Help! My Child Won’t do His Schoolwork!


It’s April.

The weather is warming up.

The birds are returning to their nests.

Summer is just around the corner.

And the natives are getting restless!


When your child won't do his schoolwork


Have you noticed that, although this is the time of year of new life and rebirth, it is also the time of year that school can become dry, boring and well, public school is looking more and more like a viable option?

Been there, done that!  First of all, be incouraged.  All homeschool families go through times like these.  If your kids are begining to continually whine and complain about their schoolwork or it is regularly taking your kids 3 hours to complete a 20 minute assignment, it is time to shake things up a bit.

Here are my best tips for overcoming the urge to enroll your little ones in school and surveying the greener grass on the other side:

Taking a break and consider doing some outside or ‘unschooly’ activities.  How long has it been since you took a field trip?  I know that, especially with lots of kids to teach, school time can become all about getting everything done.  It is natural as a responsible homeschool parent to feel uneasy when subjects have not been covered or progress is slower than we’d like.  Sometimes, we just need to let go of all of the expectations and relax.  Stepping away from the school room can change every one’s perspective – teachers and students alike – and can be just the refreshment that everyone needed.

Have you learned much about learning styles?  I find that my kids do better with different methods, environment, etc.  Especially young boys!  They like to be moving. Things I have tried with my young boys:

  • short, intense lessons
  • lots of hands on
  • change up the media – use dry erase, gel pens, iPad, Play Doh etc
  • allow verbal responses instead of writing
  • go outside more
  • listen to classical music during lessons
  • give him a shovel and send him outside (no, I am not kidding!)

Gain some long term perspective.  During the younger years, when we are working our way through a curriculum I so clearly remember stressing that my 2nd grader couldn’t remember the difference between a noun and a verb!  Duh!  Then the next year’s curriculum was reteaching a lot of what was taught the year before!  They do not need to ‘get’ it all in the early years.  There is a lot of time for review!

Understand child development.  Kids have developmental growth spurts where they will work away at their school with no problems and then suddenly reach a plateau where they just can’t seem to move ahead.  Taking a break or changing up the teaching method during these times is often all that is needed to break through the resistance.

Spend more time with read-alouds.  You just can’t go wrong here.  It builds relationships and brains.

On a more serious note, if you have lost your homeschool vision and are feeling like you just can’t homeschool anymore, remember the reasons that you began homeschooling, write them down.  Consider making a Homeschool Mission Statement.

Homeschool burnout affects kids too.  How have you overcome homeschool burnout in your family?


Related posts:

Learning Styles in the Homeschool

Dear Homeschool Mom Who Wants to Quit

Making a Homeschool Mission Statement

Marianne Sunderland

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  1. Wonderful! Just what I needed today!

  2. This is a great article for those who struggle with short term children that don’t want to do schoolwork but what I have issues with is a child that has NEVER liked doing school work and has been a daily struggle for 9 solid years. It didn’t matter what we did to help in either by changing curriculum, environment, methods etc it didn’t work. He just did not want to school period.. I would love to find out how to overcome this gigantic hurdle that has now affected our mother/son relationship because we are in a battle to get school work done daily and it’s come down to only discussing this one topic and I haven’t been able to parent him like I should because schoolwork has always got in the way.

    • Marianne says:

      I hear what you are saying, Lynn. I have a strong-willed child but he is only 5 and still enjoys his school as long as I keep it short and to the point with lots of hands on. I have a lot of discipline issues with him as far as his behavior goes like handling disaapointments etc. I am reading a book now called Leadership Education that suggests inspiring our kids to learn rather than requiring them to learn. I have just started but you might want to read it yourself. Apparently this method really works to inspire self-directed learning. Praying for wisdom for you and your family!

      • So, after 2 1/2 years, do you have any insight into Lynn’s question? Because I could have written it myself, except for the length of time. Any chance you could do a post, or have a guest-post on this? I can’t even hope to fall back on “unschooling” (which I think has a lot of merit as a philosophy), because of state regulations on having so many minutes of such particular subjects a day. Curricula changes, nor rewards, nor restrictions can seem to motivate my son to do a subject he has determined to be of little interest, particularly math.

        • Marianne Sunderland says:

          It’s hard to say without knowing your son. How old? Which subject is he resistant to? My kids have dyslexia and reading is difficult. No one likes to do what is difficult. I tell them that our reading lessons are like exercise for their brains. Exercise can be painful but then you get stronger and can do more. I also keep our lessons short and fast paced to avoid boredom. I let my kids with ADD sit on an exercise ball so they can keep focused while working. Some kids like a little music playing in the background. Oh, I also give my kids a small treat after finishing their reading (cookie, yogurt covered raisins, etc). Hope this helps!

          • Hi Marianne, thank you for the quick response! He’s 11, and fights math the most. I have no reason to suspect a learning disability in his case. He just digs in his heels if something doesn’t interest him. I agree with keeping things short and sweet, and even switched him from Saxon to Teaching Textbooks in part because of that. I guess it’s a spiritual problem really. We still limp along enough to satisfy regulations, but it sucks the joy out of our relationship, and the overall home-school experience (especially as it saps time and energy I should be investing in his siblings). I did find your post Homeschooling the Strong-Willed Child, which I appreciated. Thanks again for taking the time to respond.

    • This is the exact trouble I’m having with my son. I really don’t know what to do at this point. He takes sooooo long to get his work done cause he is spending his time fussing about doing it. He is so smart he just us so stubborn. He’s 8ears old

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