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How Can I Get My 14 Year Old to Enjoy School?

I have a 14 year old son who has dislike school since second grade. It has been a constant struggle to get him up in the morning and to motivate him to take pride in his school work. He is very bright, but puts the minimum amount of effort into his work. I have stressed the importance of education, I have tried bribes, rewards and everything else I can think of to motivate him..nothing works. I would welcome your suggestions.

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I am a teacher and have had some of the problems with my grandchildren. Somehow, he has to find a "passion". Sometimes, it is worth visiting an alternative school that teaches more "hands on" and possibly transfer him.Sometimes, it means having him tested for learning disabilities. The latter classes have low student-to-teacher ratio, and parents in my area are hoping, even trying to get their children eligible. A certain average, GPA, to play sports is also an incentive.

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Hi there!
Maybe trying to get him interested in something like sports or some sort of club might be good for him. Is he good at music or doing something with his hands? Debating? What about marial arts? Martial arts or some sort of club is good for teaching people, especially young ones discipline. Even though you are concerned about his education, because we all know that that is very important, you shouldn't try pushing him so hard. It just makes him resist more. I think that getting him involved with something that he is interested in would be a good start to helping him open up, and maybe he could even meet someone who could understand him in a different way. Sometimes, it is hard to talk openly to one's parents about what it is that is bothering them, for reasons only they seem to know. But sometimes it is just that they don't want to dissappoint you or something.
All of the best.

You are not alone. My 13 year old has a very unconcerned attitude about his school performance. When I talk to him his eyes glaze over and I know I've lost him for the rest of the conversation. I am beginning to think he has a learning disorder and has difficulty concentrating. He does well when we push him but then he loses focus. I wish I could offer a solution. M.

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Hi S.,

I am a clinical social worker turned community organizer with an 11 year old highly gifted son on independent study. We are working with our district to create gifted services so that we can get him back in school. He found middle school a waste of time (and now that we've tested him we can see why.) Our daughter has been bored in school for years, but she is compliant and social, so she makes do and excels anyway.

I would encourage you to read on gifted issues and on boy issues. The gifted field has tons of wisdom re: motivation and underachievement. (If you wonder if your very bright son might be gifted, read Losing Our Minds, by Deborah Ruf, Phd. GIfted children do not always choose school achievement. The boy also includes smart boys, who Ruf calls Level One gifted, since they have similar issues.)

Boys have different social-emotional-educational needs than girls and non-compliance with adult priorities is what adults feel is the "symptom" or problem, but its not that simple. Sometimes, we have to turn this subject of motivation inside out and ask first, what DOES my child enjoy and how is he doing overall? Also, is the school work meaningless to your child? If so, how can that be addressed? I was relieved when my husband agreed with me and my son that the problem was in fact, the school work. We are now working, as a team on a school solution, while working on our son's character issues too.

General recommendations for boys socio-emotional-developmental needs include: nurturing parents and caregivers, a clan or tribe, a spirtual life (may not be religion), important work, mentors and role models, to know the rules, to learn how to lead and how to follow, an adventure and a best friend to have it with, lots of games, an important role in life. (Micheal Gurion - and the gifted literature. Gurian is a controversial author.)

How is your son doing in these areas? Are there males in his life as mentors? What are his friends like? Are they motivated boys? In what ways? Has he found intellectual peers in his friends or is he sad because he doesn't have truly good buddies? I have had to turn over some areas of parenting to my husband recently, because our son needed male mentoring and this is working much better! Dad is being a role model, remembering also his own boyhood, and how he felt as an adolescent and sharing those stories, and the feelings that he had at those times, and how he grew to be responsible, all the same.

Those stories are important because they help the boy feel connected to another person, and understood and validated. The stories model identifying, expressing and coping with feelings, and showing character in spite of feelings of lack of motivation. Does your son have any goals for the future? If not, perhaps it is truly hard to see the value of school. I would also wonder whether school plays to his areas of strength. Motivation is usually highest in our areas of strength. Also, boys work harder when they feel connected to their teachers. The State Superintendent here stressed that "rigor, relationships, and relevence are needed in schools."

