Thursday, March 24, 2016

Do Our Teens NEED to Work Independently?

Have you read this article? If You Want to Work From Home Full-Time, Your Teens Must Be Independent Learners I thought it worth checking out since I am trying to work more hours at home while homeschooling my 15-year old son. There's a section that stuck out at me:
Not only do your teens eventually grow up and move out, but long before that time, they should be learning independently with little input from you.
Having independent learners is critical for a work at home mom because you need time to devote to making money. This doesn’t make you a bad mom or a bad homeschool mom to encourage independent learning. Remember that if your children were in public school, they would be doing most of their work on their own anyway.
(Emphasis mine)

Uh, really? Last time I checked, kids in high school had teachers who were providing lessons, other students to work with in class or even during lunch hour or after school... There's a reason high school teachers are paid to be there and it's not to babysit!

This is not, however, an uncommon attitude in the homeschooling community. I once bought into this idea that at the high school level, my kids should just be working independently.

But then one thing hit me earlier this school year: I love teaching and working with kids. It's why I became a teacher. And in school, kids do have teachers to provide lessons, get kids thinking beyond just a textbook, guide them through things. So, my initial plans of setting things up for him to do everything pretty much independently got changed.

Then another thing hit me when it came to my son: He doesn't want to do it all on his own. He also doesn't enjoy doing some of the stuff at all, much less on his own. Which means that if I want to insist that he do all of his learning independently, he is going to hate it and dislike formal schoolwork even more than he already does. This is not what I want.

Yes, if you can't figure out how to get in full-time hours, and you need full-time hours, while homeschooling your teen, definitely, make sure they have an independent program they can follow or unschool them. But don't use this idea that they would be doing most of their work on their own anyway as some sort of support or justification for doing so. And drop the idea that they should be working independently. Don't we live with enough "homeschool Mom" guilt already?

My suggestion would be to figure out something that will work best for your family. Maybe it will be that you won't work full-time hours. (There is a lot out there suggesting that if we learned to really focus ourselves, we could cut our hours dramatically.) Or maybe you'll use part of your weekend and evenings. Or maybe you'll get up earlier than your teen and get a couple of hours in, work with your teen a couple hours, then leave him with independent work he is comfortable with for the rest of the afternoon. Or maybe you'll work your full-time hours during the day, they'll do what independent stuff they can then and an hour or so in the evening or late afternoon for one-on-one.

I've worked out that, when there aren't extra things to do like get groceries I forgot to get on the weekend, take care of things like house repairs and such, I have about 30 hours available to me--using my Saturday mornings--to work each week. This gives me about 10 hours a week to work with my son. I also have to be the chauffeur for my daughter who goes to school, which, if I didn't have to do that, would easily allow me to add another hour or two, so 5-10 hours, to my workweek. All while working with my son a couple of hours per school day.

I like learning with him. He likes learning with me--some things. So, those are the things we do together. He also likes to have lots of time to do the rest on his own schedule. So he does that.

If you want to have full-time hours, having a teen learn independently absolutely makes that easier. But please don't let yourself think you should be having your teen work independently all the time just because that's what they supposedly do in school (not) nor that you should make them learn independently if you want/have to work full-time hours from home. It doesn't have to be that way if you don't want it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Project "Bring Back to Life" Is Going Well!

I've written about how I feel like I need to bring my son back to life. The way I'd describe it now is that it's like his spark died down a bit, and the fuel that was good before no longer worked, but new fuel hadn't really been found. Other than video games and hanging with his cousins.

I started considering more his nature and how I could help him come back to life, essentially. Little things like having him help me with supper have actually led to him offering to help me with supper. He started drawing again. I asked him if he'd sit with me for the computer programming videos a bit--we did maybe 20 minutes--and he could help me since he'd already done the early videos, and he said yes. And I could tell he loved already knowing stuff to show me where to find what they were talking about in the video.

Then Carol Tuttle's energy types got me thinking about him. And how I haven't been meeting some of his needs well--but he doesn't realize they are needs, so he was unable to express them. For example: he likes to know what's going on when. He has ALWAYS been like this. This is nothing new. "When's supper going to be?" "When will Papa be back?" "When are we leaving?" But he doesn't really plan things, so I somehow had in my mind that plans weren't his thing. Which means I never realized that he would do well with at least a an idea of what we're going to do each day and how long it's going to take. (Yes, "How long will it take?" has been one of his lifelong questions, too.)

Then I got reconnected with the MBTI--Myers-Briggs Temperament Inventory. Figured out that he's an ISFP with some strong ISTP traits. They don't tend to be school-oriented. (Uh, yeah! lol) And they are adventurers. Now, I wouldn't have called him that, because he's so darn cautious, but I realize that that was part of his spark as a little boy: he was constantly exploring things of interest to him. Sometimes crazy things. Like frightening deep-sea animals, or dangerous animals of Australia (he never wants to go to Australia as a result), and just playing hard in whatever crazy intense game he and his cousin would come up with or just playing soccer or just always on the go, either doing or exploring.

But Lego and those kinds of games have lost their charm. He gets that desire for adventure--the remake of his old shooting games with his cousin--through video games now. Or watching people on YouTube play video games. But he also has various games on the go and changes what he plays. My husband doesn't get that. He likes starting one game and working through to the end. "Didn't you just get a game?" My son likes variety. Another realization.

So, I've started just planning things, and letting him know. And doing it CM-style right now: Keeping it to 15-20 minutes when it's definitely stuff he isn't interested in. Switching it up. Having a bit of variety. Doing more with him. He instinctively knows that going to school, the routine and setup at school, would bore him to DEATH. I need to work with that instinct. He's also someone who often needs to absorb new things a bit before he can use them. He can't just imitate you right away with a math problem, for example. Has to be shown a bit first--and then, if possible, have explanations tied to it. He needs to see how things are working, what they mean, what their point is, before moving forward.

