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LMD

Help! Can we talk about teens becoming more independent with school work?

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My oldest is 14, halfway through 8th grade. I have 3 younger students (all boys, 6th, 3rd and K)

I really feel like I'm floundering a bit, I'm having to let go of my picture of how I wanted 8th+ to go, and she really wants to have more control over her own studies- which I'm more than happy to give her...

But I'm really struggling with what this looks like day to day, I feel like we're not making progress, I feel a bit paralyzed and it's affecting the whole homeschool.

Also, she really still needs scaffolding and support, but resents it (yes, she's 14!) She often tries to do the bare minimum and forgets a lot (or 'forgets') which really is my fault, I've not been the best role model for good habits or consistency.

My biggest issue currently is output. She resists it. She can write essays fairly well, she has some base level skills, but she really doesn't want to do anything. I've been letting her just read and think, discuss a little, but I'm worried she'll lose the skills she's got. I've tried suggesting other kinds of projects but she's not interested at all. I think she maybe needs a bit more direction and support to just get going on something, just beginning can be the hardest part, overcoming the momentum. I feel like I can't find that spark that gets her interested anymore and I feel like a failure. Wow, my confidence is shot and thus... floundering!

I'm not really expecting anything to 'fix' her/me/us, just trying to sort my thoughts and hoping for commiserations!

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I went through similar when my dd was 14. It was frustrating. I honestly think 14 was the worst.

What worked for us was outsourcing a couple of things. She worked better for others than for me. She cared about what they thought and wanted to please which was not the case for me at that time. It does get better, so fear not! I just think 14 is rough for girls. (Maybe boys too- haven’t had a boy that age yet though!) 

Edited by Æthelthryth the Texan
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54 minutes ago, LMD said:

Also, she really still needs scaffolding and support, but resents it (yes, she's 14!) She often tries to do the bare minimum and forgets a lot (or 'forgets') 

 

I was in public school and school year starts on Jan 2nd (Asia). I turned 14 at the end of 8th grade (December). My DS14 tells me that he feels high school is never ending and he wants to be done so he can go to college as a commuter. I felt similar since I started school in K1 (preK) as a four years old. It did feel like never ending chain of school to me (kindergarten -> primary -> secondary -> junior college -> university). I was counting down to attending engineering school when I was 14, I was that bored. 

My DS14 needs less scaffolding so I ask him at the end of day what he has completed. DS14 uses OneNote to do his schedule. His OneNote looks like a bullet journal. My DS13 needs more “nagging” so we check in every two hours. 

Maybe you can ask her to check in with you after every subject if you give her independent work to do? Initially I would sit next to my kids but let them do their own independent work, kind of like a surveillance camera. 

40 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I just think 14 is rough for girls. (Maybe boys too- haven’t had a boy that age yet though!) 

 

While DS14 has always been intense and “difficult”, boys in general do hit puberty later than girls and it can be tough at 14 with growth spurts, voice changing to deeper, mustache and beard ...

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2 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I went through similar when my dd was 14. It was frustrating. I honestly think 14 was the worst.

What worked for us was outsourcing a couple of things. She worked better for others than for me. She cared about what they thought and wanted to please which was not the case for me at that time. It does get better, so fear not! I just think 14 is rough for girls. (Maybe boys too- haven’t had a boy that age yet though!) 

Thank you, it helps just to hear that this can be a tough age! 

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1 hour ago, Arcadia said:

 

I was in public school and school year starts on Jan 2nd (Asia). I turned 14 at the end of 8th grade (December). My DS14 tells me that he feels high school is never ending and he wants to be done so he can go to college as a commuter. I felt similar since I started school in K1 (preK) as a four years old. It did feel like never ending chain of school to me (kindergarten -> primary -> secondary -> junior college -> university). I was counting down to attending engineering school when I was 14, I was that bored. 

My DS14 needs less scaffolding so I ask him at the end of day what he has completed. DS14 uses OneNote to do his schedule. His OneNote looks like a bullet journal. My DS13 needs more “nagging” so we check in every two hours. 

Maybe you can ask her to check in with you after every subject if you give her independent work to do? Initially I would sit next to my kids but let them do their own independent work, kind of like a surveillance camera. 

 

While DS14 has always been intense and “difficult”, boys in general do hit puberty later than girls and it can be tough at 14 with growth spurts, voice changing to deeper, mustache and beard ...

Yes I really relate to the first part of your reply, I felt so grown up and ready to get on with real life at 14 too, so I do have a lot of empathy with my girl. We have figured out how to mostly get her schoolwork on par with what is meaningful to her so she has good buy in (still, 14, attitude, slackness etc).

It just really doesn't feel like a smooth transition, it's very bumpy and disorienting and knocks my confidence for my upcoming boys...

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Honestly, I found one or two outside classes good at this point.  Or, a friend joining in with a subject at home. Or a tutor. Or a mix of all!

If your dd would 'output' better with non-Mum feedback, I'm really happy to read/give feedback on English or History assignments a couple of times a term.

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37 minutes ago, StellaM said:

Honestly, I found one or two outside classes good at this point.  Or, a friend joining in with a subject at home. Or a tutor. Or a mix of all!

If your dd would 'output' better with non-Mum feedback, I'm really happy to read/give feedback on English or History assignments a couple of times a term.

