Children are naturally born with a poor sense of time management. They tend not to see the importance of deadlines and schedules and are not experts as using their time wisely. Unfortunately for busy homeschool parents, this tendency to dawdle can create friction when their children don’t complete assignments in a reasonable amount of time.
It may be time to clear the table for dinner, and your adorable dawdler is still laboring over math problems from 3:30 this afternoon!
The first step to conquering dawdling is to uncover the reason. If one of my children is taking a long time, an honest and open conversation usually pinpoints the issue, making it easier to solve.
One of my key revelations in the area of dawdling through the homeschool day is that the problem is often the curriculum instead of the child. It’s easy to look at an assignment, see how straightforward it appears, and assume the child is at fault for not completing it in a speedy manner. Because very young children are typically eager learners, if they are dawdling over an assignment, it usually boils down to one of the following curriculum-based reasons.
1. Dawdling Because It's Too Easy
As a parent, there are certain chores I don’t like because they are mindless and repetitive. For me, it’s the dishes. After every meal, I’m washing the same dishes over and over, day after day. The monotony is excruciating.
For my children, practicing writing the same letters or doing the same types of math problems they already understand is equally tedious. Because they are so young, they don't have the fortitude to approach the task as I would approach the dishes.
Sometimes dawdling is a result of curriculum being too easy, mindless, or repetitive.
2. Dawdling Because It's Too Hard
Just because an assignment many look easy to me, doesn’t mean it’s easy for my child. Even though we are our children's primary teacher, we homeschool parents can still be surprised to learn of gaps in learning. We assume our kids grasp some academic foundation that is actually a mystery to them.
Homeschool dawdling could be because an assignment is too hard or not well understood.
3. Dawdling Because It's Too Long
A child might be willing to complete ten math problems a day but may get overwhelmed by doing thirty. Once she passes that 10-problem limit, the dawdling begins!
I can relate to this kind of child by reminding myself that I might be fine doing a load or two of laundry a day, but if I’m going to be folding and putting away ten loads a day, I need a huge amount of motivation or energy to make it through that mammoth task.
If you see dawdling happen suddenly at a certain point in the assignment, the culprit could be the size of the task.
4. Dawdling Because It's the Wrong Method
Not all children learn equally well with all programs. I’ve seen huge changes in a child’s motivation simply by changing to a math program that fits their personality better or trying a language arts program that uses a different approach.
Correctly identifying the reason for dawdling opens up a workable solution. It's not hard to see in each of the four situations above what the answer is! If work is too monotonous, skip ahead to something more challenging. If the assignment is too long, shorten it. If it's too difficult, stop and reteach or put it aside until your child has more maturity.
Sometimes identifying the problem is as simple as asking our children why they are procrastinating or why they don’t want to do their work. Other times we can observe what happens when they do the work and trust our gut to tell us if the issue is actually a fault of the child or a problem with the curriculum. Don’t be afraid to switch things up in an effort to curb dawdling. Our freedom to make changes on the fly is one of our most valuable homeschool perks.