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  1. #1
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    Jan. 18, 2011
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    Unhappy Suggestions for an unmotivated high school student?

    I have a 16 year old daughter that in most ways is a super awesome kid. She's nice, respectful, fun to be with, not rebellious and a great help around the farm. Really, I think she would pretty much be the perfect kid, if we didn't ever have to deal with school.

    She's had an entirely private school education, up until this year, with the exception of two school years (last year and the previous year) where we did the latter half of the school year as home school.

    Both of the home school parts of her eduction were necessitated by grades.

    As a home school student she completes all of her work quickly, is fairly enthusiastic about her studies and received great test scores.

    As a regular school student, she regularly fails tests and rarely turns in homework, in spite of nagging to study (I did!) and get homework done (I finished it already!).

    She seems to start each school year (and this has been going on longer than high school) with enthusiasm, and then she loses motivation as the year progresses -- with her grades showing that.

    This year? Ugh. This is the worst so far. She cheerfully goes off to school every day, says she had a good day at the end of the day -- but I just got a progress report, and she has an F in every subject except Spanish and wood shop.

    Her previous report card was the range of A through C, and one D+ in Literature that she assured me she would bring up.

    Of course we had the regular "blow her hair back" discussion about how unacceptable these grades were. Of course at this point in time, in HIGH SCHOOL, I'm worried she's not going to graduate. Really, really nervous about that. Right now I can't see how she could pass her grade, and she's already at the older end of her classmates.

    I just cannot seem to find ANYthing that motivates her -- from punishment to reward -- we've tried everything we can think of.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?



  2. #2
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    Jan. 26, 2006
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    Our youngest son was the same in high school. Class room concepts just did not click with him.

    His older brother and sister and even his younger sister were whiz kids in class.... honor students, in the top 1% of their classes of over 500 students each...and he seemed lost.

    He was the "unsuccessful one" ...the others showed the our horses to championships he could barely ride, they were on nationally rank teams, excelled at sports, won scholarships.... and he had nothing.

    We did see an interest in one thing; photography. We got him some cameras and equipment and off he went.

    We met with the school and found they were interested in starting a course of training based upon photography so helped them round up the equipment and find some other interested students.... rest is history...



  3. #3
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    Sep. 7, 2009
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    Can you homeschool again and maybe try a community college class for the spring session?
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant


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  4. #4
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    It sounds like she might be so bored by the material she can't bring herself to bother. (Either that, or she's depressed and can't bring herself to bother and is faking it at home for your sake- but her homeschool experience doesn't back that up.)

    What does she say when asked what is going on? Have you had the "what are you going to do if you don't graduate" discussion?
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
    - Harry Dresden

    Horse Isle 2: Legend of the Esrohs LifeCycle Breeding and competition MMORPG



  5. #5
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    Jul. 15, 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by LauraKY View Post
    Can you homeschool again and maybe try a community college class for the spring session?

    I did this for my older son. In the end, he took a High School Equivalency exam and decided that college was more to his taste - he felt like he was actually doing something at that point. He absolutely was stagnant in high school. As in, he stunk.

    In California, the high school kids can take college classes at their local community colleges free of charge. All you pay for are the books. It's a great way to double up and get going in life, if the student is willing and the school accommodating. College grades are worth one letter grade higher in high school for GPA purposes. My niece took 1 1/2 years worth of college while in high school and is doing very well as an adult.
    Don't tell me about what you can't do. That's boring. Show me what you can do. - Mom



  6. #6
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    Apr. 29, 2006
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    Have you had her tested for ADHD - Inattentive type?


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  7. #7
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  8. #8
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    What motivates her? What does she want to do with her life? What does she see as the reason for the bad grades? Do you think she is depressed? What do her teachers say?

    Sometimes kids need to spend some time in the real world so they see that school is important. Could you get her to get a job? Would she take some classes at the community college? She might do best with classes that only meet for several weeks. Some kids, like one of my daughters, have trouble maintaining their interest in a class when it goes on for 15 weeks. She always loved the winterterm 3 week classes, as well as 1 month summer classes.



