Children Who Resist School Time


Sometimes I see mothers post on different forums regarding their child who is ‘’resisting” doing much of anything the parent/teacher presents.   I think sometimes bloggers are reluctant to blog about this because perhaps they too, are in the trenches of it all and don’t feel as if they have much to offer than to say, “It happens here as well.”  (Which in and of itself can be nice to hear, too).   No one really seems to want to talk about when things implode, or that bad days do occur, even in blogland.   Andrea over at Waldorf Salad and Cottage Fries wrote a   great post here about what happens when homeschooling becomes a battleground and how to make adjustments.

I have been thinking a lot about this.  I think the things that help me the most is to know myself, know my child and to know the curriculum.  I am a good teacher, and I am an even better teacher if I don’t have to spend my time dealing with children who are resisting everything and we spend our morning more in a headlock over what they don’t want to do rather than what we can do together to learn and have fun.  I am sure many of you feel that way!

Here is my list of observations regarding when things aren’t going well – something homeschooling has given me lots of  practice with!

  • Look at your child.  How does he or she learn, what does he or she like?  If you are a Waldorf homeschooler, how does that child  fit into the curriculum?  How can the curriculum meet the child?  It doesn’t have to be story-main lesson book, story- main lesson book…Which leads me to……
  • How active is your homeschool?  I find some of the curriculums on the market beautiful and inspiring, but more geared toward “sit down and write/paint/draw”.  That is wonderful and part of the Waldorf educational process, but I also think in homeschooling we need to think carefully about the active part out in the world before we think about sitting down.  This is part of homeschooling, and it is different than a school.  What field trips and experiences tied into the block?   Ideally, when we plan a block, those would be the first things that we would plan.  We need to think about movement, oral recitation and speech, skill practice in the doing, and then after all of that,  think about the sitting down.
  • How much room do you have for play?  Sometimes, especially with older children,  it is easy to get into “we have to get this done and then in the afternoon we have [x scheduled activity].  Where is the spontaneity for play, the extra room in the block for this?  Scheduling extra time into each block is helpful.
  • Is this attitude of being uncooperative  just for school or is it toward helping out in the family in general?  How nice is everyone being to each other in general?
  • Too many late nights and too many activities?  That can dampen any momentum towards getting going in the morning…
  • Are you carrying this as the authority?  Does the rhythm help carry you?  Can you adjust your rhythm to better fit your family?
  • Is your child dealing with something bigger – a learning disability, dyslexia, ADHD/ADD, visual or auditory processing challenges?  That can really affect things as well and being uncooperative can be an attempt to hide things that really need to be sorted out and things that need attention. Resistance can be thinly masked frustration on the part of the child with learning challenges.
  • Developmental age – I often see on mainstream homeschooling boards about small children who don’t want to sit down and do school. That is appropriate for small children and academics, but the kindergarten years in Waldorf Education are a time to put forth the effort in rhythmic activities each week that your child can depend upon and join into.  If you take this time, first and second grade will go much, much better…In first and second grade, the child is learning how to be a learner and needs strong authority and rhythm with experiential and kinesthetic learning.  Third grade is often a time of resistance and distraction, and often also needs to be as hands-on as possible.
  • If a child is coming out of a school environment and “resisting”, they need time to de-school.  Hike, play outside, read to him or her, work with wood and fiber and art, do seasonal activities, and be together for awhile.  To me, that is not ‘’resisting school” but part of de-schooling.


In my next post, I will detail how I think about the child that resists school from the framework of my own experiences.



10 thoughts on “Children Who Resist School Time

  1. My daughter’s kindergarten teacher just told me this morning that my daughter isn’t participating in circle. She’ll come home and talk about circle, but never mentions anything negative about it. I’m not sure how to approach it with her. Going to talk more in depth this afternoon at pick up.

    • Angie,
      I would talk more to the teacher. What does the teacher do if a child doesn’t participate? Many teachers are comfortable letting a child observe circle for some time. I am certain the teacher will give you ideas of how to approach it if she wants you to approach it at home.
      Hugs and blessings,

  2. This is such a great article, even for parents that do not homeschool. We have a little miss that does not fight schooling in general (she is in full time preschool now), but she fights doing what the teachers say when they say it. She loves the idea, but not the scheduling… I often talk to the teachers for us to synch up and it has helped. The idea that her teachers and parents are a “team”, all working together towards her education, has diminished the testing, the pushing limits, it has provided her with an overall stability. Communication is always #1!

