Homeschool Tip: My Child Refuses to Learn or Do School Work

What do you say/do when your kid constantly fights you on school work? You’re trying your best to help them succeed, and you’re met with resistance at every turn, Do these words sound familiar?
  • “I can’t do it mom.”
  • “School didn’t teach me any of this.”
  • “I guess I’m just more stupid than other kids.”
  • “I hate school! I just want to play.”
As a parent, hearing these words will break your heart. Children of all ages should naturally be excited about learning. When COVID threw me into my role as a pseudo “homeschool mom” in the spring of 2020, followed by a “virtual school” mom in the fall of 2020 who was looking for ideas on how to improve my first grader’s education, I was stumped. What I thought would be easy (getting my child to do loads of worksheets and other assignments) turned out to be more difficult than getting a root canal. Then I realized I was part of the problem. I found when my child said those words, I either hadn’t truly taken the time to teach her, or the way I was forcing her to learn wasn’t her learning style (which I attributed originally to her being lazy). I just needed her to get the work done in the spring that the school required her to finish. What the school didn’t do in the spring was actually teach her or inspire her to learn. That became my job, and I realized if I didn’t do it well, her love of school would continue to fade away. First and foremost I learned not to push her to do work if she didn’t want to. Instead I would say things like, “If right now you don’t feel like learning, go and take a 15 minute break. When you come back, we will try this again because I know you can do it.” We set a timer. While she would play, I would research new ways to teach her what we were working on! What I truly found was this happened more when she was forced to do a lot of worksheets and not really forced to learn hands-on. She would eventually shutdown. It wasn’t because she couldn’t do the work. It was because she needed more instruction, more personal interaction, or more hands-on learning. I have also found that 15-20 minutes is the maximum time she will spend on online learning. I used to try for an hour, so I could work on a few things, but it was too much for her at one time. So now, her learning activities online are set at increments no more than 20 minutes each with breaks between them. The other thing that might be going on is your child isn’t ready for the material you’re teaching them. If this is the case, it’s okay to go back and teach the fundamentals. For example, I discovered my child was great at reading (for a kindergarten student going into first grade) because she had memorized a lot of sight words. What she had not mastered was phonetically reading the words. So we backed up and started working on phonics more than sight words for a period of time. Now we do both together. Finally, take the time to discover your child’s learning style. Two different educators recommended my child complete this simple learning styles worksheet. It was eye opening to me. After we completed it, I discovered the importance of incorporating more hands-on learning and instruction into our school day. Remember, children are born naturally curious about their world. It’s our job to inspire them to keep that curiosity and become lifelong learners.


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