  9. #9
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    Do you have career technical centers in your school system? Some kids need a purpose before they are motivated enough to get good grades. Have her tested for career preferences and see if there's a program nearby that she can take up. We have very good CTC's around here - kids can take court reporting, web design, medical assisting, all kinds of programs.

    Some folks just aren't that turned on by straight academic subjects!



  10. #10
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    Jun. 15, 2001
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    Wow, are you my mother? No, just kidding, I'm 26 and have graduated from college and have a full time job and live on my own. I have ADHD.

    Homework is agony. AGONY.

    More agonizing than the THOUSANDS of tears I shed getting reamed out for unacceptable grades.

    My advice: don't look for a link between the shame your daughter feels at disappointing you (and herself) and her daily decisions not to do homework. They don't exist.

    It wasn't until I was 17 that my mother hired a tutor to sit and do homework with me. It became a performance, which made it less soul-sucking.
    Disclaimer: My mom told me that people might look at my name and think I had an addiction other than horses. I don't; his name was Bravado.



  11. #11
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    Oct. 20, 2006
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    Sounds quite similar to my brother. He managed just over a 1.3 GPA and he is incredibly smart...

    He went to military high school after almost failing out of high school. Honestly, the rigid scheduling and the peer pressure to succeed helped turn him around. He graduated with ~3.5 GPA. It was expensive. But better than my mother supporting a high school dropout.

    Good luck with your daughter.



  12. #12
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    Jan. 18, 2011
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    Thank you for all of your replies. They are very much appreciated.

    I suspect that the rest of her school career will happen at home -- but she loves the social aspect of school, and home school just doesn't have that aspect. We tried to get involved with the local homeschooler group last time -- and those were NOT my peeps! Though of course, I'm sure that need can be met in other ways.

    I don't think she has ADHD or depression. She's a very happy person. And happy to leave school at school, for lack of a better term. She doesn't worry about it or sweat over it.

    I'd love to enroll her in a class at the community college. I might look and see if there is anything at a satellite location near us, as the main campus is prohibitively far away from us.

    The idea of her getting a job might be a good one. I'll have to ponder that a little further. We live in a pretty rural area -- not sure if there is the right job opportunity near us for her, but something to think about. I actually think she would really like that.

    I've thought about a tutor, but I'm not sure there really is anything to gain there -- and not sure there's something like that available where we are anyway.

    I hate having to be mad about her grades. I wish she could just keep her trip together! My older child did NOT have this problem at all -- straight A's all the way through school with zero prompting from my husband or I. I guess we just got spoiled.



  13. #13
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    Apr. 29, 2006
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    The reason I thought of the ADHD - Inattentive type link was that a clinical psychologist I worked for had a daughter that sounds identical.

    Smart, lovely kid but marks just kind of trailed off mid year. The Mom tried a bunch of stuff but didn't make the link to the 'inattention' until high school. Daughter was doing her best, enjoyed school but was just 'missing' a lot of what was taught during the day. Because she wasn't goofing off, no one realized how much she was missing.

    Just thought I would share the story because the diagnosis made a huge difference in that young woman's life.

    www.chadd.org



  14. #14
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    Maybe she likes the "social" aspect of school too much. Obviously she focuses when that distraction isn't present (homeschool.) If college classes or a job is a possibility, that would take care of the whole "socializing" thing. Or some other activity--I did community theater in high school besides the high school theater program and met a lot of people that way, and obviously knew people from the barn/4-H.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by danceronice View Post
    Maybe she likes the "social" aspect of school too much. Obviously she focuses when that distraction isn't present (homeschool.) If college classes or a job is a possibility, that would take care of the whole "socializing" thing. Or some other activity--I did community theater in high school besides the high school theater program and met a lot of people that way, and obviously knew people from the barn/4-H.
    Well, I wouldn't assume that the social aspect of school is the reason she does poorly = without "distraction" she is more successful at homeschooling. For many kids, the only interesting thing about school is the social aspect, and the reason they prefer to homeschool isn't related to "distraction" but the fact that they can cut through the BS and do their work and get it over with.

