Saturday, September 24, 2011

Example of Teen Defiance Impeding Learning

Here is a negative story, one that some homeschoolers would never share as it shows imperfection of one's homeschool.

I gave my fourteen year old son an assignment to read six pages that discuss literary analysis. We were to discuss the topic and then to discuss Paul Revere's Ride regarding setting. My son has to wear reading glasses or he gets "tapped out" neurologically and gets "brain fatigue" if he doesn't use them, thanks to his visual processing disorder. However lately he rarely wears them and I have to remind him.

I asked him to put his glasses on. He pointed to the coffee table that I'd tidied up yesterday which was nearly empty and said they were missing because I did something with them. I explained when I moved the laptops off the table and put them away there were no glasses there. I'd never touched them. I asked him to go check his bedroom for them (where he does before bed reading).

I left him to read. He was sitting on the couch (where he reads often and indeed he had something in his hand he was reading that I thought was the book I handed him), and I got busy on my computer reading emails.

After the allotted time, I then asked to sit down with him and do the discussion. He tells me he never read it which is my fault as I lost his eyeglasses. He tried to start an argument with me about how I lost the glasses. I stopped that in its tracks and asked if he checked his bedroom as I had asked him to do? He said no and then started back talking and raised his voice and was about to go off on a rant. I stopped him and said to come with me to his room and we'd find them as I bet they were there.

The eyeglasses were right on the nightstand next to the book he is reading. He laughed and turned away and left his room.

I told him that it was not funny, that it was disrespectful, the whole thing was disrespectful and hurtful, for me to be blamed for doing something I never did and that his defiance was a time-waster and now we were behind on the lesson.

Now nearly an hour of peak learning time has gone out the window. Soon I need to leave for an appointment which was hard to get, it's just a hair cut for me but it's been over eight weeks since my last cut and I look ragged and a mess.

Crap like that is so draining to me, especially when there are multiple episodes of such a thing each day from each of my two kids. It is hard to stay on track with momentum when kids are not doing their work as assigned and instead pretend to do it while doing something else altogether.

A certain level of trust needs to exist between the homeschool mother and her kids. We had this trust in the past. The only thing that seems to be eroding it lately is the change with puberty and this teenage behavior. Lucky for me my eleven year old is not in the same phase yet but he sometimes creates problems (like right now he is sitting within viewing distance about fifteen feet away but I think he is sneaking at the laptop playing a computer game so long as he can hear me typing he knows he is safe to sneak). I think I need to change his seat so I can view his screen just beyond my own screen. (Okay I just made that change this should be interesting.) I can't stand over my kids all day long!


Dana Dawn Calverette said...

Thank you for keeping it real. Too often we limit what we share because of this "stigma" placed on us. Yes. We ALL have days {okay, sometimes weeks} where home schooling can be a struggle. There are times where I get so frustrated with my child that I would like to hit him. {I don't.} It's nice to know we are not alone in our struggles and that what we are going through is normal and we are not failing as home schooling parents!

dstb said...

Well, my blood would be boiling if my son did that! (Not to say we haven't had things like that happen before).

He'd likely lose video game privileges (and Facebook, if he had it) for a week. Something to really get his attention. And heaven help him if he tried to sneak one of the off-limits things.

Good luck with this "testing the limits" stage!


bakinchick said...

Christine -- thanks for sharing your "real" homeschool life, not just the shining moments. My children are one rung younger (9 and 11) than yours, but the 11 year old has been testing some of these limits too. For her, it manifests itself in "daydreaming" time away, or doing subpar work (especially on Latin!) when she knows her quality could be way higher.

That is one of the character issues we'll be working on with her this year ... that doing well needs to be dependent on her own drive and not because I'm standing on top of her to make sure work gets done, done well, and in a timely manner.

luv2ski said...

Hi Christine,

I agree that it's nice to hear a real story of the frustrations sometimes inherent in homeschooling. When a homeschooling mom shares her frustrations, it reminds me that I'm not alone. I always think that everyone else's kids are doing more, better, etc., and that every other mother is more organized, more productive, and has it all under control! Whew!

But I disagree that it is a negative story. It's all positive. Your DS is showing you what he needs (unfortunately by provocation, but there it is). You respond to his needs and question his motives, search for answers and solutions in a loving way, and in the end, create a learning environment that works for you both. It's an on-going negotiation that is teaching valuable life skills. He may not be able to verbalize that he feels overworked, or stressed by the changes in his life, or that he questions the value of a work assignment. He has a wonderfully loving and caring teacher/mom who will stick with him to sort it all out. I can't imagine that scenario in a school setting! Instead of shutting down, he'll eventually open up to you. All these positives from, not a "negative" experience, but an uncomfortable one. Growing pains for all! My DS is 15, and we navigate these waters on a daily basis. In my tired, stressed out moments, I am often exasperated, and sometimes angry. Thanks for holding up a mirror so that I can see the bigger, more positive picture in our own homeschooling experience.
Breathe Peace, Brenda in CT