Dealing with Difficult Homeschooling Days

Why is it that Friday, in particular, seems to be a day that my kids must fight?

Every Friday I find myself playing referee and wondering if it's worth dragging three bickering kids out of the house to go to gym day.  

In the end the appeal of getting out of the house and away from one another is a huge motivator to work through the aggravating mini battles.

It's very hard for me to hold back on my threats to stay home though.

I have tried lightening our Friday load thinking they're getting overwhelmed and need a break

 I've tried adding to our Friday load thinking they're bored and trying to entertain themselves

 I've tried adding "fun" Fridays where we watch movies and play on the computer.

I haven't found anything that works yet though; but we'll keep trying.  We even tried family fun nights of going out to dinner, bowling, and had planned roller skating nights too.  After a few weeks I realized that our family fun nights were anything but fun.  The bickering spilled over into everything we were doing and so after just a few short weeks we stopped them.

I tried lightening our load a bit again today and got nothing but yelling, tears, and fighting; a lot of it was over the work itself too.

I was stunned and mystified.  Evan was the first one in tears.  When he sat down to work this morning I handed him some word and picture cards and asked him to sort them according to rhyming sounds.  He grumbled and complained but assured me he'd rather sort than work in his workbook.  He soon started complaining that there were some words without rhyme matches since they were spelled differently.  I explained that while a lot of rhyming words are spelled the same sometimes they aren't; like bear and chair.  At first he argued that rhyming words had to be spelled the same.  After a bit he threw the cards on the floor and all teary eyed yelled "how was I supposed to know they're spelled differently if you didn't tell me?"  I quietly reminded him that I was trying to tell him that and he was arguing with me anyway.  I walked away; ignoring his little meltdown.  He called me over to see his completed work and he had them all correct.  Some days it pays to just ignore it and plow on through.  

While he had been working on his rhyme match the older two boys were working on a 50 states word search page.  Alec took a break to play a math game with Evan and I.  We played addition connect four.  I printed a game board off the internet and we each took a turn rolling the dice.  We would add up our numbers and cover a space with our colored piece.  The first one to get four numbers in a row covered won.  It looked like it was going to be a draw; it was not easy to get the dice to roll the way we wanted them to and we all worked hard to block one another.  It was fun and Evan continued practicing adding on to the bigger number when adding two numbers.  I eventually won and everyone was smiling and happy.  Maybe our day is turning around; perhaps they just needed more time to get into school mode.  

Right before I rolled my #12 & won

 Alec went back to his word search and I offered to read some books about Korea to Evan and begin typing up facts for the report.  We hadn't opened the book yet when Evan started whining that he didn't know anything about Korea and that he couldn't remember anything we read.  Apparently, Evan didn't want to work today.  I went to put the books away but he asked me to read them.  As I read them he stopped me to repeat some facts and tell me other facts that the story reminded him of from other books we had read.  By the time we finished we had an entire page of facts.  We're slowly transitioning from fictional books set in Korea to non- fiction books.  We read The Trip Back Home and South Korea (Countries of the World) today.  Sometimes I have to be extra patient and supportive. 

Everyone took a break for some reading.  Ian went up to his room to read another chapter in his Weirder School book.  Alec curled up on the couch (in the sun; my smart boy!) and read a few more chapters in his Warriors book.  Evan and I sat in the playroom and he read Hop! Hop! Hop! to me.  I was real careful not to jump to his aid today and noticed he was able to figure out words like clunk and smack on his own and fairly quickly too.  It was a funny story and we kept alternating between laughing at and feeling really sorry for little bunny.  Sometimes we just need to focus on favorites and have some fun. 

Evan wanted to play with the Qubits since his work was done for the day and even though neither of his brothers wanted to see their buildings from yesterday torn down I reminded them that they can't last forever.  They weren't playing with them and Evan really wanted to.

While Evan was playing I called the two older boys over to the computer to watch a video about the multiplication tables.  We heard about Mister Numbers through my sister and I thought my visual learner (Alec) might really benefit from watching his tic tac toe board of math facts.  We watched Multiplying by Threes and 6's and 9's first and then I had them complete their grids on paper.  They struggled to remember the steps and remember the patterns.  I was surprised that Alec, in particular was having difficulty but walked them both through it on their own papers.  We then watched the video Multiplying by 7's and I realized that Alec was not watching the video!  He was playing with some Qubits under the table and I reminded him that it's hard to follow directions if you don't pay attention.  However, I did not take the toys away.  If he chose to play and not pay attention he would have done something else for math afterwards.  After the video we attempted to fill in the 7's and both boys told me they thought this was much harder than just memorizing facts.  I'm glad we printed out the free practice sheet to give it a try.  We tried it and we know it's not a good fit for them.  I certainly don't want to make math harder; I was trying to make it fun! I reminded them that I had offered Khan Academy or a computer game instead and they had chose to see this new way.  But I did assure them that we were done with it and wouldn't go any further with this method.  It helps for the boys to know I understand them and am willing to work with them.  

They started all playing with the Qubits and it turned into a battle.  Literally.  They were making swords and hitting each other. I broke it up and split them apart.  Some days I just have to be the referee; whether I want to or not. 

The older boys weren't done school yet and they went back to working on their word searches.  Alec started crying that the word search was really hard.  I asked him if he had read up and down any of the rows to see if any names jumped out at him. I told him it never huts to try reading up and down and then side to side to see which words can be found first and then start searching for the ones that were left.  He thought it was easier after that.

