What to Do When Your Homeschooler Struggles With a Subject

By Crystal Ladwig, Ph. D.
Homeschooler Struggles

I vividly remember my junior year of high school. I was taking physics. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t seem to get it. I studied. I met with my teacher. I did everything right, but I still struggled with that class. I know I’m not alone. You probably have a subject like that, too. The thing is…our kids will also struggle with a subject sometimes, just like we did. When your homeschooler struggles with a subject, what can you do?


There are two ways to take a break that we need to consider. The first is obvious. When our kids get flustered (or when we do), stop and take a short break. Get some water, take a walk, shoot hoops. Do something that stimulates your child’s body and helps them to reset. Then take another stab at the subject.

Sometimes, we need to do more. Sometimes it helps to take a break from the subject altogether. Giving kids a week or so off from a subject helps them to calm down and refocus. During that time, talk about what’s frustrating them with the subject. Listen to them, help them to calm their nerves and talk things through. You may find that they just don’t like the subject or topic. You may find that there’s a concept that they’re not getting yet. Taking this kind of a break while still talking about the subject helps you and your kids to reflect on what’s happening and develop some problem-solving skills. Make sure your child knows that you’ll be working on this together and that it isn’t all on them.


No, this doesn’t mean that you just give up. It means that you slow down and give your child smaller chunks of the subject. This gives them more time to process and practice new material. It also gives you time to watch your child and see which specific parts of a subject are more challenging. Once you know that, look for ways to supplement those areas with easy, fun activities like videos, field trips or games.


When your child struggles with a subject, it’s helpful to think about how well you know the subject, too. If you’re struggling to understand the concept, it will be much harder to teach it. When you know it well, you can talk about it and teach it in different ways.

This can also be a great modeling activity to do with your child. Be honest about your own struggle with the subject and let your child see you studying and learning so you can help them. Point out that, just as they are struggling with a subject, there are things that we’re all good at and things that we need to keep working on.

Remember that physics class? After years of reading and teaching a kid who enjoys physics, I now love reading science magazines and am hooked on the Science channel. This is proof that anyone can learn through a struggle.


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