Teenager not engaging in virtual schooling

 15 year old  sophomore is not engaging in virtual schooling. Since the beginning of the pandemic his academic performance declined, I receive calls from the school about his absence from all classes.  His mom and I addressed the importance of an education, and two weeks ago had a successful meeting with the counselor and principal.  He reports "virtual school is boring". He is not motivated to do any work and to engage in classes.   I have talk to him about the benefits of an education and always try to understand his feeling and approach to this new method of attending school.  Every time we address his lack of participation in school, he only listens but does not  make any effort to change. My 15 year old foster fantasies of having a job, opening his own business for auto shop.  He wants to have  a driver's license and save money to buy a car.  However, his dreams do not connect with the reality and the tasks he needs to complete in order to achieve the goals.   Sometimes I doubt my parenting skills.  When this pandemic is over I will consider independent studies, however because his lack of motivation in virtual education - independent might not be the solution - I don't know. 

Is this a normal phase of teenagers at age 15?   How did other parents cope with similar situations? 

thanks in advance for the advice and support.

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It sounds like your child is motivated, but has interests that lie outside of traditional high school education. He could take  the CHSPE (high school proficiency exam) when he is 16 and start a program to learn the skills he needs to succeed as a mechanic. Maybe if he has a goal that excites him, it will motivate him to finish out his brief time in high school. 

I’m sorry I don’t have any suggestions for you but wanted to let you know my son , an 8th grader, is the same. He often misses classes or signs on but doesn’t participate or listen. He plays video games during class. He hasn’t turned in any school work, saying it is dumb and boring. I am concerned but more worried about his mental health during this time. 
I’m hoping he will do school work but I can’t continue the daily morning battles to get him up and attending classes. 

What you are describing in the range of normal.  You kid has ambitions and dreams of doing something with his life.  You should encourage him to pursue his dreams.  Our education system pre-covid just isn't designed or equipped to deal with students who have dreams other than going to college.  I'm a college instructor with 25 years teaching experience and I will be honest with you I just don't why teachers and school administrators think they can teach online classes in the same way face to face classes are taught.  From what I have seen just about all of the online instruction I have seen sucks.  It's no wonder your kid would rather be doing something else.  My partner teaches K-5 and agrees with me even after being trained how to teach online courses.  This is not to say I'm blaming the teachers, they were taught for years and were hired to teach face to face so it's unfair to blame them. I have taught online classes. The way I teach any online classes (same subject) online vs. face to face is completely different. 

Back to your son.  I was like your son and my son at that age was the same.  Why not support you kid with his dreams?  Support what he wants to do instead of forcing him to do something he's not interested in.  You say he's interested it getting a job in the auto business.  He's 15, no reason he can't get a job.  I do something similar with my students, its called an internship.  Are there any auto places near you where you son could get a job?  Turn this into a research/business project for your son.

Does your son "really" need to graduate from high school to be successful in life? High school graduation rates in our country are about 75% and as we have seen you do not have to have a college degree or high school diploma to be successful in life.  (But it can't hurt.)   Does the high school have a work-study program?  Why not see if your son would be interested in getting a part-time auto job and work on his GED?  He could take business classes at any of the community colleges in California.  

Covid isn't going away anytime soon.  In the college world we were just told campus will be closed spring semester.  Make the best of the terrible situation we are in and support your son with his dreams.  Remember you don't need a high school diploma or SAT scores to go to college.  Should his dreams change he still he can always still go to college.

Just my point of view as an educator and someone who can identify your son's actions. 


I could have written your post. I don't have any answers, but I can totally sympathize with you.  You are not alone with parenting struggles!   We are all in this together.  I'm sure you will get lots of replies to your post, commiserating. 

These are not normal times, so our teens will not be acting normal.  These times just throw another huge layer on top of the normal emotional, physical, psychological, sexual changes that adolescents and teens are also going through. It sucks.

 We have a 15-year-old ninth-grade boy who is really struggling with virtual school.  He is not engaged, not completing work (he sometimes can't even FIND where certain links are and they change depending on the teacher), is defensive, overwhelmed, stressed.  He is trying to keep on top of everything and is bored in every zoom class he has. In the break out sessions with other students, hardly anyone talks.  It's so difficult right now.  Don't doubt your parenting skills.  This is just hard.  I can't get my son to even exercise.  All we can do is give as much emotional and academic support as we can, reassurance and structure---reassurance that this time will pass and he will eventually be going into a classroom in high school, and he still needs to get dressed and brush his teeth every day.  My husband helps him with algebra (his most difficult class), and I try and help with him with written assignments he gets with social studies. We are trying to not criticize him since that would just make him feel worse.  We try to interject our days with goofy fun whenever we can. 

BTW, he goes to El Cerrito High School.