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Thread: Getting a pre-teen to FOCUS

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    jackbanta's Avatar
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    Default Getting a pre-teen to FOCUS

    I thought I'd post about this here since it seems a lot of members of this forum homeschool their children... or at the very least, definitely know a thing or two about concentration.

    My stepdaughter is 12 and in the seventh grade. Her grades have been slipping the last several years and it seems to be really hitting rock bottom lately. She's not a stupid girl by any means, but I know that when I'm working with her, getting her to pay attention to anything school-related is almost impossible. When I actually can grasp her attention for a few moments, she picks up very quickly, but she rather sit there and pretend that she's dumb a lot of times than listen to what I'm saying.

    I know this isn't unusual behavior for a child, but I'd love to know if anyone here has a good ideas on how to increase attention span, any sort of program perhaps or something that not incredibly tedious that she might actually enjoy doing. I've been getting her to read books a lot more lately, which I think helps a little bit, but I'd like to see what else anyone has done that they've found to be effective!

    Thanks in advance!
    ~Banta

    Graduated 2/17/11: BS in Business, Concentration: General Business from Excelsior College

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    cookderosa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbanta View Post
    I thought I'd post about this here since it seems a lot of members of this forum homeschool their children... or at the very least, definitely know a thing or two about concentration.

    My stepdaughter is 12 and in the seventh grade. Her grades have been slipping the last several years and it seems to be really hitting rock bottom lately. She's not a stupid girl by any means, but I know that when I'm working with her, getting her to pay attention to anything school-related is almost impossible. When I actually can grasp her attention for a few moments, she picks up very quickly, but she rather sit there and pretend that she's dumb a lot of times than listen to what I'm saying.

    I know this isn't unusual behavior for a child, but I'd love to know if anyone here has a good ideas on how to increase attention span, any sort of program perhaps or something that not incredibly tedious that she might actually enjoy doing. I've been getting her to read books a lot more lately, which I think helps a little bit, but I'd like to see what else anyone has done that they've found to be effective!

    Thanks in advance!
    Yep!! A couple things. First, I've been a homeschool mom for 15 years, and I assure you that you are pushing a rock uphill with this. My question to you is: is there anything that she can do for a good period of time without being told? For instance, can she organize a bedroom- cook /bake - pick out clothes/outfits - do her hair/nails/etc - watch a movie (or 3) - etc? I ask because, she likely CAN concentrate, but frankly might not be interested in what you want her to be interested in. Without "going there" I'll say I didn't have a great realtionship with "my" step dad, so I'm sure anything he suggested to me was met with eye rolls lol.

    So, what to do? Support. Expose. Allow her to do new things, meet new people, etc. Support her interests, even short lived ones. Maybe she's getting into a rut- maybe time to try a new sport, club, or volunteer op. Having 4 sons, I don't know much about what girls do these days, but my kids do all kinds of things. They are all in sports, all in clubs, all volunteer, and all work. Even the 7 year old! Once she finds something she likes, support it. I'm sure this sounds so simple, but I really think it's the key. Encourage a rich and varried life. Life with purpose. It took me over a decade to get this simple concept, and I think about my children's education ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL the time. But, it's one of those lightbulb moments when you realize that they have their own minds and things that are important to us might not be to them.

    I'm not saying she shouldn't do her school, require her to pass (as opposed to requiring A's/B's) but her "above and beyond" might be in something that's not academic.

    Just my two cents- and so you don't think I have perfect kids, (HA!) my 17 year old is grounded AS I TYPE THIS for blowing curfue again, and my 13 year old is the most stubborn child on this planet - hands down! My 11 year old is too quiet for my comfort level, and my 7 year old struggles with reading and math. It's all just part of who they are.
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    Jennifer
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    MISin08 is offline Viscount / Viscountess
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    Hmm, 12 was when I gave up and became unschooled.

