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sbgrace

Want to keep homeschooling (advice or perspective)

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I want to keep homeschooling my freshman son. He wants to keep homeschooling. I need either advice or perspective I think. At times I think I need to enroll him, probably as a freshman, next year. I even called the school a while back to see how it might work to enroll him as a sophomore. But neither of us really want that. 

My biggest issue is that I feel he wastes a lot of time. I want him to be a focused learner, but I often find he's extremely slow to get started and then "taking a break" during individual school work. For example, he gets a drink of water...while slooowly drinking the water, he "can't" do any school work, so he's reading a book instead. It feels like there is a lot of that. Or he finishes one subject and then wastes a lot of time or even waits for me to notice and push him before he starts the next--he's "breaking." There is also, it feels a lot of time, just working more slowly and distracted than he is capable of. I think it's becoming a habit. It's wasting so much time. 

Because of this I feel like I have to stay on top of him all the time--and it's not working. I feel we're butting heads too much--him insisting he gets it all done eventually--me not interested in doing school right up to the moment he leaves for practices and on weekends to catch up.  I think, beyond that, I'm most concerned he's practicing bad habits/not learning to work efficiently. 

He does two really time intensive extracurricular activities and excels in both. He works hard at those (and one eats some school time, which means I need him to be even more efficient, not less).  So it's not lazy exactly...but in some ways it is I think. I don't know. But I feel frustrated a lot. 

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Do you think it'd be possible to motivate him to do the work more somehow? Does he put off all school work? 

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Sounds like he's exhibiting passive-aggressive actions towards an activity (school) that he dislikes, lol. Rather than enrolling him in a school, what about outsourcing 1-2 classes (whatever you butt heads with most or that you don't feel as confident in overseeing -- Math, Science, or Writing, for example) -- for accountability to people other than mom, and some solid practice in ordering his time?

A few random thoughts:

What elective or extracurricular or personal interest is part of his weekly schedule to give him something to look forward to? I wouldn't threaten to take that away, but perhaps let him know that if he chooses to get the other school subjects done more quickly, that there will be more time in the schedule for things he IS interested in. Making sure there are "carrots" in his life to give him something to look forward to so it's not all just drudgery to procrastinate through and have to be prodded through.

More on rewards: What is his "currency"? In other words, what *does* motivate him? Use that to let him "earn" his currency through getting through his school work in a timely fashion each day. (Just like adults are motivated to do jobs that are not always very fun or interesting in exchange for the currency of a paycheck every two weeks.) For your DS that might be something like: actual money, accumulated points towards something he really wants, a special outing or trip, computer gaming time... ?

Do you have a good match up of curriculum for his learning style? Or would something else be a better fit for him? For example, if math takes 90 minutes (even when he's not procrastinating), he might need a different program to help him motor through at a better speed.

Or, maybe he needs more of a planned schedule, with breaks planned for and printed right there in the schedule. I've repeatedly read that adults in the workplace are most productive and most cheerful about work if they do concentrated work for about 50 minutes, and then take a 15 minute break. I would think young teens are similar. Knowing that he'll get those regular breaks once an hour might help your DS buckle down, instead of spending so much time making his own breaks (maybe he's thinking he won't get a break unless he makes his own breaks himself). Perhaps set a timer for 45 minutes and then take a planned 10-15 minute break -- maybe even start by having the timer go off every 5 minutes during the 45 minute work period so he can get a sense of time passing and help him catch himself if he is procrastinating or drifting. Or even better -- what about a count-down timer that makes it easy to visually SEE how much time is left. Then, he gets that 15 minute break that he completely gets to decide how to use -- to get water, go to the bathroom, pick up a book he's interested in, run around the block, or whatever he needs to help him "re-set" and prepare for the next 45 minute work block. The main thing there is to make sure he understands that bathroom and water and/or snack are PART of the break -- not tacked on at the END of the 15 minute break to extend it to 20 minutes, lol.

Another thought: my DSs only had about 45-60 minutes of math in them per day. What about planning on just knocking out 45 minutes of math and stopping, and "looping" however much of the lesson is left for the next day, and then start the next lesson, get partway into it, stop at 45 minutes of work, and loop the remainder to the following day... Math could be completed in the summer, or if there was only 10% of the textbook remaining, call it good and use that remaining 10% as review at the start of the next year.

Also, does he need specific scaffolding of executive functioning -- showing him how to break a task into parts, to plan, and how to keep himself on task? All of the "breaking" and procrastination may be his way of putting up a front that he doesn't know how to move forward with the work all on his own, even if you've been prodding him. You might check out the book Smart But Scattered for some very specific strategies that the 2 of you could incorporate to move him forward in being able to prod himself.

