Your child hates history. Or science. Or writing. No matter what it is, he doesn’t want to do it.
He complains. He procrastinates. He may say it’s too easy, or too hard. He makes no bones about the fact that he doesn’t like doing it, and may go to great lengths to avoid it, too.
As homeschooling parents, we become skilled in observing and listening to our children. This comes naturally over time with very little effort. New homeschoolers, however, may not notice the signs of a child in crisis right away. Instead, there may be a tendency to push harder, impose consequences, or even give up entirely.
For those parents, I offer this advice. When a child hates a subject, it can only mean one of two things:
a) The child really hates the subject; or,
b) the subject isn’t being taught the way he needs to learn it.
Though these seem like two entirely different reasons, they often go hand in hand.
In fact, by addressing the second, the first will often clear up on its own.
Consider this scenario:
Imagine a child studying science out of a book. He says it’s boring and he hates it. Try as you might, you just cannot succeed at making the science book any more interesting than it already is.
Now, imagine a child performing simple science experiments in the kitchen. You can hardly keep up with him and he wants to do science every day. He loves it. Suddenly, science is his favorite subject.
You like doing English first thing in the morning. Your daughter doesn’t. She complains about it being too hard, especially when asked to write anything down. Mornings are miserable, and you both end up angry by the time English is finally over.
On the other hand, you notice that she loves to read and write in her journal – in the afternoons. Given time alone in her room, she produces poems, stories, and all kinds of things in writing. She reads on her own, too, just not the books you’ve assigned. By reorganizing her daily school schedule and doing English in the afternoons, you have much more success. Plus, by giving her the flexibility to choose her own books, she is much more willing to read than before.
These are just examples. When a child dislikes a subject, there are other things you can try, too. Look not only at the method you are using and the time of day, but look also at the level of difficulty of the materials you have chosen, and how much input your student has had in the course and resource selection process.
Your level of involvement could also be the key. You may be stifling creativity without even realizing it by hovering over the student and constantly offering ideas. Or, you might be providing too little (or even too much) encouragement.
Distractions in the home might be a problem. Whether or not your child needs a snack to keep performing well is another area to look at. Look at the comfort level of her work space, the temperature in your home, or whether or not she has the proper tools for every job. There are many others.
Before you give up on a subject and assume your student will never like it, check to be sure you have taken care of the other variables that may be affecting her progress. If it turns out that she really hates a subject, then so be it. But, if making some simple changes could turn her entire outlook around, you’ll be happy you did.
[Photo: Free Digital]