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    BrandeX is offline Knight Champion
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    Same age everything went downhill for me too, school is just not interesting enough to keep your attention anymore after being a great student. Although it's not as common in girls, you may want to look into ADD as it was with my case at that age.

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    sandraeli is offline Knight / Dame
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    Same challenges here this morning. I've just learned that my very bright son has failed biology for the second term in a row. He does focus on other things, but every time the term comes around, we're back to square one. He's bored and not doing the work, too unmotivated even to pick the low-hanging fruit.
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    jackbanta's Avatar
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    Thanks for your reply, Jennifer.

    First of all, though you didn't "go there", I have to say that my stepdaughter and I have a good relationship. Sure there's moments when she comes close to the "but you're not my dad" routine, but more or less, she avoids that because she knows that it won't be well-received (and she really does seem to respect my "authority" as much as her mom's... in fact, I tend to have a better time getting her to do chores most of the time.)

    I know that she definitely can focus as well. She's very artistic, likes doing all sorts of little projects... she can go into her room for hours at time and focus on something that she likes to do, so you're absolutely right in saying that it's not overall concentration that's a problem, it's concentrating on school work.

    We have been encouraging her to participate in other activities as well. She played softball last year and almost played soccer this year (which she didn't because she was worried that she didn't know how to play... which we tried to convince her that the only way to learn is to try, but she didn't seem to buy that!) She's in girl scouts as well and is very active in her grandmother's animal rescue service. Her mom and I try to be encouraging with whatever she does, but lately, her main focus has been on her small group of friends, which has been getting her into trouble at school as well. She's been grounded for the last couple weeks due to her grades and we keep on telling her that if we see improvement, she could actually go and hang out with her friends in her offtime, but so far, that doesn't seem to be any sort of motivator.

    It's funny though, last night after I wrote this post, she asked me for help with her Spanish homework. She does ask me for help quite frequently, but a lot of the time it's like pulling hair to get her to actually listen after she requests the help. However, last night, I seemed to be getting through to her, which is crazy, since I don't actually know any Spanish, but she seemed to pick up on my verb conjugation explanation even though I was basically learning it as she was!

    We aren't expecting amazing things from her, but she's failed almost every test she's taken this year and though it seems that she might be overall passing (from doing homework and whatnot), I am concerned going forward that she's not retaining anything she's "studying." I've tried to explain that school is starting to get more difficult at this age and she needs to prepare herself since her classes this year will have finals, but once again, I think that's falling on deaf ears. Maybe I was too tough or unrealistic to start the year though... I told her that the expectation was to get an 80 in every class, which I KNOW that she's capable of, but at this point, passing is most important (though, I don't really want to tell her that.)
    ~Banta

    Graduated 2/17/11: BS in Business, Concentration: General Business from Excelsior College

    EXAMS/COURSES TAKEN: UB - Principles of Comm - C | UB - US History II - C | AS - Freshman Comp - C | CLEP Humanities - 70 | CLEP College Math - 66 | CLEP Bio - 70 | CLEP Psych - 74 | CLEP American Gov - 68 | CLEP Social Sciences - 73 | CLEP Microeconomics - 72 | CLEP Macroeconomics - 74 | CLEP Management - 72 | DSST Supervision - 457 | DSST HRM - 70 | DSST OB - 75 | ALEKS College Algebra - 78% | ALEKS Intro to Statistics - 71% | CSU Pueblo 311 MGMT - A | SL Accounting I - A | SL Accounting II - A | DSST Finance - 458 | DSST M&B - 63 | CLEP Intro Business Law - 71 | DSST Business Law II - 79 | CLEP Info Systems - 73 | DSST MIS - 481 | DSST Business Ethics - 458 | DSST Intro to Business - 461 | DSST Environment - 70 | CLEP Marketing - 71 | CLEP A&I - 73 | SL Sociology - 98% | SL Intro to Criminal Justice - 96% | SL Western Civ I - 92% | Excelsior BUS 495 - A

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    jackbanta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MISin08 View Post
    Hmm, 12 was when I gave up and became unschooled.

