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Kachina
05-25-2012, 10:03 PM
Hi everyone--
I haven't posted in a while and it seems my son Frank (age 15) has decided he misses going to public school and wants to go back. Although the homeschooling was his idea and he seemed enthusiastic at first, he quickly lost interest and was doing less than a bare minimum of work. I worked with him on planning lessons, and he would do one or two assignments and declare it was "boring" and not do anything else. I might get one good page of writing from him per week and a few math problems. He would refuse to go on any field trips or do computer research or lessons (ie. Khan Academy, etc.). Although his dad would try to help him with math, he'd find ways to avoid it. A typical day for him is to grumble (curse, etc.) when I try to wake him up in the morning before I leave for work, sleep until 1 or 2 p.m., then leave to hang out with friends in the afternoon. At the time I took him out of school, my husband was between jobs so was home more often, but now he's gone back to work so isn't home to crack the whip and make my son get up.

I asked Frank why he wanted to go back to school, and wouldn't he rather be more serious about doing homeschooling, and he said he misses having to wake up at a certain time and having a structured day. He has ADHD so maybe that's a control/security issue for him. I see that he has been no more disciplined or motivated at home than he was at public school, and unfortunately my husband and I seemed to lack the time and fortitude to make things be otherwise.

We've talked to Frank about his goals, and his older brother (age 28) was home for a few days recently and had a heart-to-heart talk with him about setting goals and working harder. Frank seemed receptive to the advice and says he wants to finish school and join the Marines. (His brother is in the Navy.) But he's still basically very immature and is more interested in being a cool guy with his skateboarding friends than in anything else.

I talked to the assistant principal at the high school near us (not the one he went to before), and because Frank has no real credits from either public school or home school, he will start over as a freshman next fall. When Frank first found out about this, he was angry and said "No way am I going to be with the baby freshmen! I won't go, and I'm dropping out when I get to be 16!" Well, after he found out that one of his friends in that school will be repeating 9th grade because he failed almost every class, he didn't think it would be that bad to be a freshman again. I reminded him that it will be another fresh start for him and he can try to be serious and do better. He had essentially failed out of 8th grade in public school and was failing in 9th grade before I took him out.

So the moral to this long story is that I don't know if I should be relieved or if I should feel like a dismal failure. My thoughts go around in different directions about this. I realize all kids are different, but I wonder why I seem to have so little influence on my son's discipline or motivation in life? I've tried the tough love approach, the hands-off approach, and he still seems to go his own way. He's the youngest of five, and the other siblings accuse me of being too easy on him. Maybe they're right, but that's probably grounds for a whole other discussion with a therapist or something! He does get disciplined for not doing chores, being disrespectful, etc. (like taking away his cell phone or being grounded), but there doesn't seem to be a cage big enough to contain him and I can't follow him around all day. I'd like to be able to trust him more and feel like he was making good decisions about things, but am not really that confident in him yet. I hope that the talks we've had with him and that fact that he actually does have a goal in life will propel him to grow up a little.

I still enjoy reading the forum since I feel like you all have such well-grounded attitudes toward kids, families, education, and life in general. I appreciate the patient advice you gave me when I first started trying to homeschool and you were all very welcoming to me. So thanks for that, and I'll continue to lurk on the forum from time to time.

Stella M
05-25-2012, 10:19 PM
There's no point in feeling like a dismal failure. Some kids are tough to deal with. Ask me how I know :) You sound like you are just trying your best to stay responsive to your son and his changing needs, and really, what more can you do ?

The truth is homeschooling doesn't work for every child, at all times. No shame in that.

I'd be interested to hear how it goes for both of you.

Deli76
05-26-2012, 01:43 AM
if he likes structure in his day, needs motivation, how about a part time job? a reason to get up in the morning, earn a little cash, buy a few odds and ends for himself, and homeschool in between work? i say part time job because school work first. some homeschool kids get credit for working. you might want to check if this is a possibility in your state.i wish you both the best.

Munchie33
05-26-2012, 03:30 AM
It sounds like you're being very open-minded and trying to do what is best for your son. Be strong! Some kids are tougher to help than others.

Deli76 has a good idea, I think. Since he's still a bit immature, give him something "real-lifey" that he can be responsible for. A job, driving, that sort of thing. It might help him grow up a bit more.

Pawz4me
05-26-2012, 07:22 AM
My oldest decided he wanted to go to public high school after four years of homeschooling. He's an excellent student and very mature for his age, and we respected his decision. In a way it felt like a victory for us. We pulled him out mainly because his elementary school wasn't academically challenging (and we knew the middle school was even worse), but also because he was shy and had some anxiety issues. So we didn't view his wanting to return to public school as a failure of homeschooling, but were rather proud that he felt self-confident enough to take that step. At some point you have to trust them to know what's best for them. FWIW, DS is now a rising junior and doing fabulously--taking all AP and honors classes and maintaining a high GPA, participating in several clubs and sports. Youngest DS also knows that path is available to him if he wants to take it, although so far he's pretty certain he wants to continue homeschooling.

dbmamaz
05-26-2012, 11:30 AM
Considering how immature he is, starting over could be a really good thing. With my younger, my husband really wants him back in school soon after my middle one is done w homeschooling, so I keep that in mind as a goal (tho it will depend whats up when we get there, if he is ready, if he's taking more responsibility for his own education so i could work part time, whatever)

Kachina
05-26-2012, 07:06 PM
Thanks for your good wishes and ideas. I think he will try to get a part-time job at age 16, as it's a bit difficult to get hired before then. He also said he wanted to find out about volunteering at the animal shelter this summer, so if he follows through with that idea it would be good. I'm glad we tried homeschooling and have a lot of respect for those of you who are doing this with your kids. Despite my grumbling and frustration with him, he's basically a good kid who just needs to grow up a bit. Hopefully I won't lose my sanity before that happens!:)

Susan
05-27-2012, 02:35 AM
Hi everyone--
So the moral to this long story is that I don't know if I should be relieved or if I should feel like a dismal failure. My thoughts go around in different directions about this. I realize all kids are different, but I wonder why I seem to have so little influence on my son's discipline or motivation in life? I've tried the tough love approach, the hands-off approach, and he still seems to go his own way. He's the youngest of five, and the other siblings accuse me of being too easy on him. Maybe they're right, but that's probably grounds for a whole other discussion with a therapist or something! He does get disciplined for not doing chores, being disrespectful, etc. (like taking away his cell phone or being grounded), but there doesn't seem to be a cage big enough to contain him and I can't follow him around all day. I'd like to be able to trust him more and feel like he was making good decisions about things, but am not really that confident in him yet. I hope that the talks we've had with him and that fact that he actually does have a goal in life will propel him to grow up a little.
.

Sounds like he's going through teen separation and individuation. If you are starting to feel like you are no longer influencing him that means you are doing it right. :) Of course you are influencing him, but he's working so hard to figure out who he is separate from his primary attachments that he's trying to distance himself from your influence. I love the way you are staying focused on letting him get educated the way he feels works best for him. You sound like you have his best interests at heart, and as long as that's the case no mom can possibly fail.