I get asked about motivation. A LOT. Which I assume means that there are either a lot of unmotivated teens out there, or that parents are misreading some of the cues of their teens. The truth is probably a little of both.
Adolescence is certainly a time of stagnancy – – at least occasionally. I know that when I was a teen, I was feeling kind of tired of “being a kid,” but certainly not feeling enthusiastic about “becoming an adult,” either. Most days, that left me emotionally exhausted trying to navigate the territory between the two and generally feeling “stuck.”
This stuck-ness can look a lot like lack of motivation, but it isn’t necessarily. Being unmotivated generally means not having the desire to move forward, whereas I think a lot of teens just aren’t sure where to start! Either way, the steps that parents can take to help are pretty much the same.
If you’ve homeschooled your child for a long time, you’ve likely done the bulk of the planning up until now – – choosing the curricula, choosing what they’ll learn and when, and providing learning resources for them. But by the time they are a teen, your son or daughter should probably start taking over at least some, if not all, of that responsibility. The biggest motivator in life is CHOICE. The more say you can give your student about what, when, where, and how they will learn, the more invested your teen will be in the process and the outcome.
Of course, this process will involve a lot of discussion along the way. There will need to be discussions about curriculum budget, college vs vocation, goal-setting, common high school course requirements, and learning styles, which we’ll cover next.
One of the most important things a person can discover about himself or herself is how they best learn. Learning isn’t always “automatic.” We certainly learn best when something has value to us, but even the way the information is presented to us makes a difference in how well we retain it.
It’s thought that everyone has a favored “learning style.” If your teen doesn’t already know his, then I recommend having him spend some time exploring the different learning styles, and creating a “learning style profile” about himself. This information can be invaluable in everything from choosing a curriculum that fits to thinking about future career choices.
Homeschool High School and Beyond is a free downloadable workbook that teens can use to find out more about themselves, outline their educational plans, and create goals for their future. Because nothing gets a teenager “unstuck” as quickly as being an active participant in their own life and learning.