You know that old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink?” It seems like that would apply here, and it does somewhat. However, what if you made that water into scrumptiously-flavored water? Or maybe you turned it into a root beer float, or freshly-squeezed lemonade? What if homeschooling was so interesting and appealing to your child that they yearned to learn. That you led that horse child to this delicious and soul-quenching trough of water and they couldn’t help but guzzle the water, drinking until they couldn’t drink any longer, only to get up the next day and seek out that water once again.
Imagine that you both stood at the trough together and worked through any difficulties your little foal may have. Maybe the water is just outside the foal’s reach and you have to help bridge the gap by holding him up. Or maybe you bring the water to his level. Or maybe the water is overflowing so much that he can’t possibly take it all in, so you help tip the trough back a little so he can take his time with it.
We can’t make our kids learn. However, we can set up an environment of learning for them wherein they can discover what they’re interested in and learn through the ways that work best for them. Maybe sitting at a desk doing bookwork doesn’t work well for your child to learn history, but watching a video, reading a book, and doing hands-on projects related to the history topic does.
If your child is “stubborn,” what does that really mean? That it’s hard to get them to do the things you want them to do? Maybe it’s time to go about it in a different way. If/then statements/charts can do wonders. If they want to do a favorite free time activity, they can do it once they’ve finished their schoolwork for the day. Many homeschooling families don’t allow electronics until the evening or at all during the week.
If your child is resistant to doing their homeschooling, talk to them to find out why. Is it too difficult? Boring? Would they prefer to learn that subject in a different format? You don’t have to keep doing what isn’t working. You can make whatever changes are needed to help your child learn and be successful.
Every year, I meet with my kids to discuss what they want to focus on for the upcoming school year. Once we have come up with a plan, I start looking at ways to accomplish it and show them to my kids. I may show them a variety of unit studies, workbooks, learning crates, or classes I’ve found to meet their goals. When we’ve nailed down what we’ll use that year and have it in hand, we devise a rough schedule (although I am resistant to calling it a schedule because it’s more like a rhythm that works well for our family). The kids can decide if they want to do block learning, or whether they want to complete a portion of each subject each month. If they’re doing block learning, they roughly plan out how they want to do it – which may mean doing one subject until it’s complete or working through two at a time and then moving on to the next ones. If they want to do all subjects throughout the school year, we just divide the number of chapters in each subject by the number of months in our school year and that tells us roughly how much they should be getting through each month. This allows us to formulate a basic rhythm together for our weeks. Just like kids are more likely to eat something they cooked, they’re also more likely to follow a rhythm/schedule that they helped create. We can reassess throughout the school year at any point and change things up. We do not have to stick with something that isn’t working, but we also want to give it a fair shake.
We talk a lot about goals in our house and how we can reach them. If you want to be a (insert any career here), you have to take the steps to get there. If a child is resistant to completing something that is needed for meeting their goal of becoming a (insert that same cool job here), we are able to talk about how they may not be able to meet their goal. This helps to put the reins back in their hands and nudges them in the right direction.
So, can you homeschool your stubborn horse child? Yes. You can do it.. You can work together to set realistic expectations, to get his input so he can take ownership of his learning, and to make learning enjoyable and tailored to his needs. You can do this. Make that water so delicious that he can’t help but drink from it.