Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: In the middle of nowhere, at the centre of everything.
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I know a mom who refused to provide this for her kids, and insisted that they find their own structure and goals. Eventually they started asking to go to school. She refused. They turned out all right, and they thank her for her stance. It still doesn't sit right for me. My kids all, around that age, began to express this same desire. Rather than viewing this desire as a failure (or immaturity) of the capacity for self-determination, I viewed it as a desire to see themselves and their learning in the context of something larger. They wanted to feel a sense of working within a socially acceptable structure towards goals that had some tangibility in the larger world. In the old days this was the age when boys would be sent away to start apprenticeships, or girls would be farmed out as kitchen help or mother's helpers. I think it's a legitimate adolescent developmental desire... to find some context outside yourself to set your learning and doing within.
I don't think I found the right solutions for my kids. Eventually the older three all headed off to high school to get access to structure and accountability that they were comfortable with. They didn't want it to come from me, and my efforts to support them in finding their own structure and creating their own goals and accountability were only ever fruitful in the short term.
My youngest is 11.5 now and is doing a little better in this respect than my older kids were at this age. In the past year and a half she has taken two courses and two week-long electives at the local school (she normally attends for 1-2 hours a week, and goes there to write quizzes and tests under teacher supervision), and she is involved in ability-levelled gymnastics and dance classes where her mastery leads to low-key promotion into more challenging classes at the end of each term. This mix seems to be giving her ways to map out tangible learning goals and feel a sense of validated success when she accomplishes them. So far she's happy to remain a mostly self-directed home-learner.
I'm not sure what you have available to you, but you might think about what is available in your community that would put him in touch with at least loosely-structured learning under the guidance of outside adult mentors or teachers in one or two learning areas. Academic or otherwise.
Hope your headache is better!
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups