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Do you have a dawdling homeschooler who drags out their work all.day.long? If so, you have a number of options to consider to get your dawdler moving.

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#1 Use Motivators with Your Dawdler

One option is to use motivators to get your child to complete work in a timely manner. Read Motivational Mistakes Many Parents Make.

It is possible that you have a child who needs an external reward to finish work in a timely manner. That is particularly likely to be the case if the subject is one that your student doesn’t like or struggles to complete. One motivator that I particularly like for dawdlers is time for activities of that child’s choice. Rather then prescribing a particular use of time, give your child time to pursue any activity of interest as soon as she is done with school work. Your child is more likely to be motivated.

I have written about a quarterly, motivational planner that I created for my kids that takes advantage of this concept. We were nearing the end of the school year and I listed all of the work my kids had to get done in each subject in order for them to be done with school. I never saw them do work so quickly. You might adapt this quarterly planner for the week. You can also adapt it for the day and give your child the work that has to be completed before pursuing other activities. Make sure the work has been done to your standards.

#2 Cut Your Dawdler’s Work Down

The next way to deal with a dawdler is to cut the amount of work down. Many times when I hear a parent complain about their child dawdling, I find that the parent is using very detailed curriculum as written and is expecting the child to do all of the assigned exercises. Some parents are using multiple curricula for various subjects. If you have a child who is resisting, it is worth your while to determine if you are expecting too much.

Most curriculum is written to give lots of options to the teacher. The curriculum publisher isn’t necessarily expecting you to do every single exercise. What I learned from talking with public school teachers is they don’t complete everything in the curriculum they are using either. So, if you want a more motivated child who is not dawdling, you will want to eliminate some of the work. That might mean dropping a secondary curriculum that simply doesn’t need to be done. It might mean having your child do half of the exercises. It might mean dropping a subject for the whole school year. We don’t have to teach every single subject every single year.

If you aren’t sure if you are doing too much, please follow my best advice on this topic. That is to ask veteran homeschoolers. I have a Facebook group called the Homeschool Sanity Circle with many veteran homeschoolers who are happy to help you determine if you are expecting too much.

#3 Have Your Dawdler Evaluated

If you are using motivators and you’ve cut the work down to a reasonable amount and you still have a child who is dawdling, it may be time to have your child evaluated for a learning disability. No one wants to do things that they aren’t good at. Rather then be straightforward in admitting that they just don’t understand something or they just can’t do it, many kids prefer to appear resistant instead.

You can find resources for evaluation through your local homeschool support group. Homeschool support groups offer referrals to homeschool-friendly professionals who can tell you if your students is struggling with a learning disability. But it might make sense to have your child’s vision or hearing evaluated as well. In that case, your pediatrician is not a bad place to start if you have a student who is struggling with schoolwork.

If you learn that your child has a learning disability, then it is time to look for resources for that particular learning difference. And that includes looking for curriculum best suited for your child’s particular needs. Every effort should be made to talk to the child about how common the the learning difference is. Even if your child doesn’t have a formal learning disability, your student could benefit from a different approach to learning the subject. If you have an auditory or hands-on learner, adjust your curriculum.

#5 Give Your Dawdler Formal Class Periods

I talk to many homeschooling parents who expect their child to work independently, completing all of their subjects. When that isn’t working for you, consider having a subject-based time. Here is what I mean. I would have all of my kids sitting around a table working on math at the same time. That allowed for the social pressure of actually doing math. I liken it to going to the gym and feeling like you’d like to be on your phone instead of lifting weights, but you feel really uncomfortable about doing that when everyone else is working out. So use that positive social pressure to get your kids working on that particular subject in a group.

The other thing having a class period allows you to do is walk from student to student, making sure that each person is making progress. You can provide help and encouragement where needed. This approach will save you so much time. You won’t have to nag each student about getting work done. And you won’t have to have individual sessions for each subject with all of your kids.

#5 Give Your Dawdler One-On-One Tutoring

However, my last suggestion for dealing with a dawdling homeschooler is to use one-on-one tutoring. I sometimes find that parents expect young students or students with certain personalities to be completely independent in their work when that isn’t feasible or optimal. We homeschool so that we can provide an education for our kids that is suited to them as individuals. It’s rewarding to teach our kids directly and to have that special one-on-one time with them. Believe me, that time will come to an end all too quickly!

I couldn’t get my son to use an independent art curriculum. So I made it an art class that I participated in and the problem was solved.


If you have a dawdler, use motivators, cut the work down, have an evaluation for learning disabilities, set up class periods, or provide one-on-one tutoring. I’m confident that one or more of these strategies will help your dawdler become a little more driven to learn.

Which of these strategies will you try first in dealing with a dawdler? What else have you tried that has worked? Comment and let me know.