So as we revert back to a more natural, organic education for W, I can honestly say my anxiety about the teen years has lessened tremendously. When he originally came to me requesting a more formal curriculum and schedule (about 6 years ago, following J's lead), I was hesitant, but obliged. I know he wants to want the structure, but the older he got, the less willing he was to follow through. I felt I was the one who needed to push and prod and dare I say "coerce" him into doing his work several days a week as we'd planned. Well, it made us both miserable and I won't do that anymore.
I mean, it really doesn't make sense. If there is no intrinsic motivation to learn something, then there won't be much learning taking place. I feel it's a huge waste of time and energy for the sole purpose of checking off a box that "it got done". But the checked box is a ruse because most of the info covered is usually forgotten in only a few days. How is that ok? That's not learning.
In the few months since we have started unschooling, W has done more academically than ever before. He asked to have my new tablet (that I'm not using) and if I could download certain books on it for him. I think this is the first time in his life he expressed any interest in reading a book. He has rekindled interests in piano, cooking, bike riding, and building. He is in the process of building a skateboard (long board) from scratch. When W finds something of interest, there's no stopping his research. For example, the other day B was wondering what other foods the bearded dragon could eat. W spent over an hour on various websites, taking notes, and following the many rabbit trails pertaining to overall bearded dragon care. I guarantee he won't be forgetting any of it.
He's also started thinking about college. As a matter of fact, we sat down together researching colleges, majors, requirements, and what he'd like to do for high school. We also looked at trade-schools, graduate schools, and what kinds of jobs and careers fit his current interests. The 4-year (tentative) high school plan is set and I haven't felt this relaxed about anything in my life. It includes projects, research, reading, standardized tests, college-level classes, volunteering, apprenticeships, employment, field trips, restaurants, and homeschool group classes.
It's all about intrinsic motivation. I believe it's the real key to a happy, meaningful, and productive life.