You’ve been watching your daughter stare at the same math problem for fifteen minutes. It could turn into 45 minutes, but you know better than to let it drag on that long.
You want to rail at her to get this done! Staring out the window and cleaning the tread in her sneakers with a number two pencil does not count as math! What is happening?
You’re pretty sure she understood the directions. The problem is well within her current skill level, or at least you think it is. Unless she makes the effort to solve the problem, it’s hard to know.
So you wait.
You shift, uncomfortable in your chair. You start to brainstorm how to get out of this deadlock without ruining what’s left of your homeschool day. You send up prayers that this won’t end in an argument.
Take a deep breath, friend! This scenario plays out in my house and many homeschool homes around the world everyday. Here are a few tools you can use to help your child get unstuck.
1. Change the Environment to Get Unstuck
- Reduce the noise. Lots of our households are loud with the sounds of multiple children, pets, and other ambient noise! Help your child by removing some of those distractions, providing soothing white noise, or finding her a quiet zone to work. Noise cancelling headphones are another useful option!
- Alter location.A clipboard is one of our most valued homeschool tools. Move the work outside or to some other appropriate place.
- Provide incentives to retain focus. Offer a snack. Light a candle. Play classical music. Consider a timer or stopwatch (not appropriate for some anxious learners).
2. Change the Problem to Get Unstuck
- Remove potential obstacles. If the activity requires more than one skill, take away the component that causes the lag. For example, if your child struggles with writing, consider using math magnets or tiles to demonstrate the arithmetic instead of writing problems.
- Don’t complete the assignment. If you are confident she understands the concept, let the problem go. Don’t fall into the trap of busy work. Life always gives us a chance to review the concept if it is important enough to know.
- Mark the problem for later review. Move on and tackle the problem again at the end of the day or first thing the next morning.
- Save review for another day. Let your child complete all the problems with no feedback from you. Give her space to work. At the end of the week let her know which questions she missed and have her rework them with your assistance.
- Answer it for them. Tell your child the answer. Perhaps have them explain how you got the solution.
3. Support Your Learner to Get Unstuck
- Investigate the hold up. Encourage questions. Offer to repeat directions. Gently remind your child to refocus.
- Develop a plan. Have the child agree to a minimum number of problems they think they can accomplish. Once this agreed upon bare minimum is reached, honor their choice to stop if they wish.
- Provide emotional assistance. Adopt a growth mindset in your homeschool. Offer encouragement and support. Help them get started.
Listen to your child. If he or she is really struggling, then something may be truly wrong. If, despite all your efforts and your child’s efforts, focus is a continual struggle, consider speaking with an expert. Dyslexia, dysgraphia, slow processing speed, anxiety, or perfectionism may require outside assistance and a more specialized set of tools.
It can be hard to know if what you're facing is a normal struggle or something more. Our Advisors can help!