helped me to be more gentle with myself. I also developed a love of making a mess in creating. Things are not supposed to be clean and lovely when you are working on something for the first time. The messier they are, the more you are probably thinking through things, playing around with words, mulling over deep thoughts. Art is the same way. It's simply a messy, long, drawn out process and the means to the end can be fun in themselves. 

 

I don't know it that helps or makes it worse! But try a search for kids and perfectionism, and there are sure to be folks who have dealt with it in their children and probably have some good suggestions to try.

 

I can also tell you that there is a real defeating feeling to get something done, only to find that you have to keep doing it over, and over and over again, and then, CONGRATULATIONS! you have earned another difficult assignment! After enough of that, just not trying seems to be the only way out. I think different kids have different levels of tolerance for the feeling of inevitable struggle, but having an end seems to be important in some way. Anybody else have that experience of mental fatigue that happens when you just don't see the end? Happens to me a lot during spring for some reason!

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I never understand why one must take away technology as if it is a vice.  technology is how our world works now and "playing" with it is as valid as any other exploration.

 

Haven taken the technology away from my children, and watching them flourish, I stand by what I said.

 

Night and day as far as creativity is concerned, and quality of creativity.  

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Redundant now, but after reading your original post and the second one, I was going to ask if she had a fear of failure that may be paralyzing her initiative.

I had it so bad that I couldn't even write in a private journal that no one would ever see, in case they did, and it was "wrong." That's pretty severe isn't it? 

I had to learn it is ok to make mistakes and not to be such a harsh judge. And, if you had ASKED me, I never would've seen that tendency in myself, strangely enough.

 

I agree also with doing a screen fast. It's a fast for clarity and habit-reformation, not a punishment. I do believe screens/tech is here to stay, but I find it can become a world within a world very easily for some people, and can (not always, but can) limit IRL creativity--screens ARE IRL, but I mean engaged creativity, if that makes sense. It's kinda like using a calculator too early--once skills are developed, the calculator lets lower-level math be quickly accomplished and opens up more advanced skills. Same with using tech for entertainment--learn how to make your own fun, then use tech to go in a different, perhaps deeper direction, IYKWIM.

 

Anyway, my 2cents.

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One thing I find to be an issue with using a lot of screens (I do end up researching a great deal on the internet simply because it's there!) is that they keep my brain active, but not in a productive way. I end up usually working in circles, or redundantly, reading the same things over and over, because I didn't remember reading them the first time. It's sort of like being on a treadmill. I get a lot of information, but I don't go anywhere with it.

Sometimes I feel that it has to do with the mind being in motion and wanting to stay in motion, when I'd do better to go let it rest. Most of the time, when I feel that I need to take a break from something I'm working on, the break I need to take is an outdoor one.

 

But one thing I would be sure to do: if you want the kids to have a screen rest, you have to model it. I can't limit television for the boys unless I limit it for myself, too. Same thing with the internet. There is an opportunity there to teach how such things are to be used. 

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I'd probably start at the basics of sleep, nutrition, fresh air and exercise.

 

For us, we often need megavitamins especially of various of the B vitamins.

 

Someone at one point, when I'd posted a similar reply elsewhere, asked something like can't that just come from brown rice, but the answer is that it cannot. A therapeutic dose for us might be on the order of 500mg. of B3, 100 mg. of B1 and B2-- which might take something like 40 to 2500 cups of cooked brown rice to get each of those in those amounts. (There is only something like 0.04 mg of B2 per cup of rice for example.)

 

Sometimes it seems like nothing is happening and the problem seems to be that there is not a sufficient amount of kindling, in our family that tends to indicate the need for more nutrients etc. which is what humans burn like a fire burns kindling and wood.... the megavitamins seeming to be like the kindling, and then the 9 or so vegetables, fruits per day, plus some protein, whole grains, and so on being the logs that sustain the fire.

 

Of possible interest: http://www.doctoryourself.com/kidraise.html

 

Growth spurts may use up a lot too, and at least here, I can see huge differences when my son has had his vitamins or has not.  Also if he eats too much sugar or carbs--esp. processed ones, he does not do well. And no trying this or that will help if the basic function is not there. As soon as it is, I see him pull down his guitar and start practicing, get on to Duolingo or Alcumus, or even start helping with house things unbidden. It is amazing how much difference it can make.

 

 

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Some things we have done to help with this issue (maybe something here will help):

 

- Study world poverty and learn about education around the world and what a privilege it is to be able to spend days learning

- Screen time is earned by doing school work with a good attitude.  They earn in 10 minute increments and even on bad days they have some moments where they have earned something.

- As a teacher, I must use materials/resources that I find interesting or engaging in order to spread the love of learning to my kids.  If I don't like the materials or find them dull it is almost a certainty that my kids will as well.