In our community, we have New Tech High, which is school work related to skills for the global economy and this setting sometimes helps young people find meaning, when they do not find it in academic subjects. Right brained youth (that's me) also find that school doesn't play to their strengths, so the parents job is make sure you understand your child's capacities and how school taps these, or not.

Again, the key is to realize (per the gifted literature, but applies to all youth) very few youth are actually unmotivated, they are just selectively motivated and/or not motivated in the ways that adults prefer. The solution is often to help them pursue what motivates them, with rigor, and then build a bridge from that, over time, to life skills, including school, and to show that even if they do not like school, success in school may be important towards their life goals.

Also, never forget that the chemical reality of adolescence - it is hard to feel good as an adolescent. Their dopamine levels are low. Their brains are not fully mylinated and smart kids make dumb choices all the time because their brains are literally short-circuiting. Their chemical state does not draw them towards school work, but towards interests that raise their dopamine levels. They start the day happy, are sad an hour later, and then happy again two hours later. It makes no sense to anyone - including to the boy or girl themselves. They need to know that they are on a developmental emotional rollercoaster ride of adolescence, and that we understand and will cut them some slack and give them support.

I hope some of this helps. It helped me to write it, reminding me to practice what I preach!

Debbie

1 mom found this helpful

I am a teacher and have had some of the problems with my grandchildren. Somehow, he has to find a "passion". Sometimes, it is worth visiting an alternative school that teaches more "hands on" and possibly transfer him.Sometimes, it means having him tested for learning disabilities. The latter classes have low student-to-teacher ratio, and parents in my area are hoping, even trying to get their children eligible. A certain average, GPA, to play sports is also an incentive.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi there,
Sounds like you got lots of good advice to consider..explorng charter school, seeking help from a psychotherapist, etc. Try asking him again, what he does not like about school, and if you does not want to share, let him know you will be there, ready to hear him when he is ready to share. Remember, children tend to push away or withdraw from situation that are uncomfortable and do not feel accepted by others, including their peers or teachers. School is not easy, with peer pressure, friends, parents expectations and school requirements. Again, try and explore with him alternative ways he can complete school requirements, such as independent study or home school, and what that decision will require from both him and you.
You said, you have tried some things and they have not produce from your son the response you and your husband are looking for. I would still try to explore with him alternative motivational reinforcers to increase his school attendence and performance...let him tell you both what he is willing to work for. If you take everything away and do not give him an opportunity to earn some of his priveleges/things back within 2-4 days, depending on the behaviors, he loses hope and stops trying. Remind him that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel no matter how lost he may feel...your light... and hope-success; but it takes lots of hard work...such as both of you have been demonstrating/modeling in completing you master's programs. Sometimes allowing children to have some power over their choices/rewards or consequences brings forth more cooperative behaviors from them, and openness to discuss their conflicts with us parents. Do not give up, don't push to hard, but be parents. Also try to recall your school experiences at his age and how you and your husband overcame those challenges, to help with relating to his resistance and lack of interest. Remember, he is also in that difficult development stage in his teenage life of needing to fit in. You may just discover the reason why that resistance and lack of interest exist, but it may take some time, so be patient, and continue being his cheerleader of life and aware of all the possibilities/reasons for his behavior. Always remind him of your unconditional love for him... even if he does meet all your expectations. OH, Have you or your husband tried having an outing with him one-on-one just because. This can help strengthen your relationship with him as he grows older. Hope this helps

1 mom found this helpful

S., Would love more advice on this topic as well. I have the 16 yr old girl with the same character! Good luck.
Deanna

it's difficult to say since you say you've tried everything. Making learning fun has to start young because once a child gets it in his head that he does not like something it's a challenge to change their mind.

Hopefully there is something that your son takes a particular interest in. Could be skateboarding, video games, drawing or music. If you can find creative ways to make him use some of the things he's learhning in school to improve his "craft" or show him applicable uses for the things he's learning that relate to his interests, perhaps that will spark a new approach to learning.

The other thing is, despite our desrie to motivate our children with bribes, incentives, and rewards we must always remember we are the parent. If the positive tactics have not worked, make his life miserable until he get's it together with his schoolwork.

