Summer Reading Challenge without The Carrot & Stick

Blog, She Wrote: Summer Reading Challenge without The Carrot & Stick

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It’s summer time once again and homeschooling parents everywhere are thinking about how to keep the academics fresh in their students’ minds and how to keep kids reading throughout the summer. Summer reading programs abound whether it’s the library, the bookstore, or even the local pizza shop. Everyone wants to add up the books read and hand out the rewards. 

What are the summer reading plans for your homeschool this year? What if we shatter the paradigm on summer reading and require it without the baiting? How would that look?

Don’t Be Afraid to Assign Reading

Parents worry a lot about assigning reading to their kids. We want our kids to love to read and we believe that if we make our kids read, they can’t possibly learn to love it. However, there is evidence to suggest that required reading is pretty important.

  • The Read Aloud Handbook- Jim Trelease in his book about how reading aloud affects children as readers, specifically tells us not to be afraid to require reading from our kids. After all, practice makes a better reader no matter who we are or how well we read. Ben Carson is a classic example of this. The story goes that his mother, who only had a 3rd grade education, turned off the TV on Ben and his brother and required them to read and write about what they read. The rest, as they say, is history.
  • Getting the Most out of Your Homeschool Summer- This book talks about taking a break for the summer and making sure you take a break even if you school year round, but the author also recommends using the summer for purposeful reading for your students. Many resources, including this one, mention the book lists for college bound students. This is a great time to check some of them off and add them to the finished list.
  • Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations- Written by Alex & Brett Harris, this book is all about showing teens they have a lot to offer and how they can break through the stereotypes of the typical teenager today. When they were 16 and and their debating days were coming to a close, their father put the boys on an intense reading program for the summer. The stack of huge books included titles on varying topics such as history, philosophy, theology, sociology, science, business, journalism, and globalization. They read a lot of the time that summer and the more they read, the more excited they became of the ideas they were learning about. Wanting to do something about these ideas, eventually led to their website- The Rebelution.

The point is just because our kids may not choose to read, that doesn’t mean we should shy away from assigning it. I’ve seen many students get excited about a topic or a book when they’ve been told to read it. If our kids, especially the ones not inclined to read on their own, are never stretched to new places in books, their experience will become limited and they will miss out.

The more limited our language is, the more limited we are; the more limited the literature we give to our children, the more limited their capacity to respond, and therefore, in their turn, to create. The more our vocabulary is controlled, the less we will be able to think for ourselves. We do think in words, and the fewer words we know, the more restricted our thoughts. As our vocabulary expands, so does our power to think. – Madeline L’Engle

Blog She Wrote: Summer Reading Challenge without The Carrot & Stick

Avoid the Carrot & Stick Approach to Summer Reading

That’s not to say you have to forgo any sort of summer reading fun, but connecting book reading directly with a reward seems counter intuitive. If you have more than one child, it gets cumbersome to keep track of and it feels a lot like coercion. Here are some other tried and true ideas for encouraging reading:

  • Enjoy reading books together- Change things up so kids aren’t always reading alone. When my readers were at the emergent stage, I often would read with them. They would read a portion and I would read some and we’d take turns. This way reading isn’t always a solitary activity.
  • Have book discussions- Engage with your kids about the books they are reading. Let them know you’ll talk about the chapter they’ve read for the day and ask them what they think. It’s easy to get simple answers, but try to draw the story out of your child and offer some insight as you go. This is a great way to check up on how your kids are understanding what they read and it’s done in an authentic conversational sort of way.
  • Form a summer book club- We’ve had a girl’s book club going all year and their June selection is Frankenstein. Book clubs let kids come together to talk about a book and they are more willing to read titles outside of their usual experience. Forming a summer book club is a fun way to encourage kids to read. Of course, there are plenty of activities that go with book club gatherings so prepare to insert some fun!

