We all want to raise our kids to be diligent. We don’t want them to be quitters or to  give up too easily. That drive to teach them to be steadfast in their commitments can make it especially hard to see it sometimes when an elective choice needs to be retired…

Sometimes if lessons or extracurriculars aren’t working out – be it for various reasons – it’s essential to step back and reevaluate the situation. You don’t want to look back and wish that you could get that wasted time back with your kids.

When to Call It Quits on an Elective

Several telltale signs can help you decide whether or not to stop an elective and find something different that might better suit your child and their unique personality.

Here are three things to look out for:

1. You have to beg them to practice. There is a fine line here in that there is a learning curve to establishing a practice routine, whether it’s with learning a new instrument or any other skill that requires practice.

Yet, if our child doesn’t finally start to practice independently once a routine is established, and after you’ve tried using other incentives, that might be a bad sign. You want your child to enjoy their experience and be proud of their progress due to practicing.

Most of the time, kids thrive in established practice routines, and you can see the joy of accomplishment in their faces once they start to get better and better. If they don’t ever want to practice – and possibly tears are shed! – you may want to rethink that instrument or activity.

2. The teacher is too critical. If you’ve taught your child to be polite in all situations and yet they still have personality run-ins with a co-op teacher, private music teacher, or coach, you may want to find a new instructor. After all, you’re the one spending money to pay this instructor as a homeschool parent. Why spend money for someone who causes difficulty in your family to continue to do so?

Some personalities just don’t mix. There’s no amount of niceness on the part of your child that can necessarily fix that. If you’ve done all you can, there comes a time to break up with a teacher.

It’s one thing if the teacher is genuinely trying to help your child improve with thoughtful, tactful guidance. It’s another thing altogether if your child’s artistic choices are routinely criticized in art class, per se, and your child feels personally put down during every lesson or is chastised unjustly in front of other students.

Let’s say that as a family, you’ve embraced Einstein’s saying about being a nonconformist in your home as exhibited in his famous quote – “It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.”

However, the teacher reminds you of the Captain von Trapp in the whistle scene from The Sound of Music, it’s time to find a new teacher that better fits in with your family. There’s no need to soldier on.

You might accidentally ruin the whole idea of that music, that art, or that sport if your child psychologically ties it to an unpleasant experience with a pushy teacher. The passion and excitement that you’re trying to give them could potentially backfire into passionate distaste for the whole thing.

When to Call It Quits on an Elective

3. There is no joy in the lessons. Do you, as a parent, dread taking your child to this extracurricular? Does the idea of sitting through one more game immediately raise your blood pressure?

You might be suffering needlessly. Maybe you’re running off the assumption that your child loves soccer, for instance, when in reality, they are just doing it because they think you love it and want to make you proud.

Trust your judgment. If you at first thought that 3D chess or underwater basket weaving sounded interesting and signed your kid up on a whim, give yourself grