Dealing with a child who refuses to do their school work is very challenging.  As a special Education teacher this is one of the areas I am most often asked about from both teacher and parents.  Here are some possible strategies to encourage a reluctant learner to do their work:


Identify the root cause of their reluctance: Talk to the learner to understand why they are hesitant to do their work. It could be due to lack of interest, difficulty understanding the material, fear of failure, or other issues.

Set clear goals: Help the learner set achievable and specific goals for their work. Break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps.

Provide positive reinforcement: Acknowledge the learner’s efforts and successes, even if they are small. Praise and reward their progress to build their confidence and motivation.

Create a supportive environment: Ensure that the learning environment is comfortable, conducive to learning, and free from distractions. Offer guidance and assistance when needed.

Use different teaching methods: Use a variety of teaching methods and resources to cater to the learner’s preferred learning style. This can include visual aids, hands-on activities, and interactive learning materials.

Use consequences: Set clear consequences for not completing work or for poor performance, and clear guidelines for success with positive consequences as well. Make sure the negative consequences are reasonable and not overly punitive. Often refusal to do work is based on the child’s perceived ability to be successful. We must ensure that the child has all the tools needed to be successful before giving a negative consequence for not completing it.  

Parting Thoughts:

Dealing with a defiant child can get very emotional and can lead us to not deal with the situation in a rational manner.  It is critical that we view this situation more as a detective trying to solve a problem rather than engaging in power struggles.  If we look deeply for solutions we will likely find a solution that makes everyone happy in the end.