Tag Archives: Homeschooling

Unschooling Unmotivated Kids

Motivation for an Unschooler

I had a great question posed on the Back to Unschool post, and when I realized that I was answering with a book of information, I figured that everyone might be better served by a brand new entry. :)

KK asked {in part}: …the highschooler isn’t getting it when I give her permission to follow her interests. she just doesn’t have the motivation and is afraid she wouldn’t be doing school , yet at the same time she struggles to do school. can you make suggestions here.

This is such an area where I have struggled as well – I did a lot of googling on the subject!

Unschooling Unmotivated Kids

One article especially made an impression on me. It asked “Do they sit around all day staring at the ceiling?” Or, do they have motivation to do the things that interest them…. and for me, I realized that I somehow wanted my daughter to have internal motivation to do MY goals – not her own. Unfortunately, I can’t find that article again, but the Homeschool News Network has one about how unschooling leads to self-motivated learning.

After explaining that they would be allowed to use computer time, watch TV, etc… they were both excited. Then my son went to his schedule so that he could finish school and get to those things. So, I realized that I needed to do something that made it clear that things were going to be different – in order to release the pressure, both on them and me (and to stop hubby’s inquiries about what we did for school each day), I made an announcement.

We are on Vacation.

I told them very honestly that I was having trouble with letting go as well, so I decided that we would not be doing anything schoolish at least until after Christmas. I called it an experiment. (The result of that experiment is that we will not be going back to how it was before.) This gave them the freedom to pursue what they were interested in without feeling guilty about not doing school.

{Side note on hubby: he is starting to see that they are accomplishing things on their own – not “schooly” stuff – but amazing stuff, instead!}

Another thing that is helping us is that I am actively pursuing my own interests for a change. For example, I had gotten us a documentary that looked interesting. I asked the kids if they wanted to watch it with me, and I allowed them the freedom to say No. But, here’s where the change kicked in – instead of waiting to watch it until later – until they were ready to watch with me – I watched it MYSELF. I think this also sent the message that I was truly interested in it and not just trying to force them to learn something.

I am also putting books on hold at the library for me again. Books on subjects that I am interested in learning more about: how to be more creative, plays to read, trigger point therapy. And, I am sitting down to read them in the middle of the day – when the kids can see me. I am learning to untangle our interests. It’s ok if we are not intrigued by the same stuff…God made us different from each other.

I’ll be honest, I still watch the time that they are playing games, and I worry: Is it ok that they are on the computer most of the day. But, then I noticed that my daughter is not playing games. She is creating a piece of music – with Japanese lyrics – to be her harmony during the talent show later this year. And, my son plays lots of different games. I stand and watch him occasionally, and there are strategic/logic games, creative games, and historical games – with dates and everything! So, even during deschooling, they are not choosing passive activities – these games make them think!

I’ve even started playing math games to improve my skills in that arena. I am loving Manga High (not just for highschool math) and can easily get sucked in for a long time trying to be the various games.

And, if it turns out that your daughter truly is motivated to do traditional schoolwork, and that is what interests her, then Why not? If that is what she wants to do, it will be her goal; her motivation to accomplish it will be her own. And, she still has the freedom to go off on rabbit trails if she wants to learn more. If she has a great desire to go to college, then she will be motivated from within to get there.

For us, we are still kind of at the beginning of this unschool journey, but I have realized more each day, that it is me who needs to change: my expectations, my worrying, my pushing. I’m a Type A driven person, and I need to be ok with letting my Type B laid back daughter do things in her own time. {My son is much easier to get to go along with anything that I want to do.}

I also do not leave them completely alone either. I find opportunities, and I put books on hold for them. I guess I am participating in Strewing – but I have always done this – the difference is that they have the freedom to accept or reject what is being offered, hopefully without me getting all bent out of shape. I say hopefully because this momma is definitely still a work in progress!

Here are some sites that have helped with my ideas of motivation, self- motivation, and the lack there-of. I don’t necessarily agree with everything in each of these pages, but it has challenged me to pin-point my thoughts – and why I think them.

I have no doubt that I will still become too pushy at times, and I will still worry, but for us, for now, I am happy with how our experiment is developing. I hope you’re able to find these resources helpful in your journey as well.

I would love to hear your stories. How did you deschool? How long did it take? How do you judge success? Please tell me about your experiences in the comments!


Sept 8 Week in Pictures

Cartwheels, Japanese Mail, and Confidence: Our Week in Pictures

Recently, I have embraced using my phone to capture the moments of our lives. I’m going to try something new  – sharing it with you at the end of each week. (If you’re interested in the stories behind the pictures, scroll on down.)

While the kids were in a class, I got to have a few hours to myself strolling the zoo and discovered something that I have overlooked every time. It was fun strolling through the tall grasses – and it struck me how much my children would not enjoy this little peaceful interlude – which is probably why I normally walk on by without even noticing.

My son taught me that the giraffes follow the palm trees and rest in the shade. Do you see how all but one has arranged themselves squarely in the shade of tree? It sure does space them out nicely for pictures! And, if you look really hard, you’ll notice 4 more giraffes in the background – it was really a lovely photo-op – a close second to my favorite giraffe picture.

