Homeschooling is full of challenges and those challenges look different for every family. One issue that I hear repeatedly from a lot of homeschool moms is...
"Help! My kids don't want to do their schoolwork!"
You'll find a hundred and one answers to this issue ranging from discipline more to unschooling to enroll them in public school!
My home isn't immune to the lack of desire to complete schoolwork. In fact, we face this struggle multiple times each year! After ten years of homeschooling...well, that's a LOT of grumbling about schoolwork.
If you're dealing with this struggle in your home I have a few tried and true tips that may help.
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Know Why You're Homeschooling
This looks different for every family, but it is equally important.
Knowing your "why" will keep you afloat when the waters get rocky. It is the thing that grounds you and strengthens your resolve when you really just want to throw in the towel.
Are you trying to protect them from harmful influences?
Do they have special needs that require more one on one time?
Do you want to instill certain values without outside influence?
Do you want more control over their curriculum?
In my opinion, there is nothing more important to the success of your homeschool than your "why".
If your decision to homeschool is based on things like...
It'll be fun!
Everyone is doing it!
...you won't succeed.
Your "why" has to sustain and drive you when it feels like you're going to lose.your.mind (and you will). "It'll be fun" just won't cut it because I can guarantee, it won't always be fun.
Being empathetic simply means acknowledging the child's perspective. If we're honest with ourselves we'll admit there are days that we don't want to do our work either. If it's hard for me to deal with the 'I don't wanna' monster imagine how much harder it is for an immature child.
Don't be afraid to share these feelings and struggles with your children. When they hear us say that we struggle with the same things they do, that we understand what they're going through, it helps to build our relationship. When our kids have a good relationship with us, when they feel accepted and loved and understood, they respond better to our limits and expectations. In other words, they are more willing to do the work that we ask and expect them to do.
Know Their Learning Style
Understanding how our children learn best is so important in feeding their love for learning.
If you have a kinesthetic learner that is only given textbooks to read all day then they are going to struggle. Will they learn something? Probably. Are they going to have that spark for learning ignited? Probably not.
Knowing a child's learning style doesn't mean that everything they do has to be catered to that style. In fact, I believe that children need a variety of styles presented to them so that they are better prepared for their future. After all, college professors and bosses really aren't going to care about their learning style.
But for now, while they are growing, it's important to know and understand how they learn best so that their love for learning is ignited.
Know Your Teaching Style
Equally important to understanding your child's learning style is knowing your teaching style. It doesn't matter how wonderful any curriculum claims to be if you loathe teaching it! Your kids will pick up on your disinterest and follow suit.
If you're not sure what your teaching style is you can hop over to Happy Homeschool Nest where you'll find a great article and free printables to walk you through determining how you teach best.
I personally don't like unit studies or curriculum that only provides a list of books and a time frame for using them. On the other hand, I don't like scripted curriculum either. It took nearly seven years to really find a good balance between how I like to teach and how my kids learn. Which brings me to the next tip.
Don't Be Afraid to Change Curriculum
We can't be afraid to take an honest look at curriculum and admit that it doesn't work for us. This is hard, I know, especially if we've spent a lot of money on said curriculum! But, honestly, there is too much at stake to plod through curriculum that our children are not learning from just because it cost a lot of money. Besides, there are lots of places online where you can sell that curriculum and get a portion of your money back.
I went through lots of different curriculum before I found what works well for my family. It was a frustrating process and I constantly worried about gaps in their learning or not covering all that we needed to cover in a year.
While we don't need to be afraid to dump what doesn't work, don't be too hasty with change either. Allow enough time to evaluate it fairly. For me, I maintain our schedule for six weeks. I may tweak the way we use a resource but I won't drop it entirely until the end of the six weeks. In some cases, what I thought wouldn't work for us at all really just needed to be changed up a little.
Don't Be Afraid to Use Curriculum Differently
Curriculum writers envision a certain way that their curriculum should be used. They cannot possibly take into consideration every child and family situation. It is our job to make curriculum work for us.
This is another of those trial and error processes that can become very frustrating if we don't keep the end in mind. The hard truth is, there's no such thing as perfect curriculum. I've used a lot over the years, some of which seemed like it would be the perfect fit, but I have yet to find any resource that I didn't have to tweak in some way.
Just because the curriculum schedule says we should complete one lesson per week doesn't mean we have to follow that schedule. You could complete more than one lesson per week, or even take two weeks to complete a single lesson. Do what works for your family.
Everyone needs a break from time to time and kids are certainly no exception. If you notice that your kids are spacing out, fidgeting a lot, or just not focusing, it might be time to take a short break.
Do some jumping jacks, read quietly, draw, play outside, go for a walk....whatever you feel will help your child return to their schoolwork focused and diligent.
Even if your children have never set foot in a classroom, chances are you have. The public school system is ingrained in our minds and it can be difficult to stray from it. But we don't have to setup school at home. In fact, I encourage you not to.
Maybe your kids focus better at night and need to do their schoolwork then.
Maybe they read with more focused attention while sitting under a tree rather than in a desk.
Maybe your child will retain addition facts more easily playing a game than using flashcards.
Don't feel like you have to set up a dedicated school room complete with desks and a globe. Nor do you need a traditional textbook or time schedule. If those things work for you, that's great, but if your children are complaining about their work then stop and ask yourself if you're trying to recreate public school at home and whether that might be contributing to the issue.
Have you successfully dealt with the "I don't want to do school" issue? Please support other struggling moms by sharing what works for you in the comments!