Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

MelJ

8th grade and overcoming challenges

Recommended Posts

Hi, 

I just started homeschooling my son 3 weeks ago. We have several challenges to overcome and I need some guidance.  I am a middle school vocational teacher at a school where I work 43 hours a week, not counting all the meetings and having to stay late for grading or prep or whatever we have going on. I have a long commute; I leave home at 6:15 in the morning, and it's often 5:30, or 6, or even 7 when I get home. When I get home, I'm so done. And we live in a rural area where there is no internet, so we are homeschooling strictly with books and paper. 

The reason we are homeschooling is because he lost the desire to go to school.  He's been bored with school for quite some time. Middle of last year, he started claiming to be sick every day. He started it again this year. We have taken him to several types of doctors where they all said he was healthy. He may have anxiety, so he's going to counseling now to see if that helps. The only thing he was passionate about was football, but his coach was really tough on him and there were a few times the coach refused to let him have his inhaler and complained about needing to treat his "asthma" (air quotes) problem. This killed football for ds and he stopped wanting to go to that also. 

I am trying to work with him in the evenings and on the weekend. I ask him to do some things that can be done independently while I'm gone then the hard stuff we do together. I wanted to use a WTM type of curriculum with him and I'm familiar with it from many years ago when my girls were younger, but I had to throw this together fast and on a budget. He's doing the same thing my students do for technology, we just have to go to the library on Saturday's for that.  I had some Latin and Greek material already. He loves that!  I have him doing MEP y8. For science CK12's chemistry with lab's once a week. Struggling to get going with history and feeling the pressure. Here 8th graders do 1 semester of world history and then 1 semester of state history. They are half a high school credit each. 

The first week of homeschool was great! He did all his work, he cleaned his room without being asked. Blew my mind!  Then it started going down hill. He started fighting me on doing any assignments except the ones he wanted to do (building a website, reading books, and art). Last week he refused to do anything. This week he is slowly is making up what was left from last week but the struggle is real. I sat down and had a long talk with him and he says he's just bored with doing the type of work we're doing and what he was doing in public school. I asked him what he wants school to look like and he's says he wants to do things that are very hands on...things like learning to weld, art, following other interests like that. With my time and budget constraints, there's only so much hands on I can fit in. I've also noticed that he begins showing resistance when the assignment is outside his comfort zone, and he shuts down on me. Like highest common factor in math, or asking him to write anything (he believes from school that he's a bad writer). Then he starts complaining that it's just too much work. What I'm seeing is that any work at all is too much unless it's interesting and he's in the mood. 

I've thought about just trying to follow his interests for a while and seeing where it goes, but I don't want him getting behind or getting into a funk and being lazy. 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly, I don't see this going well at all.
You have a long work day.  He is expected to............sit around alone during the day and spend time working with you at night/weekends?  Am I catching that right?  So there is no social time.
He wants to follow his interests, but he doesn't want to balance that with the work needed to develop more interests and the skills needed to turn those into jobs later.

I would suggest focusing on what he needs to be a successful adult.  These are your non-negotiables.  He either should be doing them with you, online, or with a tutor, but he needs accountability at his age.
Second, I would move his hands on work to his independent time.  If he wants it, he should have the chance to explore it further on his own and still count it as schoolwork.  Time with you should be skill development time.

If it were my kid, I'd be all in on K-12 or something similar.  Not getting an education isn't an acceptable outcome in our home, and I would be scared to go down that path without a clear plan to get my kid back on track.  When a child at 13 is dictating what he will and won't do without consequence, it's not a good situation that will change by age 16 - and 13 is too young to make life altering decisions if I don't have complete faith in that child and how they will turn out.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He does have supervision during the day, but co-parent does not help with school work (or well, helps like you would help with homework, but will not do any of the teaching part).  He gets social time with friends from school. This week he didn't get to see his friends because he didn't do his work. If we continue this, I want to find other ways for him to socialize. 

