It’s not even the end of a very long day and already you hear the dreaded, “I’m sick of homeschool! Why can’t I go to public school?” “Where did this come from?” You think, we’ve been homeschooling for years now. Or maybe, you just started homeschooling. You haven’t yet figured out your “groove,” and already the complaints come rolling in, “I hate homeschool!” Or “Why do we have to homeschool anyways?” and the “This is so boring; I don’t feel like doing anything.” Houston, we have a problem! In this article, I will help you figure out how to homeschool reluctant learners and ways to avoid it.
Step 1 | Figure Out What Happened
New To Homeschooling
When you are new to homeschooling, whether you are going solo or with a PSP (Private Satellite School), things tend to start off a bit rough. If this is your first time homeschooling a child that has never been in any sort of school yet, there is always room for error, and they will never notice it. Littles are easy to homeschool. However, if you are starting this journey after pulling your kids from public school, then you must know the beginning can be a little rough.
Bored Of Homeschool
Are you currently homeschooling and now your kids seem bored. They no longer have the enthusiasm they started with when you first began homeschooling way back when. In fact, most days turn into headaches for you, and getting them to do something is like pulling out a loose tooth! But it didn’t start this way, especially for this now desperate parent who recently reached out to us:
“Help! My son needs to be accountable to someone other than me for Math and English. I need him in an Algebra and English class immediately with a teacher that does everything: teaches, grades, advises, all of it. I’ve tried and tried and I’m just not what he needs. My heart and spirit are just broken! Does this exist? I’m willing to pay.”–Anonymous Parent
Homeschool Is Too Hard
Has homeschool become too hard? Some kids may start to complain about not understanding what they are doing anymore. Maybe you opted for a more rigorous curriculum to advance your student. After all this is homeschool, right? Or maybe the curriculum for their grade level is proving to be a bit too challenging. Just maybe, you are a working stay-at-home parent, and homeschool seems hard because you don’t have the time to sit with your kids and go through every lesson or provide extra help other than giving them their assignments and letting them go at it. Now what do you do? This parent had this exact dilemma:
“My husband and I are fulltime working parents. I work hybrid for three of my workdays. I need tips on schedules and how to make it all work. Should I wake them up and do early learning, should I multitask with work, or should I plan our learning after dinner?! I don’t know what to do… I have 4 & 5yr olds, so we are doing preschool and kindergarten. It seems hard! Help… I’m overwhelmed and feeling a little defeated.”-Anonymous Homeschool Momma
Homeschool Is Too Easy
The kids are getting done way too fast, and sometimes, they don’t even seem interested. This is proving stressful because you don’t feel as if they are learning enough. Maybe they aren’t challenged, could this be the result of the behavior you’ve now been experiencing from them? Maybe you have a limited budget like this parent who reached out to us, and had to use what was available:
“I homeschool 5 kids on a limited budget. We have been using Easy Peasy but my 10th and 8th graders don’t feel like they are getting much for math and English.
After the new year we are doing “winning with writing” and “fix it grammar” but kind of lost on if we should push through with math (khan) or try something else. I’ve looked into other math curriculums, and they are $100+.
Another issue is we started school “late” due to moving, so unless they really buckle down and do 2 to 3 lessons a day, they will not have much of a summer. My 10th and 4th graders are dyslexic and dysgraphic so that adds to the frustration.”
Homeschool Is Not Enough
Your student is above their peers, and you’ve exhausted all your options on what to teach them. They seem to be able to accomplish everything you throw at them, and still, it doesn’t seem to be…enough. You feel they are gifted and can do so much more than the average student their age. What now?
Step 2 | Implement Some Necessary Changes
Once you have figured out what is the cause of your students homeschool reluctantcy, it is now time to implement some necessary changes. All the issues above can be fixed if you apply the change that will benefit your homeschool family. Every homeschool family is different and there is no “right-way” to homeschool.
Discipline Is Key
Having organization in your homeschool is key. Your students will feel better knowing what they must do every day and what they must look forward to. Start every school year off with a planner. Organize their activities and days. For those that feel they can’t possibly keep a planner with at least some details for the school year, you will find it harder to navigate as your students age into higher grades where this will be absolutely necessary.
Unschooling and de-schooling are just that, getting the public system out of your child so you can start homeschooling anew. It’s not meant to last forever. You will need to plan what your students will be learning, curriculum, breaks, etc.
What Works Best
If you work at home, find the best schedule that works for your family, not just you. It might seem convenient to start lessons after dinner. But most kids will be tired after a long day and want to decompress with family time, television, or however they relax. If you decide to do homeschool first thing in the morning, be sure there is a scheduled bedtime that is implemented and followed. Or your students might not want to rise early, and learning will not be the first thing on their minds.
