Is Your Homeschooled Child a Hibernating Student?

Public school teachers see them every day: hibernating students. They walk into class with their heads hung low and act disinterested in everything the teacher says or does. These hibernators are found in homeschools too. What do you do if your own child is a sleepwalking student? Try these four tips for waking up the hibernators in your homeschool.

Address Student Needs

A study published in the Research in Higher Education Journal advises that teachers should keep a vigilant watch over student needs at all times. If your child appears disinterested or disengaged, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my child getting any sort of intrinsic reward from this learning? If not, how can I change that?
  • In accordance with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, does my child have physiological, safety, social, or emotional concerns that I should address?

Use Interesting Hooks

The way you present a topic can make or break your student’s interest in it. First and foremost, convey a sense of excitement about the material. If you’re not excited about a particular lesson plan, don’t expect your child to show any interest, either.

Lisa Dabbs, an education consultant and Edutopia blogger, recommends that you set the stage for learning with a great hook. Show a captivating video clip, read a fun book, or take a field trip to a museum or other public space that feeds into your lesson plan. Don’t just rattle off facts to be memorized; find a dramatic way to grab your child’s attention and intrigue him. Every lesson needs a hook.


Make learning personal by incorporating your student’s hobbies and interests into each lesson. For example, Jeff loves hockey but dislikes academics. When it comes time to learn about expository writing, have Jeff write a thesis about why the Detroit Red Wings won their latest game. Begin a science lesson with a video clip of Jeff’s favorite team scoring a goal, then use the subject of ice as a springboard into a water cycle lesson.

Expect Dormant Periods

Many homeschool environments are less structured than traditional school; that’s part of the draw. There will be days when your child absorbs knowledge with sponge-like thirst and days when your child demonstrates no sparks whatsoever.

Homeschool adviser Isabel Shaw reminds us that all learners go through dormant periods in which they seem to absorb nothing. Often, these periods are followed by an intellectual growth spurt. Limit television, take educational field trips, partner with your child, do everything you can. Then sit back for a bit. Sometimes all you need to do is wait.

Most homeschooling parents battle student resistance from time to time. The trick is to ride out the storm, and find ways to motivate your youngster. It’s also important to remember that true learning in a homeschool environment looks different than learning in a public school environment.

If you have questions or concerns about what daily homeschool learning should look like, don’t hesitate to contact K12 for more information. As an accredited online education provider, we’re happy to share our wisdom with you.

Image Credit – Pink Sherbet Photography / CC by 2.0

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