Has Your Child Shut Down?
Many parents choose to homeschool a child that may be having a difficult time in a traditional "brick and mortar" school. Sometimes things improve, but often this type of child continues to be resistant to learning at home. Other parents may homeschool a child that has never been to a traditional school, but seems bored and unenthusiastic about learning at home.
When you cannot get a child to do homeschool work, it can be quite frustrating. A resistant child may seem to shut down when you ask him to complete an assignment. Younger children may cry, whine or misbehave. Older children may become glum, angry or uncooperative. Although you want the best for your child, it is not always easy to know just how to get him to do homeschool work, and the tug-of-war situation can easily become exasperating for you both. The following techniques may help to make things flow more smoothly with your homeschooler.
Take a good look at your family's homeschool schedule and take note of the things that seem to work, as well as the areas that may need a little tweaking. Consider making some changes, adding more flexibility, or additional structure, as needed. For example, if you notice that your child seems to become particularly resistant when asked to sit and work on homeschool assignments for lengthy periods of time, an hour or more, perhaps you need to add some short breaks into the schedule. Make sure that your child is getting to bed on time; a well rested child is less likely to be resistant.
Assessment and Goals
Assess where your child is academically, using end-of-chapter tests, unit assessments, online practice sheets or even standardized achievement tests, that you can administer yourself. Sometimes a child can appear to be resistant to doing her homeschool, but may actually be feeling overwhelmed by either the subject matter itself or the pace at which she is being expected to work. Include your child in a discussion about her academic and behavioral strengths and weakness, and then help her to set short- and long-term homeschooling goals. Share a few personal examples of how you handle some of your own strengths and weaknesses. Even younger children can participate in these types of discussions and activities.
Come up with a behavior modification system that includes a reward system. Take your child's personality into mind when deciding on ways to offer positive reinforcement when he does happen to exhibit desirable behavior. Provide plenty of specific praise whenever you notice that your child is working towards the homeschooling goals that you both have set together. Use small items like stickers, pencils and erasers to reward younger children when they complete their homeschool assignments. Older children may prefer small rewards like additional computer time, getting to stay up a little later than usual or the chance to participate in an extracurricular activity.
Remove any obvious distractions, like television, loud music, video games and toys, from your child's homeschool work area. Provide them with a clean, clutter-free surface on which to work. Encourage younger siblings to be respectful of anyone who is trying to complete homeschool assignments. Keep the temperature in the home comfortable, and consider opening windows on warm days to keep your child from feeling boxed in the house. Play music for children who are more prone to get fidgety when it is too quiet. Involve your child in a discussion of the kinds of things that serve as distractions for them, and come up with a plan to improve the homeschooling work space.
Style of Learning
Make homeschooling fun. Observe your child to see what his particular learning style is like. Keep plenty of hands-on activities, like math manipulatives and art supplies, on deck for tactile learners. Add audio books and curriculum enhancing DVDs to your collection for the audio and visual learner. Provide plenty of opportunities for music and movement for the kinesthetic learner. Use online, interactive games and websites to help bring learning to life for homeschooler. Take lots of field trips to museums, art galleries, parks and playgrounds to make sure that your child stays physically active. When learning is enjoyable, you may find that your child is less apt to resist completing his assignments.
Keep Things Positive
Try to stay positive when dealing with a child who seems difficult. Be creative as you come up with a personalized plan on how to get your child to do homeschool work when you cannot get a child to do homeschool work. Make it a point to be flexible and willing to meet your child where they are, rather than expect them to meet you where you are. Give them time to make improvements and always be ready to lend your support when it is needed. Ask for advice from other homeschooling families and read books on the subject. Lisa Whelchel, in her book, So You're Thinking About Homeschooling: Fifteen Families Show You How You Can Do It, offers real life advice on how you can make homeschooling work for your family.
Shaw, Isabel. Family Education: Getting Homeschooling Children to Focus