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unmotivated child

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I have an 8th grader who is so unmotivated to do school. I don't know what to do other than sit there with her while she does her work. Even then, I'm not sure how that will go over. She grumbles over everything!!! Any thing that involves the smallest amount of work makes her grumpy. I have tried to give her a fairly light load as far as school goes. So there's not much I can do there.


I have a brother the same way. He has a wife and three kids and still won't hold down a job. I see so much of him in her and that scares me. How do I get her to understand that work is a part of life?


Anyone dealt with a difficult child? How did you handle it?


By the way, her school work consist of the following:


Teaching Textbooks pre-algebra

BJU English 7th grade

Apologia General Science

TOG for history

Starting Logic I

Latin (which is done as a family)


I had planned on Classical writing instead of BJU, but we just haven't started that.


I'm not rigid with her schedule, perhaps she needs a more rigid schedule?


Any ideas would be great. :o

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I have had two kids who hit 8th grade and their motivation totally disappeared! I think a bit of it may be teens/hormonal -- that is a TOUGH age.


Motivators -- 1) have your child estimate how long an assignment will take, have them write down the estimate, and then have them time how long it actually takes. When my kids do this, most of the time their estimates are actually longer than the assignment -- having the timer going makes them aware of the time and less likely to waste it.


2) Have your child time each and every assignment and write down how long each one takes. If he leaves the table for any reason, the timer stops. That way he'll have a statement of how long he "actually" spent doing school (as opposed to staring out the window, sitting in the bathroom, reading the comics, etc.)


3) Do make sure that she understands that the more time she wastes during the school day, the less time she actually has to do her own stuff.


Other thoughts -- play hardball.


1) Make sure that the assignments are reasonable and doable, and then say that lunch is not available until X, Y, and Z are done. Make sure that you are available to help if there is a problem, but follow through -- no lunch until the specific subjects are done! (When my ds is having problems getting work done, I make lunch contingent on having finished Latin, writing, and math -- which certainly isn't all his school but is totally doable in the morning, even if he is moving really slowly).


2) I have friends who don't let their kids participate in any outside activities in the afternoon / evening until school work is done. For those kids, this is a real motivator. (Caveat -- the work I assign my kids is far too variable -- I can't do it because I don't know if a given math assignment will take one hour or two..... so I don't do this! My kids might never leave the house if I did this)


Best wishes!

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I just realized after rereading it that my last post sounded kind of nasty.


I'll give an example of what I mean by using incentives/rewards for focussing on schoolwork --


My ounger ds LOVES to fly kites. The field he flies at is 15 minutes away by car, and he likes to fly for a long time, so taking him kite-flying is close to two hour commitment for me. The field is used for soccer after school hours, so he needs to fly during school hours.


Our deal is that I will take him flying as often as I can, as long as he can show me that he is making good progress on school for the day. There is no way that he can finish his schoolwork by 1 (which is when I like to leave for kite flying), but he can show me what he has done and how much he has left. If he is making good progress, I will take him if I possibly can. If he is not getting anything done in school, I don't take him.


This is wonderful motivation for him. He has learned a lot about himself in the process -- he has realized that if he wants to go flying he will zoom through work that otherwise might take much longer, and he has applied that knowledge -- he is much more apt to fly through schoolwork on a non-flying day just so he has more time to do "his thing".

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I was starting to get some resistence last year with (then) 7th grade dd. I let her have 1 week where she created her own schedule. I gave her 2 caveats: she could not take the week "off"; she had to do math. Other than that, she had free reign. She actually assigned herself more work than I normally give her and she finished it all. She read a lot more but basically set up her schedule the same way I would have done it -- but I didn't do it, she did -- and that, apparently, made all the difference. :rolleyes: We have done weeks like that several times since then (we're due for another one, come to think of it!) and always it's the same - she is far harder on herself than I am on her. However, I don't tell her that :)


As she approaches 9th grade (yikes!) I will let her have more and more control, aiming for her to be completely independent after 10th grade.



Laura in OH

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We ALL need to know when school is over. That doesn't mean that they don't have some "homework", but I try to be very consistant about what is assigned. They know they have math and Latin, and on the weekends, they have to read. In other words, they know when they need to be working, and when they are free. This isn't perhaps the best for making them independent, but I do at least have cheerful, cooperative students this way. Independence seems to be coming along fine as they get older, too. My 11th grader is doing his CC classes completely independently this semester, other than getting signed up for them and driving back and forth. I really, really recommend having a set schedule if you don't have natural scholars. That and trying not to talk about school except in school. The unschooling ideal of learning all the time is great if you are actually unschooling, but can be a bit much if you aren't. Also, as they get older, they have to work harder at the boring bits to get the satisfying bits. The stuff they are learning just doesn't have much immediate gratification involved. It takes a long time to adjust to this. I think this accounts for a lot of the lack of motivation that shows up about 7th or 8th grade. I try not to pretend that school is all light and joy and we are naturally going to love every minute of it. That strategy works well with younger children, but fails as they have to work harder. I try to be sympathetic about this.



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Today we stuck to a schedule and we timed how long it took to get everything done. All three kids were amazed at what they could get done in a little bit of time. I'm hoping that we will all stick to our schedule and tweak it as necessary. I've had this schedule written out for a while, but we've just never stuck to it. I am trying to let her (the 8th grader) do more of the decision making, but a think she still wants me to be with her or at least close by. I guess its just all about finding a good balance. :)


Thank you all for your ideas.

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My child was exactly the same when he was in eighth grade. I was just speaking yesterday with the parent of an eighth grade girl who is going through the same thing. I was telling them about another eighth grade boy they know who is also going through similar stuff this year. I tend to think that a lot of kids may go through this as part of their normal growth pattern. When both the body and mind are still growing, and hormones are beginning to kick in too, I would expect some moodiness/grumpiness.


I was more rigid in my scheduling, despite the fact that this was hard on me, LOL. I tend to think that at least some of the attitude may melt away when grumbling results in more work, rather than less.


I think you may be glad to hear that ninth grade was simpler, and tenth is even better, in general. Teen moodiness does occasionally still surface, but it's not a constant any more.


Now, your brother's problem seems to me to be something different than what your daughter might be experiencing, although you're the one there with them so you know far better than I. Does depression run in your family? I would not automatically think that your daughter is showing tendencies of being "just like" your brother just because she's going through what it seems to me a lot of eighth grade age kids go through... so I don't think I'd worry about that just yet....



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