- Cultivate tangents.  When doing school work with a child and you wonder about something...stop the regular work and figure out the answer.  Do the same if your child wonders about something.

 

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I never understand why one must take away technology as if it is a vice. technology is how our world works now and "playing" with it is as valid as any other exploration.

I agree to a point, but it depends what you are doing with the technology: are you playing Candy Crush or looking at pictures of cats on Facebook? Or are you researching an interest or learning something? And as for TV/movies, are you watching a different kids' movie you've seen 10 times every afternoon when you get bored? Or are you selectively watching a movie or documentary about something that interests you? It's easy to passively sit in front of the TV for hours (I know because I did it in childhood) and I wish I had those hours back with some good books strewn around me. I have no idea how much or what kind of screen your kids or the OP kids have, just a general observation.
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I need some thoughts on this, because I'm at the end of my rope, and now I'm just frustrating myself and my DD11. This child is not motivated to do much of anything, and I'm not sure how to approach continuing to homeschool her. She definitely does not want to go to school. She also does not want me to teach her anything, but she doesn't want to learn anything on her own. I've asked her what she DOES want to learn, and she's told me she wants to get involved in cooking and baking. To that end, I've called her and asked if she wanted to help me when I'm cooking, and she says, "Eeehhh, not really." I've tried encouraging her to cook or bake simple things on her own, and she says, "Can't you just do it?"

 

I've tried giving her control of her learning in various ways, and she balks and asks if we can't just try following our curriculum again. I encourage her to do things like enter writing or drawing contests, and she always decides not to bother at the last minute. I've encouraged her to talk to her like-minded friends about writing, drawing, reading, etc., and she doesn't want to. 

 

Yet when I set a schedule and a checklist and lead her through time with me and give her reading and writing assignments, it's like pulling teeth to get her to do them. She doesn't want to write, or read, or learn about much of anything. She doesn't even want to watch videos about anything remotely educational. This has always been my kid who would ask me questions, and if I didn't know the answer to hand to her, she didn't want the answer anymore. I tried forcing her to sit beside me and look things up and search for answers, and I tried handing her the pertinent book or material and encouraging her to do it herself. But if she has to expend any kind of energy looking for the answer, she won't do it, and it doesn't faze her that she may never know the answer to the question she just asked me. 

 

She's a very smart child, and I'm trying to figure out what lights her fire. The problem is that there seems to be nothing that does. She does like art classes, but only if they're extremely light--she's not interested in anything that means significant work. She took an art class last year that she really enjoyed and excelled in, and she still speaks highly of it. When I asked her if she wanted to take it again, or take the next-level class, she said, "Eeeehhh, maybe later on." 

 

I don't know what to do anymore. The more I try to schedule/prod/cajole/encourage/threaten/force/lead/guide her into an education, the more she leans back. Assignments don't get done for days, and she moans about them the whole time. But when I say instead that she can stop reading her assigned books and instead "unschool" those subjects as she likes, she complains about that too. When we were doing Latin, she loved spotting words that she recognized from Latin lessons in everyday life, but she complained and complained about the lessons to the point where I let it go. She likes learning the occasional Spanish word from her dad, so I mentioned that it was time for us to start doing Spanish for school, and I thought she was going to cry. She's moaned and dragged on about math for the last several years, and then she told me the other day that she thinks math is the subject she likes most and is best at right now  :huh:

 

There's even more of this that I could tell, but hopefully what I've described so far is enough background for some thoughts on how I should handle this. I'm feeling quite beaten down over this these days. I can't handle anymore moaning and groaning from her, and I can't handle anymore nagging from me. I want to inspire her and guide her, but she appears to have no interests whatsoever. How is that even possible? What do I do with that? How can I light fires for which there appears to be no kindling? She's such a sharp, analytical kid, she amazes me with her insight sometimes. I want to help her direct her energy into something positive, but I don't know how to do this.

 

I would really love any thoughts on how to deal with this child. I'm teetering on the brink of throwing my hands up and telling her to get herself an education somehow, because I am finished with dragging her by her hair through every single day. 

 

Thanks in advance.

 

I'm not sure what I would do. :-) But here are some of my thoughts on what I *might* do:

 

I would not ask her what she wants to do or learn. I would require her to do things like cooking and cleaning because those are life skills that all children should learn, and I would correct any attitude nonsense. I might require Official School Stuff--again, correcting attitude if necessary, especially whinging about doing her assignments--but make sure that I'm leaving her as much time as possible for her to spend on herself, and I wouldn't comment on what she did during that time. I would evaluate the materials/methods I'm using to see if they are really the best thing for *her* and make changes if I think that needs to be done. I would try not to obviously glom onto anything she shows a spark of interest in (e.g., learning a Spanish word or two), but look for ways to casually, without her noticing, allow it to creep into her life.

