Rolling with Resistance in Homeschool

In counseling, there’s a technique called “Roll with Resistance.” The technique acknowledges that change is hard and often met with some resistance from Clients. In fact, some days, the Client might not even believe they need to change anything!

If I go in there and try to force them to change, chances are, I’m not gonna have great success. Heck, I might even see an increase in the behavior we’re trying to address in the first place if I tried to tackle it that way!

In rolling with resistance, it’s a bit like a dance and I’m not always the one leading, not exactly, anyways. With this technique, when appropriate, I let the Client lead a bit and I come alongside to “dance” with them. I’m not here to get into all the details of that, but the beauty of this technique is that it often leads to the Client being willing to at least consider that something needs to change. And that is the first step to any kind of lasting change.

Well, who knew such a technique would come in handy in homeschool, too! This week I needed to review adjectives and similies with my son. Writing has not been his favorite subject this year and I’ve been trying to find ways to make it more interesting for him. I’m not looking for him to LOVE it, but I also don’t want him to dread doing it every day.

When trying to review these subjects one day this week, my son wanted to show me a new LEGO creation he had just constructed. Adjectives and similies was the last thing on his mind.

It would have been easy to tell him to put the LEGOs away, sit down, and pay attention. And maybe that’s what you would have done because that’s your parenting or teaching style. If it is and it’s working for you then have at it! I am not here to tell you that you’re doing anything wrong with that and honestly, my philosophy on judging other parents’ parenting is simple: As long as their children are not being abused or neglected, it’s not my business unless they ask me to be involved.

But that method doesn’t have the kind of results I’m looking for in our house. Now I’m not one of these completely “free spirits” who lets my children do whatever they want, so don’t get it confused. There are plenty of rules and expectations here and discipline when those rules are not followed.

But I’m also an advocate of working smarter, not harder and this scenario seemed like a good chance to roll with some resistance.

So instead of making my 7-year old review this stuff the way I had planned it out in my mind, I followed his lead a bit. He is obsessed with LEGOs these days and he could talk to you for hours about that and Star Wars.

So I looked at his new creation that he was proudly displaying and said, “That’s pretty awesome! I like how you did that. What’s some adjectives you could use to describe that thing?”

He spouted off adjective after beautiful adjective describing the size, color, and texture of his LEGO. And then I asked him to describe it to me with similies and I was so impressed with what he came up with.

It’s a simple concept, honestly; using your kids’ interests to teach. Truthfully, it’s probably nothing new to most of you! But my experience was a good reminder for me of how beautifully this works.

I still taught what I needed to teach and we covered everything I needed him to learn, but it was much more interesting to my son when we talked about what he wanted to talk about. And because he found the object of our discussion to be interesting, he was engaged in the learning and obtained what I needed him to understand about “boring” stuff like adjectives and similies. 😉

I’m really trying to incorporate this strategy as much as possible in our class. In our case that has looked like many different things, from a subtraction baseball game between LEGO figures (inspired by this game) to a 6-sentence writing assignment about Darth Vader and Yoda. It’s working wonderfully and this week was our best homeschool week so far, largely, I think, because I’m trying to follow this method as much as possible.

We’re heading off on vacation next week and won’t be doing much school, but I’d love to hear from you guys about how you incorporate your children’s interests into your school days. What has worked for you?

3 Reasons Homeschool Rocked This Week

One of the great things about homeschooling is having the freedom to make your own schedule. You don’t have to start when public schools do, but you can if you want. You can take breaks that work for you and your family and you can change it when needed. I love this about homeschool.

I decided that we were going to try more of a year-round schooling approach for our first year of homeschool. We started on July 15th, so we just finished up our 5th week of school. We have one more week of school to accomplish and then we’ll be enjoying our first break of the year! Our family will also be taking a vacation during this break and I am so excited.

We had a really great week of school this week, but even so, I am ready for a whole week of no school. 🙂

So what made this week such a success? A few things.


1. Group field trip.

At the advice of veteran homeschoolers, I joined our local homeschool association for the school year. Yes, there’s a small registration fee involved and if you continue to participate in the group after your first year, you’ll be required to volunteer some time with the group, but all of this is worth it.

Thankfully, it looks like our local group is fairly active and this week, we joined the elementary group for an end-of-summer bash at a local pool! The weather was great for swimming and I was really happy with the amount of people who showed up. I hope we continue to see such good attendance.

Not only did my son get to play with other kids his age, he was excited that everyone there homeschooled, too. He loved it. We definitely plan to join in on more events like this throughout the year.

2. Games, please.

I am really happy with most of our curriculum choices this year, but math and language arts are still “iffy.” The main issue we’ve had with the math curriculum so far is the repetition.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I see great value in repetition when learning new things, but this curriculum feels like too much repetition. Even I get bored with it, so imagine what it’s like for a 7-year old boy!

So this week, I hit Pinterest for some inspiration and I found great ideas that inspired me to create my own Bingo game. It wasn’t time consuming and was super easy to execute. I don’t currently have a home printer, though that’s something I plan to invest in soon, so I just quickly hand-drew a few Bingo cards and shred some paper to use as cover-ups. In the future I’ll make some pretty printed cards, but this worked just as well, but it’s certainly not fancy. Ha!

We made up a game using a few dice and practiced addition and subtraction. My son also got some good practice in being a good sport, since I kicked his booty 3 times in the game! Haha!

Our math for the day was great practice but it was also great fun. My son said it was the best math day, ever. I am definitely going to be incorporating more games in our weeks and not just in math.

3. Another field trip. Sort of.

I’ve mentioned before that we are using Sonlight curriculum this year. One of the things they do is give us a prayer focus each week. This week we were encouraged to pray for Buddhists.

I love how we have the freedom to really dive into topics in homeschool. We’re not restricted by a rigid schedule most days and we can go as deep as we want! Like, we studied a map to locate some of the countries where Buddhism is prominent, we Googled pictures of Buddhist monks, and we had a great discussion on how we can’t work out our own salvation because all of us need Jesus.

But even better, one day we were feeling a bit cooped up in the house and decided we could use a drive. I had an idea. So we loaded into the car and made a pit stop for a few slushies. While enjoying our drinks, we drove just a little ways to park across the street from a small Buddhist temple nearby. Yes, even our tiny piece of the South has one. We discussed the architecture, the statues outside, and so much more.

It wasn’t a long field trip and we didn’t even get out of the car, but it led to some fantastic discussions with my son and it was a perfect example of a great perk of homeschooling.

We didn’t need a permission slip and we didn’t even have to schedule it, we just went! And best of all (according to my kids, anyways), they didn’t even have to wear shoes. They tried to go sans pants, too, but I drew the line there, my Friends. Even homeschool needs a few rules. 🙂

Until next week, Friends.

Another Week of Homeschool: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

4 weeks! We’ve homeschooled 4 weeks already! And we’ve survived!! 🙂

This week, like all weeks, had its ups and downs. Let’s start with the not so great moments.

Hard Moment #1: Nostalgia.

The local public schools started back this week and my son had a moment of missing “the old life.” Ha! He talked about missing his friends and his old school, all completely understandable, even for a kid who was excited to leave public school. We had a good heart-to-heart, committed to hanging in there for this school year, and agreed to re-evaluate at the end of the year.

Our local county homeschool association is getting back in gear this month, and I really think that getting out and doing stuff with other homeschool kids is going to make a huge difference. We’re going on our first field trip with the group next week!

Hard Moment #2: Remembering to be flexible.

Remember when I talked about the importance of being flexible? You can read about that here Well, this week I’ve had to remind myself of my own advice.

We are using Sonlight for the majority of our curriculum this year and I LOVE it. I need to do a whole post on that topic alone, but we’ll save that for another day. One of the great things about Sonlight is they provide you with an Instructor’s Guide to show you what to cover every day. But even Sonlight stresses that the Instructor’s Guide should be used as just that: a guide. It shouldn’t have the final say; I should.

This week I have really tried to embrace that. I was noticing that Luke seemed to be feeling a bit overwhelmed with certain things. Part of my challenge has been to figure out what’s going on when he’s strugglinh. Is it that he’s feeling overwhelmed because it’s truly too much work, or is he not understanding it, OR is it actually a healthy amount of work and he’s just wanting to be lazy? Ha! My answers to those questions this week have been, “Yes.”

There were times when I had to have a come to Jesus meeting with him because he wasn’t putting forth effort, times when I skipped certain assignments or tweeked assignments because I felt it was too much busy work, and still other times when the Instructor’s Guide was ready to move on to another topic, but Luke needed a little extra practice.

Once again, that’s one of the best things about homeschool: Being able to really tailor your child’s education to fit their needs!

But despite the hard times, we also had some really great moments! We continued our study on sharks this week and thanks to Pinterest, I was able to combine two ideas into one.

Luke really enjoys when we do art-type things, even though my artistic abilities are practically non-existent. But I realize it’s really important, I think, for me to try and incorporate art things into our week each week.