I know an online class would be beneficial, but I don't have access right now. As far as consequences go, I'm opened to suggestions here. His counselor is working with him and she says give this a little while to see if it works. Short of physically making him go to school (which I can't do) I'm at a loss. I can ground him from things he likes, but if that doesn't improve his behavior, what's left?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with homeagain.  His independent time should be for hands on so you know he will be doing *something*. Plus if this is where his interests lie, it could lead him to be a bit more passionate about learning as he builds up his skills. He may need to read a book on how to improve, or he may need to search out some youtube videos on Saturday, he may get interested in the history of the different crafts.

So what is cheap and reasonably easy to get going? These are the things my dh or my two boys have done within our very small city apartment:

Whittling and carving (some amazing projects books available),

Kite making (lots of physics and aerodynamics in that),

fabric technology (spinning, back-strap loom, design, knitting)

Leather working (my dh has constructed both knife holders and I have a friend who made shoes)

Sewing (my dh has constructed tents, backpacks, sleeping bags),

Upholstery (all you need is an old chair, webbing, springs, fabric, and very few tools),

Refinishing (purchase cheap crappy old furniture and strip it down)

Food technology (pickling a million things, gardening, preserving, culturing, bread making, ginger beer making),

Medieval weapons construction (trebuchet, catapult, bows and arrows - this requires wood and a few hand tools) 

Art for cheap: Origami, water color, nature craft, calligraphy, paper cutting, drawing 

Music for cheap: harmonica, recorder, spoons, voice 

-------

Get him busy and active as this will help his mental health. That is key now. Then at night (and I know it will be miserable for you) get him doing math and writing for 2 hours in total - 4 days per week (Friday night off). For now, I would skip history and science, but after a bit of deschooling with all these projects, add it back in.  If you are willing to step out of the box, make history and science built around these projects. But I do think homeschooling is going to be a hard road for you and him given your schedule, and will definitely take time and energy from you to make it work.

Good Luck,

Ruth in NZ

Edited by lewelma
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If he is bored with school, doing school at home might seem fun and different at first, but he is going figure out really quickly that it is just the same old thing.  I would make every effort to make his homeschool experience interactive, meaningful, and engaging.  Just marching through textbooks isn't going to work.  And I wouldn't expect him to be able to work independently for quite some time.

Unfortunately, designing such an experience takes a lot of time and thought, and implementing it takes even more time. If you're away from the house 12+ hours five days per week, I don't see how it can happen.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, lewelma said:

 

-------

Get him busy and active as this will help his mental health. That is key now. Then at night (and I know it will be miserable for you) get him doing math and writing for 2 hours in total - 4 days per week (Friday night off). For now, I would skip history and science, but after a bit of deschooling with all these projects, add it back in.  If you are willing to step out of the box, make history and science built around these projects. 

Good Luck,

Ruth in NZ

 Thank you for these suggestions!  That's probably what we both need at the moment. 

And with me pushing deadlines for grades at the end of the 9 weeks and wanting his terms to match the schools in case he wants to go back, I wasn't even considering that he would need to deschool.  With his anxiety he was getting physically ill over having to go to school every day, so yeah. Now that you say that, he probably really needs that time. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, MelJ said:

 Thank you for these suggestions!  That's probably what we both need at the moment. 

 

There is just so much you can do without a big workshop. Some stuff it so small and non-messy, you can just put it down and pick it up in 10 seconds - like whittling. But other projects - like the reupholstering- were bigger and super cool long term. They deconstructed the chair down to where you could stand in the middle. Then had to research how to web it and spring it, what materials to use for padding etc.  Then how to stretch the fabric.  They even refinished the wood, stripping it down, staining it, and coating it. I'm sitting in one of the chairs right now. 

So he may want some small projects and large projects going at the same time, so if he isn't in the mood for the large project or waiting for supplies to come in, then he can do something else. For a kid who dreads school work, hands on can be so empowering.  One of my ds's friends actually constructed a playable violin. If he is into electronics, I know that Make magazine in the past has had a complete kit with tools and components with full instruction book. Not cheap (like $400) but it would take quite some time to work through, so cheap per hour of education.

