If your School Year is not Progressing as You had Planned

Are you discouraged, disappointed, or depressed as you reflect upon your homeschooling so far this school year?  Let’s take a few minutes to evaluate the symptoms of your dissatisfaction and consider possible solutions:

“It’s Too Hard!” 

Is your student prepared and ready for this level of academics?  Just because a text has a certain grade level printed on its cover that seems to match the chronological age of your student does not mean that your student can handle all of the work within its pages.

If your student is struggling to write a sentence or a paragraph, this may not be the right time to teach an essay.  If your student hasn’t really mastered subtraction, that “hole” will impact long division as well.  Backtrack!  Review!  Re-teach!  Be sure your student demonstrates proficiency in the basics of a particular skill or subject before expecting him or her to advance.

Assess developmental readiness.  We don’t expect babies to walk until they are pulling themselves up to a standing position.  Likewise, is your student demonstrating readiness for the particular concept or skill you are trying to teach?  For example, there are important developmental integrations that need to happen before your student is ready to learn to read and hormonal changes in puberty that add key aspects to student’s abstract reasoning abilities.  Sometimes delay is the best teaching strategy.

“I Don’t Like It!”

If you spent hours researching different curriculum options and were really excited when you found this one particular resource, it is exasperating to hear this comment from your student.

Start by further analyzing the problem. Is it the subject or the resource?  The solution could be as simple as supplementing with a text with more color or better illustrations.   On the other hand, some kids are not going to like a specific subject, no matter what resource you use!

Is it dull or boring?  Not every subject is fun every day and this is an important life lesson for your student to learn.  However, not every subject should be boring each and every day either.  For younger children, especially, do your best to include at least 1 pleasurable learning experience every day.

Is there too much writing involved?  Particularly if you have a pencil-allergic little one, feel free to do schoolwork orally or incorporate computers and keyboarding.  You can reserve written work for subjects like penmanship and spelling.

If you have an older student who is working independently much of the time, “I don’t like it” may be a cue that it is time to do something together.  Perhaps you can read that textbook or novel jointly or brainstorm some project-based learning ideas to be done with a few homeschooling friends.

“I don’t remember how to do it!”

This can be especially aggravating to the homeschool mom who well remembers teaching it – perhaps only a day or two ago!  This could be a warning to slow down the pace of your instruction.  Yes, your student has been introduced to the skill but may need more practice time to master it.

If you hear “I don’t remember”  for the same subject over and over again, this could be a signal that you need more repetition and cumulative review.  Some children need more help in moving skills from short-term memory to long-term recall.

Using multi-sensory learning strategies can also help with retention.  Put facts to be memorized to music or rehearse them while jumping on a trampoline.  Use apps and games to help make review and drill more interesting.  Encourage your students to vary body position (for example, ask them to jump up when the answer is an even number) or type of response (whisper answers, now shout them, now answer in a robotic voice) for further variety and interest.

“We keep running out of time!”

This is a Mom response!  You may need to take a long, hard look at your outside activities. As more and more fabulous homeschool classes spring up all over Southern California, it can be hard to say no.  But does your student really need to learn gymnastics, martial arts, and horseback riding all in the same semester?  On the other hand, if you are signed up for 2 or 3 short-term science classes, you can probably shelve the full-year science textbook.  Be sure to  allow enough home time in your HOMEschool schedule.

“Is this a problem?”

 Finally, take a closer look at your level of dissatisfaction.  If your perceived lack of progress is due to an unexpected family crisis, lack of student’s developmental readiness, or any other complication that you could not foresee last summer when you made your plans and schedule – don’t despair!  Flex your school plans – sometimes “real life” needs to take precedence!

Some quick fixes …

 If all you need is a quick attitude adjustment, try one of these:

  1. Passion-driven or delight-directed schooling. Stop all formal academics for a while and follow your student’s curiosity.  Aim to restore a love of learning.
  2. Take more breaks. A recommended attention span for children is often two to three times their age.  So a 6 year old could be expected to concentrate diligently for 12-18 minutes. Set a timer – I bet your little one  would love to have you “make” him stop working and take a movement break!
  3. Read aloud a book you all will enjoy.  A chapter or two daily can be a nice break in your day.
  4. Evaluate diet and bedtime. Healthier eating habits and more sleep help us all develop better attitudes!
  5. Schedule a field trip on a day when Dad can join you. Enjoy family time!

In short, it’s never too late to adapt, adjust, or scrap your original plans.  You haven’t lost the whole year; simply start anew tomorrow.


These ideas should help you make some progress.  But if you’d like more personalized attention and individualized problem-solving, Penny Ross does homeschool consultations in her office in Torrance, CA, by telephone, and through Skype.  New Year’s Special — $19.99 for a 20 minute telephone consultation!  Book here by January 15, 2019.  Glean from her 30 years of homeschooling experience! Contact Penny through Tools for the Home Educator.


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