View Full Version : First day of homeschooling report, not so wonderful

01-09-2012, 07:11 PM
Well, the first day of homeschooling my 15-year-old has come and gone. The plan was for him to get up about 9 and we'd get started by 10. One of the big problems we had with public school was his inability (or lack of initiative) to get up by 5:30 a.m. to be on the bus/train for his long commute.

So after several wake-ups by me and my husband, and me getting impatient, he finally got up at about 10. I reminded him that I have other things to do with my time besides wait for him for hours. He said, "If you're going to get pissed at me all the time, this isn't going to work," and I said, "Yes, but it's also not going to work if you think you can sleep until noon." I knew I could only work with him in the morning since I had to watch my grandkids this afternoon (yes, I'm that old!).

We finally sat down after we got over being mad at each other, and he was fairly cooperative. Although I had spent some time planning, the things I had ready somehow looked really lame. My son commented that the materials were too easy and I needed to have things at high-school level. I had bought a high-school level biology book since I didn't like the school textbook we already had, and I guess he thought it was too simple. We spent some time going through all his spiral notebooks and seeing which ones had blank pages we could use.

At one point he asked if he could drop out of homeschooling! I think he was kidding, but not sure.

I assigned him a chapter of the biology book to do over the week and he's pacing himself with two pages a day, although I know he could read it in one day. He claims he already read the story I assigned him, "The Masque of the Red Death," although he had taken the book into his bedroom so I'm not sure he really did.

I had nothing prepared for World Studies and my husband wasn't ready with math materials. So those subjects will happen later this week. I told my son that we would step up the work later and I want him to think about some projects he would like to do independent work on. He seemed to think that was an OK idea.

So I'm telling myself that any work he is doing here is more than he was doing before, and not to worry that much about it, but I still feel a little lost. My husband suggested that I not fight with him about waking up in the morning but let him do the work in the afternoon or evening instead. That would be a good idea except that I work full time and have to work around my schedule, also. Hubby is home all the time now (between jobs) so maybe he could do that afternoon shift for now.

I guess I'm wondering if I need to chill out and that things will come together. I know it's silly to worry after the first day, but maybe some of you veterans can give some advice?

01-09-2012, 07:30 PM
What do you think it will take to help your child like, actually like, homeschooling? For my son, getting up when his body clock tells him to is a huge factor!

Have him spend some time on Khanacademy.org and pick some stuff to do. See what he likes and hates before you spend a ton of time putting things together.

Accidental Homeschooler
01-09-2012, 08:24 PM
I started with a thirteen year old girl and a five year old girl, way harder with the teen. I gave her a break after we pulled her out except for math. I was afraid of her getting behind and then wanting to go back in the Fall (we started hsing in March) and having to repeat. So we just continued in her text from school. She ended up doing a lot of cooking and started her own small business. She did things and they were educational but not in a ps sense really. She did some papers at my request about cooking, the history of different types of foods. She spent some time on Mediterranean food and managed to pick up some history with that. She read a lot, sometimes a book a day. We spent six months doing this and started with a curriculum for each subject in September. Now we are doing OK as far as her being good with doing the work. She has started sleeping in though and I let her, but I don't have any work demands either. Could you ask your son to come up with his own plan for what he wants to accomplish and how and then sit down and negotiate with him? Does he have any ideas about his future? Does he want to go to college? Have him do some of the research about what he needs to do so he is ready for whatever his goals are, assuming that he is starting to think about the future and what he wants. My daughter and I have a plan for her education and are in agreement as far as what we want to accomplish, though not always the HOW, and that helps when we hit a tough spot. Good luck and I wouldn't worry too much about a tough first day. I think it just takes some time doing it to figure it out.

01-09-2012, 08:42 PM
We are on our second week. My oldest still thinks he's on vacation and only does the bare minimum. Makes me nuts because I know he's capable of soooo much more. The getting up in the morning is an issue for us as well. Unfortunately, it's a touchy spot with DH. He thinks letting them sleep in everyday confirms the vacation theory. So we all get up at 7:30 in order to have everyone downstairs by 8. I hate it as much as they do lol.