 

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I would not ask her what she wants to do or learn.

 

Yes.  Some kids just aren't going to present you with their educational plans and ambitions.  Actually, most kids aren't, especially at age 11.

 

Would "mom time" help?  Either doing something fun together or just having company during school hours (working math on the whiteboard together).

 

Avoid stressing her out.  Pay her compliments whenever you can.  I wonder if she's worried that it's her fault that you're unhappy with her and there's nothing she can do about it.  Tween and teen girls have so much going on inside.

 

 

There's a book The Myth of Laziness that applies to some of these kids.

 

I read this book.  I loved it at the time, and I hope someone else writes a book like it someday.  But, this particular book cannot be ethically recommended to anyone, nor can his research be trusted, because the author committed suicide to avoid facing trial for molesting his patients.

 

 

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This is an issue I have struggled with on and off with my 10, almost 11yo.

 

Do you think it might help if you clarify what educational philosophy or approach you prefer? It seems that you are trying so hard to find the best fit that you may have been vacillating between the scheduled subjects and the unschooling too much. Would you be willing to pick one and commit to it for a bit longer? 

 

If you choose 'school at home', you will need to put your foot down and insist that she does a minimum amount and standard of assigned work. She will probably resist at first, but it should be possible to be kind but firm and refuse to give in until she gets used to it.

 

On the other hand, if you choose unschooling, you also need to commit to going with the flow and allowing 'deschooling' time. 99% of kids will not be self-motivated geniuses doing all kinds of exciting projects straight away. They need time to laze about doing nothing educational, to get really bored, and to figure out what they want to learn. So the challenge for you will be to provide opportunities for learning but refrain from making the choice for her. 

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In my humble opinion, I think it is very difficult for some children to know what they like and want. My son is kind of like this, so I have decided to lead him based on what I know he NEEDS. He needs to read, and when he doesn't know what to read, I require him to read something I choose (he usually likes it, and if he doesn't he will quickly offer me an alternative). He needs to do math, and there is no pulling teeth, because if he doesn't he loses his privileges. He needs to cover a certain amount of history and science. Through this, he has developed broad interests and self-discipline. Physical activity is also very helpful to stimulating his brain, and so we exercise very vigorously together. I can't say how to reach your daughter, but I know that for my child what has worked is strong boundaries, guidance and participation (i.e. hand-holding  :huh: ) and physical, physical activity.

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In my humble opinion, I think it is very difficult for some children to know what they like and want. My son is kind of like this, so I have decided to lead him based on what I know he NEEDS. He needs to read, and when he doesn't know what to read, I require him to read something I choose (he usually likes it, and if he doesn't he will quickly offer me an alternative). He needs to do math, and there is no pulling teeth, because if he doesn't he loses his privileges. He needs to cover a certain amount of history and science. Through this, he has developed broad interests and self-discipline. Physical activity is also very helpful to stimulating his brain, and so we exercise very vigorously together. I can't say how to reach your daughter, but I know that for my child what has worked is strong boundaries, guidance and participation (i.e. hand-holding  :huh: ) and physical, physical activity.

 

VERY true, but, at the same time, self motivation and self direction need to be fostered and encouraged. A kid isn't going to always do what's best for them so sometimes we do have to make them. However, we also need to get them to a place of owning their own education. That's when they really get educated. 

 

This daughter is still in the spit out facts, mode of learning. The hard thing is that each kid is different with this. 

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I have a similar issue for my 11yo :(. While I think it's become more pronounced lately, the seeds of this may have started far earlier. No wise words here. I'm thinking aloud and hope that maybe, this could be helpful somehow to the OP and others in the same shoes.

 

- Over empathy with LDs. Or at least, this is what I think I did. DS has vision issues, CAPD, and is dysgraphic. He would always yell out to me or DH (but primarily me) to help him with looking for his book/bag/lego because he can never find anything, even if it's right under his nose. Or he'd pass over the bag of chips for me to open because he has "weak fingers". I've been giving him instructions on how to do these things for years (complete with how to compensate for weaknesses), but he'd always refuse, countering with an "I can't". So even though he actually reads, writes and play sports fine, he's become dependant; "I can't" has become a convenient and now, pervasive crutch. It extends to joining competitions, doing programming (he was a robotics nerd and it's just sad to see him avoid it like the plague because "I can't do it"), and wanting to quit activities he used to love, like the violin.

