Smooth Strategies for Rough Homeschooling Days

I knew we had hit a snag in our homeschooling day when the pencil flew past my head and smacked the wall, causing our puppy to run from the room with a whimper. Breakfast had gone well, and so had family devotions. So, I was a little dumbfounded at the temper tantrum being thrown over handwriting at 9:15 in the morning. And it only got worse from there. We’ve all had them: days when our children won’t — and can’t — learn from us; when every lesson seems to fall flat, and when tempers soar VV over the smallest of tasks. Hard homeschooling days are inevitable. But with a few smart tips (and cool reactions), you can smooth out the rough homeschool days before they become disastrous. Here’s how to tackle rough homeschooling days — and keep your cool when the pencils hit the fan.

Just say “Yes”

When I began having non-stop struggles with one child, I knew it was time to take stock of our day and try to figure out why everything seemed like a battle — from getting dressed to schoolwork to food! After taking a step back and a good hard look at our interactions, I realized that “No” was part of our problem. Meaning, I said “No” so often during the day — “No, you can’t take that break right now;” “No, it’s not snack time;” etc. Soon, “No” became the prevailing attitude, for him and me both. It’s no wonder he often told me “No” when I asked him to do things — he heard it so much from me!

One of the most important ways you can stop homeschooling battles and refusal in its tracks is to be a “Yes” teacher (within reason). Say “Yes” as often as possible: Yes to the short break; Yes to the snack; Yes to putting the hard thing aside and doing something else for a while. And, yes to your child setting his or her own schedule, determining the order of the day, and even teaching you a lesson or two! The more WE, the teachers, say “Yes,” the more we’ll hear it from our students.

Focus on the process

In homeschooling, we are often focused on results. And that’s OK! We want our kids to achieve, to master the concept, to move up to the next level and take on new challenges. These are all good things! But so often the best for our children lies in the process, not the outcome. The day the pencils went flying, my daughter was simply done — she had hit her limit. Instead of focusing on what she HAD accomplished that day, I was focused on what she did not complete.

How I wish I had scooped her up into my lap, smoothed down her curls, and said, “You did a great job with math today. I know writing is hard for you but I’m so proud of how far you’ve come this year. We’ll tackle writing again tomorrow with some new pencils!” Why? Because what she needed to hear was that the product, her completing her handwriting page, wasn’t nearly as important as what she was learning while doing it: perseverance.

Give a cheer

Learning is hard. And learning alongside your family can often be even harder. We’re less polite and often less encouraging to those we love the most. One way to smooth out rough patches in homeschooling is to be their cheerleader. Focus on the Big 3 in cheering: smiles, encouragement, and positivity. You’d be amazed how far a smile and “Atta boy / girl” can go on a rough day!

Rough days in homeschooling happen. But when they do, you can find common ground and a smoother path. In the process of learning, our children gain so much more than knowledge and skills. The learning process teaches them character traits, about themselves and how they learn, and how to manage their own feelings and reactions. So, when things start to get frustrating for you both, remember how much your child has already accomplished — including his or her emotional growth — and praise them for it! You’ll find you have fewer and fewer rough days the more smiles and proud moments you have together!

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