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Strange obsession From 14-year old- Help?!?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I don't think anyone has this problem, but I have a fourteen year old daughter who is obsessed, and I mean OBSESSED, with the subject of education.

 

I probably should give some background info here. My daughter has been looking up online for various teaching practices and schools and trying to create her "dream school" ever since she was twelve. She has been going so far as to get books from the library on Montessori teachings and gifted education, for example, and I'm getting worried. I have not heard of this as a regular obsession like a little kid would with dolls or trains, and I'm beginning to wonder if she is trying to tell me something. However, I do admit she seems happy doing this, so maybe I should leave her alone.

 

Anybody, some ideas??? I'd really appreciate it!

 

And sorry if this seems like it's in the wrong thread- I'm not sure where this would belong!

post #2 of 21
Quote:
She has been going so far as to get books from the library on Montessori teachings and gifted education, for example, and I'm getting worried.

 

 

Without knowing more about your daughter, I'm not seeing a problem, not seeing anything to worry about.  The above is really pretty special.  I might be rejoicing if my daughter took such a keen and abiding interest in something as abstract as specialized education at her age.  Taking an interest in something and then educating herself about it?  That's precious and should be encouraged.

 

Is there something more, though?  Can you describe more specifically what's worrying you?

 

Edited to add, I did something very similar when I was 12-ish years old.  I got interested in all things Irish- music, ancient art, religion, textile arts, ancient history, etc.  When I was maybe 14 y.o. I checked out some books about the history of 'the Troubles'.  Yes, I willingly, on my own, sought out information that is normally forced upon students in class.  My mom noticed the books I was reading and was very pleased, and commented on it, acknowledging that not every teen is interested in stuff like that, and she was very proud that I took the initiative to learn more where I could. 

 

I'm 44 y.o., and a couple years ago my mom reminded me that at that same time (age 12-14) I was also going to open up my own boarding school for girls. 

 

Edited, there's a big difference between a boarding school and a boarding house. 


Edited by journeymom - 6/5/12 at 3:35pm
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 

I guess I'm worried because I thought this might be a response to how hard a time she had in 6th grade, that maybe she's trying to tell me that she is wanting to switch schools or something. It's pretty bizarre coincidence when your child has difficulty in 6th grade and then gets obsessed over this stuff. Then again, I might be overreacting. After all, is it possible to be interested in this stuff in such an early age? she is only 14, after all.

post #4 of 21

When I was about 13, I became "obsessed" with religion. I couldn't get enough. I read about different religions, spent countless hours at the public library, went to different churches, and thought about little else for the better part of a year. I think it's normal to become fixated on certain things at this age. I think what she's obsessed with is awesome. I also understand that as parents we worry about EVERYTHING unless we've read in a textbook that it's normal.  Hug. Maybe someday she'll be the next Maria Montessori.

post #5 of 21

Yeah, it probably is a response to her difficult time in school.  It's her way of processing and understanding it.  I don't think she's 'telling' you anything, but you might ask her if she wonders what it would be like to go to a different school.  It could lead to a good conversation.  Doesn't mean you need to start looking for another school.

 

This is a pretty healthy response, I think. She could have responded to adversity by cutting or smoking or whatever other alarming self-medicating things people do.  If one wanted to attach a disorder to it, it could be argued that she has obsessive compulsive tendencies?  smile.gif  Not really, though.

 

Definitely it's possible for her to be interested in stuff like that.  Sounds like she's an intelligent, thoughtful person. 

post #6 of 21

My 15-year-old is obsessed with theatre.. Shakespeare in particular at the moment. It's an obsession that started at 8 and now it's a career path. I mean, she reads plays, she reads books about theatre and various styles, performs in plays, works backstage, writes plays, directs her own shows. She has been a paid classroom/camp aide for a big youth theatre since she turned 14. She's the chairman of a major regional theatre student board in charge of encouraging youth in theatre. She's doing her internships in theatre. She lives and breaths it (and spends a good 20 hours a week on it!) 

 

We know lots of kids like this. We know one obsessed with computer script. At 17, the boy already has his own web design company and makes 33 dollars an hour! We know kids wanting to be musicians or dancers... yep, it's a life style that consumes them. Education is a different sort of interest but the drive and passion to amass abilities and skill is not unusual at this age.

 

For whatever reason, your DD wants to know everything there is about education. Maybe it stems from a bad experience. Maybe from a great one. Whatever the reason, she's learning and 14 is really not to young for kids to start looking for answers on whatever it is that moves them. Maybe she's destined to teach or to be a school administrator. I bet she'd be a fantastic one with that thirst for knowledge on the subject. 

 

It's totally normal for 14-year-olds to hyper-focus. Many just choose pop music or turn their obsessions on a new book series or favorite actor. Your DD is just being a little more sophisticated and frankly, quite mature. It's also normal for them to narrow in on one or two activities as opposed to doing LOTS of different things like they did in elementary. If you are worried this is a cry for help, why not just ask her?

 

You might consider finding her some opportunities to work with children. It can be volunteer at first and then move into a job. It might give her a chance to try out some of the theories and ideas she's batting around up there! Personally, gifted education is interesting. Montessori IS interesting. I say, good for her!

post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by nerdmomma6885 View Post

I guess I'm worried because I thought this might be a response to how hard a time she had in 6th grade, that maybe she's trying to tell me that she is wanting to switch schools or something. It's pretty bizarre coincidence when your child has difficulty in 6th grade and then gets obsessed over this stuff. Then again, I might be overreacting. After all, is it possible to be interested in this stuff in such an early age? she is only 14, after all.

 

Have you asked her?  Is she in a better place now?  Maybe her bad time in the 6th grade just made her realize how much an educational environment can effect a child.  You hear a lot about children who either have a disease or have a sibling with a medical condition becomming really interested in medicine and going into a medical career.  If she is still having a normal social life and enjoying other things, I don't think I would worry.  DD has a friend who is "obsessed" with anatomy and I just figure that she'll probably go on to have a great career!  In the past I've known teens "obsessed" with architecture (studying it, drawing things out on graph paper, etc...), interior design, animals, etc...  It's good to have passion!

post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 

No, she is STILL at the same school, which I regret, but she will be graduating soon, so that will be a good change, I think. She has a pretty good social life, but with several girls in the 7th grade, not 8th. She is very competitive in school, and I do think that's had somewhat of an impact on her performance, BUT things are a lot better than they were in 6th!

 

But anyway.....

 

I asked her about it today, and she tried to brush it aside. Clearly she didn't want to talk about it. She seemed to be trying to tell me to ignore it, like it was never happening. I did ask her if she was happy there, and she admitted that she didn't like all the homework and the stress, but that was it. I don't know if I should leave it be for now or what?

 

And whatsnextmom- thanks for the idea! My DD is currently helping out in a special ed room for 5th-6th graders every Tuesday, and the teacher is really glad to have her there. I could see if she could go for tutoring some kids next year, or babysitting. (Is that a good solution?) I'm not sure. Thanks, everyone!

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by nerdmomma6885 View Post


I asked her about it today, and she tried to brush it aside. Clearly she didn't want to talk about it. She seemed to be trying to tell me to ignore it, like it was never happening. I did ask her if she was happy there, and she admitted that she didn't like all the homework and the stress, but that was it. I don't know if I should leave it be for now or what?

 

It's so hard to know, isn't it??  Try to keep the worrying private, she picks up on that (I know that's much easier said than done). 

 

Leave it be for now, and keep your eyes open. 

post #10 of 21

I had a similar obesession - from the age of 5 on. And today I am the successful founder of a Sudbury-model school. Maybe she is just planning a career like I was. She is probably also dreaming of school being 'better' than her negative experience - nothing wrong with that!

post #11 of 21

Junior high is HARD.  

 

I wonder if she's interested in the education because she would like to be a teacher?  Maybe she is going to create an amazing school with the best of all the education techniques she is learning about.