    Phillip
    Phillip, I'm actually sympathetic to this line of thought, but I don't know how to practically apply it. My stepdaughter's mom and I have often talked about the benefits of homeschooling (especially since I'm not convinced about the actual educational benefits of modern schooling), but with me needing to work and her mom unconvinced that she could actually homeschool the children, we're sort of at a loss.
    ~Banta

    Graduated 2/17/11: BS in Business, Concentration: General Business from Excelsior College

    EXAMS/COURSES TAKEN: UB - Principles of Comm - C | UB - US History II - C | AS - Freshman Comp - C | CLEP Humanities - 70 | CLEP College Math - 66 | CLEP Bio - 70 | CLEP Psych - 74 | CLEP American Gov - 68 | CLEP Social Sciences - 73 | CLEP Microeconomics - 72 | CLEP Macroeconomics - 74 | CLEP Management - 72 | DSST Supervision - 457 | DSST HRM - 70 | DSST OB - 75 | ALEKS College Algebra - 78% | ALEKS Intro to Statistics - 71% | CSU Pueblo 311 MGMT - A | SL Accounting I - A | SL Accounting II - A | DSST Finance - 458 | DSST M&B - 63 | CLEP Intro Business Law - 71 | DSST Business Law II - 79 | CLEP Info Systems - 73 | DSST MIS - 481 | DSST Business Ethics - 458 | DSST Intro to Business - 461 | DSST Environment - 70 | CLEP Marketing - 71 | CLEP A&I - 73 | SL Sociology - 98% | SL Intro to Criminal Justice - 96% | SL Western Civ I - 92% | Excelsior BUS 495 - A

    Degree plan.

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    cookderosa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbanta View Post
    Phillip, I'm actually sympathetic to this line of thought, but I don't know how to practically apply it. My stepdaughter's mom and I have often talked about the benefits of homeschooling (especially since I'm not convinced about the actual educational benefits of modern schooling), but with me needing to work and her mom unconvinced that she could actually homeschool the children, we're sort of at a loss.


    The point of unschooling is actually not applying anything. You simply allow your child to learn without structure. It's a method, not necessarily one that works for everyone, but you'd likely find enough unschoolers to get support. Though it's not the choice for our family, absolutely support a parent's legal right to choose the type of education they give their children.

    Your state would dictate what would be required; the rest is up to you. I'm not evangelical about homeschooling, so don't misunderstand my explaining with cheerleading. In Illinois, where I live, homeschools are private schools. So, literally, I am the owner of "the school" and make all decisions. My issued transcripts ARE official, my issued diplomas ARE official, and my curriculum choices/graduation requirements are up to me. There are a few rules, but they are related to attendance and teaching the major branches of education in English. For this OCD control freak, I live in the perfect state. There are about 15 good states like Illinois. LOL, some states are awful with red tape (East Coast is rough). Still, homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. A good place to find out what would be expected of you is Home School Legal Defense Association. (HSLDA) Click on your state.
    Jennifer
    Homeschooling for College Credit

    MS Nutrition (courses COMPLETE! Thesis in progress), Canisius College, Buffalo, NY
    BA Social Science, 2008- Thomas Edison State College, Trenton, NJ
    AA General Studies, 2008- Thomas Edison State College, Trenton, NJ
    AOS Culinary Arts, 1990 -Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY

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    Jack, I can't help out much unfortunately as my girls are just 5 and 4, but I wanted to wish you luck and thank you and MISin08 for posting the info that you did. I found the article "Against School" by John Taylor Gatto particularly interesting!

    Again, good luck with your situation, I fear I'll be there myself before too long. I'm already hearing the word "boring" coming out of my older child much more than I care for lately.

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    andy3000's Avatar
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    You should watch this video

    School Is A Prison! - Dr Peter Gray

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