You can also allow your students to pick the time they feel learning is best for them. This is great for older students who are self-starters and responsible. If the times they pick don’t cause a hinderance to the family, and you hold yourself accountable to check their work, to ensure learning is taking place. This works well with self-paced curriculums and online curriculums, especially those that document your students’ progress and time.
Anything Is Possible!
David Balogun, a nine-year-old from Pennsylvania, is one such example. He just recently graduated from Reach Cyber Charter School and is taking classes at his local community college. One thing I noted in the articles about him was that his parents allowed him to study or do school whenever it was convenient for him.
David worked on an accelerated program and studied year-round, taking on a variety of subjects. You can read more here.
When Everything Is…New
Give yourself and your family time to adjust when first beginning homeschool after pulling your student from a school. Students will be frustrated because they came from an environment that did not foster education the way homeschooling does. You can become frustrated thinking it would be easier than it is. Refer to our article on How To Start Homeschooling for beginner ideas or refreshment. Learn a homeschooling style. Read this article on How To Prevent Homeschool Burnout, before you actually burnout. There are lots of ideas on what you can do when just starting this process.
When Things Get Boring
When things get boring in your homeschool journey, spice it up! You are never required to become a slave to textbooks, or any curriculum.
You can add in videos, art, pretty much anything your student is interested in, that’s different from what they are doing. Check out the article on How To Homeschool Practically Free, for some instant ideas. Or visit out Free Resources For Homeschool Page, to discover something new.
Ask them what is making things boring and go from there. Many times, students might be bored of a continued schedule or a daunting curriculum, or a lite curriculum in which little effort is required to complete.
Too Hard or Too Easy
When homeschooling is too hard or too easy, you need to figure out what you can do to make it just right for your student. It’s easy to hop on a mom chat and complain about how lazy your student is. But it’s better to figure out “why” and implement a change.
When it’s too hard, evaluate where your student is in their learning. Can they read well, do they need glasses, do you have the right curriculum for them at the level they are at now? Many times, we try to push a curriculum on our students because we want to see them advance, but maybe they’re not ready. Don’t be ashamed if your student can’t do reading or math at the grade level they are in.
Meet them where they are! That’s what homeschool is all about, working with your kids at a personal level, at their very OWN pace. This is where real education starts.
Don’t feel you have to rush through textbooks or curriculum just to complete the grade level. Read my article, Homeschooling Put My Child Behind and How To Move Forward as this article tackles some common misconceptions for homeschooling parents and how to move forward.
When homeschooling is too easy you can do the same evaluation process as when it’s too hard. Maybe it’s time to bring in and implement an academic challenge. Just like the story of the nine-year-old above, your student might be capable of big things, and it’s your job as their teacher to meet this academic need.
When considering your homeschooling resources, don’t settle for just anything good and free. Find resources that are good, free (if that’s what you desire), and challenging for your student. If this can’t be found, build your own supplements. Require more than a simple five paragraph essay or the basic science report. Check out some of our articles on curriculum so you can have the inspiration you need to build your own!
Just Not Enough
When homeschooling is not enough for your students, consider bringing in help from other sources and resources. Don’t be afraid to supplement from different textbooks, websites, or even curriculums. If that’s not enough, choose the next grade level for your student and see how this works out.
No homeschool parent likes to waste money on experiments. So, the best idea is to check your local library for resources like textbooks or curriculum materials you can check out. There are also places where you can buy placement testing materials for your student or take online placement tests.
If you feel your student is gifted, you want to support them and help them advance by acquiring the necessary means to do so. This may be research and knowledge building for you, so you can help them reach their greatest potential, like little David and his mother had to do. Maybe your student can start college classes at their local community college!
Most parents forget that they can duel enroll their students. They can be homeschooled and college attendants at the same time! Many homeschool students have graduated with their AA degrees and are ready to transfer to the university of their choice. Contact your local community college in this case and find out if they support homeschoolers, the costs, any grants or financial aid, and if there are online variations.
Step 3 |Grow With Your Child
As your students age, the way they learn will change. Never stay stuck in the same schedules, kids like diversity. Even the most reluctant learners.
When my daughter gets bored of a long report she was working on and starts complaining of how “boring” it is, I make her change it up. She loves art and drawing; she is extremely good at it! I began to help her to formulate ways she can incorporate it into her report. Instead of just writing and labeling things, she can draw them or sketch them first. This might add more time to her working on the report, but now she loves it. Simple!
If your student suffers from a learning disability, you will need to adapt a new way for them to learn based on HOW they learn.