 

I was slightly obsessed with special education when I was in high school.  I read every book fiction and non fiction story I could find.  I got into education because I read the book "A circle of Children".   Which is still the best book ever!  (impossible to find anymore though)

post #12 of 21

It's not like researching education is a bad thing! Maybe she wants to be a teacher and is finding a career path and interests--which is what happens when you're a teenager. Perhaps instead of asking her about bullying, try to ask her about what she's learned and if she'd like to start a school one day. Perhaps she'll open up a bit more.

post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 

OK, I had a talk with her and basically let her know we're fine with this, and she's glad. I asked her what she was learning from her books, and honestly, some of it goes over my head. This is coming from a kid who once was considered to be so immature that she was behind 4 years emotionally. Well, no more. Now our new problem is that she wants to take some classes in education or teach or something NOW, she feels bored just researching and wants to do something with it actively. Anybody, some suggestions?? She is only 14! I'm not sure what we could do!

post #14 of 21

Can you check around to find some classes?  Maybe check and ask if there are any available classes at the community center or online.  (online would be easy to find)  

 

Our local high schools teach early childhood education, but you have to be a junior in high school, and have taken child and family development, and psychology your sophomore year.  

 

http://www.naeyc.org/  <--that's the best I can find, but i don't know the requirements.

post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by nerdmomma6885 View Post
Now our new problem is that she wants to take some classes in education or teach or something NOW, she feels bored just researching and wants to do something with it actively. Anybody, some suggestions?? She is only 14! I'm not sure what we could do!

 

I love it.  You're daughter is the coolest.  I really identify with this attitude.  

 

Could she volunteer in a special ed class a few times this coming year? I'm assuming you're on summer break now.  Are there year-round schools in your area?  Could she volunteer in a Montessori preschool? 

 

I wish her the very best. 

post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by nerdmomma6885 View Post

OK, I had a talk with her and basically let her know we're fine with this, and she's glad. I asked her what she was learning from her books, and honestly, some of it goes over my head. This is coming from a kid who once was considered to be so immature that she was behind 4 years emotionally. Well, no more. Now our new problem is that she wants to take some classes in education or teach or something NOW, she feels bored just researching and wants to do something with it actively. Anybody, some suggestions?? She is only 14! I'm not sure what we could do!

 

Can she volunteer at a summer camp?  Maybe look for some tutoring jobs?  Do you go to church?  I was an assistant at VBS by that age (as well as at Camp Fire Camp).

post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 

Ironic that you would mention that now, because My DD just came home from a sleepaway camp where everybody, even the head of the camp, kept saying just how well she worked with little kids and would she be a counselor there someday because she'd make a good one. Sounds like there's a possible summer job in the years to come! Also, journeymom, there is a special ed program at her high school, so she might help out there, although she'd be better with younger kids, as described above. We're still looking for options as is. Thanks, everybody!

post #18 of 21

At 12, I was obsessed with educational theory (starting with having read "Summerhill"), read everything I could find on the subject, and went on to be on the founding board of a "free school". Yes, this was in the 60's; I am old. I attended that school through high school, and went through several other passionate interests. Botany, malaria, Russian literature, and I don't remember what all else, a year or more at a time. My recollection is that that was a very passionate age. My 17 YO DD is equally passionate about her interests, one at a time - gourmet cooking, women's rights in the Middle East, British history. I have no idea which path she will choose, but I honor her depth of interest in each.

 

It sounds like your DD is finding her passion. Who knows if this will be her lifelong path? But  support her in her interest - I love the idea of volunteering in some capacity to put her thoughts into action.
 

post #19 of 21

My kids attend a progressive school and this week I got to have lunch with a new teacher who will be starting in the fall. She just graduated from college. She went to traditional schools but has been fascinated by alternative education since she was about 14. Even though she had never been to a progressive school before she started her student teaching, she had be reading about them and fantasizing about them for YEARS. She did her student teaching this spring at our school, and everyone just fell in love with her.
 

post #20 of 21

Very cool! I am loving reading about your daughter!

 

Maybe she'd like to put some of her research into motion a bit? She might like to work on a summer program at a school or volunteer or be a mentor for a younger child or run a tutoring time out of the library or your home.

 

I've had consuming interests as you describe my whole life. My parents just never knew what I was up to because they didn't ask and didn't have time. So, maybe make some tea and chat or take a long walk (always seems to relax people when we don't see face-to-face but are in the intimacy of strolling through the streets in the dark together) and ask her what's up and what she is thinking and feeling.

 

My family homeschools, and both of our children currently have major passions that they pursue on an adult-intellectual, heavily immersed level. I love that they are who they are and are.

 

peace,

teastaigh
 

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