Thank you Stella, that is truly a very kind offer! I will keep it in mind. 🙂 Getting her to actually do an English or history assignment is the trick atm 😉

Hmm, food for thought. Thank you. I might talk to a friend of mine, she was a vce English teacher/tutor, maybe we can swap tutoring...

I'm hoping for a few more opportunities for her to come up in the next year or so. A friend of hers has a lead on a symphony position, there are some fab science courses through John Monash Science School from 9th grade. There's TAFE from 16 years old. If we can get through the next year then a lot more doors will be open. I just feel like this year has been messy and I ran out of time with her really fast!

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My daughter is 14 and this is her Freshman year. My first homeschool high schooler! 🤪 We outsourced foreign language (Well Trained Mind Academy) and math (Derek Owens Algebra) last year for 8th and I really felt that helped her understand that the expectations were changing and not just on my part. For those classes she really stepped up her effort. Her desire to do well for other teachers somehow seemed to transfer to other schoolwork. I also really tried to get her buy in this year. We talked about what colleges expect and then I let her choose an elective in addition to the pretty standard required courses. We then worked together to find curriculum that she thought she could enjoy this year and that I felt was rigorous enough. I've been creating a checklist for her of weekly work tasks and have tried to show her how to keep organized (ADHD at work here), but she's been working really hard independently and has totally impressed me with her output. She's really putting in her best effort as opposed to her usual "good enough" approach. I think a lot of it is just maturity. Things really changed a lot over the course of 8th grade. Can you afford to outsource an academic course that is fairly rigorous? Maybe having her see that expectations are high at this level will help her see what the path going forward will look like. At the same time, let her know maybe that you are willing to cut her some slack? 8th grade is really the last year before things kind of "count" and I tried not to make it super stressful by including some serious rigorous work with some easy breezy stuff that she could still just enjoy because I knew that next year would be more intense and I really wanted to enjoy the last more casual bit of our homeschool journey. High school seems so serious, you know? Again, soooo not an expert so take my two cents for just that.

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My dd14 expressed, strongly, a desire for more independence least year. What worked for us was for me to say, "here is what I want and here is when I need it. I would probably break the task into x, y, and z, but I know you want more independence in how and when you do your work, so feel free to approach it as you wish. Also, keep in mind that independence takes trust, so if you forsee a problem with completion, the sooner you bring it up, the better." Just reflecting back the sentiment went a long way to satisfaction on her part. Oh, and for her 8th grade photography elective i really let her control it - Great Course, mentor meeting, picture time, challenges, I laid it all out, explained about time on task hours required and my minimums and let her go.

On the flip side, my ds14 is perfectly content for me to lay everything out and also for me to remember everything. "Just tell me what to do, mom." Well, I don't have the bandwidth for that either. I used some links on the Forum a couple weeks ago to make him a diy weekly planner and we've been working on how to make it work for him (us).

I have been very super clear about how not getting something done because it wasn't a priority is usually acceptable but that using "forgot" as the reason is white-hot not acceptable. I may have been a little over the top on that point. <blush>

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Thanks everyone.

Susan, I have also done the lay it out and let her take control thing. We had a big conversation and she made some decisions about what she'd like to focus on (violin and maths) and what she'd like to drop (languages). The problem came after that, when it was time to actually do something! I reminded her that if she won't do it independently, then I'll assume she still needs my close supervision and direction.

What consequences did you use for not acceptable forgetting?

I have talked to a friend of mine and we're setting up some tutoring/assignments. I think my friend is kind of excited actually, to get a chance to dig deep into English with a teen again!

 

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On 8/14/2019 at 9:49 PM, LMD said:

My biggest issue currently is output. She resists it. She can write essays fairly well, she has some base level skills, but she really doesn't want to do anything. I've been letting her just read and think, discuss a little, but I'm worried she'll lose the skills she's got. I've tried suggesting other kinds of projects but she's not interested at all. I think she maybe needs a bit more direction and support to just get going on something, just beginning can be the hardest part, overcoming the momentum. I feel like I can't find that spark that gets her interested anymore and I feel like a failure. 

 

At her age, instead of "suggesting" essays or projects, just assign one. It's not optional in school--doesn't have to be optional when you assign it either. You can give her a choice of 3 topics if she has trouble choosing something, but tell her the length and when it's due, and let her work on it. If she needs scaffolding, break it down--choosing her topic is due on X day. Then tell her research (if needed) is due Y day. Then tell her when the rough draft is due--and so on. I didn't do a lot of long essays at this age because I had struggling writers, but I did assign paragraphs, notes, one-page essays and so on, and then one longer paper each year. In high school they could do more.

I used workboxes, which really helped with independence. My kids knew that each day they were to do whatever was in the box--the next math lesson, read the next chapter in lit or history or science, answer any questions related etc... We had a one on one tutoring time each day where we went over the previous day's work, corrected math, discussed history or science, and then any questions for the day ahead. Then they went to work. I sometimes had a second discussion time, depending on the student & what they needed. 

We did lots of discussion, so I don't feel that all output needs to be written, but if you want written output, make the assignment clear and just assign it.

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My dd was completely outsourced by that age. We joined an online charter and she had to meet once a month with her advisor and go over the work she did with her in each subject. She did a LOT better being accountable to someone other than mom for her work, and our relationship improved a lot. 

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