I love homeschooling. It is the hardest and most rewarding job I’ve ever had. It is so amazing to watch my kids learn to read, learn their math facts, or complete a successful science experiment that makes everyone say WOW!
But not every assignment or every lesson will be fun. I’m not a person who believes they should be. Sometimes, we just have to do things because they have to be done – even when they’re not fun. Especially when they’re hard.
It can be difficult to find a balance between “fun” learning and “ugh” learning, though. Sometimes, we just have to power through the “ugh” to get to the fun.
Encourage kids to do hard things. It’s important to help kids learn to do hard things. As our kids struggle through learning difficult subjects and concepts – learning to read, tackling algebra, memorizing Bible verses – they gain confidence in themselves and in their abilities. They learn how strong they are when they persevere.
Acknowledge the fact that hard is hard. Our kids need us to validate their feelings when things get tough. Let them know that you understand how difficult it is to memorize math facts and Bible verses. However, remind them how many song lyrics they know. If they can memorize song lyrics, they can memorize things for school. Math facts aren’t as fun as song lyrics so they are a bit more difficult to memorize, but assure your kids that you believe they are smart enough to do it.
Support your kids, but don’t rescue them. It can be so tempting to rescue our kids when the going gets tough. However, giving up, moving on, or doing hard things for them tells kids that we don’t believe in them. It teaches them to give up on themselves. Remember, what we’re teaching our young kids now will follow them into their adult years. Instill in them the confidence and strength you want them to have many years from now.
Accept their best effort. When you child puts forth their best effort, praise them. Praising their best effort will encourage them to try again. Or, it will encourage them to try the next hard thing. This doesn’t mean you have to quit working toward a goal before it’s met. Just the opposite… Praise their effort, and move the end goal just a little bit further. They’ve memorized their addition facts? Yay! Now, it’s time to start working on subtraction or multiplication.
Celebrate their accomplishments! When my kids learned to read, they earned a trip to the bookstore. When they mastered their math facts, they got a reward. Along the way, they earned high fives, stickers, big smiles, and hugs for every small step toward accomplishing the bigger, harder task.
Even adults like praise and rewards for tackling challenges. Have you ever treated yourself to a bowl of ice cream after a tough workout or a new pair of shoes when you lost 10 pounds?
Offer brain breaks. Mix up your homeschool day so that the tough subjects and concepts are staggered throughout the day. We start with math (a tough subject) and move on to spelling, writing, and vocabulary before circling back around to science or history.
Giving kids time to work on the things they’re good at or the subjects they prefer gives them a chance to relax and regroup before tackling the next hard thing on their to-do list.
How do you encourage your kids to do the hard things?
This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.