Friday, July 10, 2009

How to Keep Homeschool Kids from Getting Overwhelmed

I received an email from a mom looking for help in inspiring her children and would like to share it with you here. I answered her email with my own ideas for help, but I'd love for some of my blog readers to jump in with advice.

Here is the email:
My husband and I have been homeschooling for a year now. We are really starting to see all the benefits in our children. The only thing we are having a little trouble with is deciding how much time on each subject. Our son is 12 and daughter is 9. They both do really well, but I see that a lot of times they see all the work they need to get accomplished and get overwhelmed and basically get in a bad mood or frankly they just sit there. Eventually they do it, but I know there has to be an easier way. Is it better to give them a subject and say,"I don't care how long this takes just get it done by the end of the day." Or is it better to set time aside for each subject and say, "Get as much as you can done"? I would really appreciate your help and guidance. Thank you for your time.
So, what is your advice? What is your experience? Please tell us in the comments.


Anonymous said...

So Maureen,
what was your advice?
I'd be interested in hearing
that too.
As for me I tend to push my kids through even if they are grumpy. I just want to get done. Some days that works and others it doesn't; but they sure like it when they have the rest of the day free.

Renee said...

Each of my kids has a traditional teacher lesson plan book. It shows a week at a time of what needs to be done in each subject each day. They don't find it overwhelming but they've had a book like this since K. Each day they have religion, math, science, history, and language arts (spelling, handwriting, grammar, literature, composition). But each assignment is not very long......Religion might be read a few pages and discuss with mom, math is a lesson, science and history is reading a few pages and answering a few questions or discussing with mom......
if they are findnig an entire day's worth of lessons overwhelming, maybe you could just give them one assignment at a time. You can even let them choose the order - we have no set schedule of what must be done first.

Maureen said...

I've always taken a relaxed approach toward homeschooling. I have a plan but we don't have to stick to it. When things get overwhelming then it gets put aside and things go swimmingly we might spend all day on a subject. I think it's so important to keep the joy of learning together alive.

There are little tricks when you really need to get something done or when they're just be obstinate about not wanting to ever do a particular subject perhaps like math. You can do the dreaded subject first in the day to get it over with -- perhaps with the promise of "when this is done we're going to have read aloud time." Or have a fun snack, or swing for 20 minutes.

A trick that works in my house is a contest -- "See how many addition problems you can do in 5 minutes!" That works way better than saying,"See how long it takes to do 30 problems." Set the timer. Give lots of hugs and lovin for a job well done.

I always like to finish a lesson with something easy. Oh, I'll challenge them and make them work hard but always end with something I know they'll ace. That way they leave the lesson with a good feeling.

Of course, you want them to see your joy in learning. Emotions are contagious -- if you're not having fun then they're not going to have fun either.

Another idea is to have the 12-year old teach the 9-year old. Have him read aloud to her or tutor her in math or help her with a science experiments. Think about things you can all study together as a family -- history is a good example. You all could learn the same time period but at different levels.

Look for their strong points. Do they like living books? Hands-on activities? Exploring the outdoors? Then you can cater somewhat to those points.

Noelle Mador said...

I try to make things fun in homeschooling, even with a boring subject you can. If you make them finish something and they are not in the mood--they are not going to retain the information. If it is a bad day--I make it a field day--and we go somewhere. I also am enrolled with Kolbe Academy and we still finish what we need too. I stress what needs to be done, not what you want done. Learning is a lifetime process. I have also learned that they retain more than you think. We do alot of hands on stuff along with schoolwork. I also have great incentives for my kids to get through schoolwork. Accentuate the positive--Maureen taught me that. :)

Rachel said...


Laurie said...

unschool.... or Spontaneous school.... do whatever you want to do each day depending how what you feel like.

Colleen said...

I agree with Renee's advice about having the kids use a planner & do the subjects in the order of their choice. Maybe a more appealing planner would help. I'd look at:

Leoni said...

Yeah, I thnk keep some rhythms going and then do fun things like on holidays -
hang out, go to the park, play games, cook, read and watch movies together..

Maureen said...

A nice Catholic planner for your older student:

Megan said...

Now I am not an expert on this subject and I have only been using this system for 2 weeks. But have you ever looked into "Workboxes"? I've been homeschooling for 9 years and my kids have never gotten through so much work, in such a timely manner. There is a book on it, but if you just google it you'll get a ton of information that will explain the system. And my kids love it as well! No complaining! Here's the link to the web page of the lady who came up with this and wrote the book.

although, you really get more info from the search and from blogs of those who have implemented the system. The 4 real forum has had discussion on this as well. Just thought it was best to start with the author and inventor. Give credit where credit is due.