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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am at a total loss as to what I need to do here... Long story short... I pulled my son out of PS halfway through the 8th grade to homeschool (for a variety of reasons), gave him the rest of the year and the summer to unschool, so basically we did nothing homeschooling-wise. End of the summer, he decided he wanted to try High School to be with his friends. We never officially finished the 8th grade at home, never filed any sort of paperwork, but they let him into 9th grade anyway. Now we're almost at the end of the year and he is failing several subjects. I've had meetings with his teachers about how to best help him, he decided that he made the wrong choice months ago, but the goal was to just finish this year and go from there. He came home today telling me that I need to call the school to talk about dropping some of his classes that he is failing anyway, so that he can have a shorter day. He is failing because he just doesn't want to do the homework. It's not because he can't, it's because he wont. He lies about it. I really really don't know what to do.

I feel pretty strongly that the reason he is failing coupled with the fact that he only has 5 weeks left, that IF he still has a chance to pass some of these classes, that he should put his head down and do his best to just pass. That he made a decision to go to school and should finish what he started, because no one is going to do him any favors when he is an adult and sometimes life and work is hard and he wont like it, but he will have to get through it anyway. I have told him again and again that I am here to help him with any subject that he has trouble with, but he has never once asked me for help. I admit that I might be totally wrong here too, I just haven't had any kind of input from other angles that might give me some perspective. His father isn't around, and his teachers would rather write him off and just not have to deal with him.

I have always felt that homeschooling is the best option for him. I am 100% committed to helping him. Even after this year is over, I don't know where to begin. I don't know how to explain this to the state when I enroll him as a homeschooler (we're in VT). I am so overwhelmed and so lost and all I want to do is help my son get the education that he deserves. :(

Any constructive criticism and/or friendly advice would be very much appreciated.

-Lisa
 

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I think...as a once similar teen...

I get the impression that his new independence as a teen has made it difficult to turn to you.
I also get the sense that he just needs a good shake (lovingly...) but just shake the loose bolts out...if you know what I mean.
I also get the sense it all falls on deaf ears.
I also get the sense that this kid needs saving...but I also get the sense he needs to save himself.

I think...you should stick him in outward bound for the summer.
The more obstanant the long the journey.
(I did 32 days in Maine and after about 28days I understood. After no one would help me get my tent up with the broken pole in the pouring rain after 4 days and nights of rain. It sucked. I slept in mud. Mud. Only my anger kept me from crying. The next day I helped the kid with the missing pole, put up my tent, and wrote what I wanted for myself. Don't that be discouraging but encouraging.)
Essentially he's throw in nature, must survive in a group with other kids, and teaches you to push when you can't push anymore.

They have different programs and different lengths and scholarships.
 

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I'm in Vermont.
Call Bryne. She's super nice. Karen is too busy.

May I also suggest Roots in Corinth.
 

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I think...you should stick him in outward bound for the summer.
Four weeks costs $7000+, so that might not be possible. (Out of curiosity I looked briefly at Roots, and it's cheaper but it is just a week-long summer camp where you have to provide your own camping gear -- $$$ -- and I don't think a week is nearly as likely to be life-changing.) I do agree that autonomy, responsibility and risk are necessary experiences for young teens, and Outward Bound could be one way of giving them a taste. Personally I think there are lots of other ways of doing so, including some that are free or cheap or even money-generating, and which can be integrated in life in an ongoing way. I agree with mamaprovides that giving this kid meaningful experiences in the larger world is going to be very important in helping him discover how to move forward from a position of resentment and resistance.

I would be looking for mentorships, work experience, entrepreneurship, volunteerism, semi-independent travel or some sort of major self-motivated project as the focus for the next two or three months. Let him catch a glimpse of how he might be part of the larger world and make a difference there, for himself and for others. Then he can begin to work backwards from that vision to look at what he thinks he should be doing to build more competence and open up opportunities for himself.

Miranda
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Outward Bound does look awesome, but even with their max scholarship award, there is no way I could afford it. VYCC looks like it would be great for next summer, as it looks like the minimum age is 16. I agree, he does need something meaningful. I'm looking.

Thank you!
 

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How about going to the library and picking up "The Teenage Liberation Handbook" by Grace Lewellyn and trying that out for size? Read it yourself first, and if you aren't fussy about the over-wrought metaphor at the beginning of the book, don't let that dissuade you from reading on because despite that there's some pretty cool stuff in the book. Then, if you're okay with it, give it to your son to read and see what his take on it is. See if it helps him begin to see the opportunity he has to shape his life and his education going forward.

miranda
 

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What will it take for him to pass those classes? How meaningful will it be to him? For you? If he's lying about his work something is up. It's aweful to watch your kid struggle and to fail, but sometimes that has to be the way. My now 17 year old struggled, avoided, refused help with math last year, it was very hard to watch. Standing back and letting her experience failure was very hard, and the fall out to her self esteem was substantial, but she has worked it out, and big picture, long run, it was for the betterment of who she is, and who she will be.
HTH
Anna
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I didn't end up talking to anyone at his school yet... I had a death in the family (my uncle) on Thursday that made dealing with anything else really difficult. I will be calling them tomorrow though to see exactly what his options are. If it were up to my son, he would leave the school now. I don't believe he is really getting anything from his school, and I don't blame him for wanting to leave.