If, after trying some of the ideas above first with no effect, and if this behavior seems to be more out of defiance rather than immaturity, then you may eventually need to use some "tough love". In advance, like several days in advance, sit down and discuss how legally required work is not getting done due to his choices. He can still make those choices, but if he chooses to fritter away his time and the schoolwork scheduled for the day (and make sure it really is a *reasonable* amount that can easily be done in the hours before the activity) does not get completed, then the extracurricular activity doesn't happen that day. Yes, that may mean letting down the team or missing critical practice -- but extracurricular means exactly that: extra to the curriculum. Not required. You're actually being very helpful and generous in arranging YOUR time and schedule and finances to allow those extras to be included in his day.

This sounds like pretty typical tween/young teen behavior, and with some patience and perseverance you're likely to see him turn the corner in a year or two. Hang in there, mama! BEST of luck in finding what helps the most! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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One thing I learned when my son was that age was he needed very defined curriculum to complete and to know exactly when he would be done.  That was something outsourcing did give him.  Throughout our homeschool years Dd and I loved being able to add more as rabbit trails appeared and it turned out that we drove my son nuts because he never knew when he would simply be done!

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You described my ds exactly, right down to the drinks of water, “breaks” between subjects, slowness, and resulting nagging on my part.  My son was also a competitive athlete.  

These bad habits only got more ingrained as he got older, and they are not habits that will serve him well in college or in the workforce.

I wish I would have nipped it in the bud sooner by telling my ds that x amount of work must be done by y time or he was not going to games/practice.  And then, if he hadn’t completed the work, not arguing or discussing it with him but simply following through.

I was hesitant to play that card because we’d made a commitment, and his team depended on him so much.  But I think consistent follow thru on this would have helped him tremendously.  Plus, there would have been pressure from his coach/team.

It is a huge regret of mine that I did not take a stand on this - not with words, but action.  This is only my experience and my opinion, but my son did not need my handholding and nagging, he needed me to require him to change his work habits.

Now it is senior year, and I’ve had to tell him that if xyz isn’t done by the end of the week, he can’t go to youth ministry.  There’s a girl there he wants to see.  He has figured out how to get it all done!

(My ds is very laid back, which is great, but I see now that it can easily turn into laziness...)

Edited by JazzyMom
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I wound up outsourcing most of my ds’ work throughout high school because he was much more responsive to the deadlines given by *real* teachers once he hit a certain age.  Honestly, he still took much longer to do things than I wanted him to, but I have had to let that go.  He is at college now and doing well.  I suspect he still takes longer to do things than I think they should take him, but such is life.🙂

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If he can drink water and read he can drink water and do schoolwork!  That said have you sat down and tackled his stuff yourself.  I have occasionally found when I tried to get through what my kids were expected to do that it was an unreasonable amount of work.  Mostly though sounds like he is procrastinating because he doesn’t want to.

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DS13 is most efficient when he has his water bottle with him while doing work (no need to go kitchen) and time limits for task. Clear deadlines and well defined tasks help. He isn’t a perfectionist and he just want to be done with work so he can play. Mostly we aim for maximum 2hr per task and an hour lunch break. I do have to tomato stalk this kid so if he dawdle “because it’s too hard”, I could see where the problem lies (need to read materials a second time, need to problem solve a different way, interpret question wrongly). 

Timer also works well for DS13 because it’s a hugh incentive to him. For example, he completed a 90min multiple choice quiz with 56seconds to spare which is actually a good speed for him. He didn’t get all correct (which was expected) but he did finished all 60 questions. If it wasn’t a timed test, he would have taken 2hrs usually. 

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4 hours ago, sbgrace said:

I want to keep homeschooling my freshman son. He wants to keep homeschooling. I need either advice or perspective I think. At times I think I need to enroll him, probably as a freshman, next year. I even called the school a while back to see how it might work to enroll him as a sophomore. But neither of us really want that. 

My biggest issue is that I feel he wastes a lot of time. I want him to be a focused learner, but I often find he's extremely slow to get started and then "taking a break" during individual school work. For example, he gets a drink of water...while slooowly drinking the water, he "can't" do any school work, so he's reading a book instead. It feels like there is a lot of that. Or he finishes one subject and then wastes a lot of time or even waits for me to notice and push him before he starts the next--he's "breaking." There is also, it feels a lot of time, just working more slowly and distracted than he is capable of. I think it's becoming a habit. It's wasting so much time. 

Because of this I feel like I have to stay on top of him all the time--and it's not working. I feel we're butting heads too much--him insisting he gets it all done eventually--me not interested in doing school right up to the moment he leaves for practices and on weekends to catch up.  I think, beyond that, I'm most concerned he's practicing bad habits/not learning to work efficiently. 

He does two really time intensive extracurricular activities and excels in both. He works hard at those (and one eats some school time, which means I need him to be even more efficient, not less).  So it's not lazy exactly...but in some ways it is I think. I don't know. But I feel frustrated a lot. 

My DS exactly.  We've gone to "These assignments must get done this week, or electronics/video games are gone next week".  Mostly, that works.  But you've got to be very persistent sticking to it (the keyboard to his gaming computer and his phone are sent for safekeeping to DH's workplace so he can't hound me non-stop for them).

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I've been having the same problem with my oldest (she's 17) for several years now.  Mine has the messy, absent-minded professor personality.  We're actually graduating her in December, because we are  d o n e.  I am so tired of constantly reminding her to get her schoolwork finished.  I need to be able to pour my energy into the younger ones.  

Mine had tested as gifted during the brief time she went to public school, but she is very lazy.  She will sit and do almost an entire week's worth of a subject in one sitting the night before it's due after I spend all week reminding her to get her stuff done.  She does better when she takes an outsourced class.  She's taking an AP Biology class at an enrichment center and she has a 101% average.  She actually had a 103, but the teacher stopped giving extra credit.  She is also scoring very high on the SAT practice tests.  So, I KNOW she can apply herself when she wants to...

But, yes, I feel your pain.  I cringe watching her relocate from the couch to the dinner table, moving like a sloth when it's time to get our schoolwork done.  Oh, and the glow of the cell phone....makes me want to rip my hair out sometimes.  Like I said, we are just graduating her in December.  You're on your own!  lol        

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11 minutes ago, Evanthe said:

But, yes, I feel your pain.  I cringe watching her relocate from the couch to the dinner table, moving like a sloth when it's time to get our schoolwork done.  Oh, and the glow of the cell phone....makes me want to rip my hair out sometimes.  Like I said, we are just graduating her in December.  You're on your own!  lol        

I've got one as well -- mine is 13, so sweet, wants to do well in school and doesn't actually do any of this on purpose.... but everything takes soooooo long.  Getting a drink of water, getting a pencil,  getting distracted between each math problem.  I've never actually seen her work FAST.  

My solution if it gets really bad is to make her do all the work she couldn't get to during the day AFTER she gets home from ballet at 9 pm.  She hates that, so for a week she will try harder, and then lapse back into bad habits. 

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OP, if he gets all done eventually and hasn't missed any deadlines in his outsourced classes, I think you might have to let it go. My dd does this too and it drives middle aged mom me crazy, but I sometimes remember that I was once a teenager doing her Calc homework at rocket speed in the school cafeteria 15 minutes before class to be able to turn it in. So, when dd watches just one more lecture in the History of the American South instead of finishing her Silas Marner essay, I endeavor to remember that I was once that same kid doing that same stupid thing. I will say for dd that she hasn't missed any deadlines due to her procrastination so she must have some inner clock that says, "You must do your Latin or physics right now or you'll blow the deadline." Better her inner clock nag her than mom.

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Mine even turns the pages of his books slowly.  It is just exhausting.  Love this kid, but I am so glad he is graduating in a couple of months.

OP, try to find a couple of good outsourced courses so he’ll have fixed deadlines to meet and outside accountability. 

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18 hours ago, sbgrace said:

I want to keep homeschooling my freshman son. He wants to keep homeschooling. I need either advice or perspective I think. At times I think I need to enroll him, probably as a freshman, next year. I even called the school a while back to see how it might work to enroll him as a sophomore. But neither of us really want that. 

My biggest issue is that I feel he wastes a lot of time. I want him to be a focused learner, but I often find he's extremely slow to get started and then "taking a break" during individual school work. For example, he gets a drink of water...while slooowly drinking the water, he "can't" do any school work, so he's reading a book instead. It feels like there is a lot of that. Or he finishes one subject and then wastes a lot of time or even waits for me to notice and push him before he starts the next--he's "breaking." There is also, it feels a lot of time, just working more slowly and distracted than he is capable of. I think it's becoming a habit. It's wasting so much time. 

Because of this I feel like I have to stay on top of him all the time--and it's not working. I feel we're butting heads too much--him insisting he gets it all done eventually--me not interested in doing school right up to the moment he leaves for practices and on weekends to catch up.  I think, beyond that, I'm most concerned he's practicing bad habits/not learning to work efficiently. 

He does two really time intensive extracurricular activities and excels in both. He works hard at those (and one eats some school time, which means I need him to be even more efficient, not less).  So it's not lazy exactly...but in some ways it is I think. I don't know. But I feel frustrated a lot. 

