Ask the Experts

Q: My Child is Resisting Homeschool Work More and More Each Day!

Week One had a steep learning curve. Week Two found a little groove, but now your child is actively rebelling or melting down at the thought of another homeschooling day of assignments and classes on the couch. Here, learn how to get back on track by making learning active and dynamic — like your child.

Q: “My child was enthusiastic about school-from-home for the first few days, but now it’s nearly impossible to get him to do any assignments or schoolwork. He’s just tired of school, and flat out refuses to do any work, or gets upset at the thought of another day of schooling from home. Being at home is just not the same as being in school. What can I do?”


We are hearing the same concerns from parents here at EC Tutoring — that kids’ behavior is deteriorating, and parents are more frustrated as the days go on. We’ve seen a marked increase in these types of complaints recently.

Children with ADHD like novelty, and now the luster of schooling-from-home is wearing off. That, in combination with parents’ fizzling tempers and patience, is a situation ripe for conflict in any household. For children with ADHD, who struggle with emotional regulation and getting things done with an even-keeled mindset, learning from home is quickly becoming untenable.

What’s more, schools have at last begun assigning classwork after getting through weeks of organizational hurdles — and the work is just too hard or complicated for students to take on without support. So they’re rebelling.

The best thing to do in this situation is to try to make schoolwork activity-based and project-based as much as possible — even if the school has clearly listed the assignments for the rest of the school year.

[Click to Read: 11 Expert Tips for Schooling Kids with ADHD from Home]

The Appeal of Hands-On Projects

Students with ADHD simply cannot tolerate the mundane, and they can have a really hard time tackling something that they find monotonous, boring, and hard. Project-based learning (PBL) can make a topic or subject more interesting and fun, thereby boosting their engagement.

Help your child plan projects by using the wealth of resources available online; never underestimate the power of a simple Google search. It’s also important to offer choices in the type of projects your child might pursue and the platforms they might use.

Ideas for Hands-On Projects

  • Foldables: A foldable is a type of graphic organizer that helps display and arrange information on practically any subject. According to Dinah Zike, who is credited with the idea, “Making a foldable gives students a fast, kinesthetic activity that helps them organize and retain information… foldables can also be used for a more in-depth investigation of a concept, idea, opinion, event, or a person or place.”When I was a teacher, my students with ADHD would go nuts over foldables and pour so much effort into them. It was a way for them to show me just how much they really grasped and understood a subject. Click here for more foldable ideas, and know that YouTube offers many videos to spark ideas.

[Related Reading: Stick to the Plan! How to Cement Your Child’s New Home Learning Routines]

  • Doodle Notes: According to its web site, “Doodle Notes are a unique visual note-taking method with built-in features that increase focus and memory by taking advantage of a collection of brain research, including Dual Coding Theory.” The method is great for artsy kids who have difficulty with focus. You can download the Doodle Notes Handbook for free on the company’s site.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers: This is an educational resource site for teachers that also offers tons of great activities for parents and their children. Activities are categorized by subject and grade, and while many of the items carry a price tag, there’s an entire section for free resources, too.
  • Scholastic Learn at Home: According to its site, “Scholastic Learn at Home provides 20 days’ worth of active learning journeys designed to reinforce and sustain educational opportunities for those students who are unable to attend school.” This resource is free due to school closures, and it includes activities for children in Pre-K through Ninth Grade.

Ideas for Online Learning

Online learning programs can also help students temporarily break free from the same-old school assignments, or they can act as a supplement to them. Generally, any program or site that incorporates quizzes is worth checking out. Quizzes are a powerful and fun tool to help kids test their learning, discover what they’ve mastered, and decide what they need to review at their own pace.

As with hands-on projects, give your child some say in which platforms they’ll use and what they’ll study. This can also be a great opportunity for them to dive into an unusual topic or subject that interests them. Even if they have assigned work, these online resources just might reignite their love for learning.

Some recommended resources include:

  • IXL Learning: It’s a personalized learning site with a K-12 curriculum covering math, science, social studies, language arts, and more. Personally, I think this is a particularly great resource for math. We also love it because kids take a pre-test at the start, then the site scopes out their activities based on what they need to work on. The site is offering its service for free for the first 30 days to help support families during this crisis.
  • Brain Pop (6th grade and up) and Brain Pop Jr. (for younger learners): Both educational sites that offer resources across subjects like science, math, language arts, engineering, arts and music, and much more. The site is also offering its resources for free to families for 30 days.
  • Audible books (read-alouds are now free on Audible): The idea is to have your child, even if they are the most reluctant of readers, listen to the book and read along in the hard copy if they have it. Not only do they hear a good reader, but they’re also increasing fluency skills by following along. You can find free audibles for kids here.

Additional Tips

  1. Get creative with teachers. If your child is really struggling to engage with work and routine assignments, don’t be afraid to get in touch with the teacher and ask if an alternative project can work. For example, if making change is the week’s math lesson, ask the teacher if your child can practice the concept by creating a “store” at home rather than filling out multiple worksheets. You can attach prices to items around your home for purchase, and even introduce concepts like percentages with “discounted” items and coupons.
  2. Ask about your child’s 504 Plan or IEP. It’s difficult for school districts to provide accommodations, so parents need to take the lead on this. If the assignment calls for something unreasonable for your child, ask teachers for accommodations — that can include modified assignments, doing half the worksheet, and/or hands-on projects, of course.
  3. You just might need to get more involved. If your child is struggling because the material is new and hard (most schools are focusing on review), it may be best to help them get through the assignment rather than rely on them to go at it independently. If this is the case, you do the best you can given other obligations and considerations, and know that it must be enough.

Some school districts are issuing grades now, but they are in the minority. If your child is in a school where assignments are optional and ungraded, you shouldn’t have issues contacting teachers with requests to get more creative or relaxed with schoolwork. As we are all in survival mode (including teachers), they are very likely to oblige.

[Read This Next: “I’ve Been Homeschooling My ADHD Brood for Years. Here’s What I Want You to Know.”]


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Updated on August 13, 2020

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