Don’t Force It
Don’t force your homeschool kids to be something they are not. Evaluate how each of them learn and began learning how they “learn.” This will make you their perfect teacher.
No student learns the same. This is what makes homeschooling the best option. The one on one is priceless when many classrooms are filled with up to 30 students!
When my twins were little, I could teach them the same way and both flourished. As they grew, their learning styles changed drastically. I needed to get with the program or one of them was going to “flunk.” I took a week to watch and assess how both learned. I then made a plan on how to incorporate each students learning capabilities into my lesson. This made for a very fun class with my visual and hands on learner.
That’s saying a lot. Many parents don’t start off saying, “I think I will homeschool my kids.” Especially if homeschool wasn’t something they knew much about. We definitely didn’t start off this way. My girls were one and I had already been homeschooling them unbeknownst to me. However, my husband and I were starting to think about where they would attend. We didn’t like any of the options we explored and at the time could not afford a private school. A blessing in disguise!
I got serious, did tons and tons of research, supplemented, and used every resource I could find to be the nearly eleven year vet I am today. When I didn’t like a curriculum, but wanted certain parts of it, I decided to make my own. Which is why there are many curriculum building articles on this site, as well as unit studies and Family Bible Studies in our Homeschool Shop.
Foster a love of learning when your children are small, zero and up. Especially at the milestone ages of 10, 13, 15, and 18 months. Those are leading into the toddler years!
I began homeschooling each of my five children around the age of four months. How? It all started with reading. Reading and being animated fostered a love to read in all my children. It’s one of the first things they loved to do as a baby. They would grab a book and pretend to read it with as much animation as I did.
My Twins were full chapter book readers at just five years old! My middle daughter didn’t catch on to reading that young but loved books non the less and excelled at math. Opting to solve problems her older siblings were working on instead of her own. My youngest daughter was reading sight words at just 18 months. I have a video that I used in another article, that I will share below.
Never To Young and Never Too Old
Your kids are never too young to start learning and never too old to learn something new. Encourage them with praise and awards as they go through their homeschooling journey. Feel free to celebrate your students by printing some our wonderfully FREE awards from our shop.
I give awards to my students for spelling tests, math tests, reading log completion, and at the end of a homeschool year. It doesn’t matter how little or how much we think we accomplished. Hard work is hard work. I give small prizes or goody bags with the awards.
The one thing I hear often, as a homeschool mom, educator, counselor, and PSP coordinator, is parents threatening to send their kids to school or “back” to public school.
For one thing, compulsory public or private schooling is NOT the answer. You know this, which is why you choose this journey. If you need inspiration remembering “why” you chose this journey, check out these articles, “What Homeschool Really Is,” “Reasons to Homeschool and Love it!” and the most requested video on our site, homeschool vs. Public School (made a few years back).
Are You Enough?
When you threaten your children with the idea of putting them into school or “back” into school because things are not working out the way you thought they would, it actually makes the situation worse. This can also cause dissension between you and your child. It’s almost as worse as comparing two of your students who are different learners, by exclaiming how one gets this and you need to understand like him or her.
Ask yourself, do you think the teachers are better than you are? Are they capable of controlling your kids more than you? Are your kids only willing to listen to a stranger verse you?
When you make this statement, this is what you are essentially saying.
You Are Enough!
I am here to tell you that you are enough to teach your own children. Before compulsory schooling was even a thing, parents and families educated their own children and so can you.
You are the better teacher for your kids because they are YOUR kids, and you know them best. If not, allow this homeschool journey to bring you closer together, not further apart.
One parent emphasized the important of homeschooling, even though the rest of the family is not in agreement:
“I truly believe the best thing for my son would be to homeschool him next fall starting 10th grade. The problem is that he does not want to. How do I change his mind and make him realize that it is not a bad option and works well for many people? His dad isn’t on board either.” -Anonymous Momma
When it comes to situations like these, it always starts with you, the parents. When parents come together prayerfully asking God what’s best for their family, He will show you the way. You have special momma instincts and daddy instincts that will help you educate your children, no matter the age or grade.
You Can Do This
When dealing with a reluctant homeschooler, consider the steps listed above.
Step 1 | Figure Out What Happened, Step 2 | Implement Some Necessary Changes, and Step 3 |Grow With Your Child.
Together and as a family, you will get through this tough time, you will come up from the ashes and move on to better things. It’s not to say that this won’t happen again, it might. But now you have an idea of where to go from there. I hope this article has inspired you to not give up on your homeschool and push forward, even when it’s hard.
Till next time,
-PSP COORDINATOR, HOMESCHOOL 101 DIRECTOR, AND COUNSELOR
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