Homeschooling—we all have a picture in our minds of students eager to learn gathered happily around mom or dad. Many days are that way, but let’s be honest: some days are marked by clashes and conflicts.
First of all, try not to take it personally. High school students are in a challenging part of their lives. Hormones, stress about their future, frustration with hard subjects, and the desire to be independent all contribute to the skirmishes we have with our kids. After all, we are the safe place where they can vent. Kids rarely say what’s bothering them, but instead can act obnoxious or defiant.
What’s a homeschooling parent to do? Here are some six tips I’ve learned over the years when those issues occurred with my young people. I hope they help you and your students, too!
1. Give them more control
Young people are often frustrated by being told what to do every minute of the day. They express this frustration by pushing back against what we tell them.
If it doesn’t matter in what order they do their subjects, try allowing them to do their assignments in whatever order they want. This is also a good time to teach them how to use a planner. Being responsible for managing their time is a useful skill that they will need in college and beyond.
2. Learn their love language
We all have things that motivate us and things that derail us. Learning a person’s love language is a huge help in finding ways to motivate them. There are five love languages according to Dr. Gary Chapman: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.
If your student is butting heads with you, try to use their love language to help defuse the situation. For example, if you realize that your kid responds to words of affirmation, then when you are doing their most hated subject, encourage them by saying things such as, “You are really putting in a lot of effort on those equations.”
If your kid is a physical touch person, gently pat their back or give them a hug when they are getting ready to do a challenging assignment.
3. Learn their learning style
We all have ways in which we learn best. I do well with information in written form. I hate to have anything read to me because I am not an auditory learner. We all have to be able to learn in a variety of ways because college instructors and bosses are not going to change for us. But it’s helpful for you and your child to learn what your child’s learning style is.
Once you know their learning style, you can choose curriculum that meets their style. For example, if you have an auditory learner, you can choose audiobook versions of the literature selections for their English courses, or make sure you have manipulatives for a kinesthetic learner.
4. Change the curriculum
A homeschool curriculum budget is often a tight budget. I know I look at a variety of websites to get the best deal each year when I am buying my curriculum. So, when we discover that a curriculum isn’t right for our kids, it hits us right in the gut.
But to do the best we can for our students, sometimes we need to get new curriculum or modify what we are using so that it works better for our kids. If you can buy different materials, then do so and sell what you have to someone else who will love it. Modifying your current curriculum may be as easy as folding your child’s learning style into the curriculum.
5. Change the instructor
We can probably all remember that there were some teachers we could understand well and others who we had difficulties understanding. For me, Algebra I in my freshman year with Mrs. G was unintelligible. In my sophomore year, Mr. R made it all make sense.
This is the same for homeschooled students. If you are having pushback form one of your kids in only one subject, it may be that your teaching style and their learning style are different. Try having another family member, a friend, online instruction, a private tutor, or an outside class teach instead of you. It may be hard to let go of the role of instructor, but our child’s success in school is more important than our ego.
6. Address mental health challenges
My final point about dealing with personality clashes is a tough but important one. Sometimes our kids have mental health issues that are the cause of the difficulties we are experiencing with them.
They may have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, schizophrenia, or depression. Some of these disorders show up when our kids are young, and some don’t show up until the teen years.
If you suspect that your child may be affected with any of these issues, please seek professional help for them.
Most of the personality clashes we experience with our homeschooled kids are easy to remedy, if we take a bit of time to do our due diligence. Both we and our kids will learn a lot about how to work together to resolve problems as they arise and that is a lesson we will all use for our entire lives.