Blog, She Wrote: Summer Reading Challenge without The Carrot & Stick

Summer Reading Resources & Ideas

There is no shortage of summer reading ideas. Here are a few for inspiration:

  • Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home- This ultimate post has so many ideas for building a reading environment in your home- from babies to high schoolers. Don’t miss this resource. You’ll find resources for any time of year including the summer.
  • Book Wagon- I really enjoyed this creative idea from another blogger. Fill a wagon with favorite titles and new ones and take your books on the road to a picnic or in the yard under a favorite tree.
  • Set up Your Home Library- Make sure your home library is engaging for your kids. Rotate titles, get new titles and make use of eReaders!
  • Give eReader Surprises- Make ample use of your Kindle and surprise the kids now and then with a new title. You can check your library for titles or keep an eye out for Kindle deals. I have a Pinterest board on eReader Homeschooling which has a lot of ebook resources all in one spot.
  • Five Reasons to Use an eReader Kindle- I have found our Kindles to be invaluable in our homeschool. If you haven’t given one serious though, here are some compelling reasons. I find myself using the library less and grabbing an ebook in 10 seconds which costs less than the price of gas to get to the library!
  • Five Reasons to Use a Tablet Kindle- This little affordable tablet is a great tool for listening to audio books, watching video, and reading text clearly. I didn’t imagine how useful this tool would be for our homeschool.

Blog, She Wrote: Summer Reading Challenge without The Carrot & Stick

Summer Reading Challenges

If you are going to set a reading challenge before your kids this summer, consider bringing them to the table to have input on their challenge. If you know that will not be productive or you have something in mind (like Mr. Harris), then forge ahead and put together a reading list for your children. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Set a Number- Simply set a number of books they must read. However, you will want to add some parameters such as “new books” or ” a particular genre”. Assign four books for the month but they must be new titles. Be creative about how to set a number and see it through. Take the challenge with your kids!
  • Classics- Assign a certain number of classic titles. If your kids haven’t read much in the classic arena, then the sky is the limit on choices. You can suggest tales of intrigue and adventure or any other type of story your student might like. So many of these are great stories which are rarely read because they intimidate. Shake the reputation and select a few this summer.
  • Set a Time for Reading- Rather than focusing on the number of books tackled, focus on the amount of time you read daily. That will take care of numbers in the end most likely if you are consistent. If your kids aren’t inclined to read on their own, you can read at the same time. What better way to get your extra reading in during the summer. Once the habit is set and you feel your kids are enjoying the time, you can relax and let them choose a time. However, my boys love to read and it is still a great practice to set a time. Otherwise, they may always find other things to do!
  • Set Your Own Summer Reading Goal- And join your kids in the reading challenge. I know I always have books I want to read and re-read during the summer. What better way to meet your own goal than to join your kids in meeting theirs? Research shows that seeing parents read has a positive effect on children’s reading. Let them see you making reading a priority this summer!

I have grown so weary of the trinket based programs that try and encourage reading. Require your kids to read. Just like you require them to eat their vegetables. Don’t worry about your kids being turned off to reading because you require it. We don’t have to love to read. We just have to do it.

Be real with them and enjoy discussions based on the books they are reading. Gather kids together and make books engaging for the sake of the story. But stop with the prizes. They don’t make readers.

So, let’s join the challenge together. Make reading a part of your summer without meticulously counting books and making it a race. Simply set some goals- either together or on your own and make it happen.

Happy Reading!

Methods for Teaching Middle School & High School Homeschool

Blog, She Wrote: Teaching Middle & High School Language Arts

This week the iHN is hosting a Hopscotch on “How I Teach”. Here at Blog, She Wrote I’m sharing methods for teaching middle and high school students in all the major subject areas. We’ll be discussing strategy and curriculum. Today our topic is language arts.

Strategies for Teaching Middle School & High School Homeschool Language Arts

My philosophy on teaching writing and language skills from a young age is one of a coaching role. My job is to meet my writers where they are, give them the tools they need and how to use them and to help them to meet their goals. What is the goal? To be an effective written communicator. That’s what it’s all about.

  • Play with Words- enjoy exercises and fun ways to engage with words to increase vocabulary. Click the link to see five great ideas I wrote for Bright Ideas Press.
  • Collage Words- More details on reflecting on a word and exploring its meanings.
  • Resources for Coaching Writing- a list of some of my favorite resources for coaching writers.
  • Conferences- I meet with my kids regularly to go over their written work and to see what can be improved. I take a look at the first draft and usually ask the student to go back and self edit, naming the thing they are notorious for forgetting- whether that be correct capitalization or wild commas. If the piece of writing is hard to decipher because of poor organization/grammar/spelling, I have them read it to me. When they read it aloud they realize that without grammar conventions/organization, the reader will not experience the piece the way the author intended. This goes a LONG way to encouraging kids to edit their work.
  • Writer’s Workshop- I’ve been hosting a workshop that includes my kids along with about five other homeschoolers in our home since September. I’ll be posting more detail on this soon, but having kids write for an audience is one of the best investments I’ve made in time this year. If you’d like a little more information now, click the link above on Resources for Coaching Writing.

Blog, She Wrote: Teaching Middle & High School Language Arts

Our Favorite Middle School & High School Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum

  • Cover Story- This is a middle school writing program written by Daniel Schwabauer, the creator of One Year Adventure Novel. My 6th and 8th graders are working on building the pieces to their own magazine issue based on a theme they chose. There are video lessons which are well done along with resources for the parents. The younger siblings of OYAN students approve!
  • WriteShop- WriteShop Junior & WriteShop I and II. I love WriteShop for its ability to break down the writing process into pre-writing, drafts/editing, and final, published copy. We use this between the informal early elementary years and the time we begin creative writing and expository writing programs. I also use units from WS 1&2 to help with organizations of essays at any time during the teen years.
  • One Year Adventure Novel - Write a novel in one school year. That is the aim of OYAN and it is adored by us all. The lessons are thorough and draw the students in. My two favorite things (besides the novel) are: 1) How the curriculum provides excellent talking points about literature with our teens. 2) The community Mr. Schwabauer has created for teens to interact with each other. My 10th grader loves the OYAN forums where he can be himself and be in community with other kids who love books and stories as much as he does. There are also regular webinars with extra instruction.
  • Other Worlds- The follow up to the One Year Adventure Novel. This one is focused on writing fantasy and science fiction. My 10th grader is working on his fantasy novel. I enjoy the lessons on the history of science fiction and fantasy and how they are different from adventure.
  • Literary Lessons from The Lord of the Rings- Spend time immersed in the three books that make up The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Wonderful vocabulary studies, chapter discussions, essays, and unit studies based on this fantasy tale.
  • Excellence in Literature- Classic literature is taught in four week modules with honors options. I have all five volumes so we can skip around. They are meant to be use 8th-12th grade. This program has been a great model of student led reading and writing on the classics and has been very successful so far.

Slow and steady wins the race. We try to keep moving forward and see our kids make progress in their writing skills. We add in what’s necessary as they gain skills so they can be stretched to the next level. Our kids are immersed in reading and writing in many forms from a young age and we love to watch them gain confidence as they get older. Coming soon news from our Writer’s Workshop!

The iHomeschool Network is hosting a Hopscotch series this week on “How I Teach”. Join other iHN bloggers to see how they teach Language Arts. You’ll find information on working with special needs all the way to gifted kids and everything in between.


Typical Days at Blog, She Wrote

Typical Days

It’s hard to believe this is the last week of the Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop hosted by iHomeschool Network! Today’s hop is all about the “Day in the Life”. I’m taking the opportunity to share our typical day with some links to past posts and a few highlights.

Our typical day really is captured in Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day. I was tempted to repost it! Instead, please take a moment to click over and read those Ten Things.

Typical DaysOur typical day wouldn’t be complete without a look at our Morning Basket. It’s taken on a different feel, but we try to begin our day with some prayer and a story.

Typical DayAnother hallmark of our homeschool day is reading aloud. We read together subject related things and something for pure enjoyment- mostly books qualify for both. Do you read aloud in your homeschool?

Here are a few posts to encourage you to read aloud with your family. Don’t hesitate to get started.

Thank you for joining us in this year’s Not-Back-to-School Hop with iHomeschool Network. I’m eager to see what other homeschoolers do in their day.

Not Back to School Hop

Top Ten Fabulous Benefits of Homeschooling

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Fabulous Benefits of HomeschoolingFreedom from the conventional academic schedule

We can orchestrate our school year any way we’d like as long as we meet 180 days a year. Families can choose to homeschool while they travel or take breaks when the weather is good and school through harsh weather conditions. Not being bound by the school academic calendar has many benefits.

Tailoring our children’s education to their specific interests and needs

There is a significant advantage to being able to design a program of education just for a specific child and having the time to implement it.

Kids can work at their own pace. This is a huge part of implementing a customized program for our children. Some students need to press the edge of what they can do and some need to slow down.

Pouring into a passion and watching talent and skill grow

Homeschooling means having the time and energy to focus on a particular area of interest and skill with abandon. It doesn’t have to be compartmentalized away from other academic work or pursuits. Pursuing passions is a large part of our homeschool. Click here for my ten day series on Pouring into a Passion in Your Homeschool.

Blog She Wrote: Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool DayFreedom from the typical daily school routine

We love our homeschool days! Just ask us what happens on any given day and we’ll tell you what makes a Great Homeschool Day. On any given day our kids are immersed in learning. If you haven’t read about it, click in to enjoy the characteristics of a homeschool day at our house!

Allowing our children to have ownership in their education

I have always sought our children’s input into their education. When they were younger it might be as simple as the choice between two unit studies we’d eventually do anyway, but it gave them a limited sense of steering the course. As they’ve gotten older, they make bigger decisions about their schooling. There are some basic guidelines to follow, but how we get there and which materials we use are largely flexible. If a student has a strong desire for something, we can probably make it happen especially if it fits with their educational goals.

Taking advantage of opportunities based on availability

Our children can be mentored or have internships when public schooled kids are not available. It’s great to incorporate this time right into their schooling. We’ve gone on hawk trappings and fish stockings. We’ve arranged for sewing times and other lessons as part of our homeschool day.

Having time to dive into a topic and follow it to the end

Once given an assignment, our kids can manage their own time and complete it without having to always switch gears to another class or do their work outside of “class time”. As the teacher, you have to be willing to experience the same flexibility, but I’ve seen excellent work come out of allowing my kids to work on a project their own way. Watching students work on their own is a great way to discover how your kids work best.

Always time for reading- reading on our own and reading aloud together.

Our kids do a lot of reading. Sometimes it’s suggestion when someone is bored, but more often than not it’s based on an interest. We have plenty of print material on hand and there’s always a Kindle book available.

Reading aloud is a huge part of our family culture and always brings us together and gets us talking about story. Homeschooling means we can read aloud for two hours in a day and still get the rest of our academic work finished.

I post a lot on how to build a reading culture in your home- whether or not your kids enjoy reading. Enjoyment is not really a prerequisite for the requirement and there are a lot of resources out there to inspire you to make it a priority in your home.

Enjoy a few posts on the topic of reading!

  • Emerging Readers to Super Readers- a post I wrote for Heart of the Matter on how to work with a newly emerging reader. Great ideas here for increasing fluency.
  • Keeping up with The Accelerated Reader- another post I did for HOTM on how to work with a child who reads well above grade level and reads a lot. It’s a lot of work to keep up with a voracious reader.
  • Tips for Reading Aloud- do you struggle with reading aloud or getting your kids to sit for it? These tips might give you some ideas.

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Fabulous Benefits of Homeschooling

Living out a lifestyle of learning

Without feeling like we are asking our kids to do school at home- when they’d be home from school. When our oldest was in public school we could not engage him on all the fun learning things we did for the first five years of his life because he was done at the end of a school day. We knew we had to turn that back around.

Our kids know that learning occurs all the time. We can incorporate life skills into our academic programming and get yummy homeschool lunches as a result! Our days are “structured” so that they can do academic work and project work throughout the day.

Our home is set up to maximize learning potential as well. We keep a large homeschool library for our kids to enjoy and each of them has a personal space for their projects (post coming soon now that J8 has his spot!).

Blog She Wrote: Top Ten Fabulous Benefits of Homeschooling

Spending time together

Homeschooling allows us to spend time together learning, playing, and discovering. We can build strong relationships with each other and our kids get to be around people of all ages during the day. We love to play games and make meals together. Our children play well with each other and often encourage one another. Of course, there’s a downside to that too, but largely when our kids run into squabbles they are able to take some time to work it out. The benefits of collaboration between our children far outweighs any of the occasional frustrating moments.

Feel free to check out more benefits of homeschooling from other iHomeschool Network bloggers!

Working with a Bright & Occasionally Very Motivated High Schooler: Tips & Strategies!

As I visit other homeschooling blogs, I love to be encouraged and inspired in a very practical way. I’ve seen all sorts of posts written from various perspectives on homeschooling- moms of special needs kids are very helpful as are moms of gifted children. I love to read how each of us is suited for the children we teach and what’s been successful along the way. One niche I find curiously missing is the helpful hints for moms of smart, sometimes motivated students. Maybe it’s because no one has figured it out yet. Or perhaps moms are too embarrassed to blog about the topic. Today, I’m doing it.

Blog She Wrote: Strategies for working with the occasionally motivated teen

First, let me say that I have my 14yo’s permission to write about him. Ethan is an accelerated learner, tests well, learns things with little effort- especially up until now (think high school chemistry- which does require a little time), and is that quintessential boy who doesn’t often put his best effort into a project- the first time. He’s a fantastic kid with many talents. He has his dad’s superpower of remembering whatever he reads which is so handy in the real world. I love to watch him grow in leadership skills and responsibility and I adore the glimpses I get of the man he is becoming!

He comes by the effort thing honestly. Dan was the same way. My husband is a bright, motivated, successful chemical engineer. He approaches everything he does with excellence. He wants to be certain that anything with his name on it, represents him well. It wasn’t always this way though. Like Ethan, Dan learned things with very little effort. By the time he went to college at Virginia Tech, he lacked the work ethic he needed to be successful. He knew he was smart enough and didn’t want to work hard enough. As a result, he ultimately failed out. This story does have a happy ending. He continued to work for a professor on campus and he had some good mentors (and his parents prayed A LOT) who influenced him to return to school and finish well. Dan graduated from Virginia Tech, was hired to work in the semiconductor industry and left there to work full time as an engineer at Cornell University while working on his graduate degree part time. From being asked to take an academic break to finishing a graduate degree from an Ivy League University, Dan’s story had some plot twists.

I was the opposite. I got an A- in my first graduate class and decided then that no professor would have to even consider that I might not have an A. There would be no mistake. I graduated with a 4.0, having missed only two points all semester in one of the most difficult classes in the degree. Translation: I don’t get not trying to do your best!

But, Dan does. He knows it intimately and that’s why he is so fervently opposed to it. We don’t know how this will turn out, but we are working to challenge him and to give him the tools for making good choices. And we’re praying. A LOT.

Our goal with Ethan, given his personality, is to help him take responsibility for his own learning NOW and to learn the hard lessons while the consequences aren’t as dire. It’s the reason we started homeschooling in the first place. If we can help him to avoid waiting that long to spark his internal motivation, we’ll have a win.

We want to influence the change in the mindset that says, “I don’t have to work my hardest because this is easy.”  Our mission: To get him to erase the words “good enough” from his vernacular!

Blog She Wrote: Teaching the Unmotivated Student

So, how do you homeschool a high schooler who is a very bright and an occasionally very motivated student?

Remember that habits instilled by you early on may not be the ones your children hold on to for their own.

This one is important because when you find yourself with a teen who isn’t internally motivated, you wonder what happened to all those things you taught him when he was young. As lovely as habit formation is in the early years with homeschooling, you will find your learners taking on their own style as they grow more independent. More importantly, their style may not match yours!

Don’t get me wrong…good habits are important and worthwhile to teach. Often their influence will resurface later on in life, but while this phase is in high gear you’ll need to remember to let them grow. And figure it out on their own. With your influence.

Be relentless in teaching responsibility through school work- and in all areas.

I always said teaching public middle school was mostly teaching responsibility and work habits and not so much content. Part of that is because of the age. Starting in middle school, the expectations are higher for the kids and it takes time for them to get used to it. It takes time for their parents to get used to it.

The same is true for homeschooled adolescents. Hopefully, we are requiring more independent work and raising the bar on our expectations for our students in both the quality and type of work they are doing. Being at home may make the transition seem more gradual, but ultimately we are striving for more independence from our students.

By high school, we’re really transitioning our parenting and likewise our schooling strategies. I am keenly aware that my 14yo freshman only has about three more years until he is completely responsible for himself, his education, his future. The time consuming task of early parenting has been replaced with an equally arduous goal of making double sure they are ready to be on their own.

For us, making sure our student knows that he alone is responsible for his actions is so important. When an assignment is completed haphazardly, it is so easy to place the blame on others- whether it is a sibling, a chore you asked him to complete, or that he simply forgot. At the end of the day, he has to own his part in whatever happened.

Blog She Wrote: Working with the Bright and Occasionally Motivated Teen

Be steadfast in teaching work ethic.

In every area of life. Unmotivated students are king at using the words “good enough”. I had a college math professor who used to say, “If you play now, you’ll have to work hard later, but if you work hard now…you can play later.” There is a great deal of wisdom in that statement and it applies to so many things in life.

The corollary to not working because it’s really easy and you don’t have to is quitting when something does require work! If it requires too much effort, then meh…nevermind.

Eventually, your student will have to work at something even if it’s not interesting. Work ethic is paramount to this valuable skill!

One way to increase work ethic is to challenge your student. If the work doesn’t present a challenge either academically or with interest, then he isn’t going to have to work hard. And this only reinforces the idea that stuff isn’t hard and there’s no reason to put in a lot of effort.

Collaborate and present challenging goals to your student with deadlines.

Sometimes lack of motivation is a result of boredom. We all know kids who act out when they’re bored. Public school teachers generally reject this phenomenon as a myth. I know. I once did- as a classroom teacher.

A bright kid who doesn’t like to work hard typically doesn’t have to. He can do some level of bare minimum work and get away with decent grades. So, a bright kid needs to be pressed to stay in the game and play hard. Bring your student to the table so he has a stake in laying out his academic goals for high school. You want your student to feel the ownership of his own education…it will keep him engaged.

Blog She Wrote: Working with a Bright, Occasionally Motivated Teen

Make sure your student has an area of focus- something to pour into during his high school years.

A mantra at our house is you can’t go through high school playing LEGOS and video games in all your free time! Sure those things are fun, but every kid has to have something he can focus on throughout their teen years.

Unmotivated students can be encouraged to pick a focus and learn as much as they can. This is a prime candidate for Project Based Homeschooling. It could be a job. It could be volunteer work or really investigating a hobby. It should be challenging and provide experience and hopefully rewards- whether personal or external. For our 14yo, falconry is the thing.  He loves birds of prey and falconry and this is something he needs to own. We’ve given him the opportunity and the tools to finish the licensing process. It’s up to him to make it happen at this point.

Ideally, your student will pick the “thing” that he will pour into. As a parent, you can mentor your student and help him find what he’s passionate about. At our house, in this season, the expectation is that each student will explore possibilities and settle on something OR we pick it. There is no option to “not choose” or to be in a “perpetual state of looking or thinking about” a topic/project/focus. That’s one of the oldest tricks for a student who is not engaged…”I’m still thinking”…

Keep in mind that it’s ok for the focus to shift and change. It’s not really about the “thing” anyway. It’s about exploring possibilities and pouring into something that is important to them.

Blog She Wrote: Working wtih the Bright, Occasionally Motivated Teen

Your consistent attempts to help your student find his own motivation must include check points & consequences.

Typically, the bright, unmotivated student will eventually find that source of internal motivation. It is a key to fulfilling his God-given potential and being a good steward of his gifts.

But, you want them to have this moment of realization earlier not later. As anyone who has ever been in this position and experienced hardship before really grasping hold of his own destiny knows, it isn’t pleasant and it’s best avoided. If you can help it.

We check in with Ethan to make sure goals and expectations are being met. Our 9th grader meets twice weekly with Dan to go over his geometry and chemistry. I take care of English, social studies, foreign language, and the electives. We set goals for the week and we check in on Tuesday and Fridays. If the work is not up to par, then there is a consequence.

At our house, we are working with more of the university model. That is, we set out his work and give him some freedom to make choices about when he will complete tasks, but when he hits a deadline the stuff is expected…no matter how he chose to spend that time or what happened in the week. For example, if he decided to put something off and then something came up whether it’s sickness or a cool outing with a friend, his deadline stays. In three more years he’s officially in control of his future, so experiencing freedom of choice is important. The days of micromanaging his time are over.  He has to live with the consequences of his choices. It’s part of learning how to manage his time while being challenged academically and living life and investing in projects.

Blog She Wrote: Working with the Bright, Occasionally Motivated Teen

What’s the point? To make sure the consequence is felt enough that it makes doing his best worth his time. The first time. A consequence is usually the long term loss of a beloved activity or item. What teenage boy wants to give up screen time for a few weeks? We’re going with the natural consequences on this. He is given autonomy over his routine for the most part. There are some things in his day which are driven by me because it’s an activity shared with a sibling, like Literary Lessons from The Lord of the Rings.

Many things he is free to work on when he chooses knowing a couple things: 1) All the work up to the check point must be completed with maximum effort. 2) He won’t get screen time at the end of the day if he hasn’t worked diligently that day- although sometimes he does and it will just catch up with him at a check in time. 3) We have an expectation on how long a student his age should be engaged in learning. If he hasn’t met that for the day, generally he will not play.

Keep in mind that his academic day includes his regular course work and his electives or passion pursuits. Time spent on task is not just book work but his project work as well.

Some homeschooling high school resources:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens by Debra Bell- I’ve really begun to enjoy this one. It was given to me last summer at a convention and I only picked it up this week as I wanted to share it with you. I’m so glad I did! She and I think a lot a like!
  • Honey for a Teen’s Heart by Gladys Hunt- this is such a great book on using books to communicate with teens
  • Homeschooler’s High School Journal- I list his weekly academic goals in here and it’s what we use during checkpoints during the week
  • My Well Planned Day- this one I’ve been dabbling with since my older kids have mobile devices and can check on assignments. It also allows my husband to add in things like articles to read that day.
  • High School 4 Year Planner- I don’t find this one has a lot of room for daily assignments so I prefer the high school journal. However, it’s a great place to record coursework and credits. Plus, it has a lot of great tips for students and parents for the high school years. It’s a little nerve wracking to see his graduation year on there… so close!
  • Project Based Homeschooling- this book and its author, Lori Pickert, have been instrumental in putting a name and a framework on what we’ve been doing in our homeschool all along. I love this community of parents and kids who are doing extraordinary work. It’s inspiring and encouraging!

Our goal and our prayer is that our very bright, occasionally very motivated high schooler will ultimately find the key to internal motivation. To work hard and present himself well any time he sets out to do something. It’s there. We await its dominance in his life!

In the words of Debra Bell in The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens:

Our job is to give our kids compelling reasons to engage. Motivation fuels persistence- it’s why we don’t quit when things get hard, whether it’s homeschooling or doing calculus. Persistence is how we make gains…Learning occurs because we persist. And no one persists through difficulties unless they are motivated- something is giving them a reason not to quit.

As we continue to teach high school, I’ll be sure to share some more ideas on what can motivate a bright student who is less than ideally in the game. I’ll also share our high school curriculum in future posts.What strategies have you used with your high schoolers? Feel free to leave a comment!