 

- Praise. It's not how you say it but what they perceive. Believe me, I only praise effort. But "you worked really hard" gets translated into "You're so clever", he tells me, and he loves it. The reverse is true - when I tell him he's made a mistake, he's really upset, because he hears that he's not smart enough. I've racked my brains thinking through how this can be, but the outcome, despite deliberate care to the contrary, is unmistakeable. It doesn't help that he's extremely verbal, and he's received praise for being "a genius" from virtual strangers, even his therapists :(. I've never even told him his IQ number even though he's badgered a few times, because I was worried about the outcome. I used to speak to his therapists afterwards to stop the praise, but I guess the damage is done. And I can't stop it when I don't know it's going to happen.

 

We've always been more unschooly in that he got to pick what he wanted to learn. If he didn't like a curriculum, the first that would go was always the curriculum. But I'm wondering if I've been too obliging. To this end, I'm requiring that he stick to what he's always enjoyed but recently wanted to give up, and signed him up for a science contest. He had already rejected a few prior to this but seems quite excited now. I'm changing my praise vocabulary, directing him instead, to his own feelings when he's worked extra hard. I've also starting him on Brainology, by Carol Dweck. From what I can see, the child can only get as much as he/she puts into it. We've only started on one lesson, but he was startled with what he learnt regarding the origins of the IQ test. Crossing fingers here. 

 

It can't be a coincidence that many posters here facing similar issues have 11yos or thereabouts. Maybe this will pass quickly.  :unsure:

 

 

 

 

 

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- Praise. It's not how you say it but what they perceive. Believe me, I only praise effort. But "you worked really hard" gets translated into "You're so clever", he tells me, and he loves it. The reverse is true - when I tell him he's made a mistake, he's really upset, because he hears that he's not smart enough. I've racked my brains thinking through how this can be, but the outcome, despite deliberate care to the contrary, is unmistakeable. It doesn't help that he's extremely verbal, and he's received praise for being "a genius" from virtual strangers, even his therapists :(. I've never even told him his IQ number even though he's badgered a few times, because I was worried about the outcome. I used to speak to his therapists afterwards to stop the praise, but I guess the damage is done. And I can't stop it when I don't know it's going to happen.

 

  :unsure:

 

 

 

 

It always amazes me the difference in what I say and what my daughter hears. I know it happens in criticism. She will get mad at me and yell that I said that she was fat (she has the ideal figure!) or stupid (she's gifted!!) and I'm left baffled and have to ask for specifics and it's usually some stretch of the imagination. Also, one comment either misconstrued or said without thinking can offset 1 million compliments.w/ this particular child.

 

(My Asperger kid takes me at face value and doesn't try to read into what I said and doesn't read judgment into me pointing out something -that 's one thing that is easier there lol)

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My ds, 12 is this way.  But it's not just school.  It's his personality.  This is the kid who is going to ask the easiest way to accomplish any task and balk at anything difficult.  And he has had some interest over the years that he gives his all to, but it often wears out after a year at most.  

 

We finally had to have a heart to heart about his future.  We wrote out a budget for the cheapest living possible with a minimum wage job explaining that even today people want the high school diploma or GED minimum.  We asked him what he wanted...phone/cable/car/clothes/travel?  He soon realized that he couldn't even have a phone on minimum wage.  Much less a car.  Or a life.  We were very honest about his life and we could not allow him to just live for free at 18 under our roof if he chose this path.  It was painful to see him wrestle with reality that he can't be lazy and survive outside our home.  

 

So we got serious about expectations in our home.  Kids have a chore list that rotates weekly.   Kids are aware of the school that must be done.  This child does the basics.  No extra music or art stuff.  No current events or interest led classes.  He does only what is needed to be done.  But he is expected to try hard at that and finish.  When he chooses to whine about his blessed life he loses out on his most favorite possessions(iPod/video game time/legos).  At 12 I can see some maturity coming about.  He doesn't like school at all.  But he now does it with less whining.  I didn't say our days are perfect, they are far from that.  But the expectations were laid out for kids to see.  I hope they aim higher than the minimum but I can't force it. It's up to them. And every once in awhile he surprises me and does more than I expect.  :-D

 

I will say that this year outside of academics he chose a new sport.  And surprisingly he has pushed himself to do this.  He had days he didn't want to go.  But again, maturity is popping through at moments and he knows the exercise is good for him.  So he pushed himself to go.  

 

For us, laying out expectations was key.  They must meet a minimum.  They know what happens when we each fail our parts.  Daddy skips work we have no money to live on.  Mommy skips cleaning the house is a disaster/no meals made/no food to eat b/c I didn't shop....lots of ways to explain this.  We all have roles to play and must do at some level.  His role is to get an education.  He must learn to read/write/mathematics and function in society.  Where he goes after our home is up to him.  He asks all the time the educational requirements for jobs lol.  And many he will never attempt b/c of the many schools years required.  When he learned that police and fire fighters even have to do English he decided he may as well go to a 4 year school and get a better paying job.  Again, maturity shines through more and more with age.  I wouldn't be surprised if he went on to grad school one day in history....there is a growing love there.....

