Do You Need to Back Off?

I’ve read and heard numerous posts and comments like the following: I can’t get Timmy to sit. He won’t do his work and he’s giving me attitude. He whines over everything. Homeschooling isn’t working. He wasn’t like this for the teacher.

I cannot presume to know when someone’s homeschool is or isn’t working. But inevitably, I find some similarities in the stories each time I hear of one. For many of us parents who are products of the school system, it is hard to get out of thinking that school must include a desk, a certain amount of rigor, handwriting in the form of sheets, formal basal readers and a desk. Many of us tend to think of learning as needing to take place from 8 to 3. After all, we have curriculum. It has check boxes in it to check things off when they’re done and we tend to like looking at a fully checked off page. But perhaps if you’re struggling in your homeschool, it’s time to back off.

Why Does Learning Have to Be Hard?

I am all for a good education. Most homeschoolers I know, including my own children work above grade level and enjoy it. But why do we feel like learning that’s hard is a good thing? I would suggest it’s because we’ve been taught that through our own school system. I am also suggesting that if the subject matter is hard to the point of being frustrating–maybe it’s inappropriate for your child at this time.

Learning can be fun, enjoyable and even things like math facts can be mastered easily without duress. I know there’s a school of thought that says we have to do thing we don’t like to in life. That’s true. I generally apply that thinking to chores. Honestly, I have a hard time envisioning an adult successfully learning material they don’t want to learn. Likewise, I see students excel above and beyond what is asked in material they do want to learn.

While I’m not suggesting that you only teach your child the things he wants to learn, I am suggesting that if it’s a great struggle to teach him, perhaps it’s time to back off a little. Maybe you’re demanding perfection in answers or maybe the material is just plain too hard. The great thing about homeschooling is that it doesn’t have to look like school. There is infinite flexibility in how you teach, the methods you use and even whether or not you check off all those little boxes. If you’re struggling with your child day in and day out–perhaps it’s time to assess whether or not you need to back off a little.

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