View Full Version : Getting worried

12-29-2011, 10:20 PM
I'm new to homeschooling, as in "haven't started yet," and am worried about a couple of things. I took my 15-year-old son out of public school just over a week ago and am planning to start (with my husband) teaching him at home in another week. My 18-year-old daughter is in public school still with no problems.

As I've read a lot of the forum postings, I'm hopeful that things will work out for us, but a couple of things are worrying me. First, a lot of people mention how much time it takes to homeschool, how it's exhausting, etc. My husband and I both work full time, and now I'm wondering if we've bit off more than we can chew. I'm off on Mondays, and my husband is off on Fridays (as well as the weekends), so there will be only three days we won't be available for teaching. I had envisioned having a relaxed and eclectic approach to my son's lessons since he can't sit for long periods of time with a book anyway, but now I wonder if we'll be shortchanging him by not being home more.

Another thing I worry about is leaving him essentially by himself for three days a week. He's been a latchkey kid for years already, so it's not unusual for him to be by himself, but it just seems more worrisome not having him supervised or in school on these days.

Those are just a couple of my guilt trips that have started. I'm sure there will be more. Any advice or encouragement would be appreciated.

12-29-2011, 10:58 PM
remember a lot of the ppl who talk about how much work it is - are homeschooling multiple small children. doing ANYTHING with multiple small children is a lot of work.

why did you take him out of school? Does HE seem happy with the idea? My 15 yo has serious issues, but he doesnt need as much one-on-one time as my 8 yo. I would call him several times a day and give him assignments while you are gone . . . including chores or something else, so its not like he's doing all his school work without you - you could even assign documentary videos he has to watch and tell you about . . . just so he isnt sitting aroudn doing nothing all day. But if there are specific things you are worried about him getting in to, i'd talk to him about it. He's old enough to be a partner in this.

12-30-2011, 01:31 AM
I don't have a teenager- but if you are worried about him being alone during the day, is it possible for him to intern somewhere, or voulenteer at an animal shelter some of the time, or something along those lines that get him a place to be around other people? Not for the full day, but something to break up the monotony of being alone at the house.

12-30-2011, 01:52 AM
I homeschool a 15 year old and have had him home since he was 12. I think he is LESS work now. I have set up a block system for him. He does a week of Math, a week of English, a week of History etc. I have it all written out on a calendar so he knows what he needs to be doing. 99% of the time he works independently and that includes chores as well. We gather together at the end of the week to go over what he has accomplished, summarize what he has done, and do any corrections. I have learned that he is not going to be great in everything regardless if I am standing over top of him while he is working or not. He is not the greatest at Math and really doesn't like writing but loves all other subjects especially Science and History. He seems to enjoy the block approach and does well with it. He likes to know what to expect and what is coming next. I would say that on Mondays and Fridays take him out and do activities with him. Visit museums, have a nice lunch together, take hikes etc, etc. That way he won't feel so alone during the day and most importantly you won't feel so guilty. I know that guilt all to well. My son loves to spend alot of time alone on his computer and talking to his friends online in his freetime. He loves to play Minecraft and other online games and has created intricate worlds in these games. It is not what I would be doing with my time but he is not me and I have learned to accept that this is what he enjoys doing. Don't be suprised if your son takes some time to just chill in his safety zone for a while. Mine did and still does. I would also get into contact with your local support groups. A lot of them have co-ops where parents work together to teach their kids and have actual classes going on. You could explain your situation and see what they say. You could volunteer to do prep work in the background rather then actively being there with your son. There are also soooooo many online programs he could take part in. The list of options is endless. I would reccomend sitting down with him and talking through your expectations and hearing his needs and coming up with a plan together emphasizing that the plan can change as needed. Good Luck!

12-30-2011, 05:41 AM
I have homeschooled my 9-year-old son since he was 4. Since he's an only, there isn't a huge challenge as far as trying to keep up with him, and he's become easier to school as he matures (well, he has always been pretty easy-going as it is). I think Cara is right that most people who are exhausted have more than one child at home, and often have younger ones. A 15-year-old is (one hopes) going to be more self-directed and willing to follow instructions than a 7-year-old.

Have you asked your son if he's willing to meet expectations/goals/deadlines for getting work done, while you are gone during the day? Once he finds his rhythm as a homeschooler, you could be pleasantly surprised. :)

What you feel is probably normal. You can always see how things go for a month and reassess after that, to see if homeschooling is effective. If it isn't, you can pursue other options.