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I've been reading "How to talk so your kids will listen and listen so your kids will talk." The say to avoid praise. It can be dicey. Too much praise can apply too much pressure, or come off an insincere, etc.

 

They say to simply say what you see. A child gets an A on a test. "Oh look. I see a big fat A at the top of that paper." And that's it. Just point out the good things you see or hear. A child practices the piano, "I hear you hitting fewer sour notes than before." Don't add "good job" or anything to it. Just state what you see. Sometimes the child will not say anything, but other times they will end up giving themselves the compliment, "Yeah, I was able to play it better today. I was able to stretch my fingers like you told me to." If they compliment themselves, it's more meaningful for their self-image.

 

Or if you see something with character, point that out and label it if appropriate. "You gave your brother half of the cookie. I call that sharing." "You took out the trash before I told you to. I call that initiative."

 

I've only started using that this week, but it feels better to me to say things this way, rather than praising. Praising can be confusing for everyone. The kids seem to be taking in the observations I'm making more than they did with praise.

 

Also, (just as an aside), my kids NEVER EVER hang up their coats properly. We have nagged and lectured and frowned about it, etc. So, yesterday there the coats were, fallen off their hangers in a heap in the closet. DH was irritated and said, "What's your book say we should do??" I said, "We call them in here, kindly, and say a single word 'coats' gently." So he called them in kindly, "Hey guys, can you come here a sec?" He opened the closet door and said, "Coats," with no inflection. DS11 said, "I'll get right on it." DS9 said, "Oh yeah!" and they hung them up. It was like magic!

 

I would recommend that book for every parent. Maybe it won't all work for everyone, but there are some pretty nifty nuggets in there.

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My 9 year old is like this. We've only been home educating for 8 weeks and it's very quickly devolved into what you describe. Running through the list of things I was thinking about I can see most has already been covered. I do have one suggestion but I want to add the caveat that I'm not an advocate of labelling unless it's helpful. Have you thought of looking at PDA? If your daughter is like this over every demand (or perceived demand) that's made of her outside of education as well as during then it might be worth at least reading about.

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I need some thoughts on this, because I'm at the end of my rope, and now I'm just frustrating myself and my DD11. This child is not motivated to do much of anything, and I'm not sure how to approach continuing to homeschool her. She definitely does not want to go to school. She also does not want me to teach her anything, but she doesn't want to learn anything on her own. I've asked her what she DOES want to learn, and she's told me she wants to get involved in cooking and baking. To that end, I've called her and asked if she wanted to help me when I'm cooking, and she says, "Eeehhh, not really." I've tried encouraging her to cook or bake simple things on her own, and she says, "Can't you just do it?"

 

I've tried giving her control of her learning in various ways, and she balks and asks if we can't just try following our curriculum again. I encourage her to do things like enter writing or drawing contests, and she always decides not to bother at the last minute. I've encouraged her to talk to her like-minded friends about writing, drawing, reading, etc., and she doesn't want to.

 

Yet when I set a schedule and a checklist and lead her through time with me and give her reading and writing assignments, it's like pulling teeth to get her to do them. She doesn't want to write, or read, or learn about much of anything. She doesn't even want to watch videos about anything remotely educational. This has always been my kid who would ask me questions, and if I didn't know the answer to hand to her, she didn't want the answer anymore. I tried forcing her to sit beside me and look things up and search for answers, and I tried handing her the pertinent book or material and encouraging her to do it herself. But if she has to expend any kind of energy looking for the answer, she won't do it, and it doesn't faze her that she may never know the answer to the question she just asked me.

 

She's a very smart child, and I'm trying to figure out what lights her fire. The problem is that there seems to be nothing that does. She does like art classes, but only if they're extremely light--she's not interested in anything that means significant work. She took an art class last year that she really enjoyed and excelled in, and she still speaks highly of it. When I asked her if she wanted to take it again, or take the next-level class, she said, "Eeeehhh, maybe later on."

 

I don't know what to do anymore. The more I try to schedule/prod/cajole/encourage/threaten/force/lead/guide her into an education, the more she leans back. Assignments don't get done for days, and she moans about them the whole time. But when I say instead that she can stop reading her assigned books and instead "unschool" those subjects as she likes, she complains about that too. When we were doing Latin, she loved spotting words that she recognized from Latin lessons in everyday life, but she complained and complained about the lessons to the point where I let it go. She likes learning the occasional Spanish word from her dad, so I mentioned that it was time for us to start doing Spanish for school, and I thought she was going to cry. She's moaned and dragged on about math for the last several years, and then she told me the other day that she thinks math is the subject she likes most and is best at right now :huh:

 

There's even more of this that I could tell, but hopefully what I've described so far is enough background for some thoughts on how I should handle this. I'm feeling quite beaten down over this these days. I can't handle anymore moaning and groaning from her, and I can't handle anymore nagging from me. I want to inspire her and guide her, but she appears to have no interests whatsoever. How is that even possible? What do I do with that? How can I light fires for which there appears to be no kindling? She's such a sharp, analytical kid, she amazes me with her insight sometimes. I want to help her direct her energy into something positive, but I don't know how to do this.

