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Background

I am homeschooled and due to my location I have chosen to not participate in many face to face activities because I do not enjoy being around the people who live here. I am virtually cut off from civilization sometimes spending periods of weeks without leaving the confines of our property and communicating with no more than 3-4 non-family members. Up to roughly 7th grade (I am now in 10th) I was well ahead of my grade level academically and since then my progress has stalled. When I try to do something or am motivated to do something by my own curiosity I have absolutely no problem doing high level work in those areas but when I am not self-motivated, I sit there, barely able to focus, doing very little or pretending to be doing my work when I am actually doing something that entertains my mind. Due to this lack of motivation, my performance has stalled completely and I am now at or below my grade level in several "boring" subjects. They are starting to get worried (and rightfully so) about my lack of progress which leads to my mom wanting to help me more. My mom's teaching quite honestly sucks and is nowhere close to ideal so I have hid under a rock and tried to teach myself so that I have even less interaction with her which in turn sets up another iteration of this vicious cycle.

Problem

Generally in a Public (or Private) school, if you have an issue relating to a teacher, you have your parents, another teacher, another adult in your life, or in some cases the administration of the school. In my situation, my parents (who's relationship is starting to strain a little bit) are attempting to be both teacher and parent at the same time which leaves me with nobody but myself to motivate myself because when I tell them that their teaching is not working, they both get defensive and threaten to take away my only source of outside interaction (my elective courses and my computer) if my grades don't improve. I believe I have some undiagnosed ADD issues and possibly a little bit of depression and am completely lost and trapped between my life (most of which is banned by them but I do anyway) and my school.

  • Have you talked to your parents about the possible ADD/depression? – Em C Dec 13 '17 at 13:43
  • Yes, my mom's answer: yes, you probably have ADD but it isn't bad enough that it gets in your way. It's true but only because I can hide or overcome it at times and on things that I am interested which makes me look lazy on the other subjects. As far as depression, it's mostly temporary because of the issues I mentioned in my question. It is mostly loneliness which leads to being depressed. – Name Dec 13 '17 at 13:50
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    Can I ask why you are homeschooled? e.g. for academic reasons or something else? – Em C Dec 13 '17 at 14:06
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    Hormones are signalling molecules of the endocrine system. ADHD is a condition of the nervous system, the signaling molecules of which are neurotransmitters. If you're repeating your mother's words, then I trust her qualifications as your psychiatrist even less than her fitness as your schoolmistress... I don't know how far to read into this dynamic, but this kind of single-figure dependence raises red flags and this degree of social isolation seems almost deliberate. Kinda thinking you should reexamine the poor esteem in which you hold the option of going to public school. – Eikre Dec 13 '17 at 20:59
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    @Name Actually, schools are not only for academic education, but also for social education. Get along with people you don't like, solve conflicts, build friendships etc. So, not enjoying the interactions with kids from the school should not hold you from joining school. (Depends on the kind of interaction) – Arsak Dec 13 '17 at 23:17
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I was homeschooled up through college, also for academic reasons. Most of it was fairly isolated as well (rural area, typically only left the house for church-related events, didn't have a lot in common with anyone local). So I can definitely relate!

I do think in this situation, your best bet is to have a productive conversation with your parents - after all, they are the ones responsible for your education.

First, you say they get defensive when you say their teaching is not working. Be careful about how you say things like that:

Your teaching sucks!

Obviously not a good idea to say this, because it is an attack on your mother! And keep in mind that chances are, your mom is having difficulties too. Teaching does not come naturally to everyone, and she may not even feel strong in the subject material. Or she may be frustrated that she's explaining things in a way that makes perfect sense to her, so why don't you get it?!

Instead, consider something like:

I'm really struggling to concentrate on this material.

This is only making a statement about yourself, and not blaming her. I would also include more details about what specifically makes it difficult for you, (too fast-paced, don't like the format, etc.).

Rather than just generally complaining, give constructive criticism. You say, "my mom's teaching is nowhere close to ideal" - think about what would be "ideal", and how you (together) might work towards that. Approach it as a collaboration between you and your parents to give you the best education possible. After all, that is the point!

Suggest alternatives. Maybe you could look into a different textbook, a video-based course, a homeschool co-op class, college courses, etc. (Even if you don't make friends with anyone else, it's still worth it to have a teacher who knows the subject well - this was how I learned other languages, when my parents only speak English.)

I also highly recommend discussing learning styles with your parents. My mom and I both read "The Way They Learn" early on, which was very helpful in understanding the different ways people absorb information. Let's say your mom needs absolute silence and a clean desk to concentrate, but you do best sprawled out on your floor with the TV blaring - you would both perform poorly in each other's environments, and it's unproductive to force you to do so. Going through the book together helped us understand the need for flexibility and gave us common language to talk about our styles.

Over the years, this meant things like trying out several different math curriculums, or figuring out how to tie in subjects I disliked with subjects I liked. I still had to study things I wasn't keen on, but I was able to direct how (to a reasonable degree), which really enhanced my educational experience.

Finally, some other people you could go to:

  • A non-parent family member, who still cares about you and wants what is best for you, but won't take criticisms of your mother's teaching personally. They might know of a better way to approach your parents about making changes, or be willing to help you talk to them.
  • If you can get involved in outside classes or an extracurricular activity, a teacher or trusted adult there
  • A therapist or counselor - even if the depression is situational, it is still useful to address it, and they would be able to suggest ways to cope with the isolation issue. You could also seek someone for ADD/ADHD testing, and if diagnosed it could make those issues seem more legitimate to your parents.
  • An online community, where you can ask questions like this and talk to like-minded people :)
  • I like some of the points in your answer but there are a few things that might change it slightly. My mom is very active in the gifted community and I already know how I prefer to learn (which is sprawled out on the floor with no distractions). 2, She has identified that I have ADD but is very hesitant to do anything about it. 3, I've tried every method of learning in some subjects and in the end I almost always end up twirling around doing nothing. – Name Dec 13 '17 at 18:12
  • I think based off of some of these answers I am singling out my ADD as part of the problem. But when my mom is strongly anti-drug when it comes to hormone mimicking drugs, it will be a challenge to get help down that avenue. I will ask a question about how to deal with it as soon as I get time! – Name Dec 13 '17 at 18:17
  • @Name Hmm.. how negotiable are these subjects? Even if it's like you must do an English class, can you pick between "write a novel in a year" vs. "technical writing" vs. something else? TBH if you have tried everything you can think of, that's exactly when you ought to go to a professional, because they have resources and training that you don't.. I don't know if that argument would help or not. Also does your mom have any support? (My mom was part of an online community for parents of gifted kids which she said was invaluable, apparently we're difficult to deal with sometimes :P) – Em C Dec 13 '17 at 18:27
  • Math, I haven't made it past the beginning of Algebra 2/ Trig and English, I am supposed to be writing essays about short stories and it bores me out of my mind so that I end up writing a technical document for various programming projects while pretending to work on my essay. – Name Dec 13 '17 at 18:31
  • Also FWIW, I think your description of utterly unmotivated to do "boring" things, but great at things that pique your interest is very common with gifted kids. (I had my suspicions before you commented but didn't want to assume!) Sometimes you just gotta grind through the stuff you don't like, unfortunately. – Em C Dec 13 '17 at 18:31
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My heart goes out to you in a big way.

I home schooled my children through 8th grade (my oldest through 10th.) Unfortunately, I was the teacher, the mother, the guidance counselor, the principal, etc. You have the picture, and I don't envy you. We lived on a farm on 28 acres, so there was schoolwork to do and farmwork to do. However, they had at least 3 "playdates"/week, sleepovers, belonged to two homeschool co-ops. a church youth group or two, and had a whole slew of homeschooled friends. This helped with subjects they didn't like. Competition, you know.

Due to this lack of motivation, my performance has stalled completely and I am now at or below my grade level in several "boring" subjects. They are starting to get worried (and rightfully so) about my lack of progress which leads to my mom wanting to help me more. My mom's teaching quite honestly sucks and is nowhere close to ideal so I have hid under a rock and tried to teach myself.

