First, as you know, you’re not alone. What’s surprising is that often, the advice given is some form of “the parent needs to change his/her behavior” or “maybe it’s part of a larger problem”. While both of these things might be true, we think that the most common reason is simply that the schoolwork is uninteresting.
In my book “In Defense of the American Teen”, I ask parents to look back at their own experiences in middle and high school. Were your classes interesting, or did you sit through months of boredom, listening to material that you knew, even then, that you’d never need or use? Was there one class that you actually looked forward to? Or some extracurricular activity that energized you? I’m not suggesting that kids shouldn’t take math, English, or history, but I am suggesting that one good solution for helping your son/daughter to like school again is to help them seek out classes that interest them. Electives!
But whether you’re in public, private, or homeschool, finding engaging electives can be tough. Fortunately, it’s easier than when I was in school, with the increasing availability of online courses designed around useful and interesting subjects. The best of these new courses are self-paced, video-based, and include quizzes and grading, so the teacher doesn’t have to be a subject-matter expert.
We’re building our company, Nexbooks, around the premise that middle and high school students are not being given the exposure to all of the amazing and diverse topics available to them, so it is nearly impossible for them to discover their passions, and/or what they are naturally good at. We’re creating an ever-expanding list of online courses. Our aim is to deliver a diverse set of life-enrichment and vocational electives. We deliver this with on-demand, virtual courseware in video format, which can be facilitated by homeschool and traditional school staff.
We’re hardly the only ones who’ve seen the need for better electives, so do your research, and please consider helping your teen to seek out electives that he/she actually wants to take. If your teen wants to be a drummer or a chef, or simply wants to know more about jewelry design, there’s a course somewhere for them. Many of these online courses will fulfill an electives requirement in your school, so everyone wins. Give your kid a reason to like school again.