Evan was crying at this point since someone had destroyed his building during the battle.  Alec was finding new words in his word search and went to see if Ian had found the same word.  Ian had moved rooms since he hates Alec looking over his shoulder when they're working on the same page and as Alec walked in the room to look at Ian's paper he pushed Alec.  Alec hit the door frame and then he started to cry.  I sent them all to their rooms and told them to stay there for a good long time.

I needed a break from crying and fighting and, though I HATED to do it I told them I was not taking anyone to gym day.  Not this week.

Sometimes there have to be consequences for bad behavior.  

Perhaps if we finally do skip a week they'll see that their behavior has consequences?

I'm so sick of saying that we aren't going anywhere until the behavior improves and then second guessing myself.  I can't help but think that so much of this is due to the fact that we are stuck inside with one another day in and day out.  I often start to feel so bad about taking our only opportunity to get out of the house away that I end up caving in and we go anyway.

I vowed that I would not cave this week.

Today was a particularly bad day and they have had minor things taken away this week.

 I refused to grocery shop.  The three of them in a store or running errands has gotten so bad I've just stopped going.  My husband took Evan last night so they could both get a haircut and I refused to tag along with the other two even though they begged to stop and get grinders like we always do.

 At least at home I can walk away and go into another room when they're being obnoxious.  Sometimes I need that time away and that personal space.  
After a bit they came down and started making their lunches.  I offered to read during lunch and we read another chapter in Danger in the Darkest Hour.  We also read Star of Fear, Star of Hope .  What a sweet, sweet story about a young French girl and her best friend (who is, of course, Jewish).  They are separated one night and she never sees her best friend again.  Touching, sad and written in such a wonderful way.  The boys and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Some days we just keep starting over and keep trying to make it a good day. 


  1. Great post, Mother of 3! I think a lot of it is that they are boys. I have two boys, and within the last year the bickering and fighting has started to surface. I know what you are going through, but I am so glad to see the positive aspects you found from it. This will help me on those difficult days also! Thanks for sharing :)

    1. I think that probably has a lot to do with it. I notice the bickering and fighting seems to come in spurts and just when I think I can't take it one more day they suddenly become best friends and get along so well. Noticing that pattern has helped too.

  2. Difficult days! Great post. I had difficult days with kids in traditional school and homeschooling. I attempt to start our day with a 'mantra' or saying to remind us to respect each other and to get our work done without mishap. However, that's not always the case. When I see that we are unraveling, I give my kid a chore or an exercise (we pick it out of a hat). That way they get a 'break' but not a fun one. If they don't finish their work by the alloted time that day. No video games, and the work gets moved to the weekend = where another activity that they want to do suffers. It's a give and take and we have to remind ourselves that kids would act the same -even when away from us, only we wouldn't have to see it up front and personal. Lastly, I remind myself - "Don't take parenting to personal". Usually, I lose my temper when I allow my child's actions to make me angry. Now, as they've gotten older and I have gotten calmer, it's working out, one day at a time.

    1. Oh yes, we had very difficult days when they were in school too. In fact I think homeschooling makes our days just a bit smoother. We can spread out in the house, take breaks from the work, make a real attempt to connect and remember why we started on this journey. My husbands response for my complaints on bad days it to tell me it may be time to put them back in school but then I think of the horrible hour or two in the morning trying to get them dressed and ready and that awful hour of homework and all the running around to after school activities and I think nah, we're good! Most days are just great and we often have so much fun learning together that the good certainly outweigh the bad.

  3. Looks like the homeschooling is very positive most of the time though! #mg

    1. Thankfully it is! It would be hard if it weren't.

  4. Last week I was becoming so frustrated with my children and I hate to do that as it really isn't me, I felt I was getting no down time for my husband and I, and the children just wouldn't go to sleep, Adam was crying and carrying on no matter what I did and I just felt like I was failing everyone. After a ten minute break outside to breath and a few tears I came back in and sorted it all out. We all have moments where no one listens, and we are tired and feeling like we have no clue if we are doing a good job. But we are, I can tell you are amazing mum, don't second guess yourself, we do need consequences. Some days are just really really hard. And mine go to a school down the road so I get a break. You seem like superwomen to me! Be proud of yourself, and remember that you are doing an amazing job as a mum and teacher. Sending a big HUG! #mg

    1. Aw,thank you! That's so nice to hear.. and you're right of course, we all have those days and thankfully they pass.

  5. Thank you so much for all of your posts! You can not even imagine what a help they are to others on this homeschooling journey. You are real and wonderful!! I love the new and different perspectives that you offer and find it helpful to know that someone struggles in the same areas as myself! Thank you, thank you!

    Thanks for linking up with #LiveLifeWell!



    1. That is so nice to hear! I love knowing that my posts are actually helping others. I find the more I talk honestly with other moms the more we all seem to struggle with the same behaviors and problems. You are definitely NOT alone.

    2. You are so right, we do, and it is so helpful when you find others who are willing to share the good and the bad, the easy and the hard. Sharing our struggles honestly, being vulnerable is what really helps others. :)

  6. I really appreciate your honest look at the homeschooling day. My daughter is still in public school through this year, but we are transitioning to homeschool next year. During all of my reading and research I hear about all the benefits of homeschooling, which makes me excited. However, I know not every day will be easy, if any of them will be. I appreciate that you share that it is just about starting over, finding patience and figuring out how to make it work.

    1. You're welcome! Good luck on your homeschooling journey! I remember how excited and nervous I was to start. I do think our first year was the toughest as we all adjusted to our new schedule and found a style of homeschooling that really worked well for us all. I've been homeschooling for 6 years now and while we still have tough days most of them really are fantastic.


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