What can you do? If you can't speak honestly to your parents, here are some options:

  • Ask for a tutor. This is a totally reasonable request and is looked on favorably by evaluators (if your state requires one.)
  • Talk honestly to your evaluator. Don't wait until the end of the year. Just call her up.
  • Ask to see a counselor: a therapist, if you think it's psychological. They can get the ball rolling on an evaluation.
  • Join some online homeschooled kids groups. Look for some that have mature stands on issues, not just gripe sessions.
  • Consider going to school. (Scary, but possibly the answer.)

It is very common for parental teaching to start to stall around 10th grade. I've seen it countless times. I'm a doctor and a molecular biologist, I speak 4 languages (three fluently, plus Latin), I was a farmer, a goatherd, a dog breeder, a naturalist, a survivalist, a jack of all trades and master of a few. Yet I reached my limit at 10th grade. That's when I seriously looked for a school of excellence to enroll my two eldest children. Then the next two in their turn. This is very common. The other option I have seen is to get the kids completely to the point of successful self-driven learning by this age. That works not quite so well, from what I've seen. It's also a nice transition from homeschool to college.

You are not alone; in fact, you're in the majority.

Good luck. If I haven't addressed some of your issues, please leave a comment and I'll edit.

  • I intentionally left some of the problem out of my question because I was planning on asking a new question about some of them but the gist of it is that I am interested in CS and am on the computer for all of my free time but they have put such strict parental controls on it that I can not access any site without approval (although I did manage to set up something similar to a VPN on a raspberry pi plugged into the corner of my room). Social media is completely utterly banned and she checks what she thinks is my main email which again, forced me underground when I email the few friends I... – Name Dec 13 '17 at 13:22
  • ... I have met at my academic summer camp. – Name Dec 13 '17 at 13:23
  • Not being able to physically meet my friends has lost several wonderful friends over the years and while my mom says that "I should go out and make friends", she means local friends not friends that I only have seen in person for three weeks. Again, I am in a bind because if I tell her about wanting to meet my friends sometime I uncover my entire social life and I believe that would lead to yet more mistrust between me and my parents and would cut off all of my friends but on the other hand if I keep going about it sneakily I feel bad and my friends leave anyway (and rightfully so) – Name Dec 13 '17 at 13:37
  • About going to school, the public schools in my region are some of the worst in the nation and my mom has threatened repeatedly to send me to public school but I absolutely refuse to go to that mess – Name Dec 13 '17 at 13:41
  • About a counselor, I went to one when I was younger and hated it because I knew more math than them and they didn't really do anything. I also went another time for a test and my scores came out as 10th percentile because of a mis-test. – Name Dec 13 '17 at 13:43
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This is an interesting situation, and I'm answering as someone who went through homeschool all the way to graduation. There are several things you do want to bear in mind.

  1. Someone is always there that you can ask for help. It may be a friend; it may be a brother or sister (I know, it's a scary thought, but chances are they're facing some of the same struggles); it could be a religious leader, it could be a teacher at an electives course; a friend on Facebook: there's almost definitely someone you can guardedly mention some not-overly-detailed remarks about your difficulties too.

  2. The main problem (likely) is not so much the relationship you have with your parents as the fact that you are not being heard. I know for myself, this was a major issue. There have been times I felt like bursting from the "secret" problems I have had. I cannot say how much it reconciled me to some people who I really struggled with when I finally had the fortitude to talk to one of my sisters about the issues I was facing.

  3. Physical conditions could have an effect. You mentioned ADD and depression: these can be clinical and things you simply can't self-treat. Kick-starting a discussion about the possibility of going to see a doctor about those things could be difficult, but it is probably worth it.

  4. REMEMBER: your parents have their own struggles too. You mention their relationship is a bit "rocky." It is quite possible they are reacting to you more than they intend to simply because they feel like a question about their domestic choices threaten their relationship more: in other words, they could feel that making any major changes could bring in more stress and result in more long-term issues.

Hope some or all of this helps; you have my sympathy: that's not an easy situation.

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