One of the most common questions I hear from homeschool parents is: “What do I do when my child refuses to do his or her work?” You know, mom asks little Johny to do his handwriting and he just scribbles on the paper! (That has never happened at my house, ahem!) Or you suggest a math problem is wrong and sweet Sally acts like you don’t know how to add!
We know that doing schoolwork at home can be hard sometimes. What do you do when your student is having a hard time? What do you do when the tears come? What do you do when you just want to scream?
Ideas for When Your Child Refuses to do Schoolwork:
Our brilliant schoolhouse parents assisted me in compiling some suggestions for solving this work-from-home homeschool dilemma. Here are some of our thoughts and suggestions:
- Stick to a schedule. Having a set time and space to do schoolwork helps kids understand the expectations. No one likes to be surprised with a large task.
- Is the work too hard? If the answer might be yes, think of ways you can accommodate or modify the material. Write for your student as they narrate. Read the instructions for them. Use some manipulatives. Write down the steps. Do some examples together. Make a cheat sheet or chart.
- Are emotions getting high? Anger and frustration bubbling up? Is your child crying and yelling? Are you crying or yelling? It’s time to take a break. Declare it recess and go outside. Play with your child. Read to your child. Color with your child. Switch parents helping your child. (This works well at our house.) Restore the relationship, then get back to work.
- Lacking motivation? As adults I doubt, we would go to work, if we did not get paid. Yet, we often want our kids to get to work just because it is good for them. Although internal motivation is great, sometimes we all need a little external motivation. Stickers, chocolate chips, and marshmallows go a long way in our house! My oldest son earns Lego pieces for reading books. Read enough books, and he has a whole new Lego set. Find your kid’s carrot and use it!
- PS: If you want to help your child develop more internal motivation, head over to Habits of Learning: Motivation for some great lesson ideas.
- Overwhelmed? Bored? Lack motivation? (I feel like this might be the most common!) Blame the teacher and make it fun. “Mrs. Williams needs us to read this long list of words, let’s read five words and then do a cartwheel!” Shoot baskets, write with wipe-off markers on the windows, do your schoolwork outside, or even let your kid skip a problem because you are nicer than the teacher.
- WAIT, you don’t have a teacher to blame? (Shameless plug: Sounds like you might need A One-Room Schoolhouse!) But seriously, finding some external accountability might be key to your success! Maybe outsourcing a class or more to a local co-op, hybrid academy or online school might be helpful.
- FINALLY: If things are bad… DON’T DO THE WORK. Let schoolhouse teachers be the bad guys. We will not judge you or be mad at you. We will help your child get caught up. We will remind your child of the expectations. Our conversation might go like this: “Oh Sally, I see you didn’t get your lesson done. Shoot. Well, today instead of (listening to the read aloud/going to the activity center/doing the art project) we will get you caught up. I hope that next time you can get this done with your parents. I hate it when you miss the fun stuff here!”
How Do You Get Homeschool Support?
Are you looking for a homeschool support organization? A One-Room Schoolhouse may be a fit for you! I will be posting more about next year’s plans soon. Sneak peek: we will start taking applications in February of 2021.
But what if you don’t live in our area? What if you need a different kind of group?
Here are some of my favorite places to look for resources:
Most importantly… search Facebook. Seriously! Facebook groups are a wealth of information for the homeschool community.