“I HATE math!!”
“I HATE reading!!”
“I CAN’T do it!”
Tears, crying, head on the desk. Anger.
Certain subjects aren’t our kids’ strong suit. That’s ok. But out of the blue, they come out with an adamant, total resistance to a certain type of lesson or subject.
What is going on? How did it come to this?
What’s happening here?!
We’ve all been there. It happens to the best of us. You think you’re doing everything right in your homeschool. Then they start behaving this way.
And skipping the subject or two that they hate isn’t an option. It’s required learning.
You try a few things to placate them and get them to cooperate, but they don’t respond. Then you feel your own frustration and anger build.
Hold it right there.
Before you begin an angry exchange or a power struggle with your kids, stop yourself. Take a break. Calm down. Visit your go-to sources for your homeschool mom encouragement.
Homeschooling is difficult. It’s a huge undertaking. There’s lots of learning to be done – not only for your kids but for you. You’re learning how to be a great teacher for every age and grade level. You and your kids are on a journey together. Educating them is super rewarding, but it’s not easy.
Responding to resistance with anger isn’t the solution. It increases their resistance. They shut down. When that happens, you’re done for the time being.
Sure, if you feel your kids are being lazy or pushing your buttons on purpose, a little controlled anger will get them off their butts.
But what I’m talking about is true emotional resistance. A real fear of some sort, a lack of confidence when faced with practicing a skill or learning a subject.
So what’s going on?
What’s Behind Emotional Resistance in Your Homeschool
The truth is, the most innocuous thing can trigger these sorts of feelings of fear and insecurity in kids. An off-hand, not ill-intentioned comment by a loved one can get those negative feelings started.
Sometimes kids compare themselves to a sibling. That’ll undermine their confidence! It’s tough for a younger sibling to find themselves struggling with something that an older brother or sister aced no problem. Or worse, that several brothers or sisters aced without a problem! It happens all the time.
Once an insecurity is triggered, it takes time to unravel it.
In my Essay Rockstar program, so many of my students write to me about what they can’t do or aren’t good at. They put it in their personal statement essay. I hate seeing that! Honestly, the focus of my job is twofold: building their confidence AND teaching them writing skills.
You can motivate them to overcome their resistance. If your kids experience acceptance and success on a regular basis, you can make that negativity go away. In my last blog post, I discussed a variety of strategies and tips to build the kids’ motivation.
Building motivation is an effective teaching strategy that you should always use in your homeschool.
There’s another cause for their emotional resistance that you need to consider.
What’s your own attitude toward the subject?
Is this a subject that you hate too? If that’s the case, your kids will pick up on it! You may not realize that you’re making negative comments about a certain homeschool subject.
If you hate a particular subject, consider finding another homeschool mom or family member who likes it. They can teach it to your kids. Passion and enthusiasm are powerful motivators.
But behind the emotional resistance is the practical reality that a subject is difficult for your kids. There can be a variety of reasons for this. As the homeschool mom, it’s up to you to sort that out.
An Effective Teaching Strategy to Identify Why or How a Subject is Difficult for Your Kids
You’re working on their emotional resistance to a subject. Check. Now you need to sort out why a particular subject is difficult for your kids. How you can make it less so?
Do a task analysis to sort out the problem. This is a classroom teacher technique that you can do in your homeschool.
A task analysis means that you break down the lesson or skills your kids need to learn into smaller, manageable pieces. A lot of curricula require kids to do several things at once. That can be overwhelming for them. When doing a task analysis, you create your own step-by-step plan to get them through the lesson. The smaller and simpler each step, the better.
The truth is, younger kids don’t have the analytical and articulation skills to tell you what the problem is. You’ve got to do some investigative work with them to figure it out. A task analysis is an effective teaching strategy to do so.
As you take your kids through your step-by-step plan, you’ll reward their successful completion of each step. (Genuine words of praise will do.) And you’ll also be able to pinpoint the point of difficulty for them.
Often the problem is simple. For example, your kids could be skimming directions instead of reading them carefully. They might be reading the directions but don’t understand some vocabulary. Then, they’re embarrassed to tell you or assume it means something else. In some cases, they struggle to organize their thoughts. Sometimes you’ll find that they can explain an answer to you in speech quite well, but they don’t know that they should write it down in the same way they’ve explained it to you.
My Essay Rockstar program is a task analysis of the writing process. It breaks down the writing process into five steps. The reality is that there are a lot of other steps we take within each of those five steps. I don’t tell the kids about all the smaller steps. It’ll be too daunting. Instead, I guide them through each one as they go along.
Not only is a task analysis an effective teaching strategy, it’s a powerful problem-solving process that yields consistent results. It’s also something you can teach your kids to do for themselves.
Next, Expose the Kids to Different Learning Styles
Simply put, learning style means the way a student prefers to learn. Most often their preferred learning style is what types of activities are easy for them. For example, do they learn better through listening about a subject? Reading about a subject? Studying a chart or visual image about a subject? Every kid is different.
Exposing your kids to different learning styles has a lot of advantages. It gives you more insight on how they learn and how their unique minds work. Doing schoolwork from a variety of learning styles also gives them more opportunity to experience success. If one of your kids isn’t good at reading or writing, and every lesson every day requires reading and writing, school is going to be unpleasant for them. And it doesn’t have to be.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t work to improve their skills with learning styles skills that don’t come naturally to them. You reinforce and deepen their learning through varied activities around their homeschool subjects.
Varied learning styles relates to the theory of multiple intelligences by Howard Gardiner. It’s one of the educational theories I learned in graduate school that stuck with me. I’ve referred to often when I’d plan a unit in the live classroom.
Multiple intelligences theory states that there are several different types of intelligences, and every person has a combination of them. In some they’re stronger, and in others, they’re weaker. Examples of different intelligences include logical-mathematical intelligence, musical intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence (mind-body coordination), linguistic intelligence, and spatial intelligence (ability to imagine in 3D, like an architect), among others.
Therefore, if you vary your types of learning activities, or highlight a variety of learning styles in your activities, you’ll touch every kid’s strength. They’ll all have a chance to do a learning activity where they can best connect to the subject.
For example, if you have a child that loves music, and you’re studying history, why not do an activity about music from that time? Kids with strong spatial intelligence will love to build models. Some kids will do better in discussions or debates related to a subject than writing about it. Others would love role plays or any learning activity where they move and use their bodies.
I don’t think it’s necessary to dive deep into the theory of multiple intelligences for your homeschool success. It’s a useful idea to keep in mind as you consider appropriate learning styles and activities for your kids.
You never know what they might discover about their skills, likes and dislikes in the process! And you’ll be exploring and doing it together.
What’s cooler than watching your kids overcome an obstacle and realize they actually like that subject they thought they hated? I see it all the time!