It is getting easier though. It also helps that I know exactly where all their interests lie, so I know where to concentrate our efforts.

01-09-2012, 10:31 PM
If dh is home, there is NO REASON for dh not to take the lead here, is there?

It definitely takes time to get in to it with homeschooling. YOu have to redefine your relationship and you have to figure out what works and what doesnt work.

He doesnt really need to 'work' with you much at this age, does he? I mean, give him reading assignments and writing assignments and have him turn them in, if he wants to work other hours and dh cant cope for whatever reason.

also, if he says the bio is too easy, try a college level text instead. I bought one that was well reviewed on amazon and my son used it in 8th and 10th grade and liked it. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805365850/ref=oh_o05_s00_i00_details - the 13 yo copy is a penny plus shipping. Its up to date enough for a high school course, imo, and it goes in to a lot of detail. I looked up videos about the topics on youtube. Or you can check out http://quarksandquirks.wordpress.com/biology-hs-level/ or http://www.ck12.org/flexbook/ - free textbooks on line.

better yet, let him look them over and see if he likes one of those options better - why not? get him engaged. get him taking responsibility for his own experience, thats the only way he wont want to drop out.'

i agree with asking him what he wants from his own life - and help brain storm with him how to get there. Homeschool high school doesnt have to be exactly like school is but at home. It should be customized to him, not trying to make him fit the mold.

I also agree with Khan Academy being a great stop-gap - they even have online math problems you can do under 'practice' where he can get a good idea of where he is - start at addition and see how far he gets. Also, for history, just tell him to pick a history documentary out of netflix for now and tell you about it when you get home, or write a review of it, or something.

organization isnt really as important as finding the flow . . . finding what works for him, what gets him interested, and what takes the least amount of your effort and causes the least amount of friction.

and be patient!! its a really hard transition to make!

01-10-2012, 10:07 AM
Thanks for the replies and good insight. I really think I've been too focused on trying to duplicate what he was doing in public school and even following the syllabus strictly for some of his subjects. You're right, it is a hard transition to make. (freedom, what a concept!) It's almost like there's too much good material to learn in the world and a little overwhelming at first to know where to start.

My husband and I looked at the things on Khan Academy and agreed we can definitely use a lot of those lessons with Frank. What a great resource! And why didn't I already know about this? I'm learning a lot from you guys. And husband has agreed that he can do more with the lessons since he's home for now.

So I'm going to breathe deeply and try to relax and enjoy the ride instead of obsessing about every little thing.

01-10-2012, 06:42 PM
Sounds like a good start! Its a big learning curve at first - its not what we are used to!

01-10-2012, 10:05 PM
My theory on Teenagers:

Their brains are left over from an ancient time. A time when there needed to be someone to guard the cave at night. So in this vein we get teenagers. They need to start later in the day!! And stay up later at night. So start schooling around 2. And get him up around 11:30 have lunch and tell him to watch stuff or read stuff.

Oh and it also play s out in the theory that is why old people get up early. To relieve the teenagers of their watch.

01-10-2012, 10:18 PM
I like your theory about teenagers, lakshmi! I think you're on to something!

I have to confess that Day Two of our homeschooling (today) ended up being a blow-off day. My son helped one of our neighbors pack up to move this morning. Then he did errands with me in the afternoon, and now is out skateboarding with friends. He did zero schoolwork. But I figured it was OK since we only have a few more days of this warm weather, and he'll be home a lot more when the snow hits next week.

01-10-2012, 10:42 PM
Even with littler kids, it can be rough to get going. When we brought our then 9yo ds.. ugh. I wasn't sure it was going to work AT ALL.

I spent some time de-schooling, and sticking to the bare min that I felt comfortable with. We talked and talked and talked. Eventually, it did get easier (still not easy, really, but definitely easier) as my ds realized we were on the same team here, and my goal was NOT to torture him lol.

