Motivating Teens, Education and Unschooling
by Beverley Paine
My unschooling teen got up each morning, tidied his bed, made his own breakfast, fed the chooks and pets, chatted to me and then got on with whatever he wanted or needed to do. Sometimes that was being online - either researching something related to his interests (building/modifying computers or troubleshooting problems) or playing games.
From an outsider's perspective it might look like my son played computer games (or LEGO) all day. Some days it looked like that to me! However he was an integral element to the smooth running of the home and family life, being personally responsible and taking care of his well-being.
I understood that when he purchased a new computer game he'd be playing obsessively for a while and it would be difficult to get his attention. I learned to time some of our activities to match his available time. And to give him appropriate notice that his help was needed.
It is really easy for us to dismiss the everyday knowledge and skills embedded in everyday living. We focus so much on what has been defined for us as education and think we need to apply more of that. We don't.
14 year old boys are like anyone else - they like to do things with other people. What I found worked when I felt my son wasn't engaging with a wide range of activities was doing those things I valued with him. So many parents tell their children to do this or that, expect them to do it on their own, and to be motivated to do it on their own. Young kids through to young teens really appreciate company. Inviting my son to help me with a range of everyday living tasks as well as participating in activities that interested me also helped me feel less paranoid about his education.
I think unschooling starts to work really well when we start thinking about our children as people, rather than as children who need an education.
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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 support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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