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Developing Self-Discipline

This is my concluding post in a three post series entitled Discipline in a Love of Learning, Freedom Based, Interest-led Homeschool. You can read my first two posts here and here. Or you can jump down to the summary for a quick overview.

Discipline series FIMBY


In my last post I talked about drudgery and discipline. I didn't set forth a plan for teaching your kids to apply themselves to drudgery. Instead I asked a bunch of questions that challenged the assumptions people have about children who are given large amounts of freedom in their learning and education.

On one level people are ok with kids "being kids", having time to play, discovering their interests and all that. Many people even question much of what is taught in schools. But the "real world" looms large and scary, and because most adults can't answer, with any honesty, the question "why do I have to learn this?" from their children, they take comfort in the belief that, compulsory education, if nothing else, at least teaches kids self-discipline, something they are unlikely to learn on their own.

My belief, and personal experience, is that children absolutely can learn self-discipline in a love of learning, freedom based, and interest-led homeschool. And I believe you can raise children, without compulsory schooling, who will grow into adults capable of fitting into the real world where not all work is interesting or inherently motivating.

(Please note: A lot of homeschoolers have a compulsory schooling mindset, they take the subjects and requirements of schools and apply that to learning at home. This post is not about learning-at-home vs. learning in a school. This is a post about a freedom based education.)

Children can learn to apply themselves to difficult tasks, and become self-disciplined adults by:

  1. participating in normal family life. The comings, goings and doings of a family require discipline, and eventually self-discipline.
  2. investing large amounts of time, energy, and effort in designing their own studies and self-directing their learning.

Point one is easy enough to see.

Involving children in home life, not just involving them but depending on them, at age appropriate levels for pet and animal care, cleaning, laundry, chopping wood, cooking meals - good old-fashioned chores - develops self-discipline.

Chores are things that have to be done, yes, but you can grow a family culture of meaning, purpose and even fun around these activities. It's within your power to do that. We require our children to participate in home life, but we can also inspire them to serve (or not) by our own attitudes towards service. (I am so convicted about that right now.)

Training children to take care of their personal health and wellbeing also develops self-discipline. Personal hygiene, exercising every day, eating well, hiking together on the weekends are a few examples from our life.

In our family, there are a lot of activities our children do that develop discipline. They do these activities because they are a part of the Tougas family and the Tougas family does these things.

This is character training and habit formation. And although it is not "academic" it teaches the skills that transcend subject and circumstance. That's the goal.

family hiking in the snow

The goal is not the knowledge acquired in grade three or grade four but the skills you learn acquiring those facts.

And my argument is you can acquire those skills other ways.

You can acquire those habits and character traits in the context of a robust, intentional family life.

Most people will not quibble with this point. It's somewhat intuitive because family life is thousands and thousands of years old, whereas mandatory education is only a couple hundred years old.

To see this principle illustrated, all you have to do is look back through history at all the people groups worldwide who have lived without formal schooling, and learned to apply themselves, largely through the means I just explained, to the hard work of adult living.

You learn to do by doing. And children have been learning how to be disciplined by observing the adults in their tribes and societies and by participating in family life for millennia.

The point people quibble about is number two because most people have no grid for that. It was never offered to them.

A brief reminder, point number two is this:

Children can learn to apply themselves to difficult tasks, and become self-disciplined adults by investing large amounts of time, energy, and effort in designing their own studies and self-directing their learning.

Here are two reasons (I seem to like two's this discipline series) why people have a hard time with this premise:

1. When children are young "applying themselves" looks like a whole lot of play and childhood exploration.

Because of the structures and standards of modern day schooling many people are uncomfortable with school-age children spending most of their time "playing". They should be learning. They should be "on the track" preparing for adulthood.

You have to learn the stuff of elementary school, to be prepared for high school. Then you have to get good grades so you can graduate high school with honors, so you get into a good college, get a degree which will give you a good job, which will pay you well, and allow you to retire... to do the thing you really want to do with your life.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) this is not the track to success it once was but people live and educate as if it still was the reality. Or maybe it was always just a myth?

homemade fairy dolls

If allowing children time to play is hard the next point will be even more difficult to swallow.

