How to Keep your Cool while Homeschooling a Reluctant Learner
I am speaking from experience in this post. I’ve been homeschooling a reluctant learner. In fact, I’ve been homeschooling two! I’ve lost my cool at times because I’m human, after all. And it can be hard to be enthusiastic when you’re met with constant resistance. But it’s also possible to break through if you’re patient, consistent and calm. Below are some hacks for keeping your head when your child doesn’t want to learn:
Deschool, Deschool and then Deschool Some More
If you’re at the beginning of your homeschooling journey, your child might need some time to adjust to the new normal. And it might take longer than you think. We deschooled for almost a year and a half and it’s the best thing we ever did! Before being ready to learn, the kids were so resistant and I was so resentful. So I let them play and have fun until they were ready.
Deschooling is the perfect opportunity to find out what works for your kids. If you give them lots and lots of fun and engaging learning activities and observe them, you’ll soon get a good feel for how, when and what they like to learn. This time is so important for establishing a positive homeschool experience.
It was also a time for me to find my way as a homeschooling mom. Deschooling is even more important for parents because most of us have gone through an entire school career in public school. Deschooling helps you to escape the indoctrination so that you can be open to new ways of learning.
Figuring out how you’re going to fit everything into your day, also takes time and some trial and error. If you’re a mom that works and homeschools, it can be tough to manage your schedule. You’ll need the space to adjust and to create, test and perfect new routines and systems.
Go for Rewards
I know that there’s a school of thought that believes that children should do things because they want to. And in principle, I think this is awesome. I’m a big proponent of delight-directed learning, for example. But some children are just not wired that way.
My neurodiverse kids can be resistant as a default…even if they’re interested in something. So they need to be praised and rewarded for doing schoolwork and chores. It gives them the motivation to get started and then they often enjoy what they’re doing.
Lean into Flexibility
I think flexibility has got to be one of the most important elements of a successful homeschool. This means finding the right resources or curriculum. And this can take some time, money and jumping around. It also means finding the rhythm that works well for everybody. And you must include yourself into this as well!
We homeschool for 4 days a week, year round. But then we also take days off when we need to. That’s the beauty of homeschooling! You can be flexible with your hours so don’t be afraid to chop and change.
Flexibility also means being open to all the different ways that your kids can learn…that are different to what you know or have experienced. Your kids might do everything online, like mine do. Or your kids might even prefer to do lots of lots of hands-on activities. It’s just important to be open to it all.
Another awesome thing about flexibility, is that it allows your kids to really deep-dive into subjects or skills. This allows them to master something, which is what most of us missed at school. And mastery is where successful careers come from!
I know how scary homeschooling is in the beginning! You want someone to tell you exactly what to do at what time. I hear you! I was there too! But looking back, I can safely say that finding your own unique path, is the way to go! And this includes your own schedule that is perfect for you and your family!
Lots of working homeschool moms swear by block scheduling. It takes the pressure off having to tick millions of tasks off every day. In this way, kids get to go at their own speed and the pace of learning is much more natural and flowing. And for working homeschool moms, it trains you to be really intentional with your work time!
I also include daily goals for my kids because I think it helps them to take ownership of their learning and the chores they have to do. We usually only set about five, so that it’s not too much for me and the kids. I put the goals up somewhere where they can see them and cross them off during the day. I think this is vital for keeping them involved in their learning. And they can also see progress, which is rewarding in itself!
Stop, Rest and Regroup
If things are just not working, stop what you’re doing. I can tell you from experience, and from the experiences of all my podcast guests, that forcing and pushing do not work. Doubling down on something because you’re afraid of not doing enough, scared of missing a day, worried that you’re doing something wrong or not wanting to waste money you’ve spent on resources or curricula, will create a reluctant learner.
Rather take some time off so that you, and your kids if they’re old enough, can think of a better way forward. When you’re coming from a place of frustration, anger and exhaustion, you’re not going to be able to find a good solution. Or to even see the problem clearly. I promise you that taking some days or even weeks off is totally ok!
Once you’re able to look at the situation more objectively, you’ll be able to find a way forward. And see that pain points are a good place to start. If you can look at them without emotion, they’ll tell you so much about what could be a better way to tackle a particular subject or skill.
Do you have tips for homeschooling a reluctant learner?
I would love to hear your tips! Please drop me a comment below.