Posted this morning on my local Facebook group I manage…Thought I should share it here as well, for more people to benefit from…
And you may want to read the precursor to this post as well, which is THIS POST. I hadn’t come to a solution yet when I wrote that, and there are a bunch of really great ideas in that one that might spur some ideas for you (since I realize that what worked for me won’t work for everyone).
Just to give some hope to others…I struggled to get my son to cooperate with learning time for YEARS.
For background, we have always homeschooled our 2 kids. My daughter just turned 20 and I graduated her in 2019. My son is 15 now and we are doing high school.
When he was little it really wasn’t an issue because he was little and it was mostly fun and he was eager to learn. Once he hit, I’d say, the tween years? Things got rough.
He fought me on ANYTHING that even remotely looked like learning. Or work.
And it didn’t help that I also struggle with ADHD so consistency is pretty much impossible for me. But I kept trying. And I kept trying different things.
I am a FIRM believer that learning should not be an unpleasant experience, and that if it is, there will be no learning happening.
But also, while I may lean a bit on unschooly side, I am not firmly in that camp. So I do want some specific things covered. I believe it’s ok to present things to children they may not ever stumble upon themselves…so long as they are not fighting it. The trick is to find a way to light that spark of interest, in my mind. And I have been striking out for YEARS with my son, beating my head against a wall!
Talk about feeling like a failure as a homeschool mom! 14 years I have been at this with 2 kids and I could NOT find a way to light my youngest’s interest in learning!!
But this year…something changed…FINALLY!I don’t know what happened.
I don’t know if it’s him finally maturing or me finally finding the right combo of things…me finally getting help with my ADHD…our lives calming down a little…most likely a combination of all those things and more. And lots and lots of heart to heart conversations with my son expressing my feelings with him and listening to him. Both of us sharing our needs and wants and hearing each other out. And having a deep enough connection that we both truly want what’s best for the other.
Seriously, if there’s one thing I have learned above ALL ELSE in my homeschooling journey, it is that CONNECTION IS KEY!!! When there is conflict, it’s because there is disconnect. Drop everything and FOCUS ON RECONNECTING!!! Then work TOGETHER on a solution to the problem. This can work even with younger kids, though obviously on a level for their maturity.
ANYWAY! We somehow found a routine that works for him FINALLY! And he comes to me every Monday now asking me for his printed list of school assignments to do for the week (I still often forget and he reminds me!) and he works his way through his chores and school work WITHOUT ME HAVING TO BUG HIM INCESSANTLY!! This is NEW!!!
All of these things up until just a couple months ago were a constant battle with him!!
So let me just tell you that if our family can reach this, THERE IS HOPE!!!
Perhaps if I had worked harder at the connection or getting myself ADHD help or whatever sooner I would have gotten to this point sooner…or maybe he just needed to mature…I don’t know…but I just thought some of you could use the hope if you have a child that fights you on everything like mine was.
He still gets all that computer game play time that he yearns for, but it is after he gets all his work done. And now it actually motivates him like it didn’t before.
Just wow. I’m telling you…hang in there and keep connecting with your kids! You’ll get there. Don’t give up!!
I JUST ADDED IN A COMMENT ON THE POST ABOVE:
I check in with him regularly still to see how he’s feeling about the material. I don’t want him to feel like it’s awful. I want him to enjoy what he’s learning about, and not hate what he’s doing! I want him to ENJOY LEARNING!! While he doesn’t express super excitement, he says he does indeed think it’s cool and he’s ok with it. And I keep reminding him to come talk to me about how he’s feeling about things if it becomes a drag.
I think I just finally hit on the right combo of things that are not torturous and just interesting enough to make him feel that moving forward is actually not such a big deal to do. The assignments are doable, and not overwhelming, and he is finding things that he is surprised to find actually interesting!
This boy, I tell ya! He balks at anything new! So I have ALWAYS had to push him to do things. ALWAYS. Or he just won’t. I do it lovingly and gently, but I have learned his personality is such that I have to get him on board somehow and then gently push him to keep up his end of the bargain. And then, surprise surprise, he often comes back and THANKS me for pushing him because he actually enjoyed whatever it was I pushed him to do! Yeah, kid, LISTEN to your mom more! For years my mantra has been…”you know, dude, I’m NOT just trying to torture you!! I truly do know things! This stuff IS actually pretty neat if you’d just give it a chance!” And LO AND BEHOLD! He learns his mom was right!! It’s pretty funny actually. We have had a lot of laughs about it, after we got past the bonking of heads.
Gawd I love this stubborn child of mine.
SOMEONE COMMENTED ASKING FOR IDEAS FOR CONNECTION…HERE’S MY RESPONSE:
This will vary depending on the age of your child and your own unique personalities. But I personally like to spend time just talking with my children as much as I can…asking them how they are feeling, checking in on how things are going. Telling them how I am feeling about things. When I am particularly frustrated with how certain interactions are going with a child, I will wait until we are both in a neutral, calm mood and check-in and chat. Share my feelings then. My kids are older, so I have been known to let them know if I am feeling like a failure, not being able to find a way to engage them and ask them for ideas to help solve the problem. Ask what would interest them, what would be something they would enjoy, or be interesting to them. Expressing to them that I am truly not trying to torture them but that I really feel this is important and I explain why this is important to me in ways that would make sense to that child at whatever level they are at.
I also like to connect with my children in their world at what they are interested in. My kids are gamers. I am not so much, although I’m not NOT a gamer. I do enjoy gaming, just not the same games as them and not to the degree they do. But I have been trying harder to meet them in their world. It means SO MUCH to them when I dive into something that interests them. So asking them to teach me their game. Playing with them. Even if I suck (which I usually do). I usually end up enjoying myself too! And it’s usually hilarious because I’m so bad. We laugh a lot.
When they were little, it was finding a board or card game or some toy they liked that wasn’t torturous to me. I feel like it needs to also be enjoyable to me or I’m less likely to want to do it. If I don’t have to force myself, then it’s easier to make happen. I need to genuinely enjoy myself as well.
There are tons of activities that kids can enjoy that we can as well…it’s just a matter of finding something that we can meet in the middle with and BOTH enjoy together. Reading books aloud to my kids was something I did a LOT of when they were little. Often snuggled up somewhere comfy. Some days that’s all we did! Hours and hours of reading good books together. It was a great way to connect!
Some days we made playdough and did art projects together because I find that enjoyable as well…and we spend that whole time chatting and talking about what we are making or about things that are concerning us or about the plots and characters of books or tv shows or movies we’ve been enjoying.
Now that they are older, we talk about political things and tv shows and movies a lot more. And games. Lots of games. And we talk about people in our lives and how we feel about the relationships we have and what we want to happen in our lives…and things we are happy about and things we are unhappy about…and the state of our house and what we can do to fix that because we all live here and we all need to take care of it. And we talk about just so many things and connect that way.
I try to keep checking in with them regularly. And if nothing else, I regularly go to wherever they are and give them a kiss or a hug and tell them I love them.
I also take them shopping with me sometimes. That’s a great way to connect, just taking one child shopping with you.
So there are some ideas to get ya started…the possibilities are absolutely endless! Let me know if you have any questions!