I'd be lying if I said that all three of my children cooperate with our homeschool lessons all of the time. Here's a few tips for homeschooling the uncooperative child, from a momma who's
been in the trenches.
Homeschooling the Uncooperative Child
With three children, that have three vastly different personalities, I can typically guarantee that there will be some sort of resistance during lessons from at least one of them each week. In fact, I've often thought that one of my kiddos could easily earn a master's in resistance.
I take heart in the fact that I *KNOW* I am not alone and that almost every homeschooling mother out there has dealt with an uncooperative child at some point. I refuse to allow my children to make me want to pull my hair out (see what I did there? LOL). If you're feeling like you've taken the seat next to me in this boat, let me encourage you that homeschooling the uncooperative child is possible. It just takes a little more work and creativity.
Is your child refusing to cooperate with an assignment? Are they generally being a contrarion? I cannot emphasize enough the importance of praying for the child that is uncooperative with homeschooling! Let’s face it, there is only so much we can do, as a parent, without help from Jesus. Spend time in prayer for your child. Don’t just pray for your child, but pray with your child. This is probably my best tip for homeschooling the uncooperative child. When we are having a rough day, it only gets better when I stop to pray. I am intentional about letting my child(ren) know that I am praying in the moment for our rough day, too!
You need a lot of patience whenever you’re homeschooling the uncooperative child. After all, they want to push your buttons as much as possible. It is going to take everything you have to gather that patience and utilize it, but you can do it! When you feel like you're going to lose your patience, you can
- Utilize deep breathing exercises
- Take a break
- Walk away
- Ask your child why they are resisting
- Change subjects
If your child(ren) are anything like their peers, they know how to push your buttons and they may be hoping that you will lose your patience and they won't have to complete the work assigned.
Go for the Root
My (almost) 11 year old daughter has dyslexia and dysgraphia. There was a (long) time when she would do everything — including misbehave — to get out of reading. We butted heads during lessons on a daily basis. I thought she was being obstinate. The truth was, she didn't know how to explain what she was having trouble with. Once we realized what the root of the problem was, we were able to address it and the difference is like night and day.
Homeschooling a resistant child can be miserable. If your child is uncooperative with the lesson, asking these questions may help you get to the root of the problem.
- Does your child understand or not understand the work?
- Does your child like or dislike the subject?
- Is your child tired, hungry, hurting?
- Does your child need a break?
- Does your child need to work out the wiggles?
When my youngest has trouble in the mornings, it's typically because she hasn't expended enough energy to be able to sit. A fifteen minute break to run in the yard sets things right again.
When my oldest is resistant to a lesson, it's typically because he isn't interested in it and therefore doesn't see the value in it. He leans toward science and math and was NOT happy when I made him take an art class. A few weeks in, and he decided to love it. But I had to push him to try.
A major cause for resistance in the uncooperative child is that the child feels like they have no say. Giving them some control, some ownership, is extremely important.
If they can't pick the material – allow them to pick the order in which it is completed. Some things in our homeschool are non-negotiable. My kiddos are expected to read daily. For the most part, what they read is up to them. When they read is up to them. If they want to read first thing in the morning, before they eat and get dressed, that's fine by me. If they want to read in the evening, during their quiet time in their rooms, that's fine by me.
Other things are expected to be done weekly. I don't care if my son does an entire weeks worth of his Earth Science lessons in one sitting, or if he spreads it out over the week, as long as he has them completed before the next co-op class. I put the reading assignments and reviews on his spreadsheet, and he can move them around as needed, as long as he doesn't walk into class unprepared.
If your child is fighting you tooth and nail with everything, allow them to have a say in some things. One of the best things you can do, when homeschooling an uncooperative child, is give them some control.
Sure, this one is going to hurt a little because that means you have to give up some control. However, it will be in your best interest to hand over the reigns to them!
Help them Focus and Learn
When it comes down to homeschooling an uncooperative child, you really have to figure out what helps them focus and learn. It's possible that you're teaching the way you learn best, but it may not be they way they learn best. I figured this out the hard way with one of my kiddos. Teaching her stretches me, because she learns differently than I do.
Does your child learn better with soft music in the background? Do they need silence? Do they need pictures and illustrations? Do they need to move?
Teaching and accommodating different learning styles is imperative, especially if you're homeschooling an uncooperative child.
- 5 Ways to Teach the Auditory Learner
- Ways to Teach the Visual Learner
- Ways to Teach the Kinesthetic Leaner
Figuring out what helps your child focus and them learn can be trial and error. Be gentle with your child and yourself as you figure it out together. Your child will appreciate that your effort to understand them.
Check out my Must Have Books for Homeschool Moms. They are a treasure trove of inspiration and encouragement.