Really struggling with my 6yo

This is my third year homeschooling. I have 4 kids (ages 9, 8, 6, 3). We’ve been very successful up to this point, so I feel like I should know what I am doing by now! However, my 6yo (first grader) has just decided he doesn’t want to do any schoolwork anymore. We had no trouble in PK or K, so this is extremely frustrating.

He is a very bright kid, so the work isn’t too difficult for him. We use different materials to make each subject interesting and fun. He just flat out doesn’t want to work. I can make him sit at his desk, I can take away toys and privileges, but I can’t actually force him to do his schoolwork.

With three other kids, it is getting exhausting trying to deal with this one. Any tips or suggestions??

Somewhat different situation but my three year old seemed to have lost interest in her activities which are all fun and I don’t push her to do as she is just 3. My husband has a weekday off this week so I had him join us so we could show Daddy what we do all day. This worked well as she was eager to show off for Daddy and Daddy could encourage her while I helped older sisters so we had fewer interruptions.

Most people don’t have this luxury, but if there was a way to bring in an audience to impress such as a grandparent, or just announce that you will be sending pictures of work they do that day to someone important or making a video, maybe that’d increase the motivation at least for the day.

Also Erica wrote an article on her blog or maybe it was a comment here about students who refuse to work diligently. She makes them do all the work as homework at the end of the day without her help as the teacher is off duty. This might have to be modified for 1st grade as less of it is independent, but the idea is still the same no electronics, playing, sports practice, tv, fun time, etc. until it all gets done. You could use the weekend for this too. You should still make him sit in his chair and encourage him to work during the day, when he realizes he is losing twice as much free time as his siblings hopefully he will come around. You will have to follow through and hang tough.

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Same problem with my son rushes thru everything and so sloppy. He lost his Xbox today and we will see what tomorrow brings.
He seems to be bored so I need to figure out what is going to work for him

Does he like to play pretend? Here’s something I did with my son which might help yours. He was in public school in Kindergarten so this might look a little different for you than it did for us, but, you might try “playing school” (or something similar).

He would cry over every school like thing I tried to get him to do after we pulled him out (he cried his whole first year of PS KG too). But one thing he still liked to do was “play school” with his toy animals and action figures. One of the larger animals would be the teacher, and a selection of others would be students. At first he wanted to play the teacher and some of the students, and I realized that even with him teaching I could have the students ask questions that he could learn from. But, after a while he let me play the teacher. At first I wasn’t intending it as his real “lessons” and would just make up stuff I thought would supplement (spelling words, math problems, stories I’d read). But after a while I realized I could teach EVERYTHING in “play school.” Books he hated to read he’d read without complaint while pretending to be a dinosaur (helped too cause he felt less like he’d failed if the dinosaur made mistakes…we were still really working to build up his confidence to try then). Lessons he resisted when I tried to teach them directly he would do when I taught them as a mouse with a funny voice.

It takes more time because you have to leave time for pretend things like students getting “in trouble” and dinosaurs having recess and snack or doing “show and tell” but it was totally worth it. We did it all last year and still this year.

What changed from K to this year? Maybe the culmination of the work is too much of a jump, even if he is capable of doing individual pieces. Maybe the last two years seemed to be mostly play-oriented, and now things suddenly have a serious tone. Maybe K took 30 minutes, and 1st grade takes 2 hours. Maybe you spent more time working with him in K, but now don’t. Maybe he got to jump on the trampoline more last year.


I think you need to decide the root cause before you’ll know how to handle things.

Also…I noticed that all of your motivational tools mentioned were framed in negative terms (consequences, things to take away etc…) Instead, try to find positive motivators. For example, one I used to use:

“Let’s see who can get done first: you with your math, or me with folding this basket of laundry. Ready…go!”

I was in the room, I could interact, they could see me folding and the concrete model of me getting work done, and I made it fun to race me–we all got our work done. If they finished first, sometimes they’d help me put some things away. And I’d be mock-upset, “What, you beat me?!! How did this happen?” and they would giggle. I made it so they could win if they tried.

If I got done first, I’d say, “Let’s finish your math together.” It was MUCH faster and more efficient for us to take 15 minutes to do math together than for me use up my time and energy trying to get a child of this age to do math on his or her own. We’d snuggle on the couch together and take turns writing, or if I could see they were tired, I’d scribe and let them tell me what to write. A sticker on the page when it was completed (and maybe one to wear on their shirt) was often motivating to my kids. They liked to pick out stickers and I always had a stash.

6 is young, and just because a child is intelligent, doesn’t mean he or she has the mental perseverance and physical stamina to work independently. A lot of 6 year-olds would be doing K this year. Hang in there! Every child is different. Pray about it and see what God shows you about how this child needs to learn and what will help this child to grow. View this challenge as, “How can we learn to walk this journey together?” versus something adversarial.

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