This week we made sharks out of toilet paper rolls. Thank you, wifemomgeek.com for the cute idea! Luke really wanted to make a hammerhead shark so I left him in charge of that and honestly didn’t have high expectations for his idea to work (I know, I know!l, but boy did he prove me wrong! I was so impressed with what he came up with! We even let Eliana, Luke’s 2-year old sister, join in on the fun. She was perfectly content just painting with us.

Once our sharks were done, we used this neat idea from Kid Minds and did a science experiment to learn about why sharks don’t sink in the ocean. Luke had the best time with this and best of all, he learned while having fun. Always a win in my book!

And speaking of books, we finished up our first read-a-loud book this week. Sonlight is a literature-based curriculum, which means there’s a lot of reading, which we love.

The read-a-loud we’ve been reading this past month has been Charlotte’s Web. I decided that I would like to attempt to celebrate every time we finish a read-a-loud. This time we commemorated the accomplishment with “spider” burgers and Wilbur “pigs” playing in the “mud.”

Even though my spider burgers could probably earn a gold medal in a Pinterest fails competition, the kids loved it, and really, that’s all that I was shooting for. 🙂

Finding Beauty in the Frustrations of Homeschool

Third week in and it finally happened. Actually, I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. “What?” you ask.

Total homeschool frustration.

It took me by surprise, honestly, because the day started so well. Rather than start our homeschool day right away that morning, I started after lunch. The kids were getting along really well and playing legos together that morning, so I decided to let them play because moments like these can be few and far between sometimes, especially when there’s a 4.5 year age gap between the two. Plus, I had been wanting to play around with our schedule to see how that affected my son’s learning or if morning is the optimal time of day for him.

The kids played, I got some much-needed cleaning done, we ate lunch, and then we started school. That went really well, too, at first. We did our devotional and talked about our prayer focus for the week and my son asked such great questions. So great, in fact, that we spent an extra 20 minutes diving deeper into the topic at hand; a homeschool perk I’ve been looking forward to! It was great! “This is wonderful!” I thought.

And then the day went south.

My son had requested that we conquer math next, so we got to it. Up until this point, all the math we’ve done so far has been much of a review for my son. It’s actually something that was starting to concern me because he was getting bored covering material he already knew. “Maybe I should have gone with a different curriculum!” I worried.

But this day we finally started on a topic that my kiddo wasn’t familiar with. But while I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized this, my son had quite the opposite reaction. He became frustrated, not because he didn’t understand the material, but because he didn’t know how to do it yet! And when he had to do the handful of practice problems to solidify this new knowledge, he had to actually put forth some effort. And he didn’t like that. It was like pulling teeth for a while to get him to get it done. He cried. I nearly cried. And we both needed a break.

So, we took a drive. And on that drive we talked it out. Eventually I gained a better understanding of the issue. My son said, “I just want to be smart.” In his 7-year old brain, his idea of “smart” was that he should be able to look at something he’s never seen or done before and be able to solve it or complete it without being taught. We had a thorough discussion on how distorted that understanding of “smart” is and talked about teaching and learning. And after we both cooled off, we came back home and got back to work.

The homeschool day ended much later than usual and much later than I prefer, but we got through it. And while it was a really frustrating day, even the frustration held homeschool beauty, if you will. When we needed a breather, we were able to take it. Even better, we weren’t confined to take that breather within our four walls. Not only that, we had the chance to hash it out and talk about the problem for as long as we needed. We weren’t restricted by time or the needs of other students. It was annoying and I hope to have much more positive moments than frustrating moments, but it’s great to be able to work it out in such a way.


In other news, we had some fun this week, too. While I’m using official curriculum for most of our schooling, I’m doing my own thing for science this year. Mostly, I’m following my son’s interest in this subject. Currently, he’s wanted to study the ocean and the many animals that live there. And what better week to study sharks than during Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week!” We’ve watched some kid-friendly clips from there, but we also made shark cupcakes, because in this house, we’ll use anything as an excuse to make cupcakes!

I found the shark figures on clearance at Hobby Lobby the other week for about $2.50 so I snatched them up. Conveniently, the names of each kind of shark were listed on the bottom of each figure, so I made a rule for our cupcake feast: When we got a cupcake, we had to look up facts about the shark on that specific cupcake. My son loved it and I was happy because I got to eat cupcakes we had fun learning.

And so, as the old saying goes, “You win some, you lose some.” This week, we definitely experienced both, but shark cupcakes redeems any bad day. 🙂

Until next week, Friends!