7 Practical Tips For When Homeschooling Gets Tough

If you search through homeschooling articles you will find loads of information regarding how to homeschool and how great homeschooling is. What you don’t see is when homeschooling gets tough. When it gets hard to homeschool and how to get through tough parts so you can make the most of homeschooling your kids.

In this post I’m covering the not so great parts about homeschooling and the frustrations homeschooling parents can face. Everything beginner and even seasoned pros might need to know about or get some ideas on how to handle their homeschooling better.

With years of experience in both being homeschooled and homeschooling my own kid I know that I’ve been through some of the personal struggles that happen. I can offer you advice on how we got through the rough patches from the perspective of the homeschooled and on the one doing the homeschooling.

Girl sitting at a computer and doing homeschooling

My Homeschooling Journey

Before we get started though I want to make sure that I explain a little bit about my own homeschooling experience so you can see where I am coming from in my explanations. 

I was homeschooled in the third grade and then again from 7th grade on. I have ADHD. Homeschooling for me was so much better than going to a traditional school. At the time and in the moment I felt like I missed out on the social aspect of schooling, however, looking back that social aspect would have been detrimental to my grades.

I would have spent so much time hyper fixated on the social aspect of school that my grades would have suffered. With my grades suffering I would have believed all the things I used to tell myself before I went into homeschooling. Things like, “I’m stupid,” “I’ll never be smart,” “I won’t succeed.”

On the mental health aspect of things I suffered more in traditional schooling than in homeschooling and looking back I can see that the social aspect of traditional schooling just wasn’t worth it for me.

I also understand that homeschooling doesn’t work for every kid in every situation. That being said, I have decided to homeschool my own son.

Homeschooling My Son

As a homeschool mom who was homeschooled in her childhood, there are several reasons why I’ve decided homeschooling is best for my son.

First off, the pandemic is still a thing and I don’t want my son – who currently can’t get his vaccination – to be exposed to covid. However, this isn’t the sole reason why I’m not putting my child into traditional schooling.

My Son Is Like Me

My son has ADHD, we use gentle parenting and while he is well behaved and listens for the most part, there are times where he is not what teachers would expect. He would be labeled a class clown, black sheep, troublemaker, and all sorts of other terms. How do I know? Because it was done to me and he exhibits the same characteristics I did.

His mind moves quickly from one subject to the next and sometimes he likes to hyperfocus on one thing for days on end. I want to give him the time he needs to hyperfocus or move quickly if he understands what was taught.

I’m stopping boredom when it starts by introducing fun ways to keep his interest in the tasks at hand. In a class of 20-30 he would not be able to get this, which is exactly what he needs.

My Son Learns By Doing

I can get my son to do about three worksheets a week, I can get him to do just enough to prove he’s learning and no more. My son learns through action. He learns about the lifecycle of a seed by planting seeds. He learns about math and counting by playing. 

My son has to be doing something all the time with his hands and body. So the majority of our schooling is in action and play instead of school books and worksheets. Unfortunately, in traditional schooling you are likely to get lots of worksheets and books. 

My son would refuse to do it, it would be a constant battle, and in the long run it’s just going to make him hate learning. Homeschooling allows me to build and support a love of learning in him that he just wouldn’t get from traditional schooling.

Education

This is a bit of a hot topic and controversial so I hope you understand these are my feelings and you don’t have to feel the same way. Our public school system is crap. Teachers aren’t allowed to teach so many important parts of history, science, and arts, and our kids suffer because of it.

I want my son to have a fact based education while also learning to be accepting and empathetic to differences in culture. He needs to know why things are the way they are so he can be a part of the solution in changing things for the better for everyone even if it doesn’t affect him. 

I want my son to have the best education I can possibly give him and I don’t have faith that traditional school systems can give that to him because he doesn’t learn best the way they teach.

So now that you know why I decided to homeschool and where I stand you may be able to understand how I solve problems when homeschooling gets tough.

