A Different Approach to Homeschooling High School for Unmotivated Teens
by Beverley Paine, Jan 2020
On one of the homeschool support groups a mum asked for ideas to help motivate her 15 year old son. He'd been homeschooled previously using a packaged curriculum but the parents ran a business and weren't sure they could give their son the time needed to go back to homeschooling using a different approach. The young man had learning differences that weren't being met at school, had developed anxiety, and had lost interest in everything except computer gaming. This was my reply:
"At that age, 15, and given his mental state, and your time constraints, what I'd probably be doing if I was faced with this situation would be slowly engaging him in everyday household tasks and chores, but together, not sending him off to do them by h imself. Pick tasks that enable you to work side-by-side, either chat or listen to the radio or podcasts (news, current affairs, topics of interest rather than music, but do include music now and then).
The aim to help him become independent and autonomous - build his confidence across a range of life skills he'll need in adult life. If your there are any opportunities for him to develop skills in your business, perhaps map out an apprenticeship style learning plan for him. That may provide opportunities to learn other important life skills. Obviously that will create more work for you in your business, but you can count it as his home education plan.
The other thing that will help is doing physical recreation activities together. This may be really simple, such as going for a walk together early in the morning. It may be really hard to get an exercising routine started and happening regularly (I've always found it hard) but once the habit is formed it will probably stay with both of you for life, so well worth persevering. Again, this counts as part of the home education learning plan. If walking isn't appropriate pick something else - the important thing is to build the habit of regularly moving the body. It could be an energetic Wii program of similar if he really doesn't like going outside, although fresh air really helps with balancing moods.
To sum up, instead of thinking of home education as time you'll need to find to teach him, think of it as an opportunity to find ways to connect in ways that will be healthy for both of you. By engaging with him more doing things that need to be done anyway your helping him learn life skills. By getting involved with doing things with him, your investment of time and energy into things either of you are interested in, or will bring you both some kind of satisfaction (going places together, having fun together, making/creating together, etc) will help him value his life more too.
Education doesn't have to look like school. For the purposes of registration we can record everyday life in a way that demonstrates the skills our young people are naturally learning."
If you have a question about any aspect of home education please consider joining my online group: The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling.
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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