I would also recommend he document his work each day with photos.  You may do nothing with them, but they could be useful later for a portfolio to help him realize how far he has come and how much he has learned. 🙂

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with getting hands on projects going as much as possible while you are away, along with lots of reading, and maybe whatever math HW you assign the previous night. And saving math instruction and LA to do with you. Is he getting tons of vigorous exercise now that football is no longer part of his life? We wouldn’t have survived the middle school years without it. Also, since you are gone so much and others are home, I hope they are taking care of most cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. If he doesn’t already have them, this is a great time to develop all of these life skills.

Also, can the other parent take him to town one or two mornings or afternoons per week so he can use the internet at the library (whether for a class or his own research for projects), attend activities, see friends, pick up supplies for projects, etc.? Developing a structure and schedule where everything is not dependent on you to be available to make it work would seems to increase the chances of long term viability.

Edited by Frances
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, lewelma said:

 

There is just so much you can do without a big workshop. Some stuff it so small and non-messy, you can just put it down and pick it up in 10 seconds - like whittling. But other projects - like the reupholstering- were bigger and super cool long term. They deconstructed the chair down to where you could stand in the middle. Then had to research how to web it and spring it, what materials to use for padding etc.  Then how to stretch the fabric.  They even refinished the wood, stripping it down, staining it, and coating it. I'm sitting in one of the chairs right now. 

So he may want some small projects and large projects going at the same time, so if he isn't in the mood for the large project or waiting for supplies to come in, then he can do something else. For a kid who dreads school work, hands on can be so empowering.  One of my ds's friends actually constructed a playable violin. If he is into electronics, I know that Make magazine in the past has had a complete kit with tools and components with full instruction book. Not cheap (like $400) but it would take quite some time to work through, so cheap per hour of education.

I would also recommend he document his work each day with photos.  You may do nothing with them, but they could be useful later for a portfolio to help him realize how far he has come and how much he has learned. 🙂

My husband has to have hands on projects in his life or he is not happy. He’s fortunate now to have a basement workshop/art studio, a garage, and a backyard. But when we lived in apartment, he would sometimes set up a tent and work inside for really messy projects.

And the documentation is a great idea. My husband just started a major vehicle restoration project and is keeping a detailed notebook with drawings, costs, pictures, etc. During our never ending house remodel, he has maintained an ongoing digital photo collection which he sometimes assembles into slide shows. 

Also, for the OP, your son is getting close to the age where you could start looking for opportunities for him to shadow or assist people who work with their hands (whether for pay or not) whether it’s trades, arts, or whatever. He sounds like a kid who would love to spend time with someone like my husband, whose free time is filled with hands on projects, and there are people like that in every community. And I don’t know if he’s interested in anything like this, but our community has a non-profit community access TV station where tweens, teens, and adults can take free classes in all aspects of TV and video production, use equipment to make their own shows, and assist on major productions (including traveling to sporting and music events, city council meetings, community events, etc).

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My dh is the same! He has always said he wanted a workshop, but because he lives in an apartment he picked up knitting!  He makes all of my younger boys socks, and has made me a double knit hat which always impresses my knitter friends.  🙂 

 He also ALWAYS has something fermenting.  Right now it is beer and kimchi.  But he does all sorts of vegetables, and has experimented with a billion types of bread. I have not bought a loaf of bread in 25 years.  He makes it all!  He also cans peaches, and salsa, and bbq sauce. He just loves this more old fashioned/authentic food production.

He is and IT project manager. So sits in meetings all day. But at night, haha, lots of projects.  And I love the tent in the house idea!!  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would sit down with him and ask him what his goals are. Does he want to go to college? What types of jobs/careers is he interested in doing in the future? Then I would collaborate with him on a plan to prepare him for what he wants to do. So if he wants to go to college he needs to find a way to complete all the traditional high school courses that colleges require. But this does not need to be done with traditional textbook curriculum. Let him design his own. Set him loose. He can learn history with a library card and researching on the internet or even just watching documentaries. He may need traditional curriculum for some things but give him a choice in how to cover the subjects that need to be covered. 

