What to do?(92 Posts)
I have been home edding my 12 year old DS for two years. It is a constant battle to get him to do anything. He will not do anything himself and thinks everything I arrange is crap or a waste of his time. All he wants to do is play World of Warcraft.
I am fearful that he is ill prepared for a life of doing anything but playing Wow.
I was told that give him enough time and he would become interested in stuff but that's just not happened.
I think he was in school too long and anything that smells like learning is seen by him as a punishment.
Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks
I am sure that getting in with an HE group is the best one, the FB ones if you haven't local ones.
Satin do you home educate and have you ever heard of autonomous education or unschooling? You are caricaturing the suggestions made here as leaving him to get on with it and hoping for the best but there is much more to unschooling and other options beyond control and limits. It really doesn't seem helpful to repeatedly talk about addiction here when all this will do is make the OP fearful and less able to make a considered response to the situation.
OP is already fearful, and rightly so. That is why she posted. I can't think that anyone wants a 12 yr old who is addicted to computer games. Even julienoshoes has said that her son would go out if there were interesting alternatives, but OP appears to be isolated and hasn't come up with alternatives that he wants to do.
As the adult, who knows better and pays the bills, you can simply limit and say 'tough, find something else to do.'
On a mundane level, in two years has she had no contact with the education authority? I realise that you can refuse to allow a visit,but you are supposed to give a report on on the education he is receiving. He is not getting a balanced education.
Belonging to a group would give her support, if nothing else. She appears to need it.
He has an addiction to computer games and I can't see that denying it is helpful.
I am sorry OP, my intention is not to alarm you, just to say that you can't just let it drift in vague hopes, you do need to have some strategies. Joining a group is the first step and get support for you, and hopefully for him.
as an aside:
"but you are supposed to give a report on on the education he is receiving."
Where does it say that in law?
Schools are allowed to get away with a broad and balanced education....because they can't possibly offer a personalised education suitable for each child.
home educators are not charged with providing a balanced education.
A suitable and efficient one yes.
but it doesn't have to be balanced
and it is perfectly possible that this child is still deschooling-as he was so badly damaged by the system.
I wouldn't be forcing him to do anything. I'd be sitting with him finding out what it is that interests him, what he is getting out of the game...and maybe joining in playing along side him.
It is astonishing the education to be gained if one looks closely at these games.
it may be he feels safe socialising online rather than in person, perhaps because of past experiences. Maybe his needs are met there for now.
He may not be ready to mix with local families. I would be thinking whether a smaller number-maybe even a one to one situation may suit better.
But I can't tell that from the info given.
We don't have enough information to know though, nor to suggest that he is addicted.
I'd suggest again that mum came over to the FB HE page -a safe place to chat to people who understand autonomous HE and maybe have experienced similar...
I think that she has good advice. I would only switch off as a last resort, it is much better to be positive.
The advice has been:
Join a group
Use WofW as a basis to follow up and widen interests
Think of career in computer games
Earn games time.
I think it highly irresponsible to tell a worried mother that she need not worry, he can be addicted to gaming, but when he feels like it he can go to college and do well at whatever he turns his mind to.
If you take one month a year to 'de school' he has had 3 times that so it is time to gently encourage to move on and end the addiction.
Another suggestion might be to get him doing something physically active every day. A healthy mind in a healthy body....
When my DS who is 14 got a paper round in the summer hols he had more self-motivation to do active things/go places/kick a ball around in the park etc
My friend is a major WoW player, levelled right up there (or something) really immersed in it on and off for many years.
They are now moving on from a deep depression and working on writing fantasy novels. The online chat gave them the opportunity to try out socialising in a safer, controlled way.
Make it routine that you go out every day, he has to accompany you, but otherwise, he probably needs this right now. Make sure he has a working microphone so he can talk to WoW friends. Find Sealed Knot battles to go along to as a family.
On the subject of long term propects of a games addicted youngster:
My elder brother is a programmer (been at it since computers were invented). He has worked in several countries and contracted for many top organisations. During this he has had to work with or train many young people who had spent their teenage years addicted to computer games. He reports that each one he has met has been a 'normal' human being, able to communicate well and are generally very intelligent, quick learners. As the only downside, he says some of them had very humped shoulders from hunching over a screen for so long.
