Last month we talked about balancing academics with character building. Truly we can’t have one without the other. As I mentioned then,
We have the privilege and responsibility to help our children grow into responsible, diligent, persevering, kind adults. We are not just shaping their minds, we are guiding their characters into adulthood.
But how do we make this happen? What do you do when your third grader miraculously disappears when you bring out the math books? How do you respond when your enthusiasm for history and literature fall on deaf ears? How do we handle the whines, grumbles, and general reluctance as relates to school studies?
If you and your child have engaged in formal study for any length of time, you’ve probably encountered moments of
- Do I have to?
- I don’t wanna….
- I won’t.
Ah yes, there’s the rub. As we live the life of both parent and teacher, challenges present themselves. Parenting is hard enough sometimes, but then children drag their feet through what should be a stimulating, educational, enriching moment.
While there is no foolproof, one-size-fits-all, answer to this dilemma, there are things you can do as a parent and a teacher. Read the cues from your child because he may be communicating a number of different reasons for his reluctance.
Considering the following questions may help you get to the bottom of the struggles.
Photo by Lindaaslund
1. Is something too difficult for your child?
Often times children don’t realize or aren’t able to communicate that something is beyond their comprehension. Perhaps that math program is just too advanced. Or maybe you’re asking for too much too soon. Reexamine your curriculum and your approach to see if your child is sufficiently challenged, but still capable of success.
2. Is it too easy?
On the other hand, is your child not being challenged? Many a kid has ditched school because he was placed in classes that didn’t ask enough of him. He was bored out of his mind, so why go?
Learning at home is no different. Kids who are bored are liable to act out more. But subject matter that is appropriate for your child’s skills and interests engages and is less likely to be met with resistance.
Talk with your child and find out what he likes, what he dislikes, what he wants to learn. You’ll be amazed at what you learn in the discussion.
3. Do they need to be encouraged?
I’m often surprised that my kids don’t know how brilliant I think they are. I am reminded that they need to hear this more often. Not so much the brilliant part, but they need to know when they’ve done something well.
When I praise and acknowledge positive performance or good effort, it gives them courage and spurs them on to try hard, to persevere, and to take on new challenges.
Lagging confidence can prompt a child to resist trying or engaging in the subject matter. So, encourage often. If they know they’re good at something, they’ll want to do it more.
4. Are they just being ornery?
Sometimes a child’s balk is just — because. The kid who refuses to finish his math assignment may be the same child who refuses to make his bed. There may not be a “good reason.” This signifies the moment to have a discussion and approach the situation in the way your family deals with other discipline issues.
It may be at these moments that we are tempted to rethink this homeschooling gig. Someone else could be handling this! But, really, these times are the hidden blessings of homeschooling.
We get to see where our kids struggle. We get to walk them through life’s great lessons of responsibility and perseverance. We get to teach them to do something because it’s the right thing to do, even if they — or we — don’t want to do it.
And when you don’t want to deal with that particular aspect of parenting, well, you get to practice — and model — perseverance. They say that experience is one of the greatest teachers.
How do YOU handle reluctance with your students?