My son and I have always gotten along, and I've always been the primary educator as I homeschool him. Now that he is a teen, I feel like he is drawing away and doesn't like having me teach him. What can I do to give him space but still keep him interested in his learning?

Answers

Jennifer Miller, Educational Consultant, Alternative Education Expert, Writer

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I've homeschooled my kids from the beginning as well. I have four teens now, two on to university work (17 & 19)and two that I'm still working with (13 & 15). What you're experiencing is completely normal and to be encouraged. Teens begin to flap their wings, it's part of the natural process of growing up and moving towards independence. The end game is to equip our kids to "do life" on their own and not have to hold their hands forever.

Communicate with your son. Encourage his test flights. Work to find other teachers and mentors for him who will spur him forward and cause him to reach higher through their inspiration. Mothers will always play a special role in the lives of their adult (or almost!) children, but it shouldn't be a central one! Foster that independence for all you're worth! Become his biggest advocate and cheerleader. Encourage him to take the reins, chart his own course educationally (within whatever reasonable boundaries you have as a family, or the state imposes) and watch him fly!

You're creating an independent man! Good job, Mama!

Kimberly Patrie, Writer, Entrepreneur, Homeschool Mom

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Great question! Homeschooling teens is a bit different, especially if your child is looking ahead to college entrance exams. You didn't say exactly how old your son is, so I am going to assume he is 13 or 14 years old, in which case worrying about college entrance exams is not really an issue yet.

Is your son going through puberty right now? Puberty is an awful time for kids, and a time when they are struggling not just to know where they fit into society but to know themselves as well.

Part of knowing themselves is knowing what they like and don't like, and what they are and are not interested in. If he is not interested in 'learning' right now, and by that I mean academics, back off for a while, (space!) and instead follow his lead. You cannot force someone to be interested in anything, so better to let him decide at this point.

If you sincerely feel you cannot take a break from the grind for a few months, you could use his personal interests to create a unit study. A unit study takes a look at literature and other cultural aspects of of any given topic and applies it to academics. For instance, say he is interested in learning to play an instrument. You could find books about playing said instrument, as well as YouTube instructional videos that he could play along with. He could read about the history and inventor of the instrument, learn about the science behind what makes the instrument create sound, or watch videos (YouTube) or go to a concert of a famous virtuoso on the instrument. Music is very mathematical; perhaps he'd be interested in learning to read music.

This is just an example, and probably not the best one. Keep in mind that every unit study will not necessarily cover every academic area. Don't feel like you have to do everything, every time. All things considered, kids will learn what they need to when they feel personally invested in having a need for knowledge.

One of the beauties of homeschooling is that you have the flexibility to ebb and flow with your child's interests and developmental stages. Give him the space to choose what he is interested in, and let him explore on his own for a while.

Anand Sharma, Businessman

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Involve your son in some of the decision making for homeschool curricula. What direction does he want to take in the future? What steps can get him closer to those goals? Have him help set his own goals, and then hold him to them, helping him map out a route to get there.IMO for PC Also, make it clear that he still needs to do homeschool. It is your job to be his teacher and facilitator, and learning isn't a negotiable situation at this point.Kik For PC

Anonymous, Why to Stay Happy? Because I don't think that there is any other reason for being Sad.

I agree with Jessica Sillers for saying this. I am with you.

Anonymous, Why to Stay Happy? Because I don't think that there is any other reason for being Sad.

The same problem I was facing but I had got the Solution for this later. I think it is working if this will work for longer then I will surely discuss that with you.

Colleen Clemens, College Professor, Writer, Editor, Tutor & Parent

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Could you find a book group that would give him some space where he could talk about challenging issues in a text without having the conversation be loaded by happening with a parent?

Your local library might have such a group. Perhaps some extra socialization can help with learning.

Carrie Hagen, Nonfiction Writer and Researcher, Teacher

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Is it possible to bring in a tutor to focus on a particular subject or particular subjects with him? This might break up his routine and expose him to another type of educator, which could be very beneficial to your relationship.

Jenny Bristol, Homeschooling Parent, Writer, and Editor

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Keep communicating with your son. You know his interests and the best way in which he learns, though both of those are likely to change somewhat as he gets older. Present him information in new ways. Text, video, audio, interactives, and many more options exist. Also, take a personal, as well as academic, interest in his preferred activities. See if you can work lessons around his personal interests.

Involve your son in some of the decision making for homeschool curricula. What direction does he want to take in the future? What steps can get him closer to those goals? Have him help set his own goals, and then hold him to them, helping him map out a route to get there.

Also, make it clear that he still needs to do homeschool. It is your job to be his teacher and facilitator, and learning isn't a negotiable situation at this point.

You can also try signing him up for classes at a local community college, if he's old enough. Perhaps he can get a head start on some college credits in math, history, English, foreign language, lab sciences, or other subjects. The change in venue might perk him up, or it may make him appreciate your methods more.

In the end, don't stop trying. But also make him feel loved, supported, and considered in educational decisions.

Jessica Sillers, Homeschooled K-12, Writer

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Your son's drawing away might be in part a good thing! He may be becoming more independent, rather than needing as much hands-on teaching time. I was homeschooled until high school graduation, and when I hit my teen years, my mom took a step back in terms of what being primary educator meant. Instead of working together all day, we had periodic check-ins. At morning break and lunch time, we'd touch base on what I'd done so far, what I wanted to do, and what I needed help with. If you're still working closely with your son, you might want to see if there are subjects he'd like to handle on his own most of the time.

I love Kimberly's unit study suggestion to keep academics engaging. If your academics are in a rut, I'd also suggest stepping up the number of field trips and group classes you enroll your son in. As kids transition into teens, it becomes more important to them to win their peer's esteem. He still wants to make you proud, of course, but learning in the company of kids his age can be a big motivator. If you're part of a local homeschooling group, check their calendar for field trip opportunities. You can also contact nearby aquariums, museums, historical sites, and community colleges to see what opportunities they have for homeschoolers (they may also be able to point you toward a group or two if you're not part of one yet).

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