When my oldest daughter hit her teen years, she longed to see what it would be like to attend public school. She didn’t exactly hate homeschooling, but she tired of being “different.” She fought with us about it, but in the end we did not relent. She stayed home for high school and ended up glad that she did. However, sometimes a child may hate homeschoooling for other reasons. Maybe we need to change something. Homeschooling gives us so many options and possibilities, it’s worth exploring some changes that might turn our child’s heart from hating homeschooling to loving it.
A Child May Hate Homeschooling Because…
Sometimes we ask kids to do things they are not developmentally ready to do.
Sometimes children are not trying to be disobedient. Instead, they are trying to avoid an overwhelmingly difficult task. We need to be careful of teaching certain subjects too early, cramming too much into a day, and mistaking immaturity for poor character. Unaddressed learning disabilities can also play into why a child may hate homeschooling. What if your child has a language disorder, attention deficit disorder, or something else? Perhaps they suffer from learned helplessness. One of the lessons in my “How to Unschool Successfully” Masterclass addresses this problem.
Their interests and preferences don’t match the curriculum we chose.
Have you ever chosen a curriculum because you like it? I know that my own preferences have, at times, taken precedence over my kids’, after all, I’m the teacher. But, whenever I do this, I end up abandoning it after a short time because my kids resist me so much. Choosing homeschooling materials is an overwhelming task! Sometimes, we get it wrong and the kids say, “I hate homeschooling!” and run away crying.
Do you choose curriculum because you like it (as I have done at times) or because you think your children will like it, or do you take both into account? How about avoiding crafts or science experiments because you feel intimidated, even though your children love them? Do you buy curriculum because your friend is using it, not because it is right for your family? (Early on, I did this! Wow, was that a mistake!)
One of the greatest advantages of homeschooling is the freedom to tailor education to the needs of each child. Even so, it is so easy to fall into the trap of doing what others are doing. We can make the mistake of dismissing our children’s interests in favor of a particular educational approach, too. This can lead to a legalistic homeschooling mentality. When we ignore the way a child is bent, we exasperate him.
We never adapt curriculum to meet our family’s needs or indulge “rabbit trails.”
Most of us purchase something for homeschooling, even if it’s just a language arts curriculum and a math curriculum. We painstakingly pour over all the choices and try to choose what we think will work best with each child. Sometimes, we don’t. Sometimes, we choose something because it’s free, on sale, a friend let us borrow it, or everyone else is using it. When it doesn’t quite fit our needs, we tweak it. Other times, we insist on sticking with what we chose. No. Matter. What. And, we decide that we must finish it. No. Matter. What.
We need to give ourselves a break! Schools don’t even finish their curriculum by the end of the year! However, I have heard homeschooling moms say, “George is still in 3rd grade this summer because we didn’t finish the curriculum.” We need to give ourselves permission to skip sections and even not finish the book. It’s okay to take rabbit trails! And it’s okay to find relevant, fun , real life activities that we can “tie back” to our school subjects later, as I do in my book 100 Ways to Motivate Kids. Then, he may come to love homeschooling instead of hate homeschooling. Remember, no one knows your child like you do and there are many, many ways to learn things.
We don’t participate in any outside activities or field trips.
Tight budgets prevent us from participating in some classes, field trips, and activities. But, even if funds are tight, there are plenty of free activities in which we can participate. Sometimes, we have the funds, but getting everyone ready to go and keeping everyone together while there poses more challenges than we want to deal with. Even if this is the case, we can still attend park days, co-ops, book clubs, and library classes. Then, there’s something for all ages and the chance to make friends, try something different, and just get out of the house brings a smile. Home can feel like a prison if you don’t allow your child to do anything outside of it. And, how will she find friends? This is especially important in the teen years.
We don’t offer grace.
Even on days when everything seems to go wrong and no one cooperates, we need to end on a positive note. Say something like, “We didn’t have the best day today, but I know you tried. I still love you, and tomorrow is a new day. Maybe we can try a different approach. Let’s make some hot chocolate and just read one of your favorite books together, okay?” The way we treat our children affects our testimony. Let’s remember why we chose to homeschool in the first place. For most of us, it wasn’t necessarily because we really, really wanted to use XYZ curriculum. Maybe you wanted to keep your child safe, whether from bullies, teachers, or others. Maybe it was about the academics, but very quickly it became about sooo much more. The heart of homeschooling is HOME, not schooling. Be mom first.
Sometimes, the reasons for a child to hate homeschooling can’t be pinned down.
Obviously, we don’t want to drive our children to hate being home with us. Often, we are respecting their interests and adapting curriculum, taking them places and treating them with kindness. But, perhaps a child is lonely or, like my daughter, feels uncomfortable with being a bit different. She was curious about what school was like. There is a “school culture” that our children know nothing about and which is difficult to explain. Some cartoons, books, and videos makes the school environment seem benign and fun. Others may present school more realistically, but our children may still wonder what it’s about. Conversations with other kids at church that center on school can make a homeschooled child feel left out. We need to be sensitive to this and be ready with answers.
Maybe your child wants to go back to school after you pulled him out because he misses his friends or the routine. Some children hate homeschooling because after they come home, all their old friends abandon them or start making fun of them. Or, they get so distracted by home life, they feel they learned more at school. Asking a lot of questions and lending a listening, non-judgmental ear goes a long way toward finding a solution.