/ / How to Deal with a Dawdler

How to Deal with a Dawdler

If you’ve been homeschooling for a while, you may have dealt with one of the biggest obstacles to teaching on Earth….the dawdler. Our oldest son is basically a Board-Certified Dawdler. When I assign him work, he can sit there for an hour or more finding ways NOT to complete his assignment.

When you’re homeschooling, you have the flexibility to give kids more time if needed, but eventually you have to get back to the lesson if you plan to cover everything on time. So, eventually my patience ran out. It was definitely time to try something new.

If you’re dealing with a dawdler in your homeschool, these three suggestions may help you find ways to keep the lesson plan moving.

How to Deal with a Dawdler

1. Ask your child what he’s feeling.

It’s always good to start by asking your child what’s going on. They could be disinterested in the lesson, feeling overwhelmed by the assignment, or even physically ill. Sometimes our youngest boy, Roo, gets stuck on the directions and just sits because he’s unsure how to begin. When I ask  him how he’s feeling, he generally opens up and I can find out how to help him.

2. Try a different teaching approach.

What if your child says “I just don’t want to do the assignment”? Well, you might want to consider a different teaching method. Some kids absolutely hate worksheets and will do anything to avoid them. If your child is like this, try having him write what he remembers about the lesson or repeat it orally to you. He can even act it out or draw a picture to show how much he remembers or understands. Switching up the type of assignment may make the lesson more interesting.

3. Use reasonable rewards to encourage your child.

When I say “rewards,” I don’t necessarily mean money or something tangible. But, if your child has something he particularly enjoys, you can easily motivate him to finish his work by using it. For example, with Pooh, I had to move all TV time to the afternoon after school was finished. So, if he had a show he wanted to watch, he had to finish his schoolwork (neatly) first. That alone did a lot to help him start his work and finish it on time.

Some other ideas to try:

Do you have a dawdler in your family? How do you keep him or her on task and avoid derailing your homeschool day?

Guest post by Selena of Look! We’re Learning!

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  1. Very good tips, Selena. I bet my boy would have loved for me to find this a few years ago 🙂 He used to be a wonderful dawdler. He’s older now and has more of an intrinsic drive. One thing I *wish* I would have done with him in years past is to have asked him what he was feeling/thinking. Often what he was working on was just not engaging him enough, or he needed my help more than I realized.
    I really enjoyed this post.

  2. What’s interesting is that some people do certain things super-fast….and other things extremely slowly. My son, for example, is the fastest reader, piano player, and chess player I’ve ever seen. BUT ask him to clean his room, eat breakfast, or get dressed and it may not happen this century! (Yeah, he spends 25 minutes on the toilet too.) My wife has similar attributes. She is wonderfully efficient and also does many things 100 mph….BUT get her in a grocery store or a mall and time literally stands still.

  3. I have four kids, ages 9, 7, 7 and 5, and we’ve been homeschooling for almost 5 years now. Two are certified dwadlers. The kind that make you want to pull your hair out pretty much every day. I stumbled on something that worked for us shortly after Christmas. Specified subject time allotments. The kids and I figured out approximately how long each subject takes (by those who stay on task), added 5 minutes, and there’s our time. Anyone who finishes early can go play until the timer stops and we begin the next subject. Miraculously, everyone has been getting their schoolwork done. If someone doesn’t finish in the alotted time, I’ll give them a couple more minutes because they’re usually pretty close. I wish I’d tried this years ago.

  4. Not with homeschool, but with getting ready for public school in the morning, I used the rewards. Originally, I didn’t let the kids play on computers before school because I thought it would slow us down, but now I let them play on the iphone or ipad as soon as they have eaten their breakfast and gotten dressed and ready. This motivates them to finish before we go so they have some time…and they get their choice of device and get to take it in the car if they finish before their sibling. They get ready so quick now I’m always the last one ready. (2 out of my three kids go to publich school…only my youngest homeschools).

  5. My son is 6, and finds it hard to get motivated some days. I have a “token” system in my house. (They are just little pretty glass beads in a clear jar.) A small set of passed assignments/worksheets etc, a chore, etc, all earn him a token. Dessert, TV shows, video games, etc all cost him a token. No fussing, no yelling, just “Do you have a token? no? Then get your work done or you can’t have it.” Also, going to the park with friends or having a sleepover on the weekend can only happen if he has completed his entire week’s plan (chores and assignments.) There are still occasional meltdowns and such, but showing indifference kills that fairly quickly.

Thank you for taking the time to comment!