(But, a word of caution. He wouldn't have met the ones who didn't make it into the industry. It still requires effort to get a good job.)
Try to make sure breaks are taken to stretch all the muscles and also to practice focusing the eyes into the distance. Yearly eye exams would be wise. Purchase a chair which helps posture. Yoga is a lovely way to stretch each muscle and doesn't get you out of breath if he doesn't like the idea of charging about. If he constantly uses headphones, check for hearing damage and agree a safe volume setting.
I think that your word of caution makes the point because he is only coming across the ones who have made it in what is a highly competitive field. I believe it is easier to get a job as a programmer, but they need to be highly intelligent, my son is on the artistic side and there were well over 100 people applying for every job that he went for. OP needs to point out to her son that at some point he needs to get some motivation to study. You can't just happily assume that in a few years time he can decide to study and find it easy.
"You can't just happily assume that in a few years time he can decide to study and find it easy."
Yes, you can. Please go and do some research about unschooling. That's precisely how it works!!
Ommmward you beat me to it! That's exactly what I was going to reply.
It's what autonomously HE/unschooled youngsters do all the time, live life have fun and then when they are ready decide to study and do very well.
it's certainly what mine did, and what hundreds more I know personally too..most choosing to go on to university too.
Only if they have the capability- I know those who have been autonomously HE/unschooled and they have never been ready to study or have not been able to cope. Life would be wonderful if it worked like that for everyone.
School is wonderful for those it works for, HE is wonderful for those it works for.
Everyone is different and unfortunately you can't be sure that all will turn out well, you can only hope.
It is highly dangerous for OP to be told that her addicted son can snap out and do anything he wants, he may or he may not, it is a gamble. I would shorten the odds by lessening the addiction now when he is fairly young.
I think that I have twice said that it is dangerous to give advice without more information. We only know that OP's son has been at home for 2years and that he didn't go to secondary school because the problems would have followed him and that he is very rude about any of his mother's suggestions or arrangements. The one thing he appears to actually want to do is play one particular computer game.
We have no idea if he has special needs that were not catered for, whether he was bullied, whether he was the bully, whether he was disruptive etc etc etc and yet the sweeping statement is made that once he makes his mind up he can do whatever he likes, and can expect success, just because he happens to have chosen it.
I know the government wants to get 50% to university ( not a figure that I would agree with) but it is not for the average. Most children are average, that is what it means. If they are all capable of doing any particular academic study when they feel like it then the average IQ would go up. HE isn't just for those with a high IQ, it is for the whole range. Therefore you can't just say that a child you don't know can have fun and wake up one day and catch up! My son is reasonably intelligent, he got a B in Maths at GCSE and decided to take it at AS level, he found himself way out of his depth in the very first lesson and changed subjects. He couldn't possibly have decided to do it having not touched Maths since he left school in year 5/6. You can do it, but you have a lot of catching up to do first!
You make it sound as if there is a way to educate that is 'the' way to suit all, and not that everyone has different leading styles. You are very lucky to have a way that suits you, even luckier if it suits your children too, but had I been your child it would have made me miserable because it is not 'the' way for me.
Everyone is different and all we can say is that a way can be best for some parents and some children, it can never be best for all parents and children.
People are quick to give the plus points of computer games, I wouldn't argue with them for a few hours a day, but this is not simply a few hours a day. OP needs suggestions of how to get onto other things and not to be told, 'don't worry, a 12 year old knows best'!
I've not jumped into this discussion before, because I don't have expertise in the subject of heavy computer use or games addiction, and I don't have an opinion on the best way forward. However, I just want to make a few observations in case it helps the discussion along. Forgive me if I am stating the obvious.
In saying that the OP shouldn't be told 'don't worry, a 12 year old knows best' you are arguing against the fundamental axiom of autonomous education. That is EXACTLY what it is all about: children know what they need.
You are also questioning the idea that young people can "catch up" if they suddenly develop an interest in a subject they have not previously spent much time working on. I don't think you are accurately representing this idea. No one has said that all children are capable of achieving, say, a A grade at maths A-level. But the advocates of autnomous education believe that for those who are capable of achieving it, waiting until the young person wants to do it does not put him at a disadvantage compared to requiring him plod along towards the goal from an early age. I'm not clear how the example of your son's difficulties at AS contradicts this.