  3. Hi Carrie 🙂
    I’d like to ask you a question… You mention in your first sentence about mums posting on forums. Would you be willing to share any Waldorf forums you’re aware of? I’m new to homeschooling (my eldest is 4.5) and while I do know other homeschoolers, they are all unschoolers. I’m really keen to adopt the Waldorf approach (and have been more or less at home already in a home / kindergArten setting) but it’s beginning to feel a bit isolating and I’d love to connect with other Waldorf homeschoolers to share experiences, learn from each other etc.
    I did try and join Homespun Waldorf several times but my registration does not seem to get approved and I can’t find contact details.
    If you’re able to point me in the direction if some active online communities that would be much appreciated 🙂
    Oh and I am in Brisbane, Australia if there’s any other local Waldorf homeschoolers who would be keen to connect.
    Thanks Carrie,

    • Mamalily,
      Most of what used to be Waldorf forums seem to have moved to Facebook and are now Facebook groups. There are many, including ones associated with curriculum providers and ones not. There is also the group Waldorf Coffee Shop on Facebook, not associated with any curriculum, a ton of swapping Waldorf items kind of groups, and Christian Waldorf groups…A Lot out there on Facebook. I cut way back to only one group and have since added a few more back in, but I have to be honest and say many times the Yahoo and Facebook groups drive me a little batty 🙂 As far as Australia Waldorf folks, please do check the connections pages of both the Christopherus Homeschool Resource Website and Donna Ashton’s website.
      Many blessings, and thank you for writing,

  4. Hi Carrie,
    Thanks for this post! I would like to ask about a 6.5 yr old girl in a homeschool. I’ve been feeling lately that she really could use a peer group to bounce her ideas off of & rub around with to help settle her right now. I’ve also been thinking that she has too much downtime- her play is changing & feeling more constricted. She doesn’t want to play with her sisters & wants to control all the ideas. She is the oldest & while i feel that is somewhat normal, I also feel tension. We go to bed at 7:30 & she has one ballet class a week & one 4h club a week. She doesn’t want to help with any of the stuff around the house even if i sing & make it cheerful except for her one chore of unloading the dishwasher. She does help me spontaneously on her own terms? Not sure how to word that last statement. I believe her to be of the melancholic temperament & i wonder if any of this has to do with it? She likes circle & Storytime but she wants more & more stories not just one for a week.
    Any advice would be so appreciated!

    • Hi Chelsea! There is a lot in that small comment you wrote, but I will try to address it….
      Please go back and look at all the posts for the six/seven year old change and also the posts about first grade readiness — it could be the restlessness and pushing back of the six/seven year old change. I often don’t think children can be truly ready for first grade until they get past this stage. I don’t think more outside activities are the answer, but I do think lots of physical activity (jump roping, ,ice skating, roller skating, hiking, running, tag and chase games, bike rides, skiing, swimming), and work -make HER responsible in some sense,for example for making snack for everyone or even a very simple meal, more complex things to do – for example, for the holidays making cinnamon clay ornaments that take longer than one session to make, etc., finger knitting, etc. I do know some homeschooling mothers that will go ahead and start teaching knitting at this time. However, I think the big goal is to get at least two to four hours of movement into the day. I know that sounds like a lot, but see if you can work with it at all. You can also set up little obstacle courses for her to run in the house, apartment or outside. See if she can remember the directions that you tell her before she starts.
      The structured activities are good, but it sounds like what she needs even more is what you were saying – free play with children her age or slightly older. And true to form for a six and a half year old, it may go well or it may be a complete flop since this age does like to control everything and then gets upset when the other six and seven year olds don’t want to play what they want. But I would still try!
      She may have a melancholic temperament, but I have also had a lot of parents say that about their girls (especially first born girls) in the six/seven year change and then say they really were not melancholic. So, I don’t know as I would accept that right now. Physical activity. Work. Projects. HOlidays are coming, great time of year to keep busy with making and baking!
      So, even if it is out two hours in the morning for physical activity, lunch and circle and story, afternoon of baking and making….that should keep her busy!
      hope that helps,

  5. Pingback: Children Who Resist School Time–Part Two | The Parenting Passageway

  6. Hi, thank you so much for this post. Our homeschooling was more struggle than peace lately, and I’m slowly starting to figure out what went wrong and trying to find a way to fix it.For us it must be somewhat rigid approach I developed towards the way our day should unfold…but little things too. Your article helps a lot. Thank you!

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