Hate School? How Homeschooling Can Help

Possibly. But here’s what to do first.

Prisma Staff
March 7, 2023

Prisma is the world’s most engaging virtual school that combines a fun, real-world curriculum with powerful mentorship from experienced coaches and a supportive peer community

Possibly. But here’s what to do first.

"I am blown away by how much Jack has grown in such a short time. He is so much happier. Knowing that he is with a group who celebrates him instead of tearing him down, and is so patient as he learns, is such a relief. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but as a family we have been sort of traumatized by the public school system. It just wasn’t the right model of learning for Jack. I’m so glad we found Prisma!" -Allison V., Prisma parent

There are so many reasons why a child might hate school: boring classes, too much work, not enough free-time, bullying, no sense of community, or a bad match with their teacher. Often, several of these reasons get tangled together, making it challenging to tease them apart from a general sense of “get me out of here!”

In response to hearing those dreaded words, you might start considering home education — especially in the middle of the school year, when finding a new school to attend in-person feels like an extra steep climb.

But “homeschooling” isn’t a de facto cure-all for a child’s “hate” of school. You’ll have to pick the right approach for you and your family. And that starts with understanding why your child hates school to begin with.

Homeschooling might be a good alternative if...

They aren’t connected to the curriculum

One common translation of “I hate school” is, “I’m bored.” But go a little deeper into what they mean. Common reasons for boredom include:

  1. They are at the wrong grade level (either above or below their current ability)
  2. They don’t know why school matters to them or their future

In either scenario, a project-based approach might be a better fit: project-based learning teaches problem-solving skills, critical thinking and creativity, by presenting kids with a real life question (think: climate change, world hunger, fake news), and then inviting them to solve it, using authentic sources, in the way that resonates most with them.

Project-based learning is an ideal homeschool curriculum. It’s fundamentally customizable, so your child can be the protagonist of their own education. Avoiding “levels” or specific “learning styles,” project-based learning invites kids to wrestle with a topic of interest, which means they are more likely to push themselves out of their comfort zone.

At Prisma, learners take the lead on choosing the specific topic they want to pursue, and get ample choice of what kind of material to use for their research and how to present the results. That means a final project could be a 3d model of their city of the future, a podcast about local news, or a series of poems inspired by their favorite video game.

They don’t jive with their teacher

Sometimes a student and a teacher just don’t click, often because of hard-to-pinpoint interpersonal reasons. In those cases, if it’s impossible to switch your child to another classroom or impractical to wait out the year, homeschooling could be a good option. But take a beat and think about whether you feel like you and your child will gel in a student-teacher dynamic and you feel comfortable taking on that role full-time.

If not, you may want to consider an online school like Prisma. We provide coaches, hand-picked from less than 1% of applicants and chosen for their ability to build relationships with kids. We’re very deliberate about our learner-coach pairings, ensuring that each is a good fit.


They need a more flexible, efficient school day

Seven-hours-plus might just be too much school for your child. Whether they have special needs (learning disabilities, adhd, etc.) that the public school system can’t meet, or other interests they want more time to pursue, homeschool could be a great alternative.

The individualized nature of home-based learning means your child can get done what they need, at their ideal pace, in an environment engineered for their needs.

If the goal of home-based learning is to finish as quickly as possible, and you want the support of an online school, you’ll want to look for one that has a majority of asynchronous classes with little-to-no face-to-face, live classes. Just be aware that in those schools, you’ll also have little-to-no community.

With approximately ninety minutes of live, daily workshops, a school like Prisma prioritizes learning in community but also allows students more flexibility than the traditional in-person school environment.

They’re overwhelmed

If your child hates school because they are feeling overwhelmed, they aren’t alone: The World Health Organization is reporting a post-pandemic surge of mental health struggles in teens. For some kids, traditional school — with the relentless focus on grades and assessments — can be a pressure cooker that extinguishes their love of learning.

Homeschool can be a great solution for an overwhelmed kiddo: do away with grades and emphasize growth. Prisma’s holistic approach to assessments centers on regular, qualitative learner-coach feedback. Then, if they choose to apply to college or other formal programs in the future, the badges students earn for mastering core skills can be translated into a traditional transcript.

As students transition into middle school and high school, they might also be overwhelmed because they haven’t yet developed executive functioning. To be a successful Prisma student, you need to be self-sufficient. But we teach our students independence step by step, so they aren’t floundering in the deep end. These lessons are real-world focused: Our high school students accomplish “missions” in adulting, building life skills from basic first aid to meal prep.

They’re facing bullying or social issues

Since school is the first community a child joins on their own, it makes sense that feeling disconnected from peers would lead to an outsized negative reaction. If a student is facing bullying or social isolation at school, with no viable solution, homeschool can be a good option. But there’s a major caveat.

Homeschool places a significant responsibility for socializing on the families’ shoulders. Without the built-in proximity to peers, to avoid another isolating experience, you and your child will have to be proactive about finding online or in-person communities: homeschool groups and co-ops can be one such source, as can online schools. However, as we mentioned above, you’ll want to make sure you choose an online school like Prisma, with regular live workshops that shows they put community front and center.

The pros and cons of homeschool

Homeschooling is not for everyone. If your child hates school because they are resistant to any form of schoolwork whatsoever, you may find that problem doesn’t improve — or even worsens — when they learn from the home. It can be even harder for a parent to be the one to motivate a resistant child to learn, so consider doing a short experiment to see how well you are able to serve as their instructor before pulling them out of their current public or private school.

For kids who need total freedom to spend their time in any way they choose, the best homeschool approach may be unschooling — student-led learning taken to the extreme.

If your child needs constant adult supervision to stay on task, homeschooling will only be a good fit if you’re able to dedicate yourself to your child’s education full-time. Despite the seemingly infinite homeschool resources available, homeschooling parents have increased responsibilities, from supervising and grading school work, to planning field trips, social events, and enrichment activities.

For kids who need significant adult supervision, hiring a private tutor or joining a very small co-op might be the best home-based option.

The homeschool lifestyle comes with pros and cons (as we’ve written in a previous post). So as a first step, take time to understand your kiddos’ resistance to their current environment — in as much detail as possible. If you can get them to open up to you about why they’re having a hard time in school, you’ll be that much closer to figuring out if homeschool is right for your family and how to take the next steps forward.

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