Homeschooling a reluctant student (How to have a better week)

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Need some help with your reluctant student? You know the kind, the one who is not a self-starter. Stares at their work. Doesn’t ever seem to get anything done. At the end of the week, you are grounding them for not getting all their schoolwork finished.

Here are a few strategies for how to have a better week, or even a better tomorrow as the case may be. Many of these strategies are directly from the Charlotte Mason Method. I have another article on this topic here.

Look at the workload

Is your son or daughter studying 6 or 7 subjects each day? Are they spending a long time on one subject? Your student may be burned out. For a young child, a lesson should not take more than 20 minutes. For an older student, you should be aiming for 30-45 minutes spent on each subject. Set a timer so they know they are through when the timer sounds.

Look at the actual subject and see if you’ve assigned too much. If they are doing Saxon Math, assign 15 problems instead of 30, that means they will do all the odd problems and leave the even ones undone.

Alternate Days for different subjects

Don’t do every subject every day. Alternate days for different subjects. Math and Literature, and Science are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Spanish, History, and Geography are Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Yes, they can learn enough in that time. Look at your timetable and have an extra subject added on various days to even out the workload. Think of it as having 4 subjects per day. Add an extra Spanish on a Monday, and an extra Math on a Tuesday, etc. Check out the timetables on the Charlotte Mason Poetry website for more ideas.

Give your student more autonomy

Let your child pick some of the subjects they will be studying. Do they want to study South American history? Zoology? Which foreign language do they want? Don’t just force Spanish because you think that it will be more useful. Encourage curiosity. Learning any language will help the mind develop and make learning future foreign languages easier for your student.

Your child will be much happier focusing on a subject they want rather than just going with what you think is best for their future resume. There are plenty of students out there who studied Spanish and never used it.

Check out the environment

Look around and make sure your student’s workspace is a good learning environment. Do you have a tablet, laptop, phone, or Xbox sitting around close by distracting your student? Sure some of their school work might be on that tablet or laptop, but they shouldn’t have it all the time. Clean their workspace or even send them outside to study on a patio. Let them be distracted by nature, and allow them to doodle and write and draw what they see.

Be flexible

One of the best things about homeschooling is the ability to be flexible. A young child will study better in the morning. They can get everything done in a couple of hours. A teenager may need to work in the afternoon instead. That weekend lock-in at the youth group or the late-night concert or trip messed up their sleep for a few days. Now they are groggy and can’t focus until later in the day. Shifting some work into the afternoon is fine. Don’t be a slave to your schedule.

Give plenty of breaks throughout the day. It is OK if takes more time than you think it should as long as the work gets done. Give your child and yourself some grace. Take a summer break or take quarterly breaks. Just because you are homeschooling does not mean you need to work year-round.

Mix things up

Make things fun with educational games. The younger your child is the more likely a curriculum will have this built into the material, but even as an older student this can be very helpful. The Good and the Beautiful does have some of this in their curriculums even for older students.

Enroll your child in an Enrichment program

Have your student take a few classes from someone else to give them more accountability and a chance to make friends. I took a speech class and a few literature classes and loved them as a high school student. Some of my siblings took some science and Spanish classes. It helped keep them on track.

Finally, always give yourself and your child the rest you need, and the grace you need. Not every day or even every season is going to be easy, but it can be very rewarding.

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