You Homeschooling Stories: What to Expect When Homeschooling a Struggling Learner

I am very please to have Kim from Passionate for Home posting today. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

What to Expect When Homeschooling a Struggling Learner

Perhaps your story is similar to mine.  You began homeschooling with great optimism and visions of your child happily learning at your side.  You imagined days free of busy work, jam-packed instead with meaningful activities, field trips, and classic literature.  But somewhere along the way, you ended up with a frustrated, resistant child who would rather do anything than school work.  Or a child whose spark for learning has been nearly extinguished from the struggle they have in mastering basic academics.  Your find your own joy in teaching being drained from the constant battle.  If any of this sounds familiar to you, don’t despair.  You are not alone!

I have been homeschooling a struggling learner for nearly six years now.  The signs began to emerge near the end of Grade 1, when my previously eager student began to hate math, reading, and generally all things “school.”  Puzzled, I could not understand how this could be when he had a rich learning environment, great curriculum, and lots of personalized attention.  Nothing I read about homeschooling had prepared me for this.  Determined to find a way, I began a journey of discovery that would open my eyes to the world of the struggling learner.  It is my hope that by sharing some of my experience with you, you will be better prepared if you suspect or already know that you have a struggling learner on your hands.

Prepare for pushback.  When children struggle with learning, it often comes out in their behavior.  When you bring the learning home, the behavior unfortunately comes with it.  It can be hard not to take this personally as a parent, to not see it as just bad attitude.  Yes, there will be times of bad attitude, but if you look past the surface, you may find that your child’s behavior is actually frustration and be able to tackle the real problem.

Prepare to invest one-on-one time.  There is no way around this – a child who struggles with learning is going to need your help.  These children have a harder time staying on task, generating ideas, working through problems, and completing projects.  Giving your child extra time is challenging when you are juggling the needs of your home, other children, and outside commitments.  While the amount of extra support varies from child to child, it is important to find out what your child needs and to plan accordingly.

Prepare to encourage. As parents, we often forget how hard it is for our struggling students to face their learning challenges every day.  They need lots of encouragement to persist in the face of difficulties, and praise when they overcome.  It can be hard to remember this when your days seem to revolve around prodding them.  But by being intentional with encouragement, we can bolster our child’s self-confidence.

Prepare to go at their pace.  Forget how and when the “typical” child is supposed to learn.  This is the beauty of the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling offers!  Your child may not be able to work on math for 30 minutes straight.  They may only complete one work page per day instead of two.  The goal is to see them progress, and to do so at the pace that is right for them.  Putting undue pressure on a struggling learner to perform like their peers is unfair and unproductive.  Preserve your relationship and your sanity by letting go of the ideal in your head, and embrace your child’s unique needs!

Prepare to experiment until you find the right resources.  What worked for your friend or your other children may not work for your struggling child.  It takes time and patience to find what works for them, and you must give yourself permission to drop what you thought was the “perfect” curriculum.  The truth is your child may never love a subject area they struggle in, no matter what curriculum you use.  Yet you can make sure there is no additional burden by finding material that caters to your child’s learning style and strengths.  In the end, the best curriculum is the one that works for your child!

Prepare to seek outside help.  As a deeply committed parent, it was hard for me to imagine that someone else could know my son’s needs as well as I did, or find a way to reach him that I hadn’t already tried.  Now I realize that it isn’t always that they know more or better than you do, but that your child may respond to them differently.  It takes a village to raise a child, and if you are hitting a wall with your struggling learner, consider reaching out to others.  Ask for referrals, and don’t hesitate to make a switch if you feel the current situation is not working.  Most importantly, don’t overlook the benefit of input from others into your child’s learning journey.

Homeschooling my son has been one of the greatest privileges of my life so far.  It has also been one of the most difficult.  Although my journey looks different than what I had imagined, it is still filled with good things.  I can look back and see how both my son and I have grown in leaps and bounds.  Isn’t that what homeschooling is really all about?

Hi, my name is Kim, and I believe that all children can thrive when their unique gifts are nurtured.
Special thanks to Meaghan for letting me share about my passion at Joyful Mud Puddles!
You can also find me at,
where I share what I am learning about faith, family and finances.