Counting Down the 15 Most Popular Posts of 2015 #12

With 2015 coming to and end and looking forward to 2016, I thought I'd count down the 15 most popular posts of 2015 (not counting our Weekly Wrap- Ups, which always get a lot of pageviews thanks to linky parties!).

So here is post number 12:  (originally posted Sept. 10)

Too Much Work!

    Our plans for today fell through due to the weather and so we FINALLY had a day at home to get some real school work done.  I pulled out a few subjects for each boy to work on independently so, of course, they complained it was too much.  Yep, we're so overworked over here.  I get asked a lot by other homeschooling families if I have a hard time getting my kids to complete their work.  It seems like all homeschooling families have this problem of motivating our kids to do their work.  You'd think since we do very little of what looks like traditional schoolwork that our kids would be more willing to complete what we ask of them but that's not always the case.  In three years of dealing with my kids I've learned there are several ways to handle it on days they just don't want to work.

   When my kids start in with the complaining about schoolwork I do take it seriously.  First I look to see if they're serious or just grumbling to grumble.  I think back to see if we're becoming so book dependent that it's boring.  I think back over our schedule and see if they're tired.  Sometimes their complaints are legitimate other times they're not but in my heart I know if I'm forcing it they're probably not learning; just going through the motions and I don't want that.  

So here are a few things I do when my kids are complaining that they have too much work:
  • Some days we pack it in and get out of the house.  If we've been doing lots of book work and they're getting restless we might go for a nature walk and call that school or else go on a field trip to a museum and learn while we explore.  Even just taking our books outside on the lawn or to a park can make a huge difference.
  • Some days, if they have a lot of writing work, I offer to let them dictate their work to me so they don't have to write as much (that's my boys' chief complaints).
  • Some days I tell them they're lucky and remind them of what they'd be doing in "real" school and force the schoolwork through anyway.-- Hey it's honest! But we don't do this often or else both the kids and I would want to quit this whole homeschooling thing. 
  • Some days I set a timer and challenge them to beat the clock; they love knowing that school won't last all that long and then they can go play.  Plus that added challenge to complete everything quickly and beat the clock is just too much for my kiddos to resist. 
  • Some days I put them in charge and tell them if they don't like what I've picked they can pick out what they're doing for school.  I find putting them in charge works really well as long as I give them a few guidelines ("you can pick school work for today but you must do some reading, some math, and some science", etc.).  Often they find some great things to do!
  • Some days I remind them I'm the teacher and whether they like it or not there will always be things they don't want to do in life-- usually this is what I say when I pull out their cursive books but I limit it to one sentence and keep it as fun as I possibly can. 
  • I look to see what they would have covered with their books and find a way to cover the same concept while playing a game.  Making change?  We'll play Monopoly or Life!  Multiplication facts? We'll tape flash cards to the wall and shoot at them with Nerf Guns.  Sight Words or vocabulary words?  I'll write them on bubble wrap and have the kids pop them as they read or recite the definition.  We've written words in chalk & sprayed them with water guns.  We've used water balloons for math fact bombs.  I always try to keep it as fun as possible. 
  • Some days I give them the day off!  *GASP* I really do.  I find they learn so much even when we don't "do school" that taking a day off now and then is wonderful.  I used to worry that giving in meant giving up and that they'd start manipulating me into never doing school but I've realized that they learn so much just by living life that I don't worry about it anymore.  
  • If it's just one subject or just one workbook that they're balking at I look for a new way to cover that subject.  I don't ever spent more than $20 on any subject at a time so that if it's not a good fit it's not big deal to change it up.  Not all curricula are going to work for every child and family. 
  • I think about my motives for teaching that day and the material we're covering-- is this a vital life skill?  Do I use this often as an adult?  Am I just teaching it to say we learned that or because the local public school is teaching it?  Often I realize we don't need to do all the work have lined up and I'll offer to cut it down for them.  
  • Sometimes I write up a short list of what we'll be covering and allow them to cross it off as we finish; they like a concrete view into exactly what we'll be doing and then they're OK with the steps I've broken our work down into.  A pile of books on the table can look intimidating! 
   I hope these suggestions and ideas have helped!  What do you all do when your kids don't feel like working? 

    Today, I chose to just ignore the grumbling and complaining.  Since they only had three subjects each they weren't complaining all that loudly.   Today a reminder of "why don't you call your friends from school tonight and ask them what they did today?" did the trick.

    The older boys had to read a chapter in the book of their choice, complete a page in their math book, work on one cursive sentence, and take a timed math review test/sheet on multiplication.  Phew! I don't know how they survived all that!

    An hour later we were all done school.  They went off to play and Alec asked me to play Hangman.  Ian soon joined in and we were having a ball.  Shhh! Don't tell them that was learning!

   I read a few books out loud during lunch about the Vietnam war and then Ian asked me to play the game of Life with him after that.  We also exercised together as part of our new fitness program and then all three boys spent the afternoon watching Magic School Bus, Wild Kratts, and Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman learning all sorts of wonderful sciencey things... on their own.... after school.

Others in this series:


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