Mastering Homeschooling: Overcoming Behavioral Issues and Boosting Motivation
At some point, the initial excitement of adopting a new lifestyle choice starts to fade away. The novelty wears off, the fun starts feeling routine, and the adventure settles into a new sense of normalcy. It's during this phase that we often encounter a dip in motivation and face typical child behavior issues. This is as true for homeschooling as it is for starting a new relationship, job, moving to a new house, and so on. Can you relate to this?
You were super excited to start homeschooling, but after a couple of months, problems emerged through the excitement.
You might be facing challenges with your kids—more whining, reluctance to complete coursework, and not approaching homeschooling seriously; essentially, behavior issues. On top of that, you're dealing with your own daily struggles—feeling burnt out, lacking motivation, and struggling to find solutions.
Doubts might be creeping in. You're questioning your decisions. Thoughts like, 'Why did I opt for homeschooling?' 'Did I think they would see me as a teacher?' 'How do I teach subjects I barely remember?' 'How will they progress if they don't put in the effort?'
And you know what? Other homeschooling parents feel the same way too.
These struggles, my friends, are just a part of life. Sometimes it gets messy and overwhelming. Sometimes it takes time to figure things out. There are moments when you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Parents don't choose to homeschool because it's easy; they choose it because they believe it's the best option for their kids. That belief still holds true. Remind yourself why you started this journey in the first place.
When Things Just Don't Seem to Work: Addressing Behavior Issues
There are moments when children simply dig their heels in and refuse to tackle their work. You've hit a roadblock and aren't quite sure how it materialized or how to navigate around it.
Several factors contribute to the development of these behavioral issues in homeschoolers:
The perception that stakes are lower when submitting work below par since the parent is also their teacher.
The feeling of being able to act out more because they're not surrounded by peers.
Not taking coursework as seriously as traditional schoolwork, perceiving it as optional because it doesn't align with their view of "real school."
One of the homeschooling parents says "I've tried everything to motivate my 12-year-old to keep going, but he consistently refuses to do his work, and it always ends in an argument.”
Let's delve into that last point: when kids transition from a traditional school setting, this scenario is quite probable. Try to empathize and view it from their perspective.
Certainly, you've imparted life skills, but it's a distinct shift from school. They might grapple with the concept of their education being reliant on their parents. This isn't a criticism of you—it's an adjustment. Just as it might feel unusual for you to assume the role of teaching and grading, it feels equally unfamiliar for them to regard their parents as their teachers. This adjustment can occur even with kids who were initially enthusiastic about homeschooling. It's a substantial life change, transitioning from the idea of homeschooling to the practicality of sitting down to work on lessons together.
This is precisely why deschooling is crucial.
Deschooling serves as a transitional phase between traditional schooling and homeschooling. It's intended to broaden your family's perception of what schooling entails. Deschooling aids both parents and students in recognizing that genuine learning occurs well beyond the confines of a classroom. While deschooling varies for each family, it typically involves a few weeks without formal lessons, engaging in field trips, exploring various curriculum styles, and delving into homeschooling concepts. You can learn more about deschooling here.
So, what more can you do to address behavioral issues related to homeschooling?
Refrain from engaging in confrontations. Although challenging and exasperating, participating in arguments inadvertently reinforces negative behavior.
Delve into potential underlying issues contributing to the behavior. Establishing boundaries, maintaining a routine, a balanced diet, and other factors can help regulate certain behaviors.
Consider revisiting previously covered material. Going over past concepts might alleviate their resistance to new, challenging lessons.
Enforce clear consequences for work avoidance and/or dishonesty. When everyone is aware of the expectations, conflicts can be avoided.
Experiment with reducing the workload.
While it might seem unconventional, minimizing a math worksheet to just one problem can render it insignificant to argue over.
This isn't about giving in; it's an attempt to break the habit of arguing. Eventually, their instinctive reaction to resist will shift, allowing you to gradually reintroduce more problems or assignments over time.
As conflicts lessen, utilize positive reinforcement to encourage better decision-making.
When You Feel Uninspired: Maintaining Motivation
Let's be honest; the homeschooling journey isn't always smooth sailing. It comes with its fair share of challenges, issues, and struggles that can be quite draining. It's perfectly normal for your initial motivation to wane as the novelty of this new adventure wears off.
This slump usually hits around September/October, following the first month or two of homeschooling, and often reappears around February. The exact timing varies depending on when your homeschool year kicks off. It's when the honeymoon phase ends, and you're faced with real challenges. How do you inspire your students to complete their coursework? How do you keep yourself motivated? Your student might be stuck on a lesson for weeks; how do you break through this barrier? These hurdles chip away at your homeschooling motivation until you find yourself feeling burned out and questioning your choices.
Experiencing homeschool burnout doesn't necessarily mean it was the wrong decision for your family. It signifies that you need a change!
So, how can you reignite your excitement for homeschooling?
Remind yourself of the reasons WHY you started homeschooling.
Allow yourself a breather. Sometimes, stepping back for a while can provide a fresh perspective.
Consider putting the core curriculum on hold for a week to explore alternative educational activities.
Connect with another homeschooling family for mutual support and shared experiences.
Explore options like tutoring, co-op classes, or homeschool pods to inject some variety into your homeschooling approach.
Aid for Joyful Homeschooling
While categorizing all homeschoolers as "happy" is a generalization, the aspiration is universal—to cultivate happiness in our homeschooling environment. We all strive for a homeschooling experience that isn't marred by tears or conflicts! Every child encounter challenging phases.
Challenging days don't imply that homeschooling was a wrong decision. They serve as signals.
These signals might suggest taking a brief hiatus—perhaps your children are experiencing burnout. It could indicate a need to switch curriculum, as the current one might not align with their learning style. It could mean granting your children a say in the topics they study, fostering a sense of involvement and control. Perhaps it's time to assess your homeschooling approach. Is it truly the best fit for your family?
Guidance on homeschooling motivation is relevant to more than just mothers. Although mothers constitute a significant portion of homeschooling parents, we understand that there are many dedicated fathers, grandmothers, and guardians deeply invested in assisting a child with their home education. Regardless of your role in your homeschooler's life, anyone can encounter a period of stagnation or face a challenging obstacle.