At the same time, all of this reflection about him has had me realize: no wonder I couldn't really do anything with him school-wise when he was little!!! lol. Oh man... I am an INTJ. He and I, other than both being introverts, are very, very different in how we approach things and think about things. lol. I understand now why I didn't know how to reach him better school-wise when he was younger--because I wasn't seeing how he connected with things and moved forward. And hopefully we can move forward positively now through his final years of homeschooling.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

We don't hear until we're ready

My 18-year old daughter has always shown signs of giftedness, complete with overexcitabilities. Her emotions being one of them.

She has known for years that we just took it for granted that she was gifted. She often rejected us thinking it. But she doesn't even seem to remember now that we ever told her, as a matter of fact.

This morning, in a bright mood, she told me she'd learned all kinds of things last night. In addition to certain details involving the cast of "Once Upon a Time" ;), she said she'd learned that she was gifted (I laugh now because we've never hidden our belief about that!) and she learned about one of the excitabilities: emotional intensity.

Her reading about the ties with giftedness and intense emotions of any kind, it was like a weight has been lifted from her. And yet, she'd heard things about it from me before. So what's the difference?

She was ready.

She was ready to hear it. Ready to learn from it. Ready to connect with it.

This is sooo Montessori, isn't it?

Don't get frustrated or fall into despair if your children of any age aren't hearing something that is as plain as day to you. It's no different from presenting the right materials/lessons to the young or elementary child. If they're not ready, it's just not going to click.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Please Help 10-Year Old Jorge!

Imagine that early December, you got hit with a sudden, unexpected and out-of-your-control financial difficult. It's bad.

Imagine after that, you found out your 10-year old son has a large cancerous tumour in his chest. So large it's larger than his heart.

What does that feel like? 

A friend of mine, someone I've known since we were in elementary school, has a son in grade 5. I'll call him C. His best friend is Jorge, a young boy whose family is experiencing the above.

C has seen two beloved grandparents pass from cancer in recent years. He knows what it means. He has been found crying in bed at night. (And I can't type that without crying.)

Please, I ask all of you reading, pray for him and share this GoFundMe page. Yes, I want you to share it more than I want you to donate. I absolutely would like everybody to donate. I know that if all of my FB friends would donate just $10 each, the GoFundMe would go up by over $1300. That's just $10. So yes, of course, I would like you to donate, but I know that the reality is, the more people who see this, the more people will donate. So, if you do not feel called to donate, at the very least share this on Facebook, Twitter, your own webpage, anywhere and everywhere. They are in serious need and have not posted all of the details.


Bringing My Son to Life

My son "hates school."

Which means a few things:
  • he hates some of the topics we have to cover in order to get the high school diploma (which he sees as a necessary evil; it makes things easier in our province)
  • he hates some of the work that has to be done; this is particularly true of math which delves into things that he does not enjoy and sees no reasonable reason to be doing such things. "When am I ever going to use this in real life?"
  • he'd rather be watching YouTube videos, playing guitar or playing video games all day long and doesn't like having to be pulled out of that for other activities.
I was reminded lately that the last reason can often be the result of boredom: someone who is bored, who doesn't know what there is to do will turn toward entertainment because it's interesting. Meanwhile, it's like part of them is slowly dying.

This the boy my mother once described as a kid who really enjoys life. He doesn't anymore.

"How are you today?"

"Mm." His body language all day is one of being half-alive.

Me, I end up falling into the, "Omg, there's so much not done and we're running out of time so we need to do more [of all the activities he hates]" and don't help him discovering the more interesting things in life.

Today, I saw that life back in him. What did we do? He started out all blah as usual, upstairs in his room, watching some YouTube video (I was out running errands when he got up). We hadn't gone out to do anything in sometime, so I asked him if he wanted to go to the mall for lunch, then we could stop at the Apple store to pick up a new power cable for the Macbook he's using. Getting him out to the mall just helped liven him up. Visiting the Apple store did even more. Going to Canadian Tire after that (I needed new wiper blades and we looked for a new audio cable for the car), showed a side of him I haven't really been seeing lately. Then we went home and I helped him minimally make chocolate chip cookies and then he got busy covering the power cable with electric tape to protect it from fraying and kitty chewing (grr) and he's just ALIVE. It's so good to see.

I'd had thoughts before Christmas of starting our days with a walk. I didn't implement it. Why not?

Because I stupidly thought that because he wakes up so late, if we take a walk first, we'll have even less time to get work done.

Well, you know what? He is so unhappy about school, he's already not getting much work done. There are things I can do to find different ways to cover what needs to be covered, different activities that we could do together that will accomplish the same things.

What's more important here? To get all this school work done by the end of June and have an unhappy, half (or 3/4)-lifeless teen, or find ways to help him connect with the world around us, get him moving and doing life-filled things? Things can be stretched out to meet the requirements for the diploma. He can take an extra year. He can just accept crummy grades this year. It's not a big deal in the long run compared to raising a young man who know how to live.

So, that's it: my focus is on bringing him back to life. Get him involved more in cooking supper. Going out for walks and skating (we now have a skating rink nearby and he has brand new skates). Reading to him more from books that have nothing to do with school work. Have him think about what he would need to do as an adult to have a balanced, healthy life. Guiding him toward a balanced, healthy life now. I don't need to ban the electronics, just invite him to other things. Yes, still fitting in school work, condensing where possible, getting him WRITING (gah, yes, still an issue), but that's secondary. He needs to be brought back to life. And by golly, I'm going to do what I can to make it happen.