SOOOO Frustrated with my homeschooled 13 year old! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 04-29-2015, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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SOOOO Frustrated with my homeschooled 13 year old!

I've had numerous conversations with him about expectations- how much work he needs to do each week. Repeatedly he agrees with me, does the work for a day or two, them promptly stops doing work for the rest of the week!

I can't unschool him because of stupid NYS laws. I don't have the freedom to just "not worry about" ELA or social studies for a whole year. Left to his own devices, he'd do nothing but play video games and watch youtube videos about video games.

I don't doubt that it's worthwhile, but that can't be the only thing he does. Like I said above, I can't just let this blossom and wait for him to start designing his own games or whatever quirky-genius thing might come of this. We have to cover the basics required by state law for 7th graders.

I've given him a lot of slack this year because of what's going on in the family. In September, we found out that Daddy (my ex) was dying of cancer, and he passed away on March 1st. I let him do the absolute minimum in terms of schoolwork when we were running back and forth from hospice an hour away and dealing with all these emotions and upheavals. My oldest(20) was going to spend the entire year in Israel, but she's home now and attending community college. My middle child (19) is taking a semester off from community college because of stress/grief/her own issues. All 4 of us are in counseling.

I don't expect anybody to be "fine" 2 months after losing a parent, but I do expect Jack (13)to get back on track with the level of work I'd initially expected him to be doing in the first place. In addition to doing the online lessons at time4learning.com (12 per week), I want him to start reading daily. Since he has an aversion to actual reading, and prefers audiobooks, I told him he has to listen to 6 CDs a week, and at least one per day. All told, this comes to about 10 hours of schoolwork a week.

He put in his 2 hours on Monday- he did 3 online lessons and listened to one CD. Then we went to the mall to buy him shoes (those huge feet just keep growing!) and from there I let him go see a movie, and I picked him up later.

My instinct would have been to hold off the movie until later in the week, but we have 2 cars and 4 drivers, and the car was available on Monday. I couldn't guarantee I'd be able to get him to the theater again while this movie (Furious 7) was still in the theaters. Already, he's missed a bunch of fun things with the homeschool group due to lack of transportation, so letting him do something fun by himself seems only right.

The problem is that he hasnt' done much in the way of schoolwork since then. He hasn't read the book at all, and he's only done one lesson since then. So far this week, he's done 4 lessons and listened to one CD, when he should have done at least 9 lessons and listened to 3 or 4 CDs.

He's also been slacking in his supplements. He's been taking fish oil, and I just started him on B-12. Both are supposed to help with concentration and behavior. I can definitely tell a difference in his behavior when he doesn't take the fish oil. For the past few days, he has outright refused to take any of his supplements at all! So he's acting up in part because he needs the fish oil, and the acting up makes him oppositional- it's a horrible cycle and I don't know how to break it.

He definitely does NOT want to return to public school, yet he's not consistently doing the work I need him to do to continue learning at home. He knows that I'll put him back in school next year if he doesn't shape up, but he's still not getting the work done.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 20, Hannah, 19, and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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#2 of 10 Old 04-30-2015, 10:51 AM
 
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Sorry to hear about your ex-husband, I am sure that is really hard on all of you. Have you considered taking your son to see a counselor? It might help him learn how to process his grief but also help him get back on track with school. Have you sat down with your son to explain why it is important to take his supplements? Maybe that will help him be more diligent. It takes a lot of courage to take on your child's education and I am sure you are doing a fantastic job. Hold your head up!

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#3 of 10 Old 04-30-2015, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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All 4 of us are in counseling, and I periodically meet with Jack's counselor for a few minutes at the beginning or end of his session (my sessions are at the same location, same time, with a different counselor.)

The mental health clinic requires that kids see a nurse practitioner once a year (adults see one of the psychiatrists.) She's the one who suggested the supplements. Last year she suggested an increase in his fish oil, which helped tremendously. This year, she suggested we start with B-12, and suggested a range of fish oil doses. We'd already been smack in the middle of the dose, but I started increasing it anyway (4 pills a day instead of 3.) She also said that if the supplements don't work, we should go back to see her in a month or so and she'll prescribe an antidepressant.