There's several ways to skin a cat you know!

My suggestion is to let it go.
You can't make your son like school - you can't make him like anything.
Not to mention - he's 14. How many 14 yr olds do you know that are excited to go to school in the morning?! I hated getting up in the morning to go to school (sitting in a classroom w/ a bunch of idiots pretending to listen to subjects that I knew would have no bearing on my adult life whatsoever.) Honestly, the only thing I cared about at 14 was hanging out w/ my boyfriend, impressing people, and smoking pot. So try to see it from his perspective.
That being said, I also feel that school (especially higher education) is a privilege. There are kids in 3rd world countries that have no education and thus no opportunity to make anything of themselves - I'm sure this is similar to the tiered old speech you give your son. However until he really feels appreciative of the opportunities you are providing for him, he will continue to fight you because he has no perspective... he's 14. I really didn't appreciate school until I went to The Academy Of Art. There I was doing what I loved, so pulling straight A's was effortless and exciting.
So my whole point is:
1. Don't try to force him into anything - your pushing will only repel him. As a parent, you are his guide, not his boss. Teach him how to help himself - how to unlock doors for himself. School is not the only way to do this.
2. Focus and cultivate the things that he IS good at. Is he good at sports? Art? Playing video games? There is a place for every talent. My parents knew I would be an artist so they told me I had to pull at least C's in my academic classes as long as I brought home A's in my electives. Get him into after school activities that he likes. Maybe he would like to get a job. He'll have to wait a year to get a workers permit, but he can babysit or dog sit. I cleaned my neighbors house w/ a girlfriend of mine. We got to hang out together and make some cash - it was great.
3. Spend time having fun with him. The more you two can spend fun time, the more you will appreciate the other qualities he has. Maybe then it will be easier to let go of your academic dreams for him.
4. Relax - sometimes you just need to let go and trust that you've done a good job.
Good luck :)

You have some excellent advice so far and I think you probbaly have some good ideas as to what to do. I am a high school teacher (taking a couple years off with baby) and let me tell you what I learned. Often Middle School or Junior high is the final straw that breaks the camel's back for many students. In my experience, that entire system needs to be re-evaluated and changed because we lose so many students at that time to boredom, anger, hormones, social frustration etc. By the time they hit high school they have already reached their limit and just start to shut down. What brings them back is different for everyone.
I knew a boy who's father had to send him off to a boy's home for a while. It was that experience combined with a new girlfriend who was a good student that inspired him to complete high school as an excellent student.
I've know other kids who finally do well when they feel comfortable. That could mean changing schools a few times until they find an environment they like.
Sometimes it's a particular teacher or a coach who can help.
I think that if I were in your position I would find a charter school that has a particular goal or major that goes along with your son's interests. I know SF has a charter school designed to create community leaders. There are others focussed on technology, the arts and so on. Often you can be motivated by your peers if you are in an environment that makes you feel comfortable.
Good luck!

Hi S.,

First of all, not every child will enjoy school no matter what you do. That being said, there may be other issues to check in to. It seems like you and your husband have a great love for education as you are pursuing higher education degrees and work in a college. I share this love, but my husband never liked school. He is successful as a paint contractor without the college degree and without a great high school GPA, so don't worry too much.

Could it be that your son has school burn out from you guys being at school a lot also? Higher education is a great thing and sets a great example for your son, but if all he sees is school, it could be overwhelming.

I would also check with your son to see if he has been experiencing any negative situations at school. Is he the object of teasing or bullying? Does he have friends? Is he active and happy otherwise? If there is an underlying reason that does not have to do with education that will need to be addressed, obviously. He also may just be bored or have a physical issue that causes him to be unable to concentrate.

Next, find out what he does enjoy and would like to learn about, even if it is a sport or activity and give him classes in this for fun! Help him to understand that even learning a sport takes some education. If you can somehow tie his learning in to an activity he likes, this may help. With my daughter, we worked on math at Baseball games. She LOVES baseball and likes to learn everything about it. We would go to games and have her work out doing averages and taking score and then explain about the importance of math in baseball. (sounds corny and she was young, but it helped)

I also discovered with both my kids that they liked going with me to my college classes better than there own and when I was at UC Berkeley and my son was in high school he actually learned quite a bit asking questions in my classes! I majored in Anthropology and Psychology and both my kids were able to go on a dig with us and loved it! It helped reinforce that science and history can be interesting. My son loved Psychology and would ask questions in my classes that were actually very intelligent and well thought out. My profs. loved him! I don't know if you could take your son to anything at school that he might enjoy, but mine found the college to be a lot less dry.

If your son can take electives, make sure he takes an enjoyable elective to give him something to look forward to at school or get him into an activity at school.

It is hard when a kid really does not like school. It may get better with high school if he gets involved in some things.

Hope this helps,
P. A.

Both you and your husband are educated and I wonder if you don't scrutinize his report cards and hover over his homework? If you do then he has not internalized his drive to take care of his life. I would let him learn about natural consequences. Let him fail some classes. It sounds like his parents may be helping him to get the minimum done, yes?

He must be aware of different jobs out in the world. What does he want to do as an adult? If he can pick something then he can accept that school is part of the plan to getting to that goal. Help him learn about all the different kinds of jobs. I know for myself, growing up I never thought much about the future - but the very thought of it scared me. Maybe the job he wants requires no college. He might feel that you and his Dad will push him into college. Don't make him go. It has to be the idea of the student. But let him know you can help him with enrollment and logistics.

Do other kids tease him, or bully him? Are his social skills okay or is he nervous around others? If you can pinpoint the problem, rather than "doesn't enjoy school" then you can work to improve.

good luck.

Since you live in Oakland, I bet there are many extra-curricular things you could encourage him to get involved in, and maybe fall in love with. You can try the rec department, local theaters, he could volunteer at an animal shelter or maybe a vet's office if that's his thing. My brother was involed in the Civil Air Patrol starting from about that age and through high school- he still has those friends. As others have suggested, if he has something he loves you can teach him about the responsibilities of doing well in school before he can have fun, etc. I am sure you know that already. If possible, I would reccommend building in some "play" time into his day before he gets to homework- or break up the homework into bits-work on math for 15-20 minutes and then take a break (for snack, a TV show, one round of video game, or the like), then go back to work on math if it isn't done, or another subject. If he knows there's a time limit (maybe even a timer that beeps) he may find it easier to concentrate on the work rather than being overwhelmed by the unending feeling of it. I'd also try not to harp so much on the importance of education (he's going to get that by seeing how you and your husband are putting time into it) and instead focus on his getting something done, then talking about something else non-school.

I used to teach 7th grade and high school(before I started staying home with the kids), and I found motivation in the classroom to be the most frustraing. I often tried to design projects that gave the students choices in how they responded. I also tried to vary the activities in the class so that we didn't spend the whole time just sitting there. You can't really tell the teachers what to do, but you can call them and find out how he's acting and responding in class and if they have suggestions. They will also (HOPEFULLY) be able to tell you what extracurriculars are available at the school. Hopefully at least one will know what interests your son has outside of school (such as drawing, telling jokes, sports, or whatever). He may never enjoy school (some people just don't), but as long as he's maintaining minimal competency, he'll still be open in the future to junior college and university study. (I know, I know- we want more than the minimum!) Good luck to your whole family! So much going on :)

I have an 18 year old who is completing high school this year. He loved school only for the other children. Most of the time he hated the rest of it. Occasionally there would be a teacher who would spark his interest, but he never really bought into all of it. However he still picked up on a lot of education even if his grades were not that good. We were surrounded with books in our home and had lively discussions about many different subjects.School had been very important to me, but my husband seemed to understand our son's distractions and lack of interest. We provided tutors, etc. "His" plan at this time is to go to junior college to the Police Academy and has started working and takes that seriously. Many of his friends who felt the same way "Surprise" have plans also! Just not the ones the school system and parents envisioned... do well in school, go to the best university you can. Very one dimensional for so many different souls. Love you son, encourage where you can, keep talking, don't consider this a lack of character on his part. It is a lack of interest. Of course, one must always rule out depression... talk.

hi, maybe he is to smart inroll him in challenging activity

S.,
Have you ever thought about hypnosis to get to the memory that caused him to start disliking school? It might have been something that occurred at school or at home that caused him to shut down and feel unable to compete or be successful in his school work. We all get learned behavior that comes from our subconscious mind that creates issues in our life. Sometimes it is as simple as getting to the root cause of that behavior and helping the person see that the behavior no longer serves them, in order to change what is happening. If you have any questions you can email me at ____@____.com this helps. S.

I have had a hard time with my now 14 yr old since 3rd grade. Let me rephrase that my stepson who I have been with since he was 1.5 yrs old. His mom and dad(my hubby) had a plan of attack for his schooling with the help of the school that I didn't agree with. They coddled him until the grade of 6th. I think it only hindered him and gave him the wrong idea that everyone will bend over backwards to help him and do his work for him by giving him extra chances. I disagreed completely. I think he needs to be held accountable for his actions. Now finally last year we found a class that he really really ENJOYED and it made a difference in him wanting to go to school. Once again the 2 parents took him out of that class when his grades slipped. My opinion I would have warned him he can be removed from that class if he doesnt fix his grades. I don't understand how taking away a class he likes benefits him. You take away the one thing that he looks forwards to at school. Find the class that he really likes...

I wish there was a perfect answer that would resolve your situation. Speaking from experience, my daughter was the same way, she just went to school to fill her seat, but she graduated from a 4 year college this past December. There is hope. I talked to her constantly, I exposed her to everything I thought would be benefical in order to change her outlook. In the moment nothing seemed to work, but later she told me that my persistance is what made her change her attitude towards school. Allow him to do the things that interest him and make sure your family, friends and extended family have the same expectations that you do. If all of you are on the same page, they will also help you in motivating him. All of this worked for my child.

I know where you're coming from. My son is only 10, but is in the same boat. I am told this behavior is more common than not in boys. If anyone has any cure, I would love to hear it. At this point I would try anything(and have,trust me.) Good luck to you. Let me know if you find a solution.

Hi, I just wanted to say that my 12yr old daughter is about the same. She's in 7th grade this year so a lot changed & it became a lot harder for her to stay organized, even with much instruction & help in that department (she's more like her father, un-organized!)... it's not just a transition to Jr High though, she has disliked school since she was young because she had a difficulty reading. She COULD do it, but hadn't been taught grammer as well as she should have been. We took her to Sylvan & she was caught-up & does great now, but has that under-lying hate of school.

So, at age 12, we decided to give her a bit more of the responsibility. She's a bit of a pessimist & complainer anyway, so in order to stop that, we gave her some goals. She REALLY wanted a digital camera, cell phone & laptop. (just because other kids have them, I guess our family computer isn't enough, etc...) We had originally told her she would get a cell phone when she needed one, like when she started driving - however, a new goal for her, is that if she earns straight B's, she will receive a cell phone. She must maintain the B's. If she earns straight A's (she IS capable), then she will be rewarded with an iPhone (her dream phone), however she must maintain those A's in order to continue use. She will receive the phone on her 13th b-day, after monitoring her grades this year.

It seems to be working & now when she complains, we say something like, "well, youi don't HAVE to do it... you won't make your cell phone goal if you don't do it, but..." & she normally cuts us off & says "I'm doing it! I'm doing it!"... so, it's getting better!

Maybe he wants something you can use..? =) Good luck!

Find out what he is interested in doing. For example, computers and get him into a program outside of school that he can do that in. School is probably boring to him and he sees no purpose in it. He does not need to enjoy it at this point but he needs to enjoy learning so get him involved in learning what ever he likes to do. Tell him this is his job right now and how he helps the family unit. Give him more responsibility in his own education. It is hard for a 14 year old to realize that the roof over his head is not cheap if he does not have any financial responsibility. He is 14 so it may be to late. Just be thankful he is not in trouble. Hugs, Mama, C

If you get any suggestions please pass on to me. I have a son soon to be 13 years old and he does not seem motivated about school. The grades that he gets can be much better. I have taken away everything nothing seems to work. I've e-maild his teacher's and have all homework and I sit with him after work each night to make sure he completes assignments. I have him on weekely progress reports that are sent to me via e-mail from his teacher's. I also requested extra credit work for him to complete.

Has he explained what he dislikes so much? I'd be curious about that... and then would think you could make SOME sort of changes based on that... What the heck happend in the 2nd grade? Is he with the same kids? Does he not get along or feel disliked? I went to the same school for 8 years... and I didn't particularly care for my classmates... it was miserable... I did well enough... but was really happy when I changed to a new school for high school that was MUCH larger... and I didn't have to see people that I wasn't thrilled to be around....

I like the idea as someone suggested a Charter School... My boys are getting ready for preschool... we're looking into a Montesorri... The child's education is driven by their desires and such... freedom to learn... and I've got to tell you... I sat in on an afternoon at one of these schools I saw 12 year olds with incredible vocabularies... manners... desire to learn more... some charter schools are free (I think)... check into it... obviously something's got to change... Good luck!

Did you ever think of homeshooling - do you really look at what his day feels like - looks like - to him. his boredom certainly has as much to do with his daily environment as him.

Google 'Beach High School' - read 'dumbing us down' by Gaddi

Imagine your bright son getting a chance to follow his true interests.Mine is 18 and will tranfer directly in as a JR to a UC cal school this fall from a community college. Expand your horizons and his - we get one life.I believe my son's 'story' is an inspiration as well as many other homeschooled kids.If your interested I'll share it.I have not said one word to him about his study habits for at least 5 years and he is on the honors list.

Most kids are not usually talking about how excited they are to be in school and we are all so numbed out & tired - we shrug it off or think it's cute or funny - or worse 'bad attitude'. it is so convienant for all of us to deny the true life experiance of our kid's daily grind( I'm not letting myself off the hook here either - Ihave 3 kids ).

Good Luck

Have you thought of an Independent Study school? You can find them on the list on California Schools. You probably can't get him in until the Fall (you'd apply by May for Fall), but it may be worth a try. I don't know where you live, but our son goes to Venture School in San Ramon and loves it.

I have a 13 year old son that is in an amazing program at a Charter school, is a gate student and also super bright. He had a bad teacher in 3rd grade and lost his love of school also. I have also tried everything to motivate him and or discipline him for bad grades and nothing works. The only thing that seemed to sink in for him was a run down of what he wanted to have when he grew up and how he could not have all of that on a Mc Donalds salary. It hit home with him yet we still struggle. Let me know if you get any good ideas. I think all of us moms of junior high students need all the help we can get. Good Luck!

It could be he is in the wrong school for his interests. I have a grandson that should have been in a magnate school or another school and for him to focus on his interests. He is funny and very bright and in my opinion, (grandmothers don't count) he has wasted a good 10 years of time in the wrong place. He likes photograpy, journalism, comedy, etc and should be able to excel in something.

What are your sons interests? Look for an alternative school if at all possible. Our system tries to fit all kids into one system and it is not working.

the fact that both of you as parents are students may put him off as well. he may feel he just can't measure up.

I had the same issues with my 13 yr old son until he was diagnosed with Non-attentive ADD. He is also very intelligent, and the comments by his teachers indicated that they knew he was capable, but would not put forth the effort. After he started a medication program his whole attitude about school changed because he felt better about himself. We fought on a daily basis about homework and school. Now he takes pride in his work, and is doing well. Good Luck, I truly wish you well with your struggle.

You are not alone. My 13 year old has a very unconcerned attitude about his school performance. When I talk to him his eyes glaze over and I know I've lost him for the rest of the conversation. I am beginning to think he has a learning disorder and has difficulty concentrating. He does well when we push him but then he loses focus. I wish I could offer a solution. M.

You can set him up with his own business starting at the age of 14 providing you give parental authorization with www.takeverve.com or www.vemmaforever.com It is an excellent new discovery liquid supplement and also the healthiest energy drink on the market. He will not only be doing well for his own health but everyone else he markets the product to. That might stoke his interest and he will want to go to school to market the product to his classmates, their families and teachers. If you would like to know more information call me at ###-###-#### I will be glad to share it with you.

Yeah, I agree with the new school idea. I put my kids in a charter school, mostly because my youngest was always bored, and it was wonderful. It's a little harder when they're older, but there are charter high schools. So try the alternative school route. (The only issue could be if he's leaving all his friends.) Also some kids are just plain less interested in it, and they'll have to mature into caring about education. I'm still waiting for my oldest to get his act together, and he's in first year college. My other two are academic whizzes!

There might be several reasons your son does not like school. He may be frustrated with the work due to an undiagnosed learning difference. It is worth the effort to have the school district test him.
Another suggestion is to make sure the school fits the child and the child fits the school. I met someone from a tutoring meeting last week that works with students that don't fit into the current shool system. You may want to look at alternative schools.
Also, you want to find an activity that he enjoys and succeeds at. It can be a class at his present school or a church related activity such as a youth group.
It might be worth taking him to psychotherapist to see if there are any other underlying conditions.
I am a private tutor and one of my clients actually hates school.

hm...if this has been an issue since second grade, it seems like maybe he didn't get challenged enough...OR the work was too difficult. My guess is that he finds the work boring, useless, and detached from anything he finds interesting.

I teach HS and I get asked this question all the time. Unfortunately, sometimes it is very difficult for me (math teacher) to find ways to connect what we're studying to things they do outside. I'm not creative like that, and my models for teachers were...OLD SCHOOL to say the least.

Have you thought of a charter school, if home schooling isn't an option for you? If you're around San Mateo, there is a charter school called High Tech High. Check it out. Their work is very project based, the kids don't really get "lectured" but they do more reading and discussion. They have the same teacher for science AND math, so they are making connections with their work all the time. I was offered a job there and LOVE the philosophy. I was too chicken to take the job though. I kind of regret it, but it would've also meant an hour commute.

** Just wanted to add about charter schools. Charter schools are public schools. They must apply for their 5 year charter from the school district they "reside" in. They still must meet state standards, do the CSTs, etc. The difference is in the goverance. As long as the charter fully details how the school will meet the state standards, they can dish out the curriculum with different flavors. You can hunt around for charters and see what those flavors are. There may be small school fees, but in general, a charter school IS a public school. I would contact your local school district or county office of education for a list of charter schools in your area if you are interested. Some of them have detailed websites with information about the teaching philosophy, etc. There are a lot of them, you just have to know how and where to look. I know that for San Jose Unified (whom I work for), the charter schools who are under the umbrella of the district show up on their list of schools. Downtown College Prep for HS. I think Escuela Popular is in East Side Union HS. High Tech High should show up in Sequoia? Sometimes charters are founded by organizations, like Aspire. Other times, they are founded by a group of parents, teachers, and educators with a vision. **

Could be...
Like so many others...
Boys especially...
D-Y-S-L-E-X-I-A.

As a 60 year old, I just learned to read. School was torture because I am intellegent ~ and ADHA. I earned an Associate of Arts degree in two years. Recently returned to college to earn a B.A. in Early Childhood Education
I am creative ~ and school was painful because it was based on the style of learning "sit still and listen".
Learn all you can (because the schools don't have a clue) about dyslexia. There are excellent video resources to view for parents and teachers. Save your son from a lifetime of defeat. Read the bios of Charles Schab, Walt Disney and others. Ansel Adams didn't do well in school and look what he accomplished in his life.

It sounds like you and your husbnd's schedules are busy. Perhaps he just needs more time from both of you. Learning together can be what he needs and can be enjoyable. I too value education and not at the expense of my child's most vaulable teen years. That is when the kids need us most.

Since you are a college enrollment counselor, you may be able to help him by exposing him to all sorts of jobs/careers/futures he could have and teaching him about the steps he would need to take to get there. I remember being completely surprised that getting good grades was a prerequisite to getting into college which would lead to my chosen career, teaching. I had just never thought it through.

I also agree with the mother who suggested you look into alternative schools. Some charter schools take a different approach to traditional schools and this may be what he needs. Homeschool may also be an option. There are several programs/charter schools available to guide you with home study programs. My daughter has just switched to homeschool, with a day of classes in a charter school, and she loves it! I am enjoying the time with her too.

