Homeschool Survival Guide: Lazy Homeschoolers
by Andrew Jones
This one goes out to all the parents out there who have entered their child’s room during “homeschool time” only to find them covered under a mountain of ice cream cones with video games glued to their heads.
One of the great disappointments of a homeschool parent is discovering that homeschooling doesn’t prevent kids from being just as lazy and carefree with their schoolwork as they would be in public school. I’ve seen this happen with multiple students (all of which may or may not be me), and realize it’s a complicated problem that can’t be fixed by yelling and tearing the video games out of their hair. Thankfully, I, the Homeschool Survivor, am here to give any of you theoretical parents reading this blog some suggestions on how to deal with this kind of student, and help them work harder.
1) Check up on them regularly
Understand: I’m not saying that, at 11:00 PM, every lazy homeschool student should be greeted by a parent in a terrifying costume, a pre-recorded evil laugh track and finally an inquiry into the status of their math homework. While that could work, therapy is expensive. Instead, try asking the student about their homework status once per day in a non-traumatizing way. If you think they’re lying, ask them to show you what they’ve done. It worked every time on me – I mean, the multiple lazy homeschool students I know of but cannot name.
2) Sit down and have a long discussion about it.
This one only works on kids who don’t explode into tears like depressed pinata every time their difficulties are brought up. Or those who mentally replace everything an authority figure says with “wah, wah-wah-wah” like in Charlie Brown. Anyway, if you’re noticing a trend of laziness with your students’ homework, try sitting down and talking with them about it. Ask them why they don’t want to do it or don’t like it. Ideally you would have the resources to help them become more engaged by their schooling (isn’t that supposed to be one of the benefits of homeschooling?), but if not at least you’ll know how to tweak their curriculum for next semester.
3) Make them pay for all of their school resources next semester
No, not really. That’s terrible.
3) Raise the pressure
Peer pressure, that is. For some reason, siblings and other peers usually are competitive with each other. Who’d have thought? When me and my brother would take classes together as little kids, we were generally just throwing things at each other, but as we got older it became an actual competition to try to prove that we were smarter than each other. As it turns out, unless your students are depressed pinatas (a possibility I mentioned earlier), a bit of healthy competition (from similar-age siblings or other peer groups like outside classes) can be just the motivation they need to get off their butts and do a little schoolwork for once!
Remember, though: every child is completely different. Tried-and-true methods like the above are tempting to stick with when you don’t know how else to bring your kid to work hard, but when a tactic doesn’t work the third time, you’re just wasting your effort trying it a fourth. I encourage teachers of all varieties to find a way to best engage their own students rather than “students” in general.