To take a less academic example - since you seem to be implying that only children with high academic potential are capable of making rapid progress towards their goals - my friend did not feel the need to make her HE daughter practice serving customers from an early age just in case she might one day work in a cafe. But there she is now, working in a cafe at the age of 16 and being praised for her ability to serve efficiently and cheerfully. Waiting to acquire these skills until she wanted to do so has done her no harm.
The people I know who practice autonomous education do make rare exceptions and will intervene if they are sure that the child is at extreme risk and for some reason is unable to act in his own best interests. So it isn't impossible that people may agree with your recommended course of action in this particular case (and you have argued that this is an extreme case, and you may be right) - just not with some of the arguments you are making. I don't have the impression that you are very familiar with how autonomous education works.
"children know what they need"
How do they know though? How do they know that they love Shakespeare/ inorganic chemistry/Georgian architecture/whatever if they haven't been exposed to it?
Two years is a long time out of anyone's childhood.
"All he wants to do is play World of Warcraft." That's not healthy.
Away - do you think he might be agreeable to going to an evening class of his choosing?
If you were to tell him that he must do some studying or go back to school might that be likely to work?
To put it simply I can use my own parents as examples.
My father's school report made me laugh as a child because they were fairly dire, and teachers in 1930s put comments they would never put today! When he got to 15yrs he decided he had to work for a decent future so he did and his next report was excellent, it was easy for him, he had been in the lessons and taken it all in, he just decided to apply himself.
My mother was HEd in her teens, she decided (autonomous education, she was ahead of her time!) to get qualifications. It was horrendously difficult for her, she was having to get up to a level in subjects that she had left several years before and she had to start from scratch with Latin and French. Needless to say she failed and she shouldn't have done, she is very intelligent.
My son's AS in Maths is highly relevant. He was quite good at the subject but he couldn't cope in the lesson. There is no way he would have coped had he had his last Maths lesson in year 6, OP's son will have to do some year's work before he can have the choice of A'level Maths and yet people are saying that if he decides to work at 16yrs he can study medicine at a top university should he wish. I dare say he could, but he won't be ready at 18 yrs because he has too much lost ground to catch up first.
I do understand autonomous education, my mother is 91 yrs old and she was doing it before it was 'invented'! She thinks it failed her and that had she had the advantages of her sister in grammar school she would have had more avenues open to her.
Autonomous education is all very well, but it does need some guidance from the parent, if the child is not leading a healthy lifestyle,and playing WofW for hours a day is not healthy. OP knows this, it is why she posted and she does need to do something about it. A 12 yr old can't just be left.
I expect he is too young for an evening class, he is only 12yrs.
OP, you may find this blogpost interesting. I don't suggest it mirrors your situation but it may provide useful additional insight.
chocoluvva: How do they know though? How do they know that they love Shakespeare/ inorganic chemistry/Georgian architecture/whatever if they haven't been exposed to it?
Autonomously HE children do get exposed to a lot of stuff. (And let's leave aside that there is a vast store of the world's knowledge that English schoolchildren are never introduced to.)
If the OP's DS was in school to Y6, then he may well have learned that he doesn't love any of that stuff. This often happens because school is not content to expose children to a variety of interesting things. Instead, it spoils books by saying they must be the subject of a book report. You cannot go to the theatre without doing loads of other things around it.
As stated upthread, schools provide a broad and balanced curriculum; by definition, it's not "suitable" for any one child. It is not suitable for the 6yo who wants to do algebra or for the 10yo who has just "got" reading.
OP has not given enough info for any of us to say anything specific about her son's difficulties. However we can talk about our own experiences.
If a child is not academic and is going to go on and do a manual or semi-skilled job, how does it help them to spend several years having to go to classes that they are expected to fail? Would it not be better for them to have an enjoyable childhood and then have the confidence to do a lower skilled job, not having learnt that they are likely to fail at whatever they do?
OTOH, if they are academic, then they are likely to be able to gain qualifications when they are ready. SatinSandals mother didn't manage it (in the 1930s) but that is one person in a very different culture from today's - we don't know what help she had or what else was going on in her life. It is clearly untrue to suggest that you cannot learn as a teen/adult unless you have "been in the lessons and taken it all in" - many people learn a second language as an adult to which they had no exposure in childhood (given that English schools generally "teach" a very small subset of languages and not all of those to all pupils, the chances of people not having had exposure in school is very high). The Open University is predicated on people with no school qualifications being able to work to degree-level largely on their own while holding a job.
SatinSandals son's AS may give some insight but it does not generalise. My DS had his first day in "school" at 18 when he went to do A-level maths and AS physics in one year to support a university application. He had had no classroom lessons or homework ever prior to that. His previous formal maths education consisted of only the Open University's bottom-level course, which is roughly GCSE level and which he had completed over a year before starting the A-level. He had done no formal physics at all. He achieved the A grade in maths that he needed and has just started Engineering Maths at a Russell Group uni.
It could be (but we are in no position to guess unless the OP chooses to share additional information) that the OP's DS will suddenly decide that he wants to aim for a specific career (and it is not a failure if he does NOT do medicine). Only the OP and her son can negotiate this. Personally, I would put a minimum of requirements on him (related to living together - things like being involved in housework) and tell him that his future is in his own hands - he knows that all these things are available and that the OP can help him access it. I'd still offer things but with no pressure to participate. I'd also try to make sure that I was learning something new (which could include WoW).
My experience is that realisation of the need to become a self-supporting adult arrives later in boys.
At 13, my (autonomously HE from birth) DD wanted to do nothing constructive. I chose to say that that was her responsibility: if she decided not to get qualifications and therefore to ensure she was qualified only for jobs that require no particular skill, that was up to her. At 15, she decided she wanted to be a lawyer (thank you, Ian Dowty at HESFes!). She graduated this summer with a 2:2 LLB from Exeter (but no longer wanting a career in law) and is now on a 5-week TESOL course with the intention of travelling and teaching English. Prior to university, she had taken no school exams exams and had studied at home (OU courses, only one with an exam). She spent 1 term in an English Y5 class and about 6 months in a German secondary at 13. She also had not ""been in the lessons and taken it all in".
OTOH, my DS at 15 was saying "how did DD know what she wanted to do?" - he had no idea and no real sense that he would have to become independent. At 17, it was starting to click but not early enough for him to be able to apply to university to start at 18 (he is an August birthday).
None of this may be relevant to the OP and I hope she has support IRL. However, it is simply untrue to say that 11-13 years of formal education (or even 5 years of exam preparation) is necessary. My advice is always to work backwards - know what you want to do and then see what you need to be able to get there. If you don't know, then at 12-16, enjoy yourself. If a young person is using gaming to shut out the world for an extended time, then that would be worrying. If it is his main interest and his other behaviour is fine, then it would not be.
In the OP's position, I'd probably want to negotiate that he does one other activity (chosen by him) per week. Even if that were to be going to Game Workshop and taking part in a tabletop gaming session. I'd hope (silently) that that would lead to a widening of his interests. At 12, I'd be surprised if he had the maturity to consider the effect on his adult life.
Shakespeare in Y6?
To make a personal example: I wouldn't have chosen to listen to lots of the 'difficult' 20th century music which featured in the O level music course I began aged 13. But I grew to love it. There was no Stravinsky or Bartok at primary school of at home. Thanks to having to study it for a course I have a lifelong love of it.
There are lots of things that I didn't know that I wanted to know about, or seemed boring, that I found fascinating once exposed to them.
My mother was taking the school certificate, where you had to pass all subjects to get it. She managed to pass all the ones that she had studied previously in school. She failed in French and Latin, the ones that were new. She had personal, weekly, tuition from the vicar who was proficient in both. According to those so keen on autonomous learning she should have set her mind to it and passed. She wanted to do it, she needed the qualification, she was intelligent enough and she had personal tuition from someone she knew well and was at ease with. She failed. She passed in the subjects she had tuition with earlier and didn't get personal tuition for.
SDeucher's son didn't suddenly do A'level Maths, he had done the OU course.
To me a 12 yr old playing computer games, to the exclusion of all else, is highly worrying and not something adults should be colluding with and saying 'have fun and all will work out'. The fact that at 12 yrs be hasn't the maturity to consider the effect on his adult life means that his mother has to do it for him and make changes, hopefully by encouragement but ultimately she can simple switch it off!
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