My beautiful daughter submitted to having her photo taken with only a minimal amount of resistance – just for me….cause she loves me. :-) You know, she is a teenager now, so I guess they magically decide that they don’t like the camera anymore.

Rex really loves everything about bamboo, so I couldn’t resist this fun picture. I think if he gets his hands on some, one day I am going to find a bamboo forest on the side of our house. I thought about creating one there for him at one time – until I found out how hard it is to get rid of!

After taking this photo from several {dozen} different angles and then having the my initial inspiration turn out the best, I gained confidence to trust my creative juices and took this next photo in one shot. {It’s not in the collage above.}

The only edit done to this is the addition of the text. I’m glad that I didn’t second guess myself and spend too much time on this one.

We had a lively dinner discussion one night about radioactive materials, Chernobyl, and how microwaves work. All inspired because we eat over a world map on our dinner table. Now we have books on hold from the library to learn more.

When unloading the dishwasher one day, my daughter realized that the ice scream scoop was misaligned. I set it aside to “wait for Daddy,” and she asked me if she could fix it. I told her sure. She got it apart, and spent about 15 {ore more} minutes trying to repair it.  She understood what needed to be done, but just couldn’t get it quite there. Then I tried for another 30 minutes or so…. Turned out that the metal was bent – once that was fixed, it works perfectly again.

I love the positions that the gorillas get into. Don’t you just love how she is kicked back without a care in the world? And, those gorilla feet! Who couldn’t like gorilla feet?

I was really digging this one bench and practicing taking self photos. I got a lot of pictures of the ground – and one that was really scary close – but, I think this one turned out ok. Sometimes, it can be fun to visit somewhere by yourself that is usually considered a shared activity {but only sometimes… I wouldn’t want to do it too often}

Monkey has been teaching herself Japanese because she hopes to study art in Japan one day. I surprised her by ordering her the course and university information – and she was thrilled – especially once she realized that, with the exception of the front page, it was all in Japanese!

We almost stepped on this guy as we left the zoo. I was afraid he was dead at first, but he kind of moved a little bit. I would say that he walked, but during my son’s Animal Devotions, we learned that dragonflies don’t walk {they only land}, so either it flew/hopped or this wasn’t a dragonfly. Rex’s theory was that it was drying out, but Monkey thought that it was dying. Funny how much of a difference one little ole letter makes… {I’m hoping Rex was right, so that I wasn’t taking photos of a dying insect.}

Rex asked me to teach him how to do a cartwheel this week, and it took him only a few tries before he was able to get over and land on his feet. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that I could easily do one myself – although we won’t discuss how sore I was the next day! We had a great time, and he feels great knowing that he can do cartwheels like the other boys now. Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of a moving boy with a camera phone?

I’m busy reading Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School which, even given the title, is really directed more towards schooled kids, but I am still learning a lot and gaining so many new ideas. This page spoke to me so much that I had to take a picture so that I remembered to share it with hubby when I got back home.

I hope you enjoyed walking through this week of our adventures. What did you do this week? I’d love to hear about your adventures in the comments!


Rex - unhappy

Homeschooling: Not for the Faint of Heart

You know, sometimes I think that when we talk to other people, we tend to gloss over the less than fun parts of homeschooling (or at least I do). But, the truth is – some days are just flat-out HARD.

The kids won’t stop arguing – everything is taken as an offense. No one wants to do their schoolwork. They don’t understand anything that you’re teaching. There are no clean dishes to prepare lunch. The list goes on and on (and on). And, you may find yourself standing there berating yourself with, “If I had only done it differently when they were small” or worse,”I’ve completely failed them!”

This week, we had a particularly bad case of one of those days. And, if I’m being completely honest here – I did not handle the situation well. I lectured, cajoled, and pleaded to please, please, please focus and do better. I even threatened (although they know I would never go through with it), “Do I need to just send you to public school? Cause you’re obviously not listening to me.”

And, the really sad thing is that I could have turned that horrible day into one of love and togetherness. Ann Voskamp has a wonderful printable called “10 Points of Joyful Parenting” that I printed out quite a while ago, but oh, how I wish I would have remembered #7 on that oh, so very trying day.

7.Today, the moment when I am most repelled by a child’s behavior, that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child. ~ Ann Voskamp

So, yes – I made a mistake (several, if we’re keeping count). But, luckily, I have taught my children that “We are all sinners and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)” So, they already know that I am not perfect, and there was no shock when I went into my daughter’s room that night and apologized to her for my lack of patience and asked for her forgiveness. To which she replied, “I forgive you,” and wrapped her arms around my neck. I was reminded at that moment that regardless of any of our (perceived) educational shortcomings, I haven’t “failed them” because I have continuously pointed their hearts toward God and Jesus.

Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah:and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

~ Deuteronomy 6:4-7 {American Standard}

We are blessed to be able to travel this homeschooling road – even during the rough days. Perhaps I should say – especially on the rough days. All of that time together sure does ease the small bumps and dips along the way. How do you handle those times when things are not going according to the plan? I would love to hear what works for you in the comments!