I really appreciate hearing about other experiences letting them fail and work it out, I have a lot of faith in him and I believe he can come out on top... but you are right, it is very hard to watch. And I'm just not sure of how best to help him as his parent.

And TY Miranda, I actually had a friend tell me many years ago that if they had read that book as a teenager, they would have dropped out of PS. I will check it out. :)
 

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I'm all for exploring the option of natural consequences..particularly with older children that are on the brink of making all decisions on their own.

However, what is the plan if he fails and experiences failure. What is the going forward plan, so that failing has some sort of impact to him?

For teens who are parented in a way that allows them to make all their own decisions, yet are taken care of at home, and do not have to provide for their own self-sufficiency, it is a bit unrealistic to call every situation a natural consequence/benefit of their choices.

For example, sometimes those can be even drawbacks of GOOD and responsible decision making outside the norm, because we do operate in a society that impacts these decisions. My son graduated homeschool at 16 1/2. He had completed all coursework that would be comparable/exceeding a "senior". He did many electives, and was way active in his own enriching interests, etc. He went off to Bible college for one semester (that was the plan, not to graduate, but take a semester with God, on his own, and to do some thinking and prayer about his future).

When he returned he was 17. Guess what? Very few employers, beyond minimum wage/fast food type work, will employ a 17 year old-despite having a pretty full resume, and being very well equipped/educated for other positions. So, we were all kind of hosed. He worked 2, sometimes 3 lower jobs, and the hassle of doing that all may not have been worth early graduation. He could have taken college classes, etc., but he is not college bound on his radar anywhere (in the Air Force now) so that was essentially stand still for him.

Anyway, something to think about, and will definitely reflect our route with our other children that are nearing the graduating/adult age. If your son is allowed to fail, what will be the drawback of not attempting to succeed, for him, and how does that impact your family?
 

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I'm not sure what your point is MFQ. Sometimes life throws you a curve-ball, and it's too bad your ds didn't have better employment prospects at 17. I've always encouraged my kids to have at least two marketable skills (and the documentation to ensure they're employable) by the time they leave home: one as a preferred means of employment, the other as a backup. I don't think anyone can count on high school completion alone as being enough to ensure meaningful employment at anything other than minimum-wage work. That's the economic reality, whether you make responsible decisions or not.

Anyway, IMO the point of allowing teens to fail is not so that they can be justly punished by the consequences of their failure, but so that they can be supported in learning from their experiences while they're still within their parents' sphere of influence. If you don't study in high school in Grade 9, the consequence may include F's on a transcript, a big hit to your self-esteem, and having to endure negativity and disappointment from teachers, classmates and parents. Yes you'll still have a roof over your head and enough food to eat. The consequences of your actions will be limited in scope because you're a teen not an adult. But I think that's a good thing: you'll have parents who can help you figure out a realistic and viable alternative plan, and who can support you as you put it into action.

Miranda
 

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I was asking the OP what the plan was regarding the after allowing him to fail.

My comment was not asking anyone to feel sorry for my son's situation. We are quite happy with things there. My comment was to reflect that sometimes things we don't even consider in situations have outcomes, and for us we learned some things about what to do and how to proceed with teens regarding finishing up their educations. I was intending to help the OP see that it's just a moment in time where she is with her son, and the long-term is what counts.
 

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I was intending to help the OP see that it's just a moment in time where she is with her son, and the long-term is what counts.
Oh, okay. As I said, I wasn't clear what your point was, so thanks for clarifying.

Perhaps I'm assuming too much, but from the OP it sounded like the first step in the plan was to register him as a homeschooler and move forward with a home-based alternative to high school, whether he finishes out the year or not. I thought she was reaching out for inspiration for further planning, and several ideas have been suggested above... travel, co-reading the TLH, camps, volunteer work, and so on.

Miranda
 

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That makes sense to me, as well @moominmamma

I am certain I didn't articulate my thoughts all that well in my original post. I was mostly concerned for the mom that he fails and then is saddled with an "I failed and that's OK" mentality. Which, sometimes we do fail, and sometimes that all ends up OK..totally a real life lesson sometimes we all need to learn in one way or another.

I just wasn't sure if that may then permeate the future for him, or that the allow to fail isn't a very big deal to him, so he thinks it isn't a big deal to do that in the future.

I can imagine that is a spinning wheels type feeling for mom. It does sound like OP has great ideas for moving forward and beyond this small piece of the puzzle.

For us (just to try to relate to the situation) I had never considered that "hey, doing pretty well and having goals and finishing up a bit early" would create a different set of issues to work through. We did and he did, and that's all good, it just wasn't expected! Curve balls certainly do happen, and they can be turned for good..just tricky in the mean time!
 
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