I Can’t Homeschool: They Won’t Listen

i_cant_homeschoolHomeschooling can seem like a daunting journey, especially for those who are new to the concept. We are unsure of where to start, overwhelmed by the notion of taking on our children’s education, and feel as if we are not enough. May we offer encouragement for families unsure of the adventure called homeschooling.


Another concern with homeschooling is how our children will accept mom, or dad, as teacher. Will my children receive instruction from me? Will they accept me as teacher? What if my child is rebellious and already has issues with acknowledging our authority?

Of all the fears concerning homeschool, this one is probably the most delicate. When our children won’t listen to us, this is a symptom of a larger issue: a separation in relationship (no matter how slight), both between us and them, and between them and the Lord. Almost any other area can be overcome with organization and planning. When our children won’t listen to us it is a matter of the heart; it will take time, effort, and love to conquer this concern.

The real question ought not to be whether my children could learn from me, but why they wouldn’t. 

In such cases, my advice to these families would be thus: Put your children’s learning on hold and focus on relationships. When discipleship becomes priority, when relationships become priority, learning becomes easier. Here are a few areas to consider working on:

  • Communication – Are they willing to talk to you, discussing their concerns and desires? Do they know they can talk to you about anything?
  • Trust – Does your child know you have their best interests at heart? Do they know what those interests are?
  • Affection – Do your children know you love them? Do you show this often enough?
  • Respect – How does your child speak to you or about you? Do you allow your child to be openly disrespectful?

The best way to work on relationships is by spending quality time together. Pick activities which incorporate the issues you are attempting to work on, making discussions as natural as possible. Through effort and time things will change.

Once relationships have been reaffirmed, learning is accomplished more smoothly. Your children will understand why you want to homeschool, they’ll understand your goals for homeschooling, and they will accept your instruction more readily. Who knows? Not only might they enjoy it, but one day they may even thank you for your decision.

As a side note: For parents who are already homeschooling, this still runs true. If our children are having issues with receiving instruction, it might be time to take a break from formal learning and focus on rebuilding any broken bonds. Then, re-address our schooling.

Does this mean everyday will be a breeze, or that your children will never complain about doing school work? Of course not! Life is not perfect and work is still work. However, when our children know we love them, when we have their respect, teaching our children is much easier.

May this encourage you: We all have hard days. We all have days when our children act out. When we choose to spend time focusing on what’s more important, our relationships with our children and bringing them back into a right relationship with Christ, everything else flows; even homeschooling. Don’t allow this one obstacle to prevent you from a lifetime of memories, and your children the discipleship they so need. Allow the Lord to do a work in your family, and then start your adventure of homeschooling. The books will always be there.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Ephesians 6:1-4

🔔Time to Chime In: Readers, share your advice for getting unruly children to listen.

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22 thoughts on “I Can’t Homeschool: They Won’t Listen

  1. I can’t agree more, Cristina. Relationship is so important. We had this problem the first couple of years with our kids after bringing them out of private school. I was so thankful that we had chosen to homeschool, because those heart attitudes in our two oldest kids could have gone unchecked just because we didn’t see them all day! We still have struggles just like any other family, but I can truly say that we are connected to the hearts of our kids. It really makes all the difference!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So there are those kids who have a crazy amount of “self confidence.” Many times, their confidence behaves as arrogance. They will argue with you about the answers in the answer key. saying that the book is wrong. They will ask for help and then calmly say, “nope. That’s not how you do it.” They really do believe that they know a lot more than they do. How do I know this? I’ve raised one of these.

    I had the best success with this kind of child when I first stopped taking it personally. Your child is displaying immaturity when they correct you and argue with you. So roll your eyes and smile. It’s really rather funny isn’t it? Of course, it would be more amusing if it were someone else’s child.

    Second, learn the art of discourse. Rather than saying, “No that’s wrong. The answer is incorrect.” and watching your child argue scream and melt down, it’s better to frame it in “How did you get to that answer? Show me on the marker board what you were thinking.”

    Third, correct gently and in an upbeat manner. “Oops…you forgot a couple of commas in this paragraph. Can you see where they should be?” or “Excellent paper. I love how neatly you wrote this. There are a few factual errors in that second page. Let’s talk about those facts.”

    That;s a few of the things I’ve learned.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My experience with children who won’t listen:
    1) Children are imitating the behavior of other people around them, either their father or their friends. Explain to your husband that he needs to listen to you respectfully, very respectfully, when you are speaking.
    2) Children who won’t listen are bored because they feel they are being talked-at not talked-to
    3) All learning does not come from books. Relationship issues are really more important than having a correct answer. Pursue the relationship as your primary goal. Allow learning to happen as incidental to your primary goal.
    4) Learn by doing. 4H has lots of materials for this. If you challenge them to make something, their errors will be of their own creation. Nothing will need to be corrected. They will do what they need to do to make the project work.
    5) Peer pressure. If the kids are blowing you off, start a class that teaches other people’s (respectful) kids. They’ll feel silly being the only kids not listening. Sports also work. If you coach and your child misses a goal, the team will let them know they should listen to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. love the article. I have to say a strong willed child will always keep you on your toes 🙂 I have one as well. the need to rebuild relationships are important and not everyone thinks so, but kids hit an age where no matter what you say or do they are right and your wrong. It’s an independent teen thing usually! LOL not necessarily bad behavior picked up from any place or person, just finding their way in the world, God created them to be thinkers and doers as well. It’s great to read “real” posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the encouragement!

      You bring up a good point. Independence, in-and-of itself, is not a bad thing, as long as it is accompanied with respect. It is disrespect, disobedience, and rebellious hearts we are concerned with.

      Through prayer and reliance on Christ, we find our way.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I try to have good communication. I let my daughter know what will be expected of her. I show her what we will be covering. I will also ask her what she thinks. See if there is a way to incorporate her ideas into some lessons. I would also suggest games. It took me a bit to break from the learn only from book concept. Kids Monopoly promotes math, reading, strategy, budgeting, and bonding. Scrabble is great for adding scores and word building skills. They may not see the educational benefit of the games, but they definitely feel they bond with you. It can help transition when it’s time to go back to the books.

    Liked by 1 person

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