 

I would really love any thoughts on how to deal with this child. I'm teetering on the brink of throwing my hands up and telling her to get herself an education somehow, because I am finished with dragging her by her hair through every single day.

 

Thanks in advance.

Maybe we can get your 11year old DD, and my 11 year old DD together? Let them be incredibly bright and incredibly unmotivated together? I could have written your post almost word for word. The cooking/baking/art/math/unschooling questions she asked - All of it!

 

I have no answers, but just wanted to let you know you are not alone!! :grouphug:

 

For the sake of sanity and our relationship, we've been doing too much nothing around here lately. It has to change, but I'm not sure how. :(

 

ETA: I've been reading a lot more about how to do unschooling. Only. Not the unparenting part. And Project Based Homeschooling. I'm muddling through how to actually implement/strew/provoke now.

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It always amazes me the difference in what I say and what my daughter hears. I know it happens in criticism. She will get mad at me and yell that I said that she was fat (she has the ideal figure!) or stupid (she's gifted!!) and I'm left baffled and have to ask for specifics and it's usually some stretch of the imagination. Also, one comment either misconstrued or said without thinking can offset 1 million compliments.w/ this particular child.

 

(My Asperger kid takes me at face value and doesn't try to read into what I said and doesn't read judgment into me pointing out something -that 's one thing that is easier there lol)

 

My NT kid is like your daughter too. She kept complaining that we "yell at her all the time". I couldn't work it out until we finally discovered that her personal definition of yelling is simply saying something that she disagrees with! Also "you don't love me" translates to "you dared to give some attention or affection to one of my siblings". 

 

 

 

 

Re the praise, we have been no praise from the beginning. We do stating what we see ("You have put the color inside the lines"), indicating interest ("Hmm, you chose to put lots of green in your picture..."), and saying how we feel ("I'm happy to see you both sharing the textas"). One interesting thing about this approach is that it can make kids start to see through other adults who habitually say "Good job" even if it wasn't good, or "Great picture" without even looking at it. 

 

 

I've been reading "How to talk so your kids will listen and listen so your kids will talk." The say to avoid praise. It can be dicey. Too much praise can apply too much pressure, or come off an insincere, etc.

 

They say to simply say what you see. A child gets an A on a test. "Oh look. I see a big fat A at the top of that paper." And that's it. Just point out the good things you see or hear. A child practices the piano, "I hear you hitting fewer sour notes than before." Don't add "good job" or anything to it. Just state what you see. Sometimes the child will not say anything, but other times they will end up giving themselves the compliment, "Yeah, I was able to play it better today. I was able to stretch my fingers like you told me to." If they compliment themselves, it's more meaningful for their self-image.

 

Or if you see something with character, point that out and label it if appropriate. "You gave your brother half of the cookie. I call that sharing." "You took out the trash before I told you to. I call that initiative."

 

I've only started using that this week, but it feels better to me to say things this way, rather than praising. Praising can be confusing for everyone. The kids seem to be taking in the observations I'm making more than they did with praise.

 

 

 

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OK. So! I'm finally getting back online after an event filled week, and I have so much I want to respond here. I'll do the best I can!

 

The last 10 days in our house have looked very interesting. We've done no formal schoolwork outside of math. I've started doing readalouds again (I hate hate hate reading aloud, so I'd let it go by the wayside, but I will gladly do it to serve this purpose). I haven't pushed her to do anything, not even practice juggling, which she decided she wanted to learn. I started reading How to Read Literature Like a Professor (awesome book, BTW), and I was able to bring some discussion of the symbolism in Beowulf, which is our current read aloud, to the dinner table one night. She liked what she was hearing, but I could feel myself change over to "lecture mode," and I could see her kind of shutting down. The next day I talked with her about that--that I want to share things like that with her but that I don't want to bore her with them, and should I not talk to her about stuff like that? She said no, she really liked discussing it and learning about it, and enjoyed what I had to say, she was just tired. OK, fair enough. She does really prefer collaborative learning.

 

I read Alfie Kohn's book The Homework Myth, and I realized that I was approaching much of our schoolwork the way schools approach homework. I started to read this great book called The Power of Mindful Learning by Ellen Langer, and it is changing the way I look at learning in general (somewhat, not entirely). I had a long and enlightening conversation with a very good friend who is a homeschooler at heart and has kids a few years older than mine and who read through this thread, and it really helped me shape my plan for now.

