Is your homeschool infected with the whining disease? Do you feel like you're dragging your child through his lessons every day? In this month's "What's on Your Mind" from Alpha Omega Publications®, we discuss what to do when your child complains and says he doesn't want to do his homeschool assignments.
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Q: What suggestions do you have for dealing with your child's complaining when assigning homeschool lessons and projects?
- David K., Arkansas
A: First of all, try to remember you're not alone. Every homeschool parent has been at this place at one time or another! There is no such thing as a "perfect little learner," nor is there the perfect curriculum that will make your child come running to "hit the books" in the morning.
Secondly, rather than feeling like a stressed-out nag and getting frustrated over your child's lack of motivation, take a moment to re-evaluate your homeschool curriculum. You may need to switch gears and change to more hands-on lessons or a different homeschooling approach that better meets your child's learning style. Plus, if your child is coming out of a traditional school environment, it may take "deschooling" for a time to adjust his attitude.
The third idea you might try is to explain to your child "why" and "when" he'll need to know particular subjects as an adult. Even if he doesn't learn to love a subject, he may change the way he thinks and at least tolerate it. You can also make homeschooling more fun by choosing a few subjects like history and science and letting your child pick the topics to learn that interest him.
Most of us would rather play than work, so the fourth way you can help your child get his schoolwork done without complaining is make a game out of his lesson. For instance, pick a time period for history, create question and answer trivia cards, make up your own game rules, and then play it. You can even declare a fun day filled with active assignments like figuring out the perimeter of each window in the house or placing all the household items you can find that begin with the letter "p" in a paper sack.
Making goals that set time limits for completing schoolwork is the fifth way you can stop butting heads with your child. Perhaps you're being too generous and need to establish realistic boundaries that don't allow for either laziness or disrespectful back talk. Use a kitchen timer and eliminate the complaining before it starts with a dry erase board or calendar schedule that tells him exactly what he needs to get done that day.
The sixth thing that curtails complaining is to give your child responsibility for his own learning. Student-directed homeschool curriculum like Monarch™, Switched-On Schoolhouse®, and LIFEPAC® not only helps your child learn independently, but it also teaches important life skills in self-discipline, organization, and time management. (Note: Your child's frustrations could be based on fear that he can't figure it out alone, which causes him to avoid schoolwork like math. In this case, it's important to commit yourself to doing some of your child's work with him).
Of course, godly, loving discipline that takes the form of denied privileges or extra work is a seventh option to stop your complainer. Whether you take away the computer, cell phone, or TV or up the number of chores and add another assignment each time you hear a complaint, your child will quickly learn good work ethics and the important life lesson that if he wants more free time to do what he wants, he'll have to earn it! The reverse is also true. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, so set up some desirable rewards if your child makes it through an entire day with no complaints.
Don't be derailed by your child's "Are we done yet?", "School is boring!", and "Do we have to do school today?" comments. Help him understand that complaining is a rebellious act that not only brings dishonor to you as a homeschool parent, but more importantly, also disrespects the Lord God who created him. In the end, your solution for a happy homeschool lies in the truth of God's Word: "Do all things without murmurings and disputings" (Philippians 2:14).