Thursday, January 14, 2010

What to Do When Your Child Hates Doing School

Some of our children are driven and/or people pleasers, so they do their school work with joy and efficiency for the most part. Then there is the bouncy ones, the ones that just want to have fun. They love school when it is easy and there is no work involved. It is frustrating when they are goofy and answer silly when they know the answer quite well. Like when you ask them, "What letter is this?" And they point to the letter M and answer, "Bus." It is disheartening when their sibling or another child you know is excelling, while you are wondering if homeschooling is going to work with this kid. You know the bouncy one would never behave like this for anyone else but you. Should you sent him/her to the school up the street?

Not necessarily. While homeschooling is a personal decision for each family and child, sending a "problem" child to school is not always the answer. Putting the child in school would be easier for you, and the child might even like it, but it does NOT get rid of the problem - it just hides it a whole lot better. The heart issue is still there in your child, the laziness and disobedience are still apart of his/her character. What you need to do is work on the character traits that need to be taught and trained, which you have discovered through homeschooling. Also, think of the reasons why you homeschool. Do they apply to this child? If your child has a fit when asked to do their chores, you would not hire a maid for them, right?

So what do you do? Losing your mind is not a good choice, and you want to be sure your child is receiving a good education. Here is a list of problem causers:
  • Are they hungry? Protein is a must for a child to be able to control their emotions, as well as for them to think. Taking the trouble to provide a good breakfast before school will help. Maybe it is something else they are eating. Think about when the bad behavior happens and what food they had eaten before. Some children are very sensitive to red or yellow die.
  • Are you schooling at their best time? I use to school Mr. Z at 10 or 11AM, after I got Ms. G on her way. Now I start with Z while G does seat work and reading.
  • Is it too hard? Maybe you are trying to have them do something that they are not developmental ready for. Slow down, it is not a race. Better to have adult that loves to learn than one who is pencil and book resistant.
  • Do they need a break? They may do better if you take brakes during schooling. Maybe their brain has been overloaded and their behavior is a cry for help. I have found 15 minutes at a time with my bouncy Kindergartner to be the best.
  • Would a different curriculum work better? One of mind really hated math. We tried different ideas, but nothing worked. Then I switch to a different curriculum, and now math is a favorite subject. That is why there is not one curriculum that is best for every child.
  • Are you doing too much? Maybe school is too long.
  • Did they go to bed on time? If they do not get enough sleep, it will be hard for them to think and keep their behavior in check.
If you have addressed all those issues, and those aren't the problems, here are some ways to cope and train your child to love school, or at least do their work obediently:
  • If it is not physical, it may be spiritual. Pray for your child, especially for the character traits of God pleasing work(their best done for God) and obeying their parents. God can change their heart. While you are at it, pray for the character traits you will need to teach your child, such as patience and peaceful spirit.
  • Training involves consistent discipline. We use a behavior chart, which I will have to post fully about another time. There should be a consequence for not behaving and not doing their school work. Watching TV or playing a computer game is a privilege, not an entitlement. They will learn soon enough, that if they want the good stuff, they need to do as they are told. Of course, they will needed to be reminded of that next month all over again, but they will get it.
  • Have a heart to heart with them and share a scripture with a SHORT explanation. Keep it short, sweet and to the point or they will turn off their ears. Remember this step because otherwise you can change their behavior, but NOT their heart!
  • Praise good work. Praise them for their good work in front of others too. This year we will have a party at the end of the year where family members will get to see their work on display.
  • Find ways to add fun to school. Maybe it is candy bingo, which is using their school bingo games with candy as a marker. It depends what your child likes - to be read to, puzzles, Legos, games. Use those things to teach them.
  • If they hate workbooks, do hands on. If they hate the crafts, do not do them. Find something else creative instead. My bouncy son actually loves worksheets, so I make sure there is always at least 1 "pencil work" item to do.
  • Put the part they love after the part they hate. It makes them motivated to get it over with. It also teaches them, "Work before pleasure."
  • Buy a exercise ball for the bouncy one to sit on, it may help them listen better.
  • Put them in an outside activity that will teach them discipline and hard work, like a sport or club such as 4H, Keepers of the Faith, Alert, or boy/girl scouts. This should be something they like doing after trying it out for a while.
  • Have lots of books around, - wonderful, quality children's books. Make a book nook to cozy up in. Display some books by their front covers. Put some books in a basket on the floor. Get books out at the library about your child's current interest. If you can give them a love for books, a love for learning, they will teach themselves for the rest of their lives. If they miss something in their education, they will be able to learn the answer on their own.
  • Remember the reasons why you homeschool. Write them out, reading them on a hard day will encourage and strengthen you that you may the right choice.
  • Put on your armor (armor of God) because this is going to be a recurring battle. You do not learn to obey God the first time, your children are no different. Follow the link for a refresher. Your children are a blessing, but they test your patience too. Be ready, as you should always be.
  • Look at this as an opportunity for God to build patience into your character. And we thought we were weaving character into the tapestry of our children's lives, while all the time, God has been using our children to weave His character into us.

Please add more to my list through the comments. All of us will go through a day when our child does not want to do school, so being armed and ready would be helpful.

While sometimes your child takes you for a ride, it is all that more rewarding when you see the child learning and enjoying school. Children are a blessing.

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