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  1. #1

    Default Should I just give up on HS?

    Hi there,

    Okay, here goes: My 10 y.o. daughter and I have been HSing for just over a year now. (She did well in school but was bored/miserable.)

    After I withdrew her, we deschooled until the fall term began. This year, fourth grade, we agreed on having work every week, namely math, writing, and history, with reading of course. Mostly, we have kept to that workload. If she focused, she could complete each week's work in 2-3 hours, I bet (she doesn't.) She's in a couple co-ops and likes them very much.

    My major problem is that for a few months now, all she wants to do is watch TV or play Minecraft. (For us, these things are treats.) She doesn't want to do any of the things she once did and that form a normal part of our life: she doesn't want to go for a hike; she doesn't want to go to the library; she doesn't want to make up stories; she doesn't want to play outside... Again, if it's not a video game or TV, she's not interested.

    She will spend hours arguing with endless "NO!"ing and "WHY"ing about necessities (cat care, teeth brushing, etc.) She is like a toddler again only far more stubborn and rude. We argue all the time and in removing privileges, or threatening to, I am clearly not helping change behavior.

    We do a lot together and I really try to listen, do what she wants, have fun. I talk to her about ideas, values, and try to get her input on making our HSing better or just find out what she wants to do. She's not interested. Every day is a struggle.

    I am a single parent and I work full time so it's quite a juggling act (though I do have a flexible schedule and work quite a bit from home.) We spend a lot of time together and, I think, do a lot that she does like.

    I'm beginning to think I will have to send her back to PS: this isn't working and I'm afraid the reason is me. Does anyone have any advice or experience with this type of behavior/problem? Thank you.

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  3. #2


    Sorry to hear you are having such trouble! Your daughter sounds definitely unhappy and difficult to work with. (Reminds me of my oldest.) A family therapist might help you sort out what is going on with her, since it doesnt seem like it is “just homeschooling” that is affected.
    The easiest short term fix (but it does take time on your part) would be to work with her daily on each subject. My oldest is 13, and the only way I get him to do his work is if Im there engaging with him, discussing the readings, helping him with the math lessons. (Meanwhile, all I have to do is start my 6yo on a project, and he cheerfully completes it. How is one so compliant and the other so difficult!)
    Another thing to look at would be curriculum - did you get a box package purposefully hands-off for you since you were going to be working as well? (Its a common first-year homeschool “mistake” to rationalize that for the first year, you want everything laid out with little reliance on yourself.)
    Even if you didnt get a box curriculum, the components you selected muight not work well with her or your family situation. Rethink it.

    If homeschool isnt going to work for you, and you want to send her back to public school. there is nothing inherently wrong with that. Just consider that by itself, it wont help the underlying apathy to the things that used to bring her joy, her aversion to household chores, or address her “screen addiction”.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3


    You stated that she was bored/miserable in ps. What exactly was going on pertaining to the miserable? I mean, was she being bullied? Or was the bored/miserable 100% the academics and mind-numbing routine?
    Also, has she voiced why she doesn't want to do the stuff (hiking, going to library, writing, going outside) she used to? She's 10; is she possibly in the early stages of puberty, possible depression, anxiety?
    Sometimes it's hard to strike a balance with homeschool. I'm sure you've got your hands full with hs and working full-time.
    Last edited by outskirtsofbs; 02-05-2019 at 12:08 PM.
    --Kelly--Atheist/Accidental/Alternative Homeschool Mom to one great daughter in southern Iowa since 3/1/10. Tenth Grade: Saxon Algebra-2, Holt World Geography, Holt Biology, myPerspectives-10/Creative Writing, Spanish-2, and Computer Science.

  5. #4


    Sorry to hear things are tough. My DD10 is similar in some ways. Although she loves her learning and always does the work we have agreed on, she does get very argumentative about other things (going for a hike, brushing teeth, unloading the dishwasher etc.).

    My DD really struggles with transitions. It is hard work to get her to change her mind from what she is doing or what she had planned (e.g., reading or watching TV) to what we are going to do (e.g., a hike). But once we are actually out there, her behavior does a complete 360 and she is happy and excited. Could that be something your DD has issues with?

    I have just been listening to talks on this free, online conference that some may help you. Its only open till 10 pm today Seattle time though. If you search for Bright and Quirky Summit you can register and listen to some of the talks for free. There is a lot about "problem behavior" and how to deal with it. I found the talks by Ross Greene on Day 2, Laura Markham on Day 2, Michelle Garcia on Day 4, Lisa Van Gemert on Day 6, Rachel Busman on Day 6, Patty Whipfler on Day 6 the most helpful for ideas for working on behavior issues. And some of the Day 7 ones helpful for how to face the strain of it as a parent.

    Otherwise, I will go back and look at my notes and add some things that resonated for me to this post later.
    New Zealand-based freelance science copyeditor. Homeschooling DD 11 (year 7) and DD 6 (year 2).

  6. #5


    It's funny, almost every parent knows about the terrible 2's before their child is even born but no one really talks about how 5 year olds have a tendency to be clingy even if they were independent before or how easy going kids, male or female, can suddenly become drama queens at 7 years old or how moody and just a drag to be around sometimes your preteen child can be. My mantra for each of my kids that has passed this threshold became, "I love you to the end of the world and back again, but I don't like how you are behaving right now. Let me know when you are ready to talk about it."

    Preteens really do act like toddlers all over again because they are doing the same thing a toddler does, asserting their independence. Toddlers are figuring out they are not an extension of you, they are their own person with free will and so is a preteen. They are exploring their independence and free will as they discover that not only are they a separate person from you but they also have separate thoughts and opinions from you and it is both exciting and scary for them.

    But where a toddler has tantrums and meltdowns because they don't have the words to express their emotions yet, preteens tantrums and meltdowns seem more cruel and hard to deal with because they do have the vocabulary to express their feelings but they don't always have the reasoning skills to know what their emotions mean or how to handle them. As adults, if we can learn to look at our preteen's mouthiness and meltdowns the same way we look at toddler tantrums, it can sometimes be easier to extract yourself from the situation so that you can objectively get to the heart of the matter and burn fewer bridges in the relationship.

    All that said, your first year of homeschooling, especially if you pulled your child from public school, is a learning adventure for both of you. Your school year will very likely end very differently than it began and that's ok. You say she wants to watch tv or play Minecraft, what if those things were completely unavailable? What if they were "broken" for a month or so? Yes, I would fully prepare myself for an outright revolt at first, but once she realized that those things were unequivocally not an option, how would she entertain herself? Not how would you entertain her, but how would she entertain herself.

    Before you try going screen free for a month or more, I would make sure you have plenty of things on hand for her to do, not school work, but perhaps some new art supplies, a cook book she can use on her own or mostly on her own, craft kits, library books on a variety of interesting subjects that don't involve tv or Minecraft (even better would be to get the first book in a series but not the rest of them that way she has reason to want more books from the library). Don't just hand her these items, leave them around the house for her to find when she is looking for something to do. Start some fun household projects like painting her room or going through pictures to make scrapbooks or going through boxes of things that need to be sorted and donated or thrown away or plant a garden. Don't require her to do these things with you, let her see you enjoying yourself doing them and invite her to join you if she seems interested. Start a journal, it could be a reflections journal, a diary, a nature journal or even just a free writing journal. Let her see you writing your journal and if she takes interest, ask her if she wants one of her own. All of these things are educational activities, but none of them resemble school really. Perhaps without the distraction of TV or computer games or the thought of the drudgery of another school lesson, she will be able to find her love of learning again. Homeschooling does not have to look anything like school but every educational activity doesn't have to become a school lesson either, try to find a balance that works for both of you.

  7. #6


    Thanks for your ideas/experience, alexsmom. I opted against most structured curricula. Instead, we follow an open(ish) math curriculum and then do some simple history reading and writing. My goal has been to be guided by what she's interested in... Of course, that means she has to have interests. There lies a big part of our issue.

    I have been, mostly, doing what you suggest and sitting with her as she does her work. The problem arises when she won't actually do her work and sits there for an hour and fifteen minutes bemoaning the five math problems she has to do. After a few minutes of non-work, I explain that I'm happy to answer questions/help/keep company but only if she's making an effort. Then I get up and do something else and leave her to it until she finally gives in and does it. I don't know how much of it is normal preteen stuff, probably a decent amount, coupled with an inherited family stubbornness, but it is a challenge.

  8. #7


    Yes, Outskirtsofbs, I definitely think she's heading into puberty... Seems early but I suppose it's not. In school she didn't have any discernible problems. She did well academically, had lots of friends, did not seem to have any issues. Even she didn't know why she hated it so much, she was just waking up with stomach aches and dread every single day.

    She also doesn't know, or at least can't tell me, what she wants now, why she's reluctant/disinterested in doing things that were reliably fun for us. It's a puzzle. I'm happy to keep working to figure it out but it is interrupting family functioning these days-- it's hard to get things done.

  9. #8


    Hi NZ_Mama. What you describe in terms of difficulty changing gears/transitioning definitely resonates. I give her a sort of play-by-play of our days in the beginning of the week and then again in the mornings. And then we talk through what's ahead. Just as you describe, once we are out, doing whatever she didn't originally want to do, she is almost always fine and having a good time. It's the battle to get there/get started. I personally understand having a hard time going from what I planned/want to do to what I need to do so I can empathize with that. And mostly, I think we work through that, though if you have suggestions for how you manage transitions, I would be happy to know/learn! I am hard pressed, lately, to figure out how to handle the complete lack of cooperation about simple day to day tasks (including her small amount of work.)

    I am bummed that I will likely not have time to look up those conference talks before they close tonight! But maybe I can find them somewhere else down the line. (Or something comparable by the speakers.) Thank you for the heads up!

  10. #9


    Thanks, MapleHillAcademy. I have absolutely been toying with the idea of a screen-free month. I definitely think it would be eye-opening and force some changes in behavior/ideas. The problem, of course, is that the screen, as I use it, allows me free time to get work done. So when she has an hour of screen time, I have an hour of productivity. Losing that will be hard for her and, possibly, harder for me. I'm still considering it, though, because I think the benefits would be great.

    What you're describing sounds like what unschoolers have mentioned and makes real sense to me. I do have lots of stuff around and perhaps if she were not fixated on getting more screen time, she would take advantage. I think you're right, it's just getting myself to do it/stick to it/handle my work before or after she is in bed, no small task!

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MsKanjani View Post
    Thanks, MapleHillAcademy. I have absolutely been toying with the idea of a screen-free month. I definitely think it would be eye-opening and force some changes in behavior/ideas. The problem, of course, is that the screen, as I use it, allows me free time to get work done. So when she has an hour of screen time, I have an hour of productivity. Losing that will be hard for her and, possibly, harder for me. I'm still considering it, though, because I think the benefits would be great.
    FWIW - In my experience it has worked best to give set hours (or my DS would be on anytime he had a free minute). Our rules are school work has to be completed, best effort, and not until after dinner (even if school work was finished early). It is kind of a pain to stick to a strict schedule, but it is what needs to be for us.
    DS 14, DD 12
    Year 8

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Should I just give up on HS?