What do you do when you, or your teen…or both of you are lacking in motivation?
I am not talking about an occasional bad day, but an overall attitude. I am talking about a serious funk that lasts long enough to cause confusion and trouble. Reasons for this issue can be varied, but in my opinion, one main cause is a lack of maturity on the part of a teen. Whether or not the homeschool and the teen are able to rise above this challenge can determine if this immaturity is outgrown or if this teen is overcome by the character flaw of laziness.
In our homeschool, my teen has struggled mightily this year. Meanwhile, I became weary and insecure about my choices and homeschooling methods.
In late September after a good start to the school year, I thought my teen’s lack of motivation was a phase. I decided to let it slide, give him some room, and try to catch up later.
However, the less I expected from my teen, the less I got. And, things did not improve over time.
Around Thanksgiving, I found myself teaching a very enthusiastic first grader and a morose, often “tired” teenager. I decided to focus more on the upcoming Holidays and take more field trips. You know, use rewards. Bribery!
And so, we progressed into the New Year. We started off with high hopes. We changed up curriculum and added as many “fun” things as I could find. I revoked privileges without mercy. I pleaded. I prayed. I asked myself what I could do to make this work. I tried to think about what other career paths my son could be on. Deep down though, I knew he had the ability and intellect to go through college and follow a professional career. Looking into vocational training seemed to get us nowhere as nothing interested my son, and he was not doing well enough to take a college class through a local community college.
Meanwhile, work was done, but it was not enough to keep my teen on the college prep track that he wished to be on.
By March, I was panicking. I was frustrated and mean with my son comparing him with other siblings who were doing very well. I was crying at night to my husband and really felt that I was failing my child. I was angry he was failing himself as well. I was considering sending him to public school. Yet, public school had already failed him in the past.
So, in Mid-March. I gave up and asked for help. I sent him to his Nana’s.
Now, I am lucky to have a family that is supportive of homeschooling. My mother has been an educator and school administrator, so I often ask her advice and opinion.
By this point, she knew I was really struggling. She agreed to spend some time with my son and help him to jumpstart some change.
Well, my son managed to “forget” most of his books on this trip, for starters. On my way back home from dropping him at the airport, I found books under the seats. Sigh.
The worst part was that after my mom had spent some time working with my son, she was clearly concerned he was not doing well. Up until then, I think she thought I was exaggerating,
I was embarrassed and ashamed.
My mom did her teacher thing, which was important. She knows her stuff. She was sending me links to help me with my teaching skills and soon had him writing an essay a day. We talked about more scheduling for him – something that had worked in previous years that I was trying to move away from and let him manage. And he worked hard for her simply because he loves his grandmother!
Anyway, when he came home, a few weeks later, he was indeed acting like a better student. Yet, within a month, I began to see the same indifference and lack of concern about finishing his schoolwork for the year.
During this time, his oldest brother got married. In the midst of all these young adults involved with the wedding, my son really shone. He was bright, caring and fun. It was nice for me to see him in this light.
Shortly after the wedding, I heard him talking about the jobs some of the groomsmen at the wedding had.
He began doing more researching after his regular work.
Soon, he spoke with me about how maybe he did want to live at college. How a GED would not really work for what he wanted to be.
He began working without grumbling. He picked up the Chemistry book he had avoided for months and did a chapter, on his own, in a week. When tested on that, he received a 96.
Months after I first began to really worry about his lack of drive, he has become a student again.
In many ways, this did not have to do with our curriculum. It did not have to do with me, either. My worry was useless. My prayers were answered, but it took time and the work of others.
Through all of his experiences this year, he saw that he needed to learn to achieve the future he wanted.
He grew up a bit. He matured. Will this last? Well, I hope so. In our family we have a crazy mix of type A, really driven people and some more laid back folks. My son is one of the more laid back. Yet, now that he has his own dreams for the future, he seems to be on a good track.