Teen screen, school work & high school

How does a parent work a strong-willed child (not academically strong) who goes off task when they're supposed to be doing schoolwork using the laptop? He can't be forced to do things.  Power struggles are unhelpful.  Intrinsic motivation and persistence skills aren't currently strong. I'd like him to not fall between the cracks at Berkeley High (he'll start 9th grade soon). His dad doesn't truly care if he doesn't graduate high school.  Welcome any ideas and advice. 

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I'm surprised you got no replies! I would assume many parents have struggled with these things. So you asked 3 questions 

Q:How do I get my son to stay focused on schoolwork while on the laptop? 

A: Have him do his homework somewhere other than the bedroom. Kitchen table maybe? Check in with him while he's working. Have him set a timer. Break large assignments down and work in smaller increments of time.30 minutes of uninterrupted work, then take a 10-minute break. Snack, walk around the block, talk to a friend then work for another set period of time. My kid has ADHD and this is what he does to get through difficult assignments. 

Q: How do you motivate a kid who is resistant? 

A: What does he care about? What makes him tick? Is there an external motivation that might encourage him to work harder? Set a few simple academic goals together and let your kid work toward earning a reward. Use positive motivation vs punishment. Praise the small improvements. Deep down, our kids really do want to make us proud, even if their stubborn 13-year-old self won't admit it!  Ex. If 70% of his assignments are turned in by Friday, he earns whatever reward you decided on. Stay positive, let him know you don't expect all A's but you do expect effort and work turned in. Not everyone is an academic genius, but everyone can pass a class by showing up and putting in the work.

Encourage your son to get involved in an activity outside of school. My kid isn't academically inclined either but he's passionate about sports and that's where he gets his confidence boost. He's motivated to keep his grades up because he needs a 3.0 to play sports. Another thought, is it possible your son has a learning difference that hasn't been addressed? He may be struggling with attention or executive functioning deficits. Sometimes kids quit trying when they're struggling to keep up with the workload.  Set up a meeting with your son's teachers for guidance & support.  

Q: How do I keep him on track at BHS?

A: Honestly, I would be very hesitant to send a kid who's already disengaged and academically unmotivated to BHS. Sorry to say but these are the kids that can easily "fall through the cracks".   I know there are several charter high schools in Oakland and Richmond that may offer a smaller, more structured environment. Of course, there are also plenty of private schools to look into if you can afford that. 

You mention your son's father doesn't care whether he graduates but how does your son feel? Talk to your kid about what career he might want in the future and show him the very limited options he would have without at minimum a high school diploma or GED. Talk to him about your own values regarding education and your dreams for his bright future. Wising you the best. Whoever said the terrible twos was the toughest time to be a parent clearly never had a teen:/

Echoing 2boys2dogs on Berkeley High -- the school is great for motivated kids. But for a kid who doesn't have that intrinsic motivation, they're not going to fall through the cracks so much as fall hard for cannabis and potentially more (lean is a codeine + sprite conction that seems to be widely available; LSD and Psilocyben are pretty available; percocet and adderall are easy to get; alcohol is also very much present on campus). I would look for a way to get them to a school that is a bit smaller and has more supervision, for any kid who isn't already driven. If they're driven by sports or arts or academics, BHS seems pretty amazing. But if they're not, and they're not strong academically? They're going to bottom out fast.

But also, I would try to find somethings he really likes. Prioritize that?

I agree, re working in the kitchen, too. It is very reasonable to say "Sorry, but working in your room is a privilege." or "I want to support you in staying on task." Have him work in small blocks and get a lot of intermittent rewards. They don't have to be huge, they can just be small treats. But something to work towards helps a ton.