If college is not something he wants to pursue then I would make sure he has the basics down and then let him pursue whatever he wants. I would give him free rein with the understanding that he needs to be working on something and have a plan--goals he wants to achieve and what steps he needs to take to achieve them.

Susan in TX

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there something else the co-parent is doing while they're there? If they're not and are physically capable, they might want to work to provide the resources for the ds to do the hands-on. It sounds like they're not providing structure, interaction, or facilitation, so they could get a job, maybe even a job they could do from home (a phone answering service). That money could be used to hire a tutor, buy a 2nd car to drive him to welding apprenticeships, whatever.

People who are very hands-on sometimes are also kind of ADHD and benefit from some *structure*. I would not expect an 8th grader to create his own structure, and I would expect a young person, especially an ADHD young person, to crave novelty. So I think expecting him to unschool his interests and busy himself 12 hours a day is unlikely to work out. Which leads back to having the co-parent earn income to meet help with the needs, assuming co-parent is physically capable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Susan in TX said:

I would sit down with him and ask him what his goals are. Does he want to go to college? What types of jobs/careers is he interested in doing in the future?

Susan in TX

Right now he's interested in programming, welding, and art.  I teach programming and career exploration so I have him working on the same stuff my students work on. And this is the part he loves. We've been building websites together on the weekend. I've been keeping him supplied with art books from the library, and that's what he's been doing all this week and last week instead of school work. 

I'm trying to find somewhere he can get welding lessons so he can try that out and see if he likes it as much as he thinks he will. I talked to a friend recently that used to do some welding, but that's long drive. Maybe next week when we're out of school we can do that and if he still likes it I'll find something local. 

Right now, I'm looking into moving so that we can be in the right county to enroll him in early college high school next year if he's ready to go back to school. There's a lot of 'ifs' involved in this. But then if he is still interested any of those three things, he can get a diploma and associates degree at the same time. 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Is there something else the co-parent is doing while they're there? If they're not and are physically capable, they might want to work to provide the resources for the ds to do the hands-on. It sounds like they're not providing structure, interaction, or facilitation, so they could get a job, maybe even a job they could do from home (a phone answering service). That money could be used to hire a tutor, buy a 2nd car to drive him to welding apprenticeships, whatever.

People who are very hands-on sometimes are also kind of ADHD and benefit from some *structure*. I would not expect an 8th grader to create his own structure, and I would expect a young person, especially an ADHD young person, to crave novelty. So I think expecting him to unschool his interests and busy himself 12 hours a day is unlikely to work out. Which leads back to having the co-parent earn income to meet help with the needs, assuming co-parent is physically capable.

He works full time, but he goes in in the afternoon. So during the day he's doing things around the house or working on things that need to be done for work. He's about to be laid off for a few weeks over the next three months (which is where the budget issue is coming in) as his company is ahead of schedule and things are slow. During that time he will be doing some projects around the house and maybe they can work on that together or go hunting or something. IDK just have to talk to him and see what he can work in. 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MelJ said:

 We've been building websites together on the weekend. I've been keeping him supplied with art books from the library, and that's what he's been doing all this week and last week instead of school work.

 

Don't think of those things as not school work. Incorporate these things into his schooling. Don't turn them into school but count it as school and use it as a jumping off point for the other required subjects. If he is interested in art maybe he can cover history by studying art history. Maybe he can do a writing assignment that is in some way connected to his interests.  I am sure there is some way to connect programming with math. The beauty of homeschooling is you are not limited by the four walls of a classroom and a textbook.

Susan in TX

Edited by Susan in TX
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, MelJ said:

Right now he's interested in programming, welding, and art.  I teach programming and career exploration so I have him working on the same stuff my students work on. And this is the part he loves. We've been building websites together on the weekend. I've been keeping him supplied with art books from the library, and that's what he's been doing all this week and last week instead of school work. 

It sounds like you have a strong connection and are very in tune with how to light his fire. I agree these are strong things to be doing. It sounds like you're just having a big mismatch between the heavy language/writing base of WTM and the creative, make things happen bent of your ds. When I get in those pickles, sometimes I need 3-4 hours alone and some time to walk, shower, eat chocolate, pray, whatever, till my brain clears and I can see things more objectively, from a distance. 