2. When children become a young adults, after a childhood of creativity, exploration, and play, "applying themselves" looks like a whole lot of intense study into things adults might question as valuable or worthy.

You've got to kind of expect this, especially after you've given young children time to develop interests, and don't box them into subjects. School subjects are constructs, "real" in name only.

Adults don't go through life thinking of their days and activities in terms of "now I'm doing math, now I'm studying history, now I'm having phys ed." No, they balance the checkbook, read for the pleasure of it and to learn about something they're interested in, and work out because it feels good.

Even so, when well meaning adults see young adult students spending heaps of self-directed time on things that don't easily quantify as "American History, Chemistry, or English" they get a little panicky. What about the success track as laid out above?

(Perhaps at this point I could direct you to a different success track. Let's say the story of Steve Jobs who spent heaps of his young adulthood "playing" with electronics.)

Here's the rub. It's hard for people to understand when another person, child or adult, is invested in and personally driven to do something they themselves don't value, or can't see as valuable in society.

And yet these outliers, these people who pour energies into solving problems other people didn't even know existed or make art that modern day sensibilities don't get, these are the very people, all through history, who are society's movers and shakers.

Even if people question the assumption that the conveyer belt education system is "the track to success" (success by who's standards? by what measures?) they assauge that cognitive dissonance with the belief that by conforming to the system you at least learn self-discipline.

My question is: Do you learn self discipline with compulsory education?

Children, teenagers, and adults of all ages are self-motivated to learn the things they want to know, or need to know, to reach their goals. And when you give children the environment and permission to actually do this they learn to be disciplined. They learn that discipline helps them accomplish what they want to do.

The real problem then is not the lack of discipline but the lack of self-knowing and inspiration.

inertia

I want to illustrate this but I'm not good at hypothetical examples. I tried writing some and they fell flat, so I'll tell you what this self-discipline, arising from self-directed learning, looks like in my home.

  • Designing and sewing a skirt. Making progress every week even when it's difficult to do all that pinning and stitching. Ideas are wonderful but then the work must be done and the work requires discipline.
  • Training for a 5k running race.
  • Crying, yes crying, through the final stages of a project. Tears that tug at my heart strings, but tears I am nonetheless unable to do anything about. I did not assign this project, nor can I remove its burden (though I can do a few extra chores to buy a child more time). In our experience, as young adults and emerging young adults see ideas through to completion there will be blood (ok, so there hasn't been a lot of blood), sweat, and tears. This is the time for that.
  • Establishing a taekwondo practice routine.
  • Sewing a birthday gift for a sibling (with an obvious deadline). Again, ideas are wonderful but then the work must be done and the work requires discipline.
  • Learning to read, even when it's hard. Being allowed to come to your own conclusion that this skill matters to you (not because of school shame) and then working at it.
  • Structuring your own school time, as a young adult, and sticking to it. "Showing up" day after day to do work that is tedious because you value it. Which brings the word tedious into question. (The work appears tedious to me because I can't imagine sitting down and doing it.)
  • Finishing what you start, even through difficult and uninspiring spots. Motivated by a commitment you made and payment upon completion. This applies to art commissions, doll commissions, and other obligations our kids choose.
  • Learning Japanese. Finding a language program, preparing your own study material, following through because you want to.
  • Programming with your Dad for a few hours a week not because "you love programming" but because computer programming fits with your strengths and interests and is an accessible way for you to earn the money you need to purchase an iPad. It's a skill that helps you meet a goal, and when you have goals you are driven.

My role in these scenarios is to offer encouragement and support. To secure resources, find mentors, accommodate the schedule (sometimes I do extra chores if the kids are under a deadline), bring fresh perspectives, and offer a lot of "you can do it" messages in the difficult spots.

The student designs and chooses their own "assignments", or projects. I don't have to convince them of its value, they chose it. The motivation to do the work is intrinsic. Self-discipline.

