Living with Kids: How to Fight the Horrors of Homeschooling

Q: Since childhood, we’ve had significant behavioral issues with our 6-year-old son – defiance and general disrespect, mostly. We have tried various disciplinary approaches with little or no positive results.

The last problem concerns the fact that I teach it at home. Although he wasn’t a problem in kindergarten at the private school last year—obedient, responsible, successful—he isn’t the least bit motivated to work under my direction. The curriculum is on par with it and the materials come highly recommended by other home school moms.

Nevertheless, he seems indifferent and constantly complains that the work is too hard, which it certainly isn’t. Today, for example, because he complained, deliberately did not follow instructions and was generally wrong, he ended up in his room at 10 a.m. for the rest of the day without screen time for the rest of the week. As I write this, he’s in his room yelling that I’m being unfair. I’m completely out of ideas. To help!

A: First off, if your little rebel didn’t cause a problem in kindergarten last year, then I recommend you put him back in “regular” school. Mind you, I applaud your attempt at home schooling. I am an advocate, generally speaking, but I advise against home schooling when the teaching parent is having significant discipline issues with the child in question.

Homeschooling can only be done effectively if the major discipline issues have been resolved. Your authority as your son’s teacher depends on his acceptance of your authority as a parent, which is obviously not the case. Another way of saying the same thing: Discipline issues at home are going to carry over to homeschooling. This is an example of what I call “parental physics.”

Under the circumstances, and especially given that your son had no problems in kindergarten (meaning he recognizes and accepts the authority of other adults), I have to believe that a standard group setting is the best game for him. Let’s face it, homeschooling isn’t one size fits all — or any other educational option, for that matter.

If you decide to go ahead with home schooling, I have two suggestions: first, to master discipline issues at home, read my best-selling book “The Well Behaved Child”; second, find and join a local homeschooling co-op.

Chances are—and his kindergarten experience confirms my opinion—your son will be much more cooperative with other mothers than he is with you.

Visit family psychologist John Rosemond’s website at; readers can email him at [email protected]; due to volume of mail, not all questions will be answered.

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