 

I've discovered that the problems we've been having over schoolwork, we're also having WRT other less-than-fun tasks--showering, cleaning up after oneself, turning off the iPad, getting up in the morning, etc. So for now, we're tackling "life skills" with some vigor. I've also discovered--and this may be the most important element of all--that when I'm not mentally exhausted from nagging ALL DAY LONG, I really enjoy being with my kids more. I actually have the mental energy to discuss things like symbolism in Beowulf rather than wishing I was eating dinner alone in my room! I didn't realize just how much the battle was getting me down, and if it was getting ME down, I can't imagine what it was doing to DD11 :(

 

I'm getting lots of gardening work done, and I need to clean the whole house and pack us for a trip next week. And of course both kids are either sick or getting hammered by allergies right now. So it's a good time to take a break from our old grind, and I'm feeling very positive about where we're going.

 

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Reading through many of these posts, I thought I could see a tendency to perfectionism. If it can't be done right the first time, why even risk failure?

It took me a long time to see the journey as more important that the end, and to be able to accept that good was good, and that getting better wasn't going to force me to be perfect.

 

I would do some searching on perfectionism and how to combat that. It isn't easy, because anyone who told me that I had done a good job and then marked my work up lost all credibility in my book. Anyone who tried to gently help me correct mistakes confirmed my imperfections. If I had to find my own mistakes and correct them, that was a crushing blow because then I had to confront how BAD I really did. 

I can look back at that and feel rather foolish, but I can only say that I was well into college before I had a class (Biochemistry) that I loved, and it totally kicked around. I came out of the class with a C and I was doing a dance of joy, and I suspect that is the first time I really understood that I didn't have to do a perfect job or get a perfect grade to really have learned something and have loved learning it. It wasn't a passion, but I did really like chemistry, and had always done well in it. 

I learned to confront critical thinking in my work by learning how to read other writers, find places in their work that I didn't like and then express that graciously and with questions for the writers to clarify things so that I could come up with suggestions. Learning to be gentle, not out of a desire to avoid hurting someone's feelings, but out of respect for their work, and admiration of their imagination and their abilities helped me to be more gentle with myself. I also developed a love of making a mess in creating. Things are not supposed to be clean and lovely when you are working on something for the first time. The messier they are, the more you are probably thinking through things, playing around with words, mulling over deep thoughts. Art is the same way. It's simply a messy, long, drawn out process and the means to the end can be fun in themselves. 

 

I don't know it that helps or makes it worse! But try a search for kids and perfectionism, and there are sure to be folks who have dealt with it in their children and probably have some good suggestions to try.

 

I can also tell you that there is a real defeating feeling to get something done, only to find that you have to keep doing it over, and over and over again, and then, CONGRATULATIONS! you have earned another difficult assignment! After enough of that, just not trying seems to be the only way out. I think different kids have different levels of tolerance for the feeling of inevitable struggle, but having an end seems to be important in some way. Anybody else have that experience of mental fatigue that happens when you just don't see the end? Happens to me a lot during spring for some reason!

 

Yes, yes, and YES. And this: "I can also tell you that there is a real defeating feeling to get something done, only to find that you have to keep doing it over, and over and over again, and then, CONGRATULATIONS! you have earned another difficult assignment!" YES. She is a sensitive child, and she really wants to do her very best. But when I read this in your post, I realized I have seen that look of defeat on her face more than once. :( 

 

Haven taken the technology away from my children, and watching them flourish, I stand by what I said.

 

Night and day as far as creativity is concerned, and quality of creativity.  

 

Yes, here too. The last screen fast we did? Suddenly, I had two kids out riding their bikes. This past cutdown? More reading, more drawing, more artistic creativity, more writing. DD11 decided to teach herself to juggle. My kids simply cannot moderate themselves with screens, and screen time crushes all creativity out of them. 

 

Redundant now, but after reading your original post and the second one, I was going to ask if she had a fear of failure that may be paralyzing her initiative.

I had it so bad that I couldn't even write in a private journal that no one would ever see, in case they did, and it was "wrong." That's pretty severe isn't it? 

I had to learn it is ok to make mistakes and not to be such a harsh judge. And, if you had ASKED me, I never would've seen that tendency in myself, strangely enough.

 

I agree also with doing a screen fast. It's a fast for clarity and habit-reformation, not a punishment. I do believe screens/tech is here to stay, but I find it can become a world within a world very easily for some people, and can (not always, but can) limit IRL creativity--screens ARE IRL, but I mean engaged creativity, if that makes sense. It's kinda like using a calculator too early--once skills are developed, the calculator lets lower-level math be quickly accomplished and opens up more advanced skills. Same with using tech for entertainment--learn how to make your own fun, then use tech to go in a different, perhaps deeper direction, IYKWIM.

