Every once in a while, some young homeschooling parents ask my advice. A friend of mine received an email of frustration from his wife and shared it with me. I got my wife to respond and then offered some advice myself.

John, did you all deal with similar situations with your children while homeschooling:

We just spent an hour reviewing history lessons on the thirteen colonies. We have been reading this, and I was pretty sure that he needed the extra review of who founded the colonies etc. He needed that. So we completed the review and I asked him to complete 13 questions. WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING AT THE QUESTIONS, MOVING OUT OF HIS CHAIR OR MAKING ANY EFFORT TO ATTEMPT TO READ THE QUESTIONS, "I can't do it", over and over and over again. I am beating my head against the wall. He has fought me about not wanting to do school from the start this morning, ok right after he said he could do class connects math and take notes. So he's in his room, and I warned him getting sent to his room meant no tv and all things digital today and the WHOLE weekend, because he will be doing school on the weekend to get his assignments completed. Why won't he JUST TRY?

Response from Mrs. Oberon

Yes, yes, yes. Take a deep breath. The academics is only a small part of what you are doing. My kids didn’t have the best academics, but they all did fine in high school and college. The goal is bigger than just the assignments. You’re teaching him to love learning.

One of the things I tried was to find another way to impart the info. Now this isn’t necessarily easy. For example...Lauren had a hard time learning her times tables..so I had her jump up and down the stairs saying each thing on a step 1 x 3 is… 2 x 3 is… and so on. My best things were when I thought outside the box and went at it differently - like making the Nile river in a shoe box, or all the stuff we did with our co-op group. We made picture books when we studied countries. Lauren would draw things in history. Evan taught himself programming. Find out how to engage him in things he’s interested in. Not easy, but worth it. https://www.facebook.com/kathy.felterkline/posts/10207888109660996

Response from My Friend

Thank you for your wife’s response… one thing that I see that is different now however is that with us using K12… my wife has the challenge of teaching common core. Several of your wife’s ideas worked years before, but I don’t think they are able to have the luxury of doing things quite like the way she described. Sigh.

My Response

That's because we weren’t affiliated with the schools at all when we homeschooled, so we were free to try whatever whenever, and our standard was basically if we felt okay with it. We didn’t need to worry about any teacher or administrator watching over us, making sure we performed the right kind and amount of work. If I remember right, we even used a few K12 books at one time. The real gauge was the achievement test at the end of the year. As long as our kids did well on that, we were fine with whatever we tried, and we tried a LOT, lol. Our kids were always above the 90th percentile on the achievement tests.

If I were you, I’d quit the half-measures. Either stick him in public school or snip the ties completely and teach your own curriculum, because let’s be honest, your wife’s simply doing the public school’s job for them for free. All you’re doing is teaching what THEY think is right to teach and in the way they think is right. Why shackle yourself? Break away from that so you can teach whatever you want, whenever you want, how ever you want. You're ALLOWED to do that, you know, lol. I know that’s probably a scary proposition for your wife, but that freedom is really the best way, in my opinion. Having a rough day? Time for a field trip! Don’t want to learn writing? Fine, we’re going to the retirement center to learn service. Bored with math? You’re coming with me to the grocery to figure the best buys. Or...You know, I don’t feel like school today, let’s play hooky and pick apples at the orchard!

My wife did that more than a few times, lol. Guiltily, she'd say, “We did zero school today. We did nothing but fun.”

I’d say, “Did you love the kids today?”

“Oh, yeah...no problem there.”

“Then it was a successful day of education. You just enjoyed what would be a snow day, a parent/teacher day, a teacher conference, a field trip, or whatever else they do in the public schools, but my kids learned way more than any of those public school kids. They learned they are loved.”