12-30-2011, 09:18 AM
I agree with the other folks. My kids are much younger than yours (7 and 10) but when I only had dd home, it really wasn't much work despite her age. It CAN be exhausting, yes. It IS time consuming, yes. But that reflects my style (have very few subjects I like as-is, so I tweak a LOT), and MY kids (who don't like to do the work together, so each has one-on-one). At the age you are talking about, I see no reason your child couldn't take a very active hand in what he's learning, and although your oversight will be necessary, you won't need to do a lot of handholding.

The other thing to keep in mind is that school doesn't have to happen 8:30-3:30. There are plenty of days someone isn't feeling motivated until almost suppertime, or someone feels like skipping a day and catching up on Saturday. Sleep schedules are... odd in my house anyway, so we do our schoolwork when we are rested, relaxed, and ready to go regardless of what time the clock says it is.

Is homeschooling work? Yes. Does it take time? Yes. But for a 15yo with some motivation, he can be an active participant in the planning and scheduling. He can actively find resources for information, actively read it to himself (with minimal explanation), actively expand his knowledge solo. My kids can't do that nearly as well or as neatly, so it takes significant set-up and prep time so I can teach it. My kids can't read something from a computer screen solo- I have to print and prepare. Although I pride myself of feeding my kids the max amount of information they can handle, I still have to edit or cut it back to something that won't give them brain fry (which means more pre-reading, more explaning, more work for me). You won't have to do that at all- or at least not to the same extent.

There are plenty of homeschooling families who don't work, and plenty who do. They manage to make it work, and you guys will as well. Unlike ps, homeschooling fits neatly around your schedule, learning doesn't happen in obviously markable slots. And not all learning is academic- some of the most important LIFE skills my kids work on (with very little direction from anyone beyond appropriate modeling in everyday life) have nothing to do with school subjects.

My biggest piece of advice is to write down the reasons you pulled him out. Reread it often. The confidence in yourself, and in him, will grow with time. For now, just trust yourself, trust your kid. You will find a way.

P.S. I LOVED being home alone at that age. I read, surfed the computer, hung out and did nothing. LOVED being home alone. I wouldn't worry at all about that :)

12-30-2011, 10:06 AM
Yea, I have a 5 and 9 yr old. There is no comparison with teenagers. And it is a lot lot more work when they are little. Because you have to entertain and teach and deal with all the developmental issues of small children. So :)

Have you decided on a curriculum or emphasis?

12-30-2011, 10:55 AM
I have to confirm what others have said. My teenagers are pretty self-directed, and because I don't have to work around someone else's schedule (i.e. the public school system), in many ways, they are less work now than when they were in the public education system. I give them their assignments for the day/week/year, let them do their work with some flexibility as to what they want to do when (they know they have to complete everything before their year is done, but exactly how they pace it is up to them), and I step in to help with difficulties, clarification and feedback. It seems to be working fairly well.

I think I would have been totally exhausted to try and work full time and homeschool when they were little, but it's definitely workable now. I work in the evening, so don't leave my kids at home alone during school hours very often, but they seem to do their work on the occasions on which I do.

12-30-2011, 11:48 AM
I agree, with everyone else. My kids are 8, 3, and coming soon so I have years to go before I can have any of them truly self directed. That's the hard, time consuming, exhausting part. One kid, as long as there are no major behavior or attention issues, should be fine for those days you can't be standing over him. He should be old enough to follow a list and get his assignments done and still have plenty of time for fun or work or whatever you guys decide.

12-30-2011, 01:35 PM
Thanks so much everyone for taking time to reply. To clarify and answer some questions, here are some reasons I took my son out of school:

1. He obviously has ADD, but I didn't feel comfortable ramping up the meds to the maximum dosage in hopes of getting him to sit still long enough to do lessons. He resisted taking the meds (Concerta) and that was just another struggle/fight every morning. He has since stopped taking it and doesn't seem to be any worse.

2. He failed all major subjects in 8th grade and all subjects so far in 9th grade, and would have to repeat 9th grade unless he could make straight As for the rest of the year (unlikely). He does well on tests, but refuses to do any homework or projects. He'll go skateboarding after school, and promise to do homework later, but then doesn't do it.

3. He tends to be the class clown, keeping all students and teachers entertained, therefore making lots of friends and not doing any work. I was always on first-name basis with all his teachers, the school principal, etc. because of constant discipline problems.