Our children, your children, are scientists, writers, readers, sewists, tinkers, do-ers, makers, artists, and athletes. They have ideas and inspiration all the time. They learn self-discipline by following through on some of these ideas (you can't make every idea a reality).

Children learn self-discipline through the perspiration of interest-led learning and living.

An important note about ages and stages.

I've mentioned this already but I must return to it again. A child's work doesn't look like work. It looks like play.

Crayola coloring set

They will be having fun and you will wonder, "how will they learn to apply themselves when they are enjoying themselves so much?" (Perhaps if you find yourself asking these types of questions you need re-evaluate your assumptions and beliefs and work, discipline, and joy.)

Only in recent years, as our children moved through the ages of 11, 12 and 13 has self-discipline been applied to anything that looks "schoolish". And even then it starts small.

Celine reaching her high school years, what we also call the scholar phase, was not an arbitrary age decision, "you're 14, you're in high school". Celine has reached this stage because, after a childhood of love of learning, she is choosing to go deeper, to be much more disciplined in reaching her goals.

There are days when I say "we don't have to do school today" because our schedule is crazy or whatever and she continues with her studies anyway. Regardless of whether her parents say it must be done or not. That is what is called self-discipline.

Trusting, through the childhood years, that interest-led learners will one day apply themselves to difficult study can be a nail-biting experience. Though I bet your children are already applying themselves to study, it just might be a certain skill set or knowledge you don't value.

Just remember, the development of self-discipline when a child is young looks like a meaningful contribution to family life and concentrated play, exploration, and discovery.

You have to give it time to unfold. You can't rush these things.

Tips & Strategies

Maybe you are worried that you don't see self-discipline developing in your children. Or maybe you just want to "do something" to make sure it's happening.

I understand that concern. That's a good concern. We want to raise children who will become independent adults, self-sufficient in the context of community and family.

  1. Open your mind up to possibilities, don't be hemmed in by "subjects". Are you looking for your child to develop a discipline around say, writing, while ignoring the other self-initiated work they do?

  2. Teach your kids, through example, how to be self-disciplined. What are you doing right now to model the self-discipline you want them to grow into?

  3. Make sure family life has meaningful and hands-on responsibilities for children. Your child's contribution should be needed, respected, and encouraged.

  4. Build a family culture of identifying interests and talents, cultivating ideas and projects, and then doing the hard work (the perspiration) required to make those ideas reality.

Jump start the process

Do something amazing as a family. An activity or project that teaches sacrifice, discipline, hard work, service to other, overcoming obstacles, etc. Do something together that teaches the character traits you want to instill in your kids. Choose a concrete goal and then go for it - as a family.

Series Summary

I started this series with two myths.

Myth One: If you are self-directed learners, and let your children largely pursue their own interests as their education, you must not have a very disciplined home and family life. It must be chaos after all to let your kids "do their own thing".

Myth Two: If you are self-directed learners, and let your children largely pursue their own interests as their education, your children won't learn self-discipline. They don't learn to apply themselves to less-than-pleasant tasks. In short, they are not equipped for real life drudgery.

I addressed myth one in my first post, in which I explained what early years discipline looked like in our home.

When our children were little we established firm boundaries, in the context of unconditional love. Now we all experience a great deal of freedom within those boundaries. And as our children get older, while still living in our home, they get to set their own boundaries.

creative messy counter

I addressed myth two in posts two and three. In post two I shared a pervasive belief that school is the training ground that prepares you for a life you don't necessarily want to live and forced academics is a great opportunity, and main vehicle, for character development.

I then asked a bunch of questions best summarized by this:

Or would these children-become-adults be empowered by years of personal decision making and experience - growing up in an atmosphere of unconditional support, clear boundaries, and positive role models - learn to seek after and make happen those things they want to accomplish in life?

In this third and last post of this series I started with a two-fold premise:

Children can learn to apply themselves to difficult tasks, and become self-disciplined adults by:

  1. participating in normal family life. The comings, goings and doings of a family require discipline, and eventually self-discipline.
  2. investing large amounts of time, energy, and effort in designing their own studies and self-directing their learning.

