Last weekend, on Saturday morning, my eighth grade son had no appointments. I knew he planned to play his two hours of video games as soon as possible after eating breakfast. The fact is though, he has lots of homework from his homeschool co-op class that needs to be finished by Monday morning. He also has other homeschool work based on lessons I facilitate at home that could be done.
My husband was in the kitchen with me and I called my son over. This is one small way in which I'm trying to get my son to realize the shift into more serious academics and to adjust to his increased workload, ramping up for high school studies.
I said, "I've been thinking about how you best like to do homeschool work during the week. You don't want to do studies in the late afternoon or at night. You've been waking up pretty late on weekdays, and then the day is pretty relaxed and laid back. Whether you do that because you like it or whether you just feel too worn out by that point in the day is something I don't know. The fact is that not all your work is getting done. There is homework assigned last Monday at co-op that is still not done and it's five days later.
It is okay if you want to have that kind of laid back pace to your day but your choice to do that means the work is not getting done, so that leaves you with a couple of options. The first is you may have to start doing academic work on weeknights like schooled kids do, with their homework. The second is that you will have to start doing your homeschool work on Saturdays and Sundays too. Somehow the work has to get done and it's your choice how to work it out. You have to find a way to make it work."
In a polite voice he said, "Okay mom."
Later that day my ten year old son got a phone call. He was invited to a homeschool friend's house for all of Sunday afternoon. My older son asked if he could go too, to visit the thirteen year old brother, who was to be home all day that day also. I said, "Well first, they didn't invite you, and it's not right to invite yourself. Secondly, you have a lot of undone homework for the Monday co-op that has to get done (including watching about six hours of movies and analyzing them). Maybe your friend didn't invite you because he has homework to finish for the homeschool co-op he attends three days a week."
He said with disappointment, "Oh, you're right."
I did feel a little bad that he couldn't have his way and have free fun time with his friend, but this is part of growing up. He does have free time every day and does see his friends, but it seems like it is never enough for him. This is part of growing up, saying no to something fun in order to work on the real responsibilities.
Homeschooling has given my children far more freedoms than schooled kids have, and lots more play time in their childhood. It gets to a point though when putting the nose to the grindstone is just a necessary fact of life, plain and simple.
My son is trying to learn time management. It's a skill that some adults still are incompetent at, it's hard to do the right thing and to plan ahead or to do hard work when something fun tempts you away, or to not let yourself goof off and waste time when something more important needs doing.
I'd like my son to be pretty good at time management before he leaves for college. I'm helping him by giving him more freedom to control his time. I think it's good for a thirteen year old to make his own choices about how to spread out his academic work and free time to suit him. But he has to realize you can't slack off and give yourself lots of free time Monday-Friday and then expect to do no work on a Saturday and Sunday just because it's a weekend and many working adults in America have those days off. My son has got to learn to schedule his time so he can do the things he needs to do and wants to do. If he'd planned ahead and scheduled to see his friend on Sunday afternoon he would have had to choose to do his academic work before Sunday, but he didn't do either thing. As I write this, it's Sunday, and he'll be spending the day at home doing academic work while his younger brother is off playing with his friend.