4. Because of Reason 3, he was usually in suspension, so even when I could get him to school he'd sit in a room with other "bad kids" for the whole day, mainly sleeping. Before I took him out of school, he'd say, "I hope I'm in suspension today so I can sleep." Hmm--not much learning going on, I'd say. Also, it seems he was making friends and planning fistfights with some of the other suspended kids.

5. Although the teachers and school counselor were great, helpful, and supportive, the plan of attack (or "save the grade" as they called it) was to have him come to after-school study hall and Saturday study hall (for 4 hours) to catch up on work. My son literally can't sit and do book work for that long.

6. The commute to school every day was troublesome. We live in Chicago, and he was taking the bus/train to school, which is about a 45- to 60-minute commute. We started driving him to the train stop so he could avoid waiting for the bus, but even getting him to wake up and get ready in time to leave was a constant fight. He was always "too tired" to wake up, then would infuriate me every morning by lagging and maybe taking a shower at 7 a.m. when he should have already been on the train. He missed his first hour class most of the time, and already had 12 full-day absences for this school year.

So after hearing advice from various people that we should just force him to buckle down, catch up on his work, take away his skateboard, computer, cell phone, TV, etc., my husband and I finally decided to take him out of school. We'd tried the tough love approach, and frankly are weary of that and the constant struggles and fighting all revolving around school.

The bright spot in all this is that my son is not a total delinquent, and admitted that it was his fault for getting so behind in school. It was his idea initially to try homeschooling, as he felt he was too behind to catch up and didn't want to repeat 9th grade. Another option was for him to go to the neighborhood school, but he would still be behind there but could fail out in his own neighborhood (2 blocks away). Unfortunately, many of the kids he was hanging out with in elementary school and who are now cutting class to smoke pot, etc. go to that school. We had been really excited that he tested into a selective enrollment school, and had high hopes that it would be a fresh start for him.

My son (let's call him Frank, which is actually his name) seems excited about the prospect of learning at home. He's been asking when we can plan out his lessons. My husband is a math teacher so has taken on that subject, and I can handle the reading and writing. Living here, we have access to museums and other activities that I hope can help with science and art. I've told Frank we'll try to let him choose a topic he's interested in to research and make his own projects.

I feel better after reading your advice and don't think him being home will be that big of an issue at his age. He can also take the train to my workplace and hang out there (a community college) when he wants to. I'm sure the dynamics are different with younger kids.

I hadn't thought of the fact that the day doesn't need to be dictated by regular school hours, also. Wow, I'm not used to the idea of flexibility yet!

Thanks again, and I might be writing more as things come up. It's a scary but exciting time for us.

12-30-2011, 01:49 PM
My daughter at that age needed 12 hours of sleep a day and could NOT fall asleep before midnight. When we got her out of high school and had her taking classes at community college, she could at least sleep 2 hours longer each day and that alone made a huge difference. Also, can he take some classes at school with you? is he interested in trying that? You also might want to check out the teenage liberation handbook if you havent. Honestly, i've never looked at it, but its about how teenagers can leave school and create their own 'education'.

good luck!

12-31-2011, 02:05 AM
I think your situation sounds ideal! Math teacher for a Dad! Awesome!!! College teacher for a Mom- that is so wonderful! The fact that he sounds enthusiastic about it is even better. On the sleep thing- it has been well documented that teens need a lot more sleep then adults and also that they have trouble falling asleep at night. My son is the same way. Keep us posted on how it all goes.

12-31-2011, 04:03 PM
Thanks for all your kind words and good ideas. I'll let you know how it goes after we get into things. We're hoping to use the next week for planning and will maybe get started on some math and reading. I'm already a little excited (maybe selfishly) about the simple fact of not having the 6 a.m. daily battle to even get him up and out the door to school. Oh, and Happy New Year all!

12-31-2011, 04:19 PM
Happy New Year! You've gotten great advice and I think from the sound of things, it will work out. My 16yo had similar issues with our attempts at "school-at-home" public virtual academies. We just pulled her and plan to go independent and have her start a couple online college courses. Good luck!

12-31-2011, 10:59 PM
from what you have said I'd say check his work at the end of each day to make sure it's done if this is what your after from him.
If the work is not being done do you have the time to sit after work with him.
I'm sure he will be fine during the day.
I like the idea of educational dvd's with an essay or report either written or verbal.
Perhaps your over thinking this if ds is used to being alone? Just a thought.
Maybe suggest a trial of being home alone for 3 days for, oh I don't know two weeks, come together at the end of the time and ask him how he's going with it would he like to make changes etc or continue along the current path.
Good luck