I explained both points but went into detail with the second, illustrating what this looks like in both childhood and young adulthood.

And finally I concluded with tips, strategies and a challenge to help you develop self-discipline in an interest-led, freedom based homeschooling environment.

These tips can be applied to families in any schooling situation but I believe are most effective when children truly do have a large degree of freedom in their learning.

kids cooking in the kitchen

Let's Talk

I spent hours and hours writing and editing this series for you. I've attempted to answer, in depth, a common misconception I encounter (in coaching, conversations and educational practices, both at home and in schools) about interest-led homeschooling - that children don't develop self-discipline when given the freedom to study their own interests.

I hope this will help you in your homeschooling and give you more confidence in your methods in the face of questions or outright criticism from well-meaning (or otherwise) family and friends.

Please feel free to add any of your own observations in comments. I know your students apply themselves to what they love. Tell us about it!

What did I miss? Do you have more questions? Feel free to ask and if I have time I will answer them today in comments or build them into future posts.

Resources: 

6 December 13

Comments

This series was so well-done,

This series was so well-done, Renee. I also loved the practical ways your children have learned 'self-discipline', and the point about self-discipline with *compulsory* schooling.

My only other comment is that responding to these myths, or at least in my experience, really has to do more with a complete paradigm shift, or 'thinking overhaul'. It's like these ideas are so far from the realm of what's normal/average, it's actually hard to comprehend. I took it upon myself to begin researching homeschooling seven years ago, and with that brought books (and importantly, the ideas behind the books) from everyone like Susan Wise Bauer to John Holt. I was so interested in it myself, I couldn't stop learning about it. The ideas were so different to me, but also made a lot of sense, so I kept on reading. I think if I wouldn't have had that exploration (that has lasted years, and is still ongoing, like reading your blog!), then I would have trouble with these topics. I just wouldn't understand them. Once I understood this way of thinking, I of course wanted it for myself, and my family! 

So, how this relates to me and those who might bring up these myths in our own lives, is to really go back to the core of what you talked about in this final post--the value of what is worth pursuing to the invidual. I've very much had to 'relearn' or 'unlearn' a lot about value and worth. 

Sarah M

"I want to encourage and

"I want to encourage and empower homeschoolers to live the freedom that is available for them in their homes..." You certainly succeed in that Renee! Although we aren't homeschooling yet (since there are no children in the home yet) I really enjoyed this series. The more time I spend in the world of compulsory education (as a science education coordinator) the more I have become disillusioned with its goals and methods. These posts are a nice confirmation of what I begin to believe more every day about what it is truly important in children's education. I am definitely taking notes for the day when we will hopefully be homeschooling our own children in the future, and gratefully knowing that we will have great resources such as this when we get there.

Thank you so much for this

Thank you so much for this series. I think that for a lot of us, we know that the way we're doing things is the right way for us but when you're surrounded by families who public school, it's easy to doubt yourself! It's nice to know that when those doubts creep in I can feel the support of others who are living and educating the way we are. So often I start to think that we should "do school" only to be shown by my children that they're doing great the way we've been living.

 

Two comments:

Two comments:

The list you made to show what self-discipline looks like in your house (from the designing to the programming)  - could be adapted for one in my house too! The ideas are the easy part...

I love your kitchen helper's fancy schmancy look. She's got style, that dear girl.

love, Mom

 

 

This also made me think a lot

This also made me think a lot about the things that I see my children applying themselves to that are not inherently valuable to me...ie...guitar (I'm not a musical sort--bummer), and monster hunter on wii. Those are sel-chosen pursuits, and I am now looking for ways to honor them, as much as or more than the honoring I do when the kids work at things I assign.

 

Thanks for this great series!

Thanks for this great series!  Your posts, as well as the discussion in the comments, have been helpful and encouraging to me as a  homeschooling mama of little ones.  

I'm about halfway through Peter Gray's new book "Free to Learn", in which he offers many insights into the development of self-discipline through free play.  So far I'd say it's a worthy read for anyone interested in how children develop the skills they need (for the "serious aduld world") in an atmosphere of freedom and play.  His book elaborates on many of the points you've mentioned in this series, and may be of interest to other readers who want to explore this topic further.

Thank you for all the effort

Thank you for all the effort I know must have been required  to write this series. There is so much here to think about. I hope to add more but still processing and thinking. I am mulling over a few thoughts and questions. I have a very unique learner in my mix and struggle daily to help him along.

 

Love this series!

Love this series!

Our own homeschool journey has slowly evolved from 'school at home' in the beginning (which made everyone crazy, especially Mom!) to a self-directed, interest-led learning style that works for us.

My daughters are all very different, the oldest just shy of 16, spends hours upon hours singing and practicing guitar and piano; all of which are largely learned on her own, from books, with tips from mentors, and through watching youtube videos.  She has a gift, but she also has disciplined herself to hours of 'drudgery' when need be. And many are blessed by the work she does.  

Her younger sister is into art and writing and spends her hours upon hours drawing and creating dragons and other fantastical creatures from clay, or writing books on the laptop (who could dream of a better 'Language Arts' program than this?).

 The youngest, just 11, is still experimenting with many things- drawing, sewing, sculpting, learning about birds, and studying herbs and herbal medicine because of a book series she loves. She is also the most 'academically minded' of them all at the moment, and grabs the math book even on non 'school' days and does lessons 'just because'.  

That's how interest-led, self-directed learning has worked thus far in our household.  And I am so glad for voices like yours which encourage and inspire others to at least consider that there may be a better way to learn.  

Thank you :) ,

Catherine

Just a quick question about

Just a quick question about self-discipline: what can be done if a child wants to do nothing but play on his tablet all day? I've got this issue with my son. I've tried getting him books that he'd like at the library and art supplies (he's a very gifted artist), but for the past couple of months, he hasn't wanted to do anything but play on his tablet. He did get some origami books the other day, and he made several things, but that was short-lived and he's back on his tablet again! My girls are so good at keeping themselves busy with cooking, reading, writing stories, and playing ”school”, but sometimes I really worry about where he's taking things.

Thank you so much! I think

Thank you so much! I think the ”banking” idea is great! I might give him the choice between playing outside and doing anything that doesn't involve electronics. (He's 13, and the most educational thing he plays on his tablet is Minecraft.) I'll have him start ”earning time” tomorrow.

Renee, you are a genius!

Renee, you are a genius! After reading your comment I decided to google minecraft homeschool, and lo and behold, there is a minecraft homeschool class (4 total) that would take 20 weeks combined. The advanced class is advertised as being sufficient to replace other curriculum, and they are graded on their progress ( I personally don't grade anything other than his math tests right now, but the state will like it.) Another great feature is that it's very inexpensive (we have eleven kids), and you pay for it monthly since each class is a month long, so if he wouldn't want to continue, there's no long term commitment. Not all of the assignments are online either, so there's some variation. I'm definitely going to try it. I just called him (he's at his grandma's), and he's so excited.
I'm also the same person who was telling you how our daughters are alike, and I just want to say thank you for the post about your daughter's rpg curriculum. I'd been at a loss with what to do with my daughter for next year (10 th grade) because she's completely uninspired by her mainly textbook- driven (her choice) curriculum this year. After reading your post, I asked her what she's interested in, and she jokingly said Sherlock Holmes. I told her if she wants, we could try to come up with a Sherlock Holmes curriculum for next year. What a springboard that was! She has a lot of high school requirements to meet, and I think we can cover them all (except math). This is what we've come up with (I'm breaking it down as the state will: Literature- reading the Sherlock books will fulfill the classics requirement, Writing- so many possibilities; a high school requirement is to write a ten page composition- possibly a Sherlock type short story? Grammar will be covered in the editing and revising, Social Studies- find an appropriate approach to studying (preferably not textbooks) psychology and sociology, even the Sherlock books will offer a glimpse into this era in England,Science- use living books to study kinesics (the science of body language) - we're also using Teaching Astronomy through Art, which is unrelated but is an interest of hers, and she will do some sort of logic study. There's not too many options here for a related hands-on project, but that's fine. She's very resourceful. Anyway, sorry for the long comment, but we never would have come up with this without you!

