Navigating “Do I have to?” Homeschool Days

Posted by on Nov 14, 2016 | 0 comments

Our first few years of homeschooling were sweet days of learning and creativity. Fun days. But once we hit the later elementary years I kept hearing the same phrase, “Do I have to?”

homeschool days
It definitely was subtle, but eventually it started to ruin my mornings.

Do I have to …
finish these multiplication times tables
write all these spelling words
diagram the rest of these sentences
read this book
do long division today

Do I have to started with just one lesson and finally crept into each homeschool day. And one day he asked,  “Do we have to homeschool today?” He asked most likely because I said “no” the first time to something so trivial he was brave enough to ask me to wash the whole day’s schedule.

So I did. No, you don’t have to – let’s do something else … something more fun that we’ll both enjoy. That’s really why I said no. I said no because I didn’t want to do it either. I didn’t want to hear the mumbling and complaining. I didn’t want to arm wrestle over one more thing. I certainly was tired of being the bad guy!

Yet the truth is ~ when we save our children from the “have to” monster we’re really not saving them from character building. We can help them indulge in their laziness.

At forty I do not ask, do I have to pay taxes? Do I have to cook everyone dinner again – we just ate 6 hours ago! Do I have to get my annual exam done? Am I being extreme, maybe. But we still have to clean our rooms, brush our teeth, and change our underwear! Why do we start weighing if they have to do school work? I have learned … it’s much harder to climb out of the pit of laziness if you do not fall into it at all.

There is a beautiful compromise I have found with my second homeschool son.
Do I have to write my spelling words ten times? No, but why don’t you write them three times each?
Do I have to do this timed multiplication quiz? No, why don’t we leave out the timer and you finish at your own pace.

Some days there is no good reason to push through practice problems or the same reading comprehension questions a child has clearly mastered. Let them know that. “Because you already know this … let’s move on.” If they do not know the material forward and back do not skip it. On those days teach the art of compromise. If you toss something small today it might mean having to battle through an entire Algebra class later.

Stef Layton

Stef Layton started homeschooling in 2008. Her heart is set on intentional parenting and building strong family relationships. She is a columnist for Homeschooling Today Magazine.


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