Good luck but don't leave it to resolve itself. That's sometimes when kids look to drugs and other ways to solve their problems.

School absalutly sucks!!!! BUt make sure to tell your son that this is his chance to live! Yah the work sucks. Try to make it fun. Do work with friends and have him think of school like a vidio game. To save the world from complete distruction you must be trained. Let him read this and let him now this is truley coming from another 14 year old.

Your son sounds just like my 14 year old did a year ago. Now he has started a new school and really loves it. I think it makes a difference if they are at a school they like and have friends. Maybe he can join in a club or sports and make friends. I know that at this age peers play a big role in motivating kids. Also, I have had to let go of some of my high expectations. I know that my son is not the student that I was. I also know that straight A's in highschool isn't necessarily a key to success in the future.

Does he like sports? Get him on a team or some kind of activity he would enjoy. Seems like the whole house is in school. That may be some of the problem. Find quality time that has nothing to do with studying or school and have fun. If he's smart, have hime tutor a younger child or be a mentor. That would make him feel important and perhaps challenge him as well. Best wishes.

Hi there!
Maybe trying to get him interested in something like sports or some sort of club might be good for him. Is he good at music or doing something with his hands? Debating? What about marial arts? Martial arts or some sort of club is good for teaching people, especially young ones discipline. Even though you are concerned about his education, because we all know that that is very important, you shouldn't try pushing him so hard. It just makes him resist more. I think that getting him involved with something that he is interested in would be a good start to helping him open up, and maybe he could even meet someone who could understand him in a different way. Sometimes, it is hard to talk openly to one's parents about what it is that is bothering them, for reasons only they seem to know. But sometimes it is just that they don't want to dissappoint you or something.
All of the best.

For his dad to take an interest would make a difference.

Hi S.,

I am also on the tail end of my masters in psychology as an MFT, and a former educator.

Authors Ryan & Deci (2001) wrote a wonderful article about something called "Self Determination Theory" and intrinsic motivation. The article boils down to the discovery of some psychological needs that extends beyond the basics...these are researched psychological needs for well being and three factors must exist to thrive. 1) autonomy, 2) competency,and 3) relevance.

It looks to me like your son is indeed bright like his momma. I feel the more creative/sensitive/and distracted kids may need even more of these three factors to engage in their learning. Ironically, they are often the ones buck against a one size fits all schooling that can feel so constricting for their wonderful spirits. In other words, their education must offer them more freedom and control over the learning than traditional models/programs may offer.

Secondly, kids work best at differing competency levels in different subjects...Vygotsky calls this sort of level a proximal zone of development...yet I always felt it was a natural feeling of engagement that happens when you have found the place where a kid is highly successful at a subject or task and yet just challenged to reach the next level of competency.

Thirdly, (my favorite) is relevance. Your son might be smart enough to want to see how the material before him serves more immediate and long term relevance FOR HIM...why is he learning these things in the first place? Imagine how successful a kid could be if they could find and follow their calling young? Most college students I meet are still pretty clueless of a path...heck many adults as well. What is the ultimate goal here? What does he naturally love to do? I feel it is a balance of economic options,joy,and natural ability. (but I digress)

There are those who are content to jump through endless and sometimes pretty meaningless hoops because an authority figure and the rest of the well meaning world says it is a good idea...and sometimes it may actually be a good idea...You are already a model of great work ethic...yet I suspect that he might thrive if he was allowed some down time followed by homeschooling or alternative education that could cater more to his level of intelligence and perhaps sensitivity that I suspect in him. Teens also typically need far more sleep and this can add to the tough mornings.

You can google A-Z homeschool or HSC for more info if this sort of thing sounds interesting to you. I would also look at the international bestseller "In Praise of Slow" by Carl Honore,(segment on education) to find a letter from the president of Havard to parents about what they are really looking for. I think you have an exciting situation on your hands...and your son has the smarts/intuition and bright caring mom to help him have a better life choices than most. I would ask him what has worked in the past when he was excited about learning and build on that...focus on solutions and creating some new ones from there that meet your families needs now...Bravo!

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