“I’m Not Interested!”: When Kids Don’t Like the Lesson

I'm_Not_InterestedHe’s just sitting there. It’s not as if he doesn’t understand what is being taught, but his eyes are glazed over and he’s slumped in his seat. If he had a choice, he’d rather do almost anything else. She’s staring me down; frustration, irritation, and a genuine lack of enthusiasm radiating from her rigid form. Sure, she could do it, but why? Why study hours of seemingly pointless details. What’s wrong with both of these situations? Neither child is interested and they are clearly making it known. It’s not that they don’t want to study anything, they just don’t want to study that. No matter how I try to twist the lesson to make it more appealing, this child won’t engage. What’s a mom to do when their child just isn’t interested?

I wish I was the ultimate teacher; able to make all children not only learn anything taught, but also like what they are learning. Unfortunately, I too, often have to find creative ways to encourage my children to learn. Oh, sure, there are some things they’d jump at the chance to do, but others take a lot more persuasion, and even that doesn’t always work.

When our children show no interest, none whatsoever, in a subject, do we force it upon them? If the thought of having to write research papers fills our children with dread, do we still make them do it? If algebra sickens them, do we push them through the equations anyway? So much of life isn’t black-and-white. There aren’t easy responses to these questions; no pat answers. Each family must pray about the individual situation and ask the Lord to give them wisdom in how best to handle it. But, here are a few things we’ve learned…

The Littles – For those with little kids balking at the notion of having to learn undesired subjects, perhaps it is our method of teaching which is hindering their desire to move forward. It might also be likely that we are introducing topics at too early an age. One further thought is that our children really don’t understand what they are going to learn. Sure, they hear the words – Language Arts – but they don’t correlate that with the telling of stories and crafting of words. Sometimes it takes a creative moment on the parent’s behalf to make the topic sound worthwhile.

The Middles – The workload is starting to increase and our children are beginning to take notice. They don’t like the idea of having to learn more subjects or take on more work. Things they used to enjoy have now become a chore. Did we increase their load too soon or all at once? Perhaps we forgot to take the time to make the topic more interesting, assuming they were big enough now to simply tackle any project plopped in front of them. We mustn’t let our middle children get lost in the mix or forget to make learning fun.

The Big Guys – Subjects like algebra, biology, and composition are looming in front of their eyes, all with loads of work attached. Our child insists they don’t want to take that chemistry class, failing to see the need for learning the periodic table of elements. Here is where things get tough. Do you force them to take all those college prep classes, no matter what they have to say to the contrary? Do you let them decide for themselves what they wish to study?
Each family needs to make these decisions for themselves and it’s not always an easy task. Through prayer, council, and wisdom we must decide for each child what is best. For some, they need the push to study topics not readily desired. Others would only be stressed and hate learning altogether if shoved.
No matter our decision, I would still encourage us to find fun ways to make learning fun. However, at this stage, we also need to stretch our children. They ought to learn life isn’t always fun, easy, convenient, or made to order. Homeschooling offers us many options, and we are grateful for all of them, but we are attempting to raise responsible adults. And, not all responsibility is fun or wanted.

Do we force learning on our children? Oh, sometimes. We want to try new things with them, expand their horizons, and help them get a well-rounded education. We also need to remember to be careful in our desire to stretch our children. We want them to be challenged, we don’t want them to be broken.

“An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
~ Proverbs 18:15

Your Turn!: Have you ever forced your child to learn a particular subject/topic and then later regretted it? Have you ever forced your child and later had them thank you for the opportunity? Share your story with us!

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8 thoughts on ““I’m Not Interested!”: When Kids Don’t Like the Lesson

  1. Wow. The first few sentences of this post sound as though you were describing my son! It’s so true – if they’re not interested, then they’re just not interested! I must admit – I’ve been guilty of forcing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We have done both. There were lessons my daughter absolutely did not want to do, however, in pushing through she realized it was not that bad and actually kind of liked it. (This revelation coming with much complaining and arguing!). Other times, I have to step back and see what is happening behind the scenes…why did this work yesterday and not today? Being tired can be a big culprit for my kiddos. So, all that to say we take it situation by situation – sometimes doing it because in life we have to do things we don’t want to, and sometimes moving on and beyond to something different.

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  3. Library would be my best example, then some movies and pdhpe would follow on from that. I pick books separately from our homeschoolers, mostly ones they wouldn’t choose for themselves, and then we read through them. Everytime I’ve done this, they’ve ended up loving the journey. We discuss the content; discovering all sorts new things. Yet, my library suggestions on the day are nearly always shrugged off. I think its a case of judging a book by its cover. We know not to do it, but we do it anyway. As parents and teachers, particularly the teacher part, we see what they don’t see – facilitate the adventure – in some sense, we are Captain Nemo and our kids are Ned Land: skeptical, simple, only seeing what’s on the surface, not what’s underneath. Our job is to encourage them and awaken their joyful wonder like that of Professor Aronnax. We, ourselves stop to wonder at something (in a genuine way) and then invite them to wonder with us!

    Sun Tzu: “know when to fight and when not to fight; be ready for the unexpected, point the way to victory.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. For my son I mistook lack of interest with lack of confidence. He would say he didn’t like lessons but what I discovered is that he was insecure and needed reassurance. Since we figured this out, we’ve been on a roll.

    Liked by 1 person

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