Renee,

Renee,

Can you recommend any design programs/software (so un-techie, don't even know the right terms!).  My boys are 11 and 8 and love all things drawing, building, designing and express that often on paper and with legos and keva planks...would love to provide something on the computer (which they also love, but mainly just want minecraft) that supports/expands those endeavors.

 

Can't easily express how much I appreciate your wisdom, well-thought-out posts and encouragement.  You are helping me so much.  Thanks!

Angie

Angie - I'm not much of a

Angie - I'm not much of a techie, but I had to jump in.  My girls (12 and 8) love the program Scratch.  It's a free programming "environment" out of MIT, and it's quite intuitive.  You can buy books on things to do in it, but there's lots of free resources, too.  It's a real programming language where kids can do things as simple as make an image move, all the way up to programming their own games (and more, I'm sure).  -- christy

So much great content, Renee!

So much great content, Renee! Echoing others above, thank you for all of your time and effort in putting this series together. I've been thinking about it all week; I'm looking forward to reading it several more times to really internalize it. 

I can't really seem to verbalize all of my questions yet, but one that keeps flitting around the periphery of my thoughts is in regards to my just turned five year old--he taught himself to read over a year ago, which perhaps makes me unintentionally think of him as older and more "mature" than he actually is. I am struggling with him always wanting to be "entertained" (perhaps just my perception of it) or wanting my assistance every moment of the day. I'm wanting him to PLAY, and he does--just not much as I think he should I guess. And, in reality, I'm just looking for some time to feed my creativity and it's not happening as much or as often as I would like. (I'm going back to read your posts on some of this soon).

I guess the question that kept flitting through my mind this week was "what did this age look like for Renee's kids, and how would she have handled it?"

I so want to see my kids learning in the way Celine is in a few years--maybe I'm expecting to much independence at this point?

 

Thank you! Once again, you

Thank you! Once again, you give me a reassuring glimpse into the future. My oldest is 8 and spends much of his days playing Lego's, folding paper airplanes, reading about dinosaurs, etc. It's fairly easy for me to see the value in these things, as like Sarah said above, I've done a lot of reading about the nature of how kids learn. But my husband and mom have not read the same things I've read, and are more likely to question how much they're learning. I struggle with how to respond. I'd like to say "read these books and then we'll talk" :) Obviously with my husband, his input matters a great deal to me, and we spend a lot of time talking about these things, but he still has a more academic point of view. Anyway, I do appreciate this discussion, always lots of food for thought here at FIMBY! 

Oh, and I also wanted to say

Oh, and I also wanted to say that I needed the reminder to model self-discipline, perhaps more than usual this week. And I'm brainstorming ideas for a family project, handmade Christmas gifts are a given right now, but a good project after the holidays might be just what we need to get through the rest of winter. 

I have to echo the comments

I have to echo the comments of others - thank you for taking the time to channel your thoughts into words. This is where we are at right now in our homeschooling. With two boys (8 and 4), we did the "school at home" thing for some time (and the eldest even chose formal school for a bit because of it).  But, in the last few months, I have read everything about interest-led learning and my husband and I are so excited to begin this path with our children. But, it's scary (especially with regards to "college" and all that seems to represent) and we have had to do a lot of "unlearning."

I am truly grateful to the book, Project-Based Learning, and to the specifics you have outlined in your many blog posts, especially the idea that interest-led and gentle discipline are not exclusive. I also love that interest-led does not mean unschooling. My husband and I can provide lessons as long as we keep the goal of self-directed learning in mind.  These thoughts have eased this worried mother's soul and it is so helpful to have a starting point from which to adjust for the needs of my family. But, I do have a question...

With books that you want your children to listen to, is there a particular time you implement this? (My thoughts are during/after lunch). And, what happens if a child is not intersted? Do you require they stay in the room, but do not "need" to listen? They can be working quietly on an activity as long as the story can still be heard? Any advice?

