You’ve spent countless hours researching homeschool methods. You’ve spent your budget on the best curriculum, recommended by your most trusted sources. You’ve created an amazing educational space in your spare bedroom. You are excited, prepared, and dreaming of the perfect homeschool.
The only thing getting in your way is your child.
The age or grade could be any. You may have a first grader who won’t sit still for more than 3 seconds or a fifth grader who would rather play on the iPad than learn about American history or a high schooler who seems completely unaware that he’ll soon be applying to college but is 2 years behind in math because he will not focus on homeschooling over playing guitar (or video games).
Written by Marcy Crabtree of Ben and Me
You’ve discovered the frustrations of homeschooling a challenging child. The reason for the difficulty may stem from a learning style problem, developmental delay, wrong curriculum choice, or from the heart. In order to succeed with homeschooling, it will be necessary to brainstorm these areas in order to understand what may be causing the breakdown in homeschooling peace at your house.
Here are a few things you can do to evaluate your own situation.
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Pay Attention to How Your Student Learns
There are many different learning styles, and most children have a preferred style (or combination of styles). It is not uncommon for us as homeschool teachers to expect to teach to our own style of learning. But if your student has a different learning style from you, this could be your first mistake.
If you are attempting to teach a kinesthetic learner (who needs lots of opportunities for hands-on learning and physical activity) by having him sit at a desk to use workbooks, things are going to go south very quickly. Likewise, if you have a student who enjoys sitting at a desk with workbooks doing lots of crafts and lapbooks, you might equally have issues.
Take time to observe how your child naturally learns and remove all ideas that you must teach to your own learning style, and you’ll likely be met with a much happier (and more cooperative) student. Give delight-directed learning a whirl and see if that sparks some interest.
Don’t Compare One Child to Another
Your first child may have started reading at age 4 but that doesn’t mean the next one will. It is hard not to compare one child to another (even to the children of our homeschool friends), but if you are expecting a level of work from your child that he is not quite capable of doing right now, you will find yourself with a frustrating challenge on your hands. Take a step back and look at each child’s own strengths and weaknesses, abilities and struggles. And then commit yourself to teaching THAT child at his own developmental level.
Don’t Be Afraid to Change Curriculum
In the beginning of our homeschool journey, I really had no idea what I was doing. I listened to numerous homeschool moms tell me what worked well for their children, and then I bought it all. I mean everything you can imagine. I soon discovered that I was frustrating my son with those choices because they were not the best choice for him. If you have purchased a resource that doesn’t seem to be the right fit for your child, don’t try to force that round peg into a square hole. Sell it, give it away, or save it for another child, but move on and find the right curriculum for your child. Trust me, it can make all the difference in the world.
Do a Heart Check
Sometimes none of the reasons I’ve mentioned above is an issue for your challenging child. Sometimes children simply need more character training or heart parenting. Sometimes they need to learn how to recognize your authority not only as mom, but as homeschool teacher as well. In that case you may need to put away all of the curricula and focus on one character trait at a time. And mom . . . don’t be surprised if at times it’s you that needs the character training. Children don’t corner the market on laziness and lack of diligence. Your own flaws will spill over onto your children.
While it will be important for you to establish authority as a teacher with your challenging student, and you may need to evaluate learning style or curriculum choices, first you must remember this: God often uses our children (especially our difficult ones) to teach us lessons in humility, patience, and dependence upon Him. Don’t miss these lessons as you strive to create an atmosphere of peace and obedience in your homeschool, and in your family.
Do you have any tips for homeschooling a challenging child?
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Marcy is a Christian homeschooling mom to one teen son.
An encourager at heart, she is passionate about cultivating relationships
with other moms and spends much of her time doing so both
on her blog, Ben and Me, and in social media.
Kathie Morrissey Morrissey says
Great post, Marcy!
Angel Penn says
This was sooooo good. Even though my boys are young, I have experienced some challenges with one of them already. It can be easy to get discouraged or second guess being called to homeschool your children. But you know, I’ve learned a lot through the challenges, have refocused and am committed to celebrating his differences and appreciating his learning style.