Is It Me? My Child? Or the Curriculum? What to do when homeschooling frustrations abound
Last week we began a series on mid-school year self-evaluations, and how to trouble-shoot your homeschooling frustrations. This week I continue my discussion with Debra Bell, as we look at how to determine if it’s just a bad day, a character issue with your child/children, or simply a child in need of more support.
Is it just a bad day?
Heather Eades: In trouble-shooting issues with your homeschool, last week we talked about what to do when the problem is with you, the homeschooling parent. But what can parents do when they determine that the majority of schooling frustrations appear to be coming from their child?
Deb Bell: When I see frustration in my child, I stop and ask, “Is this child just having a bad attitude today?” Because that is a very real possibility. But we also want to consider the child’s character, because sometimes kids are prone to laziness and don’t enjoy putting out extra effort. However another question to certainly consider is, “Is the child being over-challenged?”
Does the child need extra support?
HE: What should parents do if they feel their child is being over-challenged by specific subjects?
DB: Then we either need to provide more support as a parent or make a change—I’ve found at different times that, even though I’m all about raising independent learners, at times my kids just needed me to sit beside them and help them with that subject on that day.
One of the hardest challenges of being a homeschooling parent is keeping ourselves free from distractions. We have goals for the housework; we’re always multitasking. For me to homeschool with integrity, I had to turn off my phone (at least for the morning.) I tried to frontload the day with our homeschooling, in order for me to be solely focused in the morning on my children’s individual needs.
Does the problem exist outside of schoolwork?
HE: And after you’ve given your child support, what if you suspect a character issue with your child? How does a parent determine this?
DB: My husband had excellent wisdom in this! If I thought I was dealing with a character issue, my husband would always ask, “Well, is it pervasive?” The character issue can be determined as a rule of thumb, I think, by asking yourself, “Does the problem only emerge when my child is doing school, or do I see the problem during other aspects of the child’s life?” If your child doesn’t want to do math…but he also doesn’t want to do anything…it might be a character issue and no curriculum is going to fix that.
HE: So, what is a parent to do with a character issue?
DB: I would start by telling my child what I’m seeing, couching it all with empathy. I remember one time my husband concluded the resistance from one of our kids was really just laziness. We’ve all had those moments when the real reason we don’t get something done is we are being lazy. Fortunately, our child listened to our perspective and asked for help and forgiveness—which we both immediately offered on both counts. We prayed together and asked the Lord to help all of us put more effort into our responsibilities. We need to come along side our kids when they struggle with a character issue or immaturity. Let them see that parents have to resist these temptations as well.
Allow your homeschool to be HolySpirit-led. We need to be asking the Lord, “What is my child ready for? What does he/she need from me? How can I challenge each child appropriately?” As you become more in tune with the Holy Spirit’s leading, you will become more in tune with each child.
Finally, in our next post we look at what to do if it is the curriculum.