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Homeschooling 101: Dealing with bad days


AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

 Everyone has them. There are days when no matter what you do, all you seem to get from your children are blank stares. There are days when every time you look around, the kids are fiddling with paperclips or pulling on a string on their jeans. Some days kids will do anything that will get them out of actual schoolwork.

While anyone can be a great teacher on the good days, when all the kids are sitting quietly like perfect little angels and completing every lesson on time, those days tend to be the exception rather than the rule in homeschooling. The key to success in homeschooling is how parents deal with the bad days.

Know your child

Every child is different. You have heard it a million times, but that is because it's true! Not every method will work for every child. It's important to watch your child carefully and be able to gauge when he or she has had as much as they can handle, as well as when they are just trying to get away with skipping the work altogether.

It's also important to take into account what is going on that day. Are there a large number of distractions? Is there an exciting event coming up that your child is anxious about? Have they had less sleep than usual?

Of course, talk to your child. Maybe they can give you some insight into why thay have a problem with a particular subject or on a particular day. Homeschooling is all about individual attention and adjusting to your child's needs.

Gentle reminders

The first step is often just gentle reminders to get back to work. Just like adults, kids sometimes break off into daydreaming without even realizing they are doing it.Sometimes even a light touch on the shoulder or a pat on the knee can help a child break out of daydreaming and get back to business. You could even set up a signal, like a specific tapping pattern on the table or even a silly noise. Let your child be a part of the decision of what your "secret signal" will be.

Take a break

Schools have recess for a reason!! Even a short 5 minute break for stretching or a quick run around the yard can make a big difference. For younger kids, stretch together or put on some music and dance! Give older kids a chance to go get a drink and a snack or even sit back for 5 minutes with their eyes closed and listen to some favorite music. After all, who doesn't need to recharge their batteries from time to time?

Switching gears

Sometimes, it's just a particularly difficult or boring subject that is the culprit. Try breaking up your child's problem subjects into smaller "bites" throughout the day. You could also try always starting the day with the worst subjects to get them out of the way while your child's mind is the most fresh and active.


While we don't want to bribe our kids, there is nothing wrong with offering a "carrot" from time to time. You could, for example, say, "Let's get this math page finished and then we can go to the park!" Help your child to see that we all have things we don't want to do as well as learn a little delayed gratification. It should be noted, however, that if used too much, carrots lose their effectiveness altogether. Use them sparingly!!