My kids are younger than yours, but I think this still applies: training myself was, and is, the hardest part. Some part of me still thinks that the boring methods in ps MUST have some purpose, so I've gone over plenty of information they already knew.. because I thought I needed to (for an inexplicable magically ps reason). HA! It isn't really like that here though- if they know something, skip it. If the info is too easy, beef it up. My kids scare me because I'm the hold-out usually (while their begging to move FASTER), but I think we do have to trust them kwim?

01-10-2012, 10:46 PM
dbmamaz said most of what I would have said :)

Have you gone through a deschooling phase at all? It's often recommended that, when switching to homeschooling, you take a good period of time off from official schooling, to de-stress and generally get bored enough to develop an interest in learning again. More than just scheduled vacations. A month for every year in school is a common recommendation, though I don't see that as practical for a teenager who wants to be on-track for graduation.

Take a month or two. Encourage him to follow interests, and think about what he wants to do, both now and after high school. Don't worry about wake-up times - watch what his schedule is and plan future schooling around that (I found that, as a teen, I functioned best sleeping 1am-9am). Have both of you read the Teenage Liberation Handbook - even if you don't want to unschool, it has good ideas for taking charge of your education. See if you can find a local homeschooling group to hook up with to get a better impression of what others are doing (it may be hard to find homeschool-specific activities for teens, though). Help him formulate goals, and let him be involved in choosing what curriculum he'll use.

01-10-2012, 10:50 PM
I was thinking - otoh - if skateboarding w freind in the afternoon is a big deal . . . then even if he doesnt do work in the morning, if he says he'll do work in the evening, you can say he cant go out to skateboard until work is done - he coudl do it at night or in the earlier afternoon - but that kind of thing, as long as its reasonable - like 2 hours of work a day to start - it should be motivating.

i know that deschooling is pretty stressful when you are already that late in the game . . . . i didnt really deschool, but we did start in september, after taking summer off.

oh, and days off are ok . . . esp since you are still figuring it out. and helping a neighbor - thats a good cause, showing responsibility

01-11-2012, 01:28 PM
The idea of "retraining myself" really makes sense and I think I'm having trouble with that. I feel like I'm trying to prove to others that he's really in school. I have four older kids (age 18 to 28) and they all seem to think that I'm rewarding bad behavior by allowing the youngest, who has a history of doing poorly in school (both for academics and discipline), to be homeschooled. In their opinions, he has manipulated me and my husband so that he can be in a situation with no work and no accountability. So I'm dealing with those conversations in the back of my mind.

My other kids all did well in public school except the second, now age 24, who dropped out at age 16. He was the most adamant about me not taking Frank out of school, and was almost in tears begging me to make him buckle down and catch up. He said dropping out was the biggest mistake he ever made and it led to a series of unfortunate decisions and circumstances for him. I didn't really attempt homeschooling with him since he was already 16 and had a job and was pretty unmanageable at the time. He ended up getting a GED on his own and is now married with two kids.

Despite the opposition from my other kids, my husband and I agreed that school wasn't working out for our son on any level. Fortunately, my friends and my parents are all supportive and seem to understand our dilemma. My mom is awesome, and has told me she thinks it's a great idea and she knows some great homeschooling families where she lives.

I will get a copy of the Teenage Liberation Handbook. I think I'll try to have him keep up with math and reading for now and relax with everything else for the time being.

Thanks for all your advice and hand-holding! You guys are seriously keeping me from going insane.

01-11-2012, 01:40 PM
Wow, thats interesting - i wonder why your other son thinks it was such a big mistake? Tho honestly, I sometimes wonder how much better off i could have been if I hadnt dropped out of college - but if I wasnt functioning in college, i wasnt functioning in college. I WAS trying, but what i was trying wasnt working. Being a parent is so hard - trying to direct someone else's life for them and always knowing they will think you did it wrong! Oh, and my oldest ALWAYS says i'm not hard enough on the younger ones . . .

01-11-2012, 10:29 PM
Good luck Kachina, and the niggling part of you that says that your children might be right, well, just admit that they MIGHT be right and it will make it smoother. As in, You might be right but we're doing it anyway. Then take a great long look at whether there is any truth to his manipulations etc....

Just saying sometimes the best way to diffuse is to agree!