    I personally don't think there are many kids who truly *like* school for the academic part; unlike adults who may decide to take a class because they really want to learn something - kids have been "in school" their entire lives because they have to be there. So, it's really no surprise that kids "like" the social aspect of school...what else is there to like? The reading, the tests, getting up at 5:45?

    To the OP - if you decide to homeschool, keep looking for other homeschoolers that might be more like you. They are out there. Not sure where you live?

    But in the meantime, maybe get your dd a copy of The Teenage Liberation Handbook, by Grace Llewellwyn, and also look into online courses through your local community college. At her age, you can start making this her responsibility. It's not the end of the world if "she doesn't graduate from high school", but you want to make do it the right way - with a plan, not as a bad consequence of being in the wrong type of school environment. If she doesn't want to homeschool, she is old enough to play the school game and finish out the next two years, but try to make it her choice. (And the book above also talks about how students can do that.)

    From a social standpoint, if she does choose to homeschool, her school friends can still be her friends! But it will take a little work on her part (and probably help from you) to try to balance things out and also not have her feel totally isolated during the day if she isn't "in school." Maybe she needs a part time job during the day as well (if she homeschools)? Something interesting like working at the YMCA, or with animals, or the library?

    Good luck!



  16. #16
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    Sep. 13, 2006
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    One school system here (not ours) allows kids to right to college after about 9th grade, its set up for kids who would bore out of school otherwise. I think shes bored & sees that HS isnt worth the busy work. Can you send her to HS part of day for social/classes she likes & do her real work @ home?
    “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDeere View Post
    Can you send her to HS part of day for social/classes she likes & do her real work @ home?
    Depends on the state. Not in New York.



  18. #18
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    May. 11, 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Come Shine View Post
    Have you had her tested for ADHD - Inattentive type?
    Having been recently diagnosed...this was my thought as well.

    ETA...
    Quote Originally Posted by IneedanOTdayAlter View Post
    She seems to start each school year (and this has been going on longer than high school) with enthusiasm, and then she loses motivation as the year progresses -- with her grades showing that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Come Shine View Post
    Smart, lovely kid but marks just kind of trailed off mid year.
    This is also what I experience. Start everything out with great motivation and willingness to complete and have trouble completing anything. I also wanted to say that there are habits that can be developed to cope. I know I first thought "oh great, I need to be medicated?" but that really is not necessarily the case.

    Reminds me...I have a project I should be working on
    Last edited by comingback; Dec. 31, 2012 at 09:08 AM. Reason: added additional quotes



  19. #19
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    Nov. 25, 2005
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    Well as a teacher I am cheered that none of the other posters have pointed their fingers at her high school teachers and said they just don't make interesting enough. I actually just went to a Professional Development on student engagement and motivation. When I told me students that I was going (I was out of class for the day), they laughed their asses off. They said there is little that can be done by teachers to increase student motivation in the classroom and the PD said much the same thing.

    First, contact her teachers to see what is going on in class. Does she get comments on her PR or report cards? Do they say talkative or bad test grades? Some people really seem to think that teachers should contact parents of students who are failing- but do not realize that I have 90 students (more if we were not in block schedule), do not have access to a school phone that dials out, and do not have all the parent's email addresses. It really is easiest if you email them first- a non-accusatory, I am concerned, this happens every year, what do you think?

    Material does get more complex during the year- usually the beginning in just basics. Is it possible that she is in classes that are leveled too high for her?



  20. #20
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    I think you need to talk to her in a friendly manner, that what the problems she actually face in her studies and why she not bring up with good grades? Then try to understand and help her problem, and not to put too much pressure on her, She might need some help or assistance like guidance or tuition.



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