Fwiw, with my dd who was rather like that (a doer, very creative, very herself, not going to engage if she didn't find it a good fit or stimulating), I had to set aside a lot of my fear about what it meant to do things. Like I really had to just push that aside and listen to my gut and be willing to go out of the box. Your ds is 8th and already has a couple strong interests that could morph into occupations. (website building, welding) So I'd probably make some skill goals you want to target daily (read something, write something, math something) and morph as much as possible into those. Would he like to study business? There are micro-economics classes and curriculum aimed at homeschoolers. He also sounds like he might be just flat bored and ready to do more. Like maybe start making some goals with CLEP (which doesn't have the heavy writing/essay component of AP) and move forward.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got 2 thoughts that are kind of opposite, but one of them might be useful to you.  In thinking about history, would your student be willing to do a very straightforward 'get it done' program?  We used Critical Thinking Company's World History Detective workbook as a supplement, but it covers a lot of material and students can have a good grasp of world history when they're done.  It's easy for a student to manage themselves, quick for a parent to grade, and doesn't have an onerous amount of reading or writing.  

Alternatively, would your student be interested in connecting history to some of the hands-on work that he's already doing?  If he's doing welding, maybe research the history of metalworking?  When did people start using iron or steel, how did that affect what they could build (buildings, armor, weapons), etc?  Maybe attempting to build some of Da Vinci's inventions (we saw some as a museum exhibit and they were really cool) and then see when and how the modern versions finally got made?  This could let him look at architecture, military history, geography, etc.. 

It can be hard to figure out how to get an uninterested kid moving - one of mine loves to learn however I present it, but with my younger I've found myself using subscription kits (history unboxed, kiwi crate products) to get kiddo working on hands-on things.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually know a homeschooler who took up welding and now designs and makes historically accurate pieces for a local interactive museum...

I have an 8th grader and know that the dragging feet/attitude is real... real annoying! I agree with the previous posters that using the at home time for following his interests is perfect. I would let him have a lot of say in that, probably come up with a weekly plan/goal setting list over the weekend together.

I might also start assigning some inspiring biographies of people who had to work hard and diligently to achieve their passion 😉

If it helps, we ended up rejigging our homeschool to suit my eighth grader better, with the things she is passionate about as priorities (violin - focus on exams and teaching a beginner, baking - she's working through a French culinary institute course, neuroscience - started with some narrative books and moving through more clinical cases and anatomy, and maths - she still likes AOPS) and the less loved stuff in more palatable or 'just get it done' ways - history is just interest led reading and notebooking, literature and writing is through tutoring from a friend, languages is just in a holding pattern with duolingo. She's quite solid in grammar/vocab/spelling etc so I'm letting that take a back seat while we ride out this phase, she still joins us for dictation/poetry/Shakespeare in our family morning time. I'm more interested in her learning to manage her own time, have self discipline to finish something hard, manage her moods, while still keeping a spark of curiosity! 

It is hard, and I think that getting him to work diligently on stuff he hates during the day is realistically more of a longer term goal. Let him work with his hands, let him feel competent and successful, let him grow and calm a bit more. Let him spend time with his dad - that is such a gift! Yes, get dad to take him on as an 'apprentice' in projects!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/5/2019 at 6:18 PM, ClemsonDana said:

We used Critical Thinking Company's World History Detective workbook

I'm going to go look at this workbook and see. I was looking at Trail Guide to History and the geo pack. It has Eat Your Way Around the World. I was also looking at a book that was called Geography through Art that I thought might be fun. 

In school, writing was an area he struggled with. And I was thinking a WTM approach would benefit him a lot when it comes to that, but instead he just dug in his heels. So I'm going to bakc off a lot and listen to what he wants. When we first started WTM with my girls, years ago and they were elementary aged, I took them to the library with a "shopping list" for books. They had to pick at least one book from each category on the list. Then I was home with them all the time so I could make sure they were doing everything. But with him maybe just following his interest and building up will be better for both of us. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...