But in the last week since we saw her, he has NOT been consistent with his supplements- even though he's been taking his pills at night for the past 6 years! He just suddenly stopped taking them, and is now, after 6 years, complaining of fishy burps from the cod liver oil and the fish oil.

So, in the past week he's taken he B-12 2 or 3 times instead of 7, and his fish oil consumption has just dramatically plummeted. And he's staying in his room all day and not doing his work or getting exercise or sunshine.

I have fibromyalgia and depression myself. He's 4 inches taller than me and close to my weight. I don't see how I can "make him" leave his room if he refuses to budge.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 20, Hannah, 19, and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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#4 of 10 Old 05-01-2015, 08:46 AM
 
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One thing that really, really helps me with my kids is thinking that my role as a parent in the homeschooling relationship is exposure - giving opportunities to expose them to what they CAN learn. My role is not enforcing mastery. There is a HUGE difference. Everytime I require my kids to do something regularly (like reading/listening to specific radio etc.)... one of my kids fights with me. I shifted gears. Now I simply have whatever "on" while they play lego. Or if there is another sort of engaging activity that is relatively quiet. The thing is, making this something I do as well, listening with them while I do my stuff and they do their stuff.

Another thing is buy in. I find that my kids generally have some pretty strong ideas about what they think is necessary to learn - and, it isn't "nothing"... they think math, reading, science are very essential - I have to make sure that I make space for the things like art, music, physical activity. This is really essential for them to see that the things they enjoy are essential too.

We lost a close person to us this year as well. It is difficult. I found that in the grief, it was essential that we were "in it together" - they weren't feeling isolated.

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#5 of 10 Old 05-01-2015, 08:48 AM
 
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Here are some video links that may help:

http://www.livesinthebalance.org/parents-families

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q28IrZq14hk

^this last one starts a few minutes in ... skip past Erika Ehm.
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#6 of 10 Old 05-01-2015, 09:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It's different with a teenager though. He doesn't play with his toy cars on the living room floor anymore- he's off in his room on his computer or the Xbox, and I can't always tell that he's not actually working. I did tell him that's it's fine to play on the computer while listening to the book, as long as it's a "mindless" game that won't interfere with his ability to pay attention to the story. So, that means he can play on GTA if he just drives around town, but not do the "missions" which have their own story.

We had another nice talk yesterday. He seemed to think it was only Tuesday, even though it was already Thursday. He understood why I'd been so angry and nagging him when he realized he'd basically "missed" 2 days this week, including not doing schoolwork on those days. He also had this crazy idea that if he got up early, he shouldn't have to do work yet, since he'd normally still be asleep. But then he would fall asleep at night before the time he'd often get work done! Yesterday he managed to get most of a day's work done (online lessons yes, but not the reading) but no extra to compensate for the days he'd missed.

He agreed that he'd finish up the week's work on Sunday since he couldn't possibly get it all done before Shabbos (especially since he's going away from Friday afternoon until late Saturday night. I'm not cancelling that trip because I think of it as an important part of his Jewish education- and besides, it's already paid for and I agreed to carpool with another family.)

I also found out what's been going on with the vitamins- it seems that he's been getting fishy burps for the past month or so, which hadn't been a problem before that. He agreed to take all his other vitamins, and a single fish oil capsule from another brand to see if that agreed with him better. It's only about 1/4 the daily dose, and it's a more expensive product (which we have on hand because his older sister's been taking it) but if that agrees with him, I'll use up the less expensive kind myself and keep buying this one for him.

If we had a bigger house, I'd have all the gaming stuff in another room altogether, not his bedroom. I'd have a computer in his room that was password-protected for everything but his online schoolwork, so he'd have to actually leave his room to go play, and I'd be aware of the movement. But we have a tiny house- 2 bedrooms and a combination living room/kitchen. All the women (me, my 19 and 20 year old daughters) share the bedroom and our desks are in the living room, along with the TV. It doesn't make sense NOT to have a second TV, Jacks' computer, and his gaming system in the only room where we can close a door while other people in the house are doing other work.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 20, Hannah, 19, and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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#7 of 10 Old 05-05-2015, 11:25 AM
 
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My son is 13 and is the same way. He will play his video games or sit in his room all day doing, well, I guess playing on his tablet or whatever. Pretty mindless stuff. However, I have found I can distract him if I mention other things I know he has an interest in.. an online programming tutorial he does, for instance. He can do that for quite a while. I also might say "Hey, maybe look at some news sites and see if you can find a cool article to tell me about." I leave it open ended so it's his interest rather than mine. It lets me also know what he is interested in. He also DJs and is teaching himself to beat juggle. He spends a lot of time on his equipment.