Boy writing on a piece of paper doing homeschooling

What You See When Homeschooling Gets Tough

Homeschool burnout is a real thing and there are signs you should be aware of so you can stop homeschool burnout before it begins. When homeschooling gets tough you start seeing these warning signs:

  • Your child isn’t sitting still
  • Your child is distracted by literally anything
  • Your child avoids you the moment you pull out anything for school
  • Your child straight up says no to school work
  • Your eyes glaze over trying to teach your kid
  • Finding new material is daunting
  • You wonder if homeschooling is the best choice

I have witnessed and felt all of these things in the last two years of homeschooling. It’s not a good feeling when you think you might be failing your kid in their education.

I have some good news though, hard situations happen most likely in the early days of homeschooling and as the school year continues it will likely get easier.

So I’m going to address each of these problems with practical advice on solutions I found work best when homeschooling gets tough.

Your Child Isn’t Sitting Still

Behavioral problems like this typically mean it’s time to start an activity. Your child is feeling antsy because their brain is firing off so many different ideas and thoughts and they are having a hard time stopping it. This leads into their body literally needing to move to get it all out somewhere.

If this is your when homeschooling gets tough warning sign there are some activities that help, to stop this antsy behavior:

  • Do Art Projects
  • Free writing
  • Gardening
  • Cooking
  • Baking
  • Go to a museum
  • Go for nature walks
  • Play in the backyard
  • Use chalk on a sidewalk
  • Exercise
  • Dancing
  • Yoga

Any one of these things can be an educational experience or count towards your educational goals for the day. They are PE, Science, Social Studies, History, English, Art, and Music. Record what your child did for the day to learn and try again afterwards to do a little more of what you had planned for the day.

For more low cost or free resources for homeschoolers check out this post here.

If they are still not sitting still, then just move on with your day and try again tomorrow.

Your Child Is Distracted

This is my personal sign for when homeschooling gets tough. We could be doing just fine working on something then suddenly something else pops into his brain and he runs off to do it.

This is an age struggle. Eventually, after he learns to write more, I can teach him how to keep a running list of things that pop into his brain in a handy notebook. He can then write down the thoughts that pop into his brain and come back to them at a better time after his school work is complete. 

For now though, we just go with it. I pause, let him explore his thoughts, then we come back to what we were working on five minutes later. I take those five minutes to stretch, get the next lesson ready to go, refill my water, or do a quick check of my emails.

This problem really just means growing your patience and learning how to give your child the skills to complete one task before moving on to another.

Your Child Starts To Avoid You

When your child basically runs from you the moment you start to pull out your lessons for the day there might be something that needs adjusting.

This one hurts a bit because the child is literally avoiding you because they associate the work with you. Being a parent and teacher is a balancing act that takes a bit of time to master. I have been doing this for two school years now and quite frankly I haven’t mastered that balance yet. So when homeschooling gets tough and your child starts to avoid you I have two things that help. 

I am not above bribery to get the work done. Bribery is great in the moment to get through the work you need to that day. It’s not a forever tool though, just a once in a while tool that is useful to have access too.

You will want to pay attention to what type of school work your child is trying to avoid. Are they worksheets, books, or watching videos? If your child is disinterested in these things you might want to find a new way to teach the lesson you are looking to teach. 

Use different types of methods to teach lessons in a way your kid is interested in learning from and avoiding you to avoid school will stop. 

Your Child Says No

Listen, we all have days when we just have bad attitudes. How often do you just wake up on the wrong side of the bed and have an attitude for the day? I know I do. So how can I expect my child to not ever have a bad attitude? Especially, when homeschooling gets tough.

My job as the parent is to try to understand what might be causing my son to have a bad attitude and see if I can change things up to make it easier on him while he’s struggling with a bad day.

For instance, I pulled out our weather tracker worksheet the other day and my child picked it up, looked me dead in the eye, and said no. I can’t say I wasn’t surprised by this, we had been doing weather tracking for about three weeks and he was showing signs of it being really boring.

This is where letting your child lead the way is important. I am respecting that no because I realize my kid is bored with it and he’s no longer gaining information from it. 

So now I need to find a new method of delivery on a subject. The weather tracking was about making observations of a particular thing which is part of the scientific method. Learning about making observations is important not just in science but in communication, reading, math, and almost every aspect of life.

