What to Do When Your Child Won’t Do the Work

We’ve all been there as homeschoolers.

“Mom, this is boooooring.”

“Mom, I hate math.” *Foot stomps* “I’m not doing it!”

“Moooooommm”….kid looks at math problems they have done a million times…”it’s too hard.”

Kid escapes to the backyard or bathroom for the eighth time in 20 minutes the moment you turn to help another child.

Could you just quit for the day? Yes! I actually recommend that once in awhile. Or more than once in a while. The younger the child, the more I recommend doing this.

Here are a few other things to try before throwing in the towel. You know your child, if one of these isn’t good, try a different one. No homeschooling advice is ever one size fits all.

Don’t give up for the day, but do a different subject. No matter what the color coded schedule that you worked on for 20 hours says, you can mix it up when any of you needs to.

Sit next to the child and prompt/help them through each problem. Yes, even your fifth (8th…10th) grader might want or need this. It’s OK. If they need it, they need it. Withholding it won’t get the work done or help the relationship (the most important part).

Be the child’s scribe. My kids loved this! They tell you the answers, and you write them down.

Let them bounce on a trampoline, stand on their head, do jumping jacks — whatever — while you read them the problems/questions and they answer you.

Go sit outside to do work. Don’t give up if it’s too distracting the first time.

SNACKS! 🙂 “Let’s have some muffins while we do our work.”

Use white boards to write down the answers. Something about having no permanant record of their work is very enticing to my kids!

Assign way fewer problems/questions. If your child understands it already, maybe review now and then, but they don’t need to prove they know something over and over. Boring! And annoying. If they don’t undertand it, *failing* at it over and over doesn’t help much. Reteach it.

Find ways to combine subjects so you are doing less work. Historical fiction counts for both history and language arts; hands on engineering projects like building a trebuchet brings in math, physics, and history if you learn about how they are used!

If something hasn’t been working for a long time, it can be OK to switch curriculum. Yes, even mid-year or even if everyone else raves about it.

Find a class that teaches the subject. I do have one child that does work happily for other teachers, but would slip away as soon as my back was turned 99% of the time otherwise. When I finally gave in to this fact, her school work soared and we were both much happier.

Finally, make sure there are no hidden learning disabilities or other hinderances to learning. If there are, accommodate, accommodate, accommodate! Don’t be shy about doing all you can to raise the child up to be able to learn. As my favorite homeschool encouragers from Brave Writer say, “You can’t learn to swim when you are drowning!”

Your goal is an educated child. Not a child who has completed all his workbooks or checked off all the boxes. Home education often looks nothing like school. That can be a good thing. 😉

What has worked for you? I’d love to hear in the comments!