 

Anyway, my 2cents.

 

Yes, totally. Engaged creativity is a perfect way to say it. 

 

Agree with the need to examine perfectionism. And to add to your reading pile, check Mindset by Dweck.

 

Thank you, another book I've taken out of the library many times and never managed to read. I'll get on it again!

 

One thing I find to be an issue with using a lot of screens (I do end up researching a great deal on the internet simply because it's there!) is that they keep my brain active, but not in a productive way. I end up usually working in circles, or redundantly, reading the same things over and over, because I didn't remember reading them the first time. It's sort of like being on a treadmill. I get a lot of information, but I don't go anywhere with it.

Sometimes I feel that it has to do with the mind being in motion and wanting to stay in motion, when I'd do better to go let it rest. Most of the time, when I feel that I need to take a break from something I'm working on, the break I need to take is an outdoor one.

 

But one thing I would be sure to do: if you want the kids to have a screen rest, you have to model it. I can't limit television for the boys unless I limit it for myself, too. Same thing with the internet. There is an opportunity there to teach how such things are to be used. 

 

Again, a huge YES. You just described me to a T, and I can see my oldest being the same way. 

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One thing I find to be an issue with using a lot of screens (I do end up researching a great deal on the internet simply because it's there!) is that they keep my brain active, but not in a productive way. I end up usually working in circles, or redundantly, reading the same things over and over, because I didn't remember reading them the first time. It's sort of like being on a treadmill. I get a lot of information, but I don't go anywhere with it.

 

I was reading this post, nodding to myself saying, "Yes! Me TOO!" (in my head) and I was all about to enthusiastically tap the "like" button when I noticed I had already done so some time earlier today (or maybe days ago?).
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I'd probably start at the basics of sleep, nutrition, fresh air and exercise.

 

Good points. We've finally reached a weather stage here where fresh air and exercise are now easily and pleasantly obtained! We do well with the nutrition, but she's at the age where she wants to stay up all night reading, and that's not good for her--I can see it in her the next day. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would "mom time" help?  Either doing something fun together or just having company during school hours (working math on the whiteboard together).

 

Avoid stressing her out.  Pay her compliments whenever you can.  I wonder if she's worried that it's her fault that you're unhappy with her and there's nothing she can do about it.  Tween and teen girls have so much going on inside.

 

Yes and yes. Mom time always helps her. She's very bonded to me, and this battle has been getting in the way of that. I'm working on it now. Not fighting this fight every day has really helped both of us in this area, I think.

 

On the other hand, if you choose unschooling, you also need to commit to going with the flow and allowing 'deschooling' time. 99% of kids will not be self-motivated geniuses doing all kinds of exciting projects straight away. They need time to laze about doing nothing educational, to get really bored, and to figure out what they want to learn. So the challenge for you will be to provide opportunities for learning but refrain from making the choice for her. 

 

This is the crossroads I'm at now. The classical education philosophy really resonates with me. It's the education I wish I'd had. Even as a young teen, I remember wishing for more rigor, more meaning in what we were learning. I remember being invited by my guidance counselor to go to two-week session at a university where we'd attend lectures and roundtables and such on politics etc. I wanted to go so badly, but my parents said no, it would cost too much, and I was so resentful. I wanted to read great books and understand them and learn about philosophy and history... But I had no one to guide me, and I didn't really know where to start on my own. I want to give that to her, but I think I'm starting to see that it's not going to work the same way for her. She has some similar desires, but they can't be fulfilled in the WTM-prescribed way--or at least, the way I interpret the WTM-prescribed way. I'm going to gave to figure out a new path for us.

 

 

VERY true, but, at the same time, self motivation and self direction need to be fostered and encouraged. A kid isn't going to always do what's best for them so sometimes we do have to make them. However, we also need to get them to a place of owning their own education. That's when they really get educated. 

 

This daughter is still in the spit out facts, mode of learning. The hard thing is that each kid is different with this. 

 

Yes, this is my biggest concern at the moment. She has little self-direction and little self-motivation, and I find that very concerning. Then again, I also tend to think of her as an older kid, and really, she's just on the cusp of the logic stage. In some aspects, she's totally that logic stage thinker, and in others, she's really not. So I may need to just give her some more time and space, which is what I'm trying to do.

 

It can't be a coincidence that many posters here facing similar issues have 11yos or thereabouts.

 

I think you are right.

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I was reading this post, nodding to myself saying, "Yes! Me TOO!" (in my head) and I was all about to enthusiastically tap the "like" button when I noticed I had already done so some time earlier today (or maybe days ago?).

 

:lol: I need to print out this whole thread and read it over breakfast every morning before we start our day.

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