Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Motivating Teens

I remember reading parenting books about raising quiet, well-mannered, obedient and attentive children, while my own curly-haired tornadoes were dismantling the room around me, and being inspired to be a better parent, before realizing that the authors of said advice had one, or possibly two, mild mannered, malleable offspring.  I had one or two of those myself, and I can tell you from experience that what worked wonders with them, had no effect whatsoever on their savage siblings.

I remember that (or try to) when I'm sitting around a table at the coffee shop on the weekends with my fellow homeschool mothers of teens, and they start asking each other how they motivate their students (apparently none of them ever read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories to their children when they were little, or they would know better than to ask the other mothers for parenting advice).   And, I hope you remember that as well as you read the three pieces of advice that I have for you below.

So, how do I motivate my high schoolers?  I get them (big cheesy grin emoji, here).

Get them up.

Drawing by E (age 14)
It's no secret that teenagers like (and need) to sleep, but no one needs to sleep or lay around in bed all day everyday, and night owls or not, most of what happens in the world happens during the day. So, "rise and shine sleepy heads" let's "make hay while the sun shines" and all that.

We don't have a fixed lights-out time for our teens, but we do have a rise-by time.  As the kids have gotten older they often have to be up earlier than that for their jobs, anyway.  A few days of getting up early and slogging through the day after staying up too late the night before is usually incentive for them (and me) to head to bed at a reasonable time.

Get them out.

I, myself, put a capital "H" in homebody, but even I get down if I spend too much time cooped up inside.  Sometimes it's good to get some fresh air to clear your head (exercise helps level out adolescent hormone levels, too), and even an introvert needs to see people sometimes. And, if you get them out to their part time jobs, you get the double bonus of being able to use a future filled with flipping hamburgers as incentive to study harder (see below).

Get them on board.

Help them to understand that what they're learning is for a purpose, and will benefit them.

I've had to be honest with my kids, that no, I have never, to my knowledge, used algebra in my daily life - but maybe if I had internalized the concepts better I would have - and at the very least learning math (or almost anything for that matter) opens doors that might be closed otherwise.  Thankfully, we have a cousin with a masters in math who has done some very interesting work for Space-X, and (perhaps a little less thankfully) we have our share of shirkers-turned-excellent-cautionary-tales to speak of, as well.

And, then there's Colossians 3:17,

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father (NIV)

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Camie said...

I've always rebelled at "expert" parenting advice for the reason you mentioned: what worked for them doesn't always work for every other child out there. Plus there are different parenting styles to take into account.. And every good parent should believe they are the expert on their own kids, even if they are looking to other parents to learn what works for them, just to get ideas or a fresh perspective. Great post!

Ticia said...

My theory with advice is take, see if it'll work with your family and use what works for you.

For us, the getting up and going has to happen, but more because I get distracted and don't get school going.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

I love your point about different things working for different kids. Some are likely to be more self-directed than others.