How to Spot Busywork in Your Homeschool

March 9, 2020

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Alpha Omega Publications

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When first starting homeschooling, some families struggle with knowing when to customize the curriculum they buy. Some families struggle to complete every single question or activity that comes as part of the curriculum, but we’re here to tell you the good news: you don’t have to do everything! (We heard that sigh of relief!)

How to Spot Busywork

If you are trying to do every single thing that comes with your curriculum and it’s not just working, it may be that certain activities are becoming busywork. An activity becomes busywork when it no longer contributes to your child’s unique learning process. Not all work is busywork for all children, so here’s how you can spot when activities are becoming busywork in your homeschool and achieve a healthier, more enthusiastic learning environment.

You might need to cut down on busywork if…

…the objective is unclear or redundant.
Children have an amazing ability to sniff out busywork. If you give projects or practice work that even you’re unsure what the point of it is, your child is going to pick up on that. Assess work for its objective. If a project’s objective was already met by a field trip or extracurricular activity, then skip it.

…you are overwhelmed with the grading.
If your child is completing so many practice questions or projects that you can’t keep up with grading, you likely need to cut back on busywork. Quality work that you can dedicate time to review and give feedback on is much more valuable than busywork.

Tip: If you’re overwhelmed with grading because you have a house filled with kids, consider a program like Monarch that can help cut down on your load with automatic grading.

…lessons take so long that they jeopardize life-balance (family time, healthy sleep schedules, etc.)
For some students, learning takes longer, but the gift of homeschooling is that you’re able to teach your child about healthy life balance. If lessons are taking so long that you and your child are losing that healthy life balance, you may be doing too much busywork.

…your child is complaining about being bored.
Boredom can be a great sign that your child is not being challenged by the work. Some repetition is important for helping your child master and retain information, but if your student is acing practice questions 1-5 and getting fussy and complaining of boredom through problems 6-10, cut down on the number of problems to avoid busywork.

Tip: Beware of giving in and cutting down the lesson every time a child complains of being bored. You don’t want them to be in the habit of avoiding hard things just because they aren’t fun.

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