So your kid doesn’t want to learn anything…

This topic just came up, again, on one of the Facebook groups that I am a member of. And to be perfectly honest, I struggle BIG TIME with this EVERY.SINGLE.DAY with both my kids (18 and 13). But especially my 13yr old son. I haven’t solved it yet, but I do know this… Getting into a battle of wills does not work. I have to keep reminding myself of this because it does tend to be a parenting default for me. Probably just the cultural norm. It’s just what you do. Your kid refuses, you push harder. I’m finally facing the reality that this DOES.NOT.WORK.

Plus, it’s not the dynamic I want with my children. I am not interested in being constantly at odds with my children. I am firm with my kids about things I need to be, but I also want them to know that they also have my respect and I value their feelings and opinions and they DO have control over their own lives as well. I find this works so much better towards mutual respect and understanding and cooperation than pulling rank on them all the time, which doesn’t teach them to be strong adults and frankly, doesn’t feel very good.

So what’s the solution to kids not wanting to learn? Heck if I know…I’ll let you know when I’ve solved this (yeah right, like that will happen), but there are some things I do know. And since I tend to be oh-so-much-wiser when I am giving others advice (which I rarely remember to take myself)…and it’s helpful for me to write it out so I can read and reread my own advice to remind myself that I actually DO KNOW BETTER than what I have been trying…I just lose sight of it. All the time…

Here’s what I replied to that thread this morning …and I firmly believe. And I need to come back and read daily so I can find a way to do better daily. Sorry for the long, rambling, kind of all over the place thinking…it was just a spur of the moment Facebook comment and it’s still morning so my brain is just all over the place (not that that ever changes, LOL!):


I have this same problem with my 13 year old. But here’s the thing… I know that you cannot force a child to learn. You can try, but it doesn’t work. It’s like you can send a child to their room and tell them to think about something, but you can’t actually control their thinking. If a person is going to TRULY learn something, they have to WANT to learn it. Sure you can force them to read and drill and write and all that…but that’s not TRUE LEARNING. Because how much of that will they actually remember later? How much of what you were forced to learn in public school do you actually remember later? 

Do you remember how that felt to be treated the way you were treated in public school? With zero choice and all that boring, seemingly (to you) senseless info just being pushed at you to regurgitate back? That’s NOT LEARNING.

True learning is MEANINGFUL. And I homeschool to have a MEANINGFUL LEARNING EXPERIENCE with my children, not to duplicate the same forced “learning”/regurgitation experience that they would be getting in public school. If I wanted that, I’d just send them to public school. 

I homeschool to do better than that.

So I keep trying. And I keep talking with him. And I keep looking for ways to spark interest, and to do things DIFFERENTLY. Because if I’m constantly fighting daily over doing things the way we are currently doing things…that means it’s NOT WORKING. And chances are, none, or nearly none of what I’m pushing on him will be retained, so it’s all a waste of time anyway. I want him to TRULY LEARN and actually RETAIN what we are learning together! 

I will take true learning, deep learning, of a smaller amount of info…and deeper relationship with him….over a broken relationship with him and a long list of shallow facts crammed at him that he will not remember in just a matter of months any day!!

So my point is…the key is to TRY SOMETHING NEW that will be MEANINGFUL. Stop using the same old ways that don’t work. Right now I’m looking at diving into going out and doing lots of field trips to spark interest and hopefully be able to dive deeper into learning via things sparked through these trips… Nature could spark learning. Or visiting with local people in various points of importance in your community and talking to them about what they do… Or looking up all the info you can on their favorite music and learning all about the artists, the style of music, and where that even came from…. Or you could dive deep into current events and dig deep into all the history that comes up daily from that. (EVERY issue has a history, and it can get quite fascinating)… or maybe they are super into a particular animal and you can start a rabbit trail on breeds of that animal and the people that have studied and bred them and the history and science of that… Or maybe they are super into gaming and you can dive into coding and the history of gaming…learning about where games started and where they are going…. The possibilities are positively ENDLESS! 

And now I’ve even given myself some new ideas!!! I’m off to talk to my son!!! It’s a never ending struggle…I feel you…But I STRONGLY feel the solution is NOT to engage in a battle of wills with them. All you do is threaten to damage your relationship with them, and at a time when you should be starting to let them have more control over their lives, not less. 

Parenting isn’t about controlling our kids, it’s about guiding them. Yes, there are some things that just cannot be budged on…sure…but their education is something that we have to realize is NEVER entirely in OUR HANDS. Because we CANNOT force learning. We have zero control over their brains. THEY choose what they truly learn, not us. And honestly we wouldn’t want it any other way, because then we’d have brainwashed automotons. We are raising future healthy adults who need to be able to think for THEMSELVES. Accept that they do have a say in what their brains do. And work WITH THEM, not against them.

Just my more-than-2-cents.


If you want to read more on my thinking…here’s an article on Why Education Gaps Don’t Concern Me.

And after writing this, I ran across this article that really got me fired up to try some of the ideas in it! Check it out!
Hate of Learning: One Cause and a Possible Remedy

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