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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Overcoming Homeschool Frustrations

Today I have a special treat for you. My friend, Yehudis Litvak, veteran homeschooler and owner of the Digital Homeschool Convention, is sharing some great tips on how to deal with some common frustrations that come up with homeschooling, but, to be honest, can be applied to most parenting situations if you aren't a homeschooler.


My son hates penmanship. He can build a chair, cook a gourmet meal, or set up a homemade water slide in the backyard, but the idea of putting pen to paper and writing neatly sends him running.

If you’re a homeschool parent like me, you’ve had your own share of frustrations. Sure, you’ve also spent time enjoying your children and building precious memories. But if your children happen to be human, their ideas of how they want to spend their days likely differ from yours. More to the point, it’s likely that there is something you want them to learn that they’d rather avoid at all costs.

Each child is unique, and each has unique strengths and weaknesses. As conscientious parents, while we want to give them plenty of time to develop their strengths, we also want to make sure that they are building up their weak areas. And that’s where the frustrations come in, because our children, just like us, would much rather do just about anything else.

What can well-meaning parents do?
Good question! You can nag, threaten, or yell. Do you think that would help? I don’t think so either. Somehow, you need to get your child on board. How?

Tell them why the skill you’d like them to work on is important
Even better, tie it into something that your child is already interested in. For example, she needs to know her multiplication facts if she wants to be a scientist.

I spent some time trying to convince my son that he’ll need legible handwriting in the future. He claimed that he could just type everything. He won that round.

Cushion the skill practice with activities your child enjoys
This works best when we’re in a middle of a suspenseful read aloud. I finish a chapter and tell my son that I’ll read the next chapter as soon as he’s done with his handwriting practice. Unfortunately, I lose this most powerful weapon as soon as we’re done with the book.

Because I said so!
Sometimes we parents just need to exercise our parental authority. Our children don’t see the big picture, but we, with our great wisdom and life experience, do! No, this won’t lead to happy memories, but sometimes that’s the only way. We are not leaving the house until that writing practice is done!

Let your child take initiative
There we were, my son frustrated that I won’t let him out of the house until he’s practiced his handwriting, and me frustrated that my son just spent over an hour complaining about the handwriting practice that would have taken him five minutes to finish. Enter the older sister. 

I don’t know how she did it. Older sisters carry this magic dust. Whatever it was that she sprinkled on him, to my astonishment, he was asking her to show him how to make a good 8. His 8s had been crooked and leaning in different directions. He watched his sister and then tried writing an 8 on his own. It wasn’t perfect, but he tried again. And again. He asked his sister for help again. And soon, he had several lines of reasonably sober 8s.

Yes, he did convince me to count that as handwriting practice, instead of the workbook page he was supposed to do. And he was off the hook and could go play outside.

Did I win? Did I lose? I don’t know, and I don’t think it matters. What does matter is that my son decided that writing 8s that actually look like 8s was important to him and took the initiative to learn how to write them properly, with his sister’s help. Perhaps tomorrow that handwriting practice will get easier. Or maybe we should start another good read aloud.

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