Now we can instead do something like once weekly tracking of leaf color changes through Autumn. We can track the growth of herbs I am growing in the house. We can observe the changes of water from ice, to liquid, to steam. 

Chances are high your child says no to a particular lesson because it is boring to them or they want a new subject to focus on. So when homeschooling gets tough and your kid voices that, it’s time to start coming up with new and exciting ways to teach.

Boy showing attitude when homeschooling gets tough

You Are Bored By The Subject Matter

When homeschooling gets tough you may be the one bored while teaching your child. I highly recommend taking breaks for tea or coffee in between lessons so that you can keep your energy up. Also so that boredom doesn’t come across to your child who then feeds off of it themselves.

Likewise, use YouTube when doing your lesson planning. For instance, the moon phases are extremely boring for me to teach but in 1st grade our kids are starting to learn about space. So I rely heavily on YouTube videos for kids that I can turn on for him to watch and for me to take a quiet break with some tea.

Bring books into the mix too. I personally use Libby to get digital copies of children’s books from the library. I also have Amazon Kindle Unlimited which also has loads of options for books that kids will enjoy and learn from.

Bring in different types of media to make it interesting and entertaining for both you and your child. If you are interested in what is being taught, they are also going to be interested in what is being taught.

Finding New Material Is Daunting

When homeschooling gets tough you may find it daunting to find new material to share with your kids. I recommend a tech free week for this week of schooling. It gives you a much needed energy boost and can lead to better understanding of how your child learns.

This is more for you but will be highly educational and really good for your kids too. Go for hikes, to museums, to the library, apple picking, or any number of outdoor activities all week long. 

Your kids get delightful memories from the activities you take part in and you don’t have to pre watch documentaries, YouTube videos, or pre read books or anything else to make sure it lines up with your education goals. 

Take a field trip week and let normal everyday life be the education for the week when homeschooling gets tough.

You Wonder If Homeschooling Was The Right Choice

Every homeschooling parent has felt self doubt when homeschooling get tough. There was a couple of days last week when my child said no, avoided me, and getting through the lessons was almost impossible. 

I looked at my husband and said, “Maybe homeschooling isn’t right.” As soon as the words left my mouth I realized just how over dramatic I was. We had a couple of bad days, we don’t just drop it all, risk our child in school during a pandemic, and risk his education for a couple of bad days.

My child is interested in learning, he just wants to learn in his own way. I have to nurture that and for a few days I had gotten away from that. I had forgotten about the number one tool in every homeschoolers belt. Flexibility.

Being flexible with how my child learns, what he wants to learn, and what his motivations are is key to homeschooling success. Strict schedules don’t work with all kids and flexibility actually makes homeschooling easier and more successful.

Though, sometimes homeschooling just isn’t right for the child. Sometimes a child does better in an environment like a traditional school. Traditional school is especially right for children who learn better from books, worksheets, and regular study. If this is your child, it may be better for you to send them to school.

Getting Through the Tough Parts Of Homeschooling

Homeschooling is a personal process between you and your child, you are going to have hard days and you are going to figure out how to work together to make it ideal for you both. It’s harder when they are younger and may not know how to best communicate with you what their needs during school time are. 

When homeschooling gets tough, keep working at it, keep trying new methods, and keep pushing through. Eventually you will figure out exactly what works for you and your family and tough days will happen less often. Homeschooling is a learning curve as much for you as it is for your child.

I also recommend finding a homeschooling community online that will likely have loads of homeschooling parents who can help you get through when homeschooling gets tough. 

For more information that beginner homeschoolers need to know I recommend this post with my top tips for beginner homeschoolers.

Let me know in the comments when homeschooling gets tough for you and your child, what do you struggle with? For more like this follow our Pinterest and pin this post to your favorite homeschooling boards.

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Crystal Lynn

Crystal is the founder & CEO of MommyThrives and also full-time mom to a very active little guy. She’s passionate about cooking, cleaning, and organizing and turns her experiences into actionable systems to make mom-life simpler. When she’s not busy, you can find her reading, painting, or even on occasion indulging herself shooting bandits in Borderlands on her PC.

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