Tag Archives: Teens

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!

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Golden Goblet

Gold Unit Study {also for Tweens and Teens!}

Don’t you just love those happy accidents where several books align and nicely complement each other?

We are currently reading The Golden Goblet as our family read-aloud which has a lot of information about how gold is poured and molded into shapes and used in different ways. Our study guide from Bright Ideas Press has been guiding us through the vocabulary words, so the kids and I have a pretty good grasp on how the gold-working process works.

And, as luck would have it, an audiobook that had been on hold forever finally came into the library. The Ballad of Lucy Whipple is about a family that moves out west to take part in the California Gold Rush – from the viewpoint of a girl, no less! So, as we were enthralled with the story, we were being exposed to another facet of gold.

The Golden Goblet also has a lot of great analogies and word play fun {which the study guide also helps point out along the way}, and the imagery in Lucy Whipple is just beautiful. Karen Cushman really has a way with words, and Christina Moore is a fabulous reader – we always enjoy her books!

To wrap up this accidental unit study, we’ve now got Stampede for Gold: The Story of the Klondike Rush on hold from the library. It is supposed to be full of eyewitness accounts of this lesser known gold rush. Maybe too grim for the younger kids, but I’m sure there are other options out there that are a little softer.

I love that through these historical fiction books, we’ve covered three of the most gold focused time periods in history. {Or at least the three that I think of…} And, both Golden Goblet and Lucy Whipple were exciting enough to captivate my 11 and 13 year olds. For younger children, you should be aware that both of these books deal with tough issues. For specifics, please feel free to contact me {via comment, Gmail, twitter, or Facebook}, and I would be happy to help.

What about you – have you had any “accidental unit studies”? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means that should you purchase the product, I will receive a small commission. Thank you for your support of our homeschool!