Saturday, May 03, 2008

Struggles, struggles

I've got things kind of laid out for Bob for next year. Although I felt like I was getting sidetracked, it really did clarify for me what has to be done for the rest of the school year so that next year doesn't come as a huge shock.

But I'm struggling internally. One part of me says that working WITH kids is so much better than just making all the decisions for them. Yet I have tried and tried over the past few months to work with him and it rarely goes anywhere. He might, MIGHT, have ONE day after our "working together" and then it's all trashed--it's like pulling teeth to get him to do anything. I don't think he wants to decide things right now. I think he wants the security of having someone else make the decisions. Which is how I'm planning it out--things like certain work has to be done daily and will be added onto the next day's (or days') work if not done, and "Privileges come AFTER required work is done." I'm feeling a bit like an ogre with him, yet at the same time, he's no different than a druggie who's so high he needs to have someone outside set some limits to get him back on track. He's not interested in working, he's not interested in setting real goals, nothing. Well, no, that's not true: he's interested in playing, having fun, do first and think later, twirl his hair, get people's attention... The bulk of what he does is really a form of avoidance. *sigh* But, I guess it's like giving a diabetic child his daily insulin--you don't really like it, but it must be done!


Lisia said...

Hi, interesting to hear about Bob's reluctance. All this year, I have been facing negativity about our homeschooling from my kids (11 and 13 yrs). I've tried various responses to it. Currently, I am giving my kids less freedom in their education than they've had in the past. I have made a list of weekly must-get-done activities, with a certain number to get done each day. The children only have freedom to choose the order. It feels right for now because it has eliminated the arguments we were having on days when the kids didn't want to work at all.

I have told the kids that I am very open to suggestions and discussion about our weekly and daily schedule but not during the work session. If they say, "I don't want to do an activity from the list right now," I insist that they do, but if, later in the day, after the work session, they say, "I would like to change what's on the list," I will consider their suggestions and negotiate a new plan with them. We have one item on the weekly must-do list called "miscellaneous" so that the kids can choose something special or different.

Is it just me or are pre-teens / early teens hard to work with? I look back on the preschool years with such fondness now. I guess I don't clearly remember the waking in the night, the difficulty trying to reason with a preschooler, and the toileting accidents. What I do remember is my children's and their friends' enthusiasm for life; it made them a pleasure to be with. Maybe every stage has its challenges and I find the challenges of the pre-teen - early teen stage harder to fathom.

I wonder if Bob would be inspired by Grace Llewellyn's "The Teenage Liberation Handbook," or "Real Lives." The second is only edited by Grace Llewellyn - it is written by teenage homeschoolers. Bob might be a bit young yet - I'm going to wait another year before offering to read those books to my 13yo. (I think he'd rather read them with me and discuss them than read them independently.)

Correne said...

Whenever you write about Bob, he sounds like the type of person who needs to be outside doing something constructive. Stuff like chopping wood, building stuff, hunting, physically engaging stuff. You said an apprenticeship would be impossible right now, but isn't there anything he could join that would give him that? Maybe he could spend the summer doing outdoor survivor stuff, or join air cadets, or rangers. Anything to give him a real connection to something.

Is he passionate about anything? Playing an instrument? Building stuff? Maybe projects related to his interest would at least keep him constructively occupied and out of other people's hair.

Daisy said...

Lisia, nice to hear from you! I think there is something to do with adolescence and pre-adolescence. It is hard, but perhaps because we adults expect things to be a certain way instead of accepting things for how they are and changing. The kids change a lot--but how much do we change? Of course, the more difficult question is: how SHOULD we change? Maria Montessori wasn't working with her own children and didn't feel quite the same brunt of responsibility we do; she had a detachment that allowed her to see and somehow intuitively determine the best course of action.

The danger of Grace Llewellyn's book is that it almost promotes rejecting getting a high school diploma, whereas he really doesn't have a choice in the matter--his parents expect and will insist on it. To do the diploma, he MUST get his reading, writing and general independent skills up. Otoh, perhaps the empowerment expressed in the book would be helpful. Hm. It's been a while since I read it. I think I'll take it out again and see if I think it's too dangerous or not. ;) Thanks for bringing it up!

Correne, if Bob could live his life outside on his bike, trampoline or skateboard, or have it be one week after another of the UofA summer science camps (especially those involving building things), this kid would be in heaven. Of course, he'd still keep avoiding the work he needs to do--the reading and writing primarily. The kicker is he HATES working alone--so who's to work with him? Hm... (You're getting me thinking here, so let me ramble). If I could figure out enough hands-on projects for him to do and see if dd or ds could join in with him somehow, AND have reading and writing as part of the requirements, it probably would go a long way to motivating him.

Ach, dinner timer dinging! Thanks both of you for feedback. Always great to get my thoughts exploring unthought of avenues!