 

I had the same issue with my dd and a lot of IRL people and people here and even a therapist I went to, suggested that I need to totally stop micro managing her.  Give her the tools she needs (outsource everything so it's not on me us, make sure she has and knows how to use a planner, and has and knows how to take notes, use flashcards, double check her planner) and then just give clear consequences.  You can switch to a weekly or monthly meeting to just go over how he's done.  Make sure the consequences are in writing and reasonable.  B's and maybe a C is ok to get into most basic state colleges, or maybe he's ok with going to community college and transferring.  Just make sure your expectations match him and his actual goals, not what you wish they would be.  My dd knows what she is aiming for and she has an LD that causes some limitations so her grades expectations are a little lower for that reason, and they differ in different subject depending on how she's struggling or thriving in that subject.  Be super reasonable- becuase if you're not you'll feel guilty when you dole out whatever consequence that is. (for your ds a super obvious consequence would be missing an entire week of both sports activities, and/or until you see an improvement in grades, if his quarterly report card falls below a B or C depending on his abilities and future goals)

The fact is not every kid has the same style.  Some kids will have a lot of drama before test and quizzes because they tend to cram more. Some will push things till the end of the day or night, some will get up early and do some work before class at the last minute and you may not like that but it's ok as long as they are finding their own groove!   Some have issues with ADD and some are just a bit unmotivated.  But they have to find their own groove or else they won't be able to function in college or the real world anyway.  I would just totally find a hobby, clean the house, spend time in the garden prepping for spring, whatever you need to do to stop micromanaging.  It's really his business how he schedules his time as long as he gets it in by the due date and is getting decent grades.  ANd it will probably look a little ugly at first as he figures it all out, but you have to let it go.

((hugs)) I know it's hard.

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Like other posters have suggested, outsourced-with-due-dates (live) classes were better for my procrastinator (eldest) than at home classes. (I did the reading assignments myself and then doubled the time that I took when assigning them to her. I often quadrupled the writing time.) At home classes always ended up going into the summer. I think she calculated that it took her 2 1/2 years to get done with geometry.

I limited the at home classes junior year, and they were huge stressors for me because of her slow work habits & avoidance behaviors. For senior year, she had zero at-home classes. It has been awesome for me. She may take all day to get her work done, but it doesn't affect me, and I know she can get it done quicker if she needs to. She loves all her classes this year, so that has helped immensely, too.

My next two kids hate procrastination, so I don't have to face this again until child #4 gets older.

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I so appreciate the replies here!

We've been trying to catch up today, and I am going to have to go back through these when my mind is fresh to process better.

But I can see this is going to be a help to me--I think a lot of you have hit aspects or right on what is going on, I'm seeing clearer I think, and I'm feeling hopeful these ideas are going to help. 

Edited by sbgrace
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2 hours ago, sbgrace said:

I so appreciate the replies here!

We've been trying to catch up today, and I am going to have to go back through these when my mind is fresh to process better.

But I can see this is going to be a help to me--I think a lot of you have hit aspects or right on what is going on, I'm seeing clearer I think, and I'm feeling hopeful these ideas are going to help. 

 

Remember, when you outsource, do your research but keep it simple.  There are lots of great outsourced programs that are very expensive and some that are very affordable!  If your student is more laid back about his education, don't spend too much.  Ask for samples and make the choice with him.

Outsourcing was the key for my relationship with my dd.  In fact I am in charge, sort of, of two of her courses now and it's causing a lot of miscommunication issues. 🙂  But, ultimately it's not about me, it's about her- and she really thrives with outside accountability.  Here, she's the younger sibling of a super advanced older sibling, and while she is often a step ahead of someone in our home, and definitely the most talented and creative at art, writing, and music, she's one of four high achievers.  out in the world, she gets a chance to see her awesomeness in comparison to others. (and be humbled by the areas in which she is weak!), and she gets a chance for outside validation from her teachers.  It's been fantastic and we are looking forward to the next level of that with community college DE next year 🙂

Edited by Calming Tea
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My son also thrived with outside accountability. DS was smart, but unmotivated. Both academics AND relationship went better when someone else brought the pressure to bear. In hindsight, I wish we had done more. I'm grateful we have so many options in our day. I will be very quick to outsource when my next students get to high school. 

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On 3/22/2019 at 6:04 PM, sbgrace said:

 -me not interested in doing school right up to the moment he leaves for practices and on weekends to catch up. 

 

This part is easily fixed. There is no reason you need to be doing school late and on weekends. Schedule times that you are available for teaching lessons, correcting work, and answering questions. Outside of those times, he's on his own and has to wait for the next day if he gets stuck. Quit tying your schedule to his and you will be much less frustrated! 

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My oldest ds was a lot like this in ninth grade. Outsourcing literature, computer science, Spanish and science the next year made a huge difference. It took pressure off our relationship. He thrived with outside accountability. Maturity set in, as well. By senior year, I was trying to get him to chill out and relax a bit bc he was working so hard. He refers to ninth grade as back when he was stupid and somehow thought he’d get all his work done while looking at pictures of Bionicles all day. 

I now counsel all parents—but particularly those with boys to save money and be ready to outsource if necessary. 

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