Do you have a child who won’t do their work? Who complains everything is harder than you know it is? Do you have a child that is making you crazy because they won’t just do their school work? Today’s post is for you.

Believe Them

With many years of life experience, I can now tell you with confidence that if your child is telling you, either with words or actions, that schoolwork is too hard for them, you need to listen. Children want to do things well. They want to be good at things. When they aren’t, they push back.

That doesn’t mean you should not ask your child to do hard things, but everyday school work should not be a daily struggle for both of you.

Looking for Clues

If you and your child are struggling every day, then it is likely that something more is going on. For one reason or another, the work you have chosen is too hard for them. It could be challenging them and provoking anxiety. When you are anxious the higher functions of your brain don’t work, and you can’t do challenging school work. It may be they have a hidden learning disability, so the work is a lot harder for them than you think it is.

What if they have done it before, but can’t today? Doesn’t that rule out a learning disability? No, it doesn’t.

Learning disabilities, ADHD, and autism are dynamic disabilities. Their brain can do things some days and not others. And tiny things can make a big difference. Today your child is tired, which makes it harder. Or perhaps the font on today’s assignment is a bit harder to read, which means the worksheet you did yesterday was much easier. Or the last time you did this with them, you gave the instructions in a way that worked better for them, and today you switched from telling them to asking them to read for themselves or vice versa, and now they aren’t sure what to do.

Perhaps your child can do the math activity when it is in a story, but not when it is written on paper. Perhaps they can read in a video game but struggle with books. The thing that means you need to look harder is not that they can do it sometimes, but that they are struggling.

Finding Answers

If you realize your child is struggling, I recommend looking for answers to why they are struggling. Finding answers can really help both your child and your relationship with them.

I am going to admit something to you all, I feared labeling my kids. I knew something was different about my child, and I chose to focus on the positives, and just focus on working with them on their level. As an OT, I could compensate and accommodate a WHOLE LOT. And I did. Not only did I fear my child being labeled, I feared being mislabeled. Because it does happen. Testing young children is tricky, and finding someone you trust to get the right answers is hard.

There came a point when I knew that the right thing to do was to test and get some answers. And I won’t lie here, despite the fact I am trained in child development and child psychology and had worked with kids with various learning disabilities, my own child’s diagnosis came as a surprise. I have actually been surprised several times, as there were things I saw about my kids, and things I wasn’t seeing. Things that made a huge difference once I knew about them.

Getting To The Truth Is Hard

Testing isn’t always helpful. With one of my kids, I paid for a round of testing that was completely useless. I read the report and wondered if it was even written about my child. We found a better psychologist and tested again a year later. That test found answers that helped me change how we homeschooled in a way that helped my child learn and eliminated several of our homeschooling struggles.

So, if your child is not doing well with homeschooling, I encourage you to look for why. Children want to succeed. Your goal is to figure out how to help them do that.

** Today’s post is written with they/them pronouns and with vague language intentionally, so as to not call out any one child and their challenges individually. Thanks for understanding.

About the Author

Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.

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