Topic | A child that doesn't want to learn – need advice

This topic contains 6 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  brentapril 7 years, 8 months ago.

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  • RobynN

    My 13 yr old in 8th grade hates school. He will be in high school next year and at this time he will not be prepared to take the required courses. I’m thinking he will need to go through 8th grade again.

    The problem isn’t that he’s not capable of the work but he just doesn’t apply himself. It will take him 3 or 4  hours to do history or he will have to  redo english 3 or 4 times before he gets it correct. The days are very long and I have dropped numerous classes simply because there wasn’t time to get to them.He doesn’t have an interest in any subject so they are all long and tedious to him.

    I have 4 other children, 3 that I homeschool and a toddler, so my time is short as I can’t sit under my son and baby him to do his work. We have tried different forms of discipline, discussing his future with him, and nothing seems to work. He just doesn’t care.

    If you have any advice or experiences with this – please share. I don’t know what else to do.





    Hi Robyn,

    I am new to SCM (not to homeschooling).  My boys are 12 & 9 and I am experiencing a similar situation with my oldest as you described (my younger is just sort of following his older brothers lead).  What does your son do during the day or would prefer to do instead of his school work?  My son wants to spend his day on the computer playing an online game.  I don’t really have any advice for you, but just to know that you are not alone in this (not much help, I know).  Hopefully someone will have some good advice for you/us:)



    Hi Robyn,

    Since I obviously do not know your children, I ‘ll just toss out a few thoughts that may or may not apply. Different things click with different personalities, and even then, different times….sigh.

    A quick look into Proverbs will confirm the fact that a fool cannot learn. There have been times when I have called off a lesson by saying, “You are being foolish and therefore you cannot learn and so I am wasting my time.” I then send them off to do some chores and return when they are ready to learn something.

    I have also gotten right down in their little faces and gently asked, “Can we agree to seek the mind of Christ on this matter?” Then I am responsible to follow-up with a chance to discuss it with them.

    Also, we purpose to give them plenty of opportunities to explore some of their own interests; that can really spark learning. I will allow them to select their own research project, however silly it sounds to me. We set up goals and a timetable for completion to keep it moving along. One current project is the history of the Ford(?) Mustang. My only ‘extra’ requirement will be to include a timeline that has a bit of world history and church history noted on it.

    A talk about just who is the one that is graduating was helpful with our oldest. Once he internalized the fact that I was happy to just keep schooling him and it was up to him to graduate, he seemed to wake up (though it took a number of these ‘talks’ through the highschool years).

    I think a habit we homeschool families can fall into is changing/dropping the assignment when things are not completed. We like to be flexible, but we often are training our children in a lack of initiative and an abundance of procrastination. One thing that truly helped us was to require the child to carry the full weight of whatever day/season it was, while still catching up on assignments. We had a full summer of this one time where the child had to carry his full summer responsibilities, which are numerous on a farm, while using his free time to catch up the school work. He was one tired puppy.

    As always, our own attitudes will rule the home. As we look to the Lord for His peace and strength, it will enable us to calmly see the needs in our child’s character and apply the proper consequence in a loving fashion.





    Just a thought…

    I have a 13y/o son also, and 9 other children, however I am very lenient with what he learns, sort of unschooling, and he reads and learrns alot.  Amazing when learning is forced about zero amount is retained, but when we want to learn something — well we master it.  I have not tried these yet, but I would like to – they are called Y Guides.  They are created by an ex teacher/Principal who feels that 7th and 8th grade is just a filler to get to high school wasted time..  So, he created these YGuides — they are to help the child find out what kind of vocation he might like in life. They use academics and hands on.  Very creative. 



    I know what you are going through.. I’m dealing with the same thing with my 12 year old son. He just doesn’t care. He disrupts the rest of the kids with his attitude and makes it really hard on me.

    My husband initiated what he calls “public School at home day”.  Basically what happens is that they have school from 8am to 3 pm. WAY longer than it actually takes. They have a schedule where each class lasts about an hour. They are given a 5 minute break between “classes”. And 30 minutes for lunch. Even if they finish their work in one class they must stay in their seat and find something else to do until the next “class”. Then at the end of the day they are assigned  to write a paper about what they learned in Public school at home day. They HATE this. I hate it too. But sometimes they need a wakeup call to see how fortunate they are to be able to stay home to do their studies. My 3 older kids have been in school so they know how it works and do like it better at home. So when things get the way they are now we have a public school at home day. My son will be having this tomorrow. 



    Did I just write that post in my sleep? Your 13 yo sounds like my ds, only mine would like to go to school full time 🙂 He thinks he doesn’t need to study all these things (history, literature,writing, etc) because he wants to work on cars. I haven’t found a way of explaining that even if you don’t need this education for your job, you need it for your life.

    I also have three other schoolaged kids (9,7,6) and a toddler – so I completely understand where your coming from! At this point I am barely keeping them all going especially with the toddler distractions and cold weather. Right now we have 3 AO years going and i am seriously considering combining. Ijust worry someone is going to miss something important 😉

    So anyway – no advice here since I haven’t got it figured out yet, but i just wanted to let you know you are not alone in this daily struggle!




    I have 12 year old daughter, and at times we have struggled with this. A few things have helped.  At the beginning of the year I allow her to help select some things to learn.  Obviously, some things are non-negotiable, but when she’s picked some things for herself, she does alot better.  Also in our family is the standard rule that no electronic things (computer, TV, IPOD) are to be used until the schoolwork is done. Also in the past, I’ve put a reasonable time limit on school assignments–anything left after the buzzer beeps is “home” work, to be done in the evening or afternoon on her own, instead of joining the family for a movie or other fun thing.

    Your oldest may be trying to get some extra attention too.  With younger siblings around, sometimes moms can forget that the older ones need time with their parents too.  It’s helped our situation alot when I and especially Dad, make a concerted effort to spend special time with our oldest.  Nothing is said about school or the irritation, just enjoying life.

    You may want to have him screened for depression or see if something else is bothering him that he may need to talk about.


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