My son is going to high school next year so I know what you mean about keeping on track. I need him to be caught up so he doesn't start behind in our local high school next year. (In fact, I just had to create a transcript for his high school when I registered him so it really made me think about this).

Are you able to learn with him? I rarely do "important" learning on the computer by himself. I just can't really measure it well. We use Saxon math and I go over the lesson with him and then he works on the problems. Same with grammar/Language Arts.. for science we have used many resources but right now I am following a free one with really easy and inexpensive experiments. We did Future Learn courses and I did those with him- like sat on the couch with him and my laptop and we watched the videos and read the lectures together. I will say, I have to stay pretty involved in order for him to stay motivated. I have to remind him about things (his book for book club, for instance) and I have to follow up. The only thing on the computer he learns is German and I even assess and oversee that just to make sure he is progressing- hate to place him in German 2 in high school if he hasn't learned German 1, yet! I know I sound really controlling but I am really not. We have a good relationship and if something isnt working we talk about how we can change it. What we currently do works for both of us. He likes the structure, even if he does grump about it sometimes, and I like the time with him, even if sometimes I fall a bit behind on my own schooling. I have some health issues as well and we have had a situation that had us in therapy. My health currently ususally means I am in a couple doctor's appts a week so that can be time consuming.

Anyway.. I think 13 is a tough age to keep motivated. They aren't old enough to teach themselves yet but they are old enough to want some independence. It's all about finding a balance.

Married, part time work from home mom to DS (13 and homeschooling), DD1 (11) and DD2 (9) and a giant dopey newfoundland, a crazy border collie mix, 3 black cats and a cute rat.
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#8 of 10 Old 05-05-2015, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It seems like every week we have a nice talk and figure out a good schoolwork schedule for him, which seems to work for 1-3 days and then it all falls apart again. On Monday, he doesn't want to do the whole week's work; he only wants to do 1/5 of it. But then he won't continue to do that much work daily, and I end up nagging or yelling at him by Thursday or Friday.

I honestly don't know how long I can keep doing this. He's just taking too much out of me. I'm having a very rough time this week because of allergies, and I'm barely managing to keep up with the housework, and then my 19yo (with a host of her own issues) needs my attention, and then I'm just falling apart.

It's not like the public school worked for him- but this isn't working either.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 20, Hannah, 19, and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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#9 of 10 Old 05-05-2015, 01:21 PM
 
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Since the scaffolding seems to help, if only temporarily, I wonder if he needs to scaffold only a day at a time. What if each evening you finished up with a herbal tea and a discussion about what his plans are for the next day, how he's going to plan out his schoolwork, what his day will look like, what reminders he wants (or doesn't want) from you, etc. etc.? If you wait until the following day, anything you say will be viewed by him, and resisted, as nagging. The night before it'll probably be viewed more as facilitation and planning.

Miranda

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#10 of 10 Old 05-05-2015, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've tried- it seems he NEVER wants to talk about schoolwork! Certainly not every single day. I also like the idea of having weekly goals, so if we have something outside the house planned, he can get his work done ahead of time.

It also feels like I'm constantly repeating myself- do X number of online lessons and X amount of time reading (usually expressed as number of discs in the audiobook.) And he still needs to make up the work he didn't finish last week. But he's not open to listening right now because he hasn't eaten much today- because I woke up in major pain today and asked him to reheat lunch for himself, rather than me doing it for him.

And now it's 4:45 on a Tuesday and he hasn't finished last weeks' work, and certainly hasn't started on this week's yet. He could have been half done by now!

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 20, Hannah, 19, and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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