Liz, I know you're looking

Liz, I know you're looking for Renee's answer, but I can't help but chime in.  I think it is absolutely fine for kids to be working on something else when I am reading.  I do my read aloud time in the evenings.  I require them to be in the same room as me, and they have to work on something they don't need to concentrate intently on (such as reading).  Some things they have brought to the family room are sketch books, chess and sewing.  I would also approve of Legos, but not something that requires conversation, such as a card game.  

My dad has picked up on our evening reading time and offered to do the reading one night a week.  I love having a chance to do my own hand sewing during this time!  Funny though, he got annoyed when my son went to get a new pencil from across the room while he was reading.  I think I'll have to explain that we are not replicating a classroom, and that people can still listen when moving, within reason, and that we mean no disrespect!  

Thanks for the input. Our

Thanks for the input. Our family LOVES Legos, so I think that may be a good way for my younger son to stay focused and get used to the idea of listening aloud to a book without pictures.

Thanks for the detailed

Thanks for the detailed information with regards to age and reading aloud. It's helpful to have some ideas to try and figure out what works for my family. I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on college. While my husband and I do not think one has to attend college necessarily, we are a bit afraid that we will limit their life choices. But, I guess that might be the drive - if they want to go, they would catch up with what they needed.  And, perhaps this might be a moot point in 10 years when my eldest is college-age, since so many colleges are offering free courses. One could cobble together enough skills and certificates to start their own business and forge their own path. Thanks again for the posts and have a wonderful Christmas!

You're doing a great service

You're doing a great service to homeschoolers!

I am sure that as a remotely-located-in-a-country-where-you-don't-speak-the-language homeschooler you must have run into the problem my question is about to pose:  What do you do when you've exceeded local resources?  For instance, my eldest is really into robotics.  At 10, with a local team, she attended and won a Lego First League competition.  She has owned all the Lego robotics-related products and has pretty much run the gamut as far as that goes.  Thing is, there seems to be a huge gap between Lego First League and university-level robotics teams.  Nothing.  At least where I live. Same goes with her Japanese learning.  She's done the online classes and the next step up around here would be a private tutor -- or an exchange program, except that she's only 13 -- but we can't afford it.  So when a child has run out of options when it comes to a certain interest, what to do?  Have you ever experienced this?  A lack of funds to continue to the next level?  A lack of resources?

Also, what about children whose interests are constantly changing -- or, rather, being added to the list?  Do you think this could be a symptom of a deeper issue?  My eldest's interests are wide-ranging, amazing and...rapidly changing (or, like I said, rapidly multiplying).  There is "I feel happier when I'm learning something new" (said that last night while learning about population growth and doing her physics lessons) but there also seems to be too much at once perhaps?  I mentioned in my other comment some of her recent discussions but that list also includes, in just the past few days, a request to learn more about US History (she knows nothing), a desire to learn more robotics (as above) and electronics, a request at lunchtime today to learn Russian History and a desire to visit a gaming exhibition to learn more about all the different consoles and their systems.  As you see, all these cannot be put down on a schedule for the next few weeks.  These require time, energy, funds.  What role can self-discipline play in actually settling on a couple of topics per semester, for example?  You don't need to answer now.  Perhaps these are questions you can work into future posts?

I will need to come back and

I will need to come back and read this post again (and again), Thank You so much.  Your words here are exactly what I'm struggling with the past few days... extreme feelings of fear and panic that she's not doing enough, I'm not doing enough and no one's ever going to get anywhere.  This 11 - 12 age thing is really tough, having words from someone with older kids is so genuinely helpful.  I guess if I think about it, I feel like it's not her searching for who she wants to be and where she wants to focus (will she ever find something she's passionate about?!) that is the problem, but it's me, trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do while she's doing that.  (It doesn't help to have a late-evening discussion with MIL, who's generally supportive of our ideas, with her aghast that our 6th grader has never written a report and I don't plan to "make" her do so in the near future.  Things went downhill from there.)  Thank you so much for your support, even when you don't know you're doing it for some of us.

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