Hovering, Handholding, and Normal Kid Behavior

One misunderstanding that is frequently held about homeschoolers is that they teach themselves. Of course, there are very many self-directed, independent homeschoolers. However, just because you homeschool, your kids won’t automatically be able to teach themselves many parts of their lessons.

Many homeschooling parents are frustrated with their kids’ inability to concentrate in a busy household. They may send their child off to their rooms to help them focus, only to return in an hour and be annoyed and disappointed by how little the child has accomplished. These parents wonder “Where is the independence? Do I really have to sit right next to her to get things done?”

Well…actually, yes, in many cases.

It is very appropriate for you to sit next to your child as they do their work, even in some cases up to their teen years. Most homeschool moms have at least one kid who needs mom to sit there and say, “Good job. Now move on to the next problem.” for hours each day.

So yeah, having to hover is very normal.

So, the big question is How do I get it all done if I have to sit with all of my kids?

There really isn’t one answer to this question. It will be as individual as your family. However, here are a few tips to help you figure this out.

1. Make sure that your expectations are age appropriate. Keep in mind that just because your first grader CAN do third grade math, it doesn’t mean that he has the maturity to complete a full lesson designed for kids with greater maturity and attention spans.

2. If you have a child who needs constant hovering to finish your work, ask yourself the following questions: Is the work essential to learning? If not, cut out any unnecessary busy work. Are the lessons engaging? Some lessons are just going to be a bit dull, but try to make them as interesting as possible. Do I have to tackle this content at this stage of development? If you love certain subjects, like history and science, but they are making your school day drag on and on in the early elementary years, you may want to cover them a bit more informally until your child can focus a little better on the basics of learning, like reading, math, and writing.

3. Break up your child’s work with short periods of mom-directed, mom-assisted work with short spells of independent work. So you may need to teach for 10 minutes and direct his or her work, and then say, “Now work on the next three problems yourself and I will be back when the timer goes off in 10 minutes to see what you have done.” During that ten minutes, you can do some direct instruction for another child.

4. Is your child hungering for your attention and uses foot dragging to get it? Many times, middle kids get left behind. Their work isn’t as challenging or as crucial as their older, high school aged sibling’s work. Nor do they demand as much one on one instruction as small, just learning to read kindergarteners and first graders. They may often feel left out or hungering for some one on one attention from mom. Be sure that you don’t neglect one child all the time, thinking that they need you less. I know how difficult it is to be pulled in so many directions at once, but that is the nature of homeschooling.

5. Are you trying to do too much at once? Many moms think “Oh, I can wash these dishes and work on the laundry if she would just do the work during school time.” You may feel that you can chat on the phone or answer email and not have your children’s education suffer. For some kids, you may be able to do that. However, many others do need the complete focus of mom on school during school hours. Some siblings group totally lose focus the instant mom leaves the room, thanks to one or two distractible siblings. So if you are having trouble with your kids maintaining focus, you may want to establish formal school hours where you do nothing but school during that time.

6. Babies and toddlers are a huge challenge to homeschooling, one that I could write several pieces about. I know that a toddler will derail the most committed mom. I found that keeping the little ones close at hand during school hours actually increased our focus. If I could keep a close eye on my little ones, I didn’t have to leave my older kids to their own devices while I cleaned up whatever mess the toddlers were making. So despite the noise and busyness of having a toddler nearby, it was better than hearing a large crash and wail from the other room. I ended up shutting off much of the rest of the house when my kids were very small to avoid disasters.

7. Headhones and instrumental music are very helpful for easily distracted kids. I found that music with lyrics encouraged my kids to sing along, which greatly annoyed siblings and caused distractions. I use Pandora to find appropriate music to help my kids focus.

What about you? How do you deal with distractible kids? What techniques do you use to keep people focused and moving forward in your homeschool?


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. brightskymom
    Apr 22, 2015 @ 07:46:15

    Wish I had some brilliant tip to share! I agree with everything you wrote…sometimes having the toddler on the table was better than having to get up for the inevitable crash! 🙂
    PS Hey, I see 2lb lost on the tracker at the bottom! Awesome!


    • fairfarmhand79
      Apr 22, 2015 @ 10:22:13

      Thanks for stopping by! And yes, two pounds gone. I love using the tracker. Every day, when I finish my entry, it tells me that if I stick with it, in one month, I will weigh x number of pounds. That is so motivating to me!


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