When Your Child Refuses To “Do School”

It’s one of the most frustrating parts of homeschooling – when your child refuses to “do school.”

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting a ton of moms, just like me and you.

Before the Texas Great Homeschool Convention had to be cut short, I talked with so many wonderful moms and dads, who are helping struggling learners learn.

The one question I heard more than any other?

“What do I do when my child refuses to do school?”

When Your Child Refuses To "Do School"

Pretty sure about a million more of us are asking it right now.

Now that many of us have been forced to stay home for the foreseeable future (by the way… even those of us that have homeschooled for years are struggling with not being able to get out and about as usual), I have a feeling this question is coming up more and more.

It certainly has in my own home. 

When Your Child Refuses To "Do School"

I thought less external demands and classes would mean my sons would welcome the distraction of an interest-led learning plan. I was wrong.

The past week has brought more resistance and annoyance with daily expectations than any other this year.

I have a few ideas why, and I thought I would share them in case you are feeling the pressure cooker building in your home.

Why Is My Child So Resistant To School Work?

In my home, there are usually three main contributors to out-right  school work rebellion.

1. They Don’t Know How

When I am not sure how to do something, I tend to avoid it. For example, my child asked me to download something for his minecraft server this morning. I totally avoided it and stalled until my husband did it for me.

I wasn’t sure how to do it and felt overwhelmed by even knowing where to start. 

Our children are no different – especially children who are struggling with learning challenges. Feeling the pressure of not knowing exactly how to accomplish something can cause our children to shut down, at best, and flat out meltdown at worst. 

2. It’s Boring

Conversely, if they already totally know how to do the school work, they may resist because the practice feels tedious and mundane. 

3. They’re Out Of Routine

This is what is most applicable in my home right now. Because our usual daily outings and routines have been totally thrown off, my already emotionally overwhelmed kiddos are pretty much shutting down anything that looks like formal learning. 


When Your Child Refuses To “Do School”

I have a ton of empathy for my boys. 

The world is an unfamiliar place to all of us right now. I can only imagine how disconcerting this must be for my children. 

For the time being, I am not worried about “doing school.” I am worried about regaining a sense of routine and balance in our days. 

This means we do have time devoted to “learning” everyday, but it looks a lot less like “doing school” and a lot more like baking, watching YouTube videos together, building complex projects in minecraft and learning new songs on the piano (again, thank you YouTube). 

Most importantly, it means reminding myself that I am not failing to educate my children, just because they resist and refuse learning. 

When Your Child Refuses To "Do School"

Way back in 2016, I wrote about this exact topic. The world was different, but the feelings of guilt and inadequacy were exactly the same. You can read it  HERE at 2:1 Conference.

When Your Child Refuses To "Do School"

Of course there is resistance.

My children are human beings.

So am I.

So are all of us.

This is part of learning together at home, like it or not.

It is not a reflection on them, nor on me as their teacher.

Especially now. So instead of fighting it, I choose to move on and try to find the things that do work right now.

I choose grace. 

Goodness knows we all need it. 

For more information, support and encouragement:

When you want to quit

Looking for the good is sacred work

When the child who needs structure fights it most

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  1. I needed to hear this so much today! Thank you for being Real when it comes to life.

    1. You are so very welcome (and the only way I know how to do this is by being real! It’s too hard otherwise.)

  2. This has been such a tough year for my middle schooler and now I have to add home school to it. I felt defeated before she even started. She gets so overwhelmed and just shuts down and refuses to do the work. It was a fight all day, and honestly I just feel drained thinking this could be like this for the rest of the school year. I don’t want to fight with her about school and feeling the way I do, I can empathize with how she feels. She has set assignments, so I’m hoping to find something that will eventually click. Any suggestions??

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