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“But I don’t wanna do homeschool!”
Yep. I feel you, mama. I’ve heard it more times than I can count. I know what it’s like to have a child push back when it’s time to get to work.
If you’re reading this article, you might have:
A reluctant learner
A child who hates doing homework
A child who hates homeschooling
Or, a child who refuses to do their school work
We started homeschooling four years ago with my daughter when she was in kindergarten. My oldest daughter is a very “go with the flow” type of kid. She loves learning and has no problem (for the most part) sitting down to do her assignments.
This year, we started homeschooling my son. He just turned six and he also loves learning…but…he dreaded doing homeschool.
I’ve had to get really creative to help motivate him to happily complete his assignments. Now he’s thriving and has learned SO much more. While we do have our tears some days, most of the time homeschool is no longer a battle.
So I’m spilling my secrets and giving you…
20 ideas for how to help your child who hates homeschooling
1. Use a Rewards System
I know rewards can be a controversial subject, but for us, it works. We have a sticker chart hanging on the wall. For every day that my son completes his work happily, he gets a sticker that he can exchange for small prizes.
2. Incorporate toys
What’s your child’s favorite toy? My son loves Cars 3 right now. So, Lightning McQueen, Mater, Jackson Storm, and a bunch of other characters often drop by to “watch” him do his homeschool work. We also use cars to do simple math problems in the place of counting bears.
3. Incorporate food
I’ll often say to my son, “Are you hungry? Let’s have a snack together before we start!” He loves food, so he’s always up for a snack! We also use cereal to solve math problems!
4. Practice writing on things other than paper
My son doesn’t love working on his handwriting in a workbook or on lined paper. But, he does love writing and drawing on a dry erase board and on a Magna Doodle!
You can also practice writing words and letters in shaving cream or in a tray of sprinkles!
5. Easy, Hard, Easy
Initially, I thought it’d be best to do the hard stuff first to get it out of the way. However, that isn’t always the best for every child.
Starting with a “fun” subject can get them warmed up and ready to work on more challenging subjects. Ending with another “fun” subject gives them something to look forward to.
Every child has subjects they like and subjects they dislike. My son loves math and science. So, we typically start with math and end with science.
6. YouTube is your friend!
Almost every kid I know l-o-v-e-s YouTube. Whenever something is particularly challenging for one of my kids, I scour YouTube for a fun video on the topic.
YouTube can also be an excellent motivator. For example, I’ll say to my son, “After we’ve finished all our assignments, we can watch a YouTube video about scorpions.” (He loves animals and we often watch short video clips about various animals! That counts as science, right?!)
7. Have a set routine
I know life gets busy, but kids really thrive on routines. Try to start your homeschool or homework at the same time each day. This will help manage their expectations and create consistency.
8. Break it up
Little kids aren’t able to sit still and focus for long periods of time. Sometimes it may be helpful to do some work in the morning, some after lunch, and some in the evening. Breaking up the day is definitely worth a try!
9. Write with something other than a pencil
Does your child resist writing? Try letting them write with ink pens, markers, colored pencils, painting with a paintbrush, or using chalk. Variety is key!
10. No long breaks
Honestly, I go back and forth on this one. On one hand, I feel like we all need a break sometimes. But on the other hand, whenever my kids have a long break, (Christmas, Easter, summer, etc.) it is SO hard for them to get back in the groove. Right now we are experimenting with taking no more than 1-2 days off at a time.
11. Pick 3 things
Don’t try to do every single subject in one day. For reluctant learners, choose three or four things that are really important to you. Focus on doing those things well and getting those accomplished. Anything else is a bonus!
Right now, we are focusing on math, handwriting, and reading. If we get nothing else accomplished in the school day, I can be happy that we completed those three things.
Read Next: From Angry Mom to Calm Mom (In 0.5 seconds!)
12. Get up and move
When my son starts getting antsy or begins whining, I know it’s time to get up and move. We like doing jumping jacks together or playing a quick game of freeze tag before we get back to work! (Bonus! I just worked off all those calories from cereal math, haha!)
13. Don’t call it “work” or “school”
Speaking of work, I try to avoid using the words “school work” and “homework”. What kid likes work? Instead, use words like “lessons” or “learning” to avoid triggering a protest.
14. Switch your curriculum
Don’t feel like you MUST complete a curriculum if it just isn’t working for you. I know, you spent a ton of money on it. I know your friends love it. But, honestly, if it isn’t working, it may be time to try something new.
We tried THREE different reading curriculums this year before we found one we really liked.
15. Play a game
Whenever you can, make up a silly game to go along with your lesson. My kids LOVE games. One simple thing we do is play hide-and-go-seek with our sight words. I hide sight word flash cards all over the room and my son has to find them and tell me what they say. So fun!
You can also play educational games like Don’t Wake Daddy, Uno, or Dominos.
Most kids learn by doing! Earlier this year, we learned about volume. My son was so stumped with this particular math problem involving apples and apple juice. So, I pulled out my dusty ‘ole juicier and we juiced apples to figure out the answer. He was SO excited to do this and he still talks about that learning experience!
17. Joke around
Laughter is my son’s love language. I often tell him silly jokes to break any tension that creeps up. We love to laugh together!
(Wanna hear my favorite joke for kids?! Q: What did one snowman say to the other snowman? A: <Sniff, sniff> It smells like carrots! Hahaha).
18. Go outside
On days when the weather is nice, we like to sit outside to do our lessons. A change of scenery is so fun! (I loved it when our professors let us do this in college!)
19. Make your homeschool space inviting
Before we started school this year, I went to the dollar tree and grabbed a bunch of colorful posters, charts, and decorations. I surprised the kids by making our entryway into a cute homeschool area.
My son said, “I thought school was gonna be boring, but now I changed my mind! It actually looks fun!” #winning
(BTW, you can see a pic of our homeschool area here on Instagram. While you’re there, I’d love it if you’d say hi and hit that lovely follow button! 🙂 )
20. Connect with your child emotionally
I don’t know about you, but I am always tempted to multi-task while homeschooling. I check my phone, I get up to put dishes away, I fold socks… I’m a chronic multi-tasker. But I’ve noticed that when I take the time to put away my phone and all the other responsibilities, focusing solely on my son, he is much more motivated.
When I take the time to look into his eyes, ruffle his hair, be truly interested in what he’s saying and connect with him on an emotional level, the power struggles dissolve. Don’t forget to affirm your child, too. “I see how hard you’re working!”
Bonus tip: Pray about it
Ask God to give you the wisdom to know how to support your child. Ask the Lord to give your child a willingness to cooperate with homeschooling. He is able!
By the way, if you desire to be a more peaceful parent and want to build a closer bond with your child? Check out my private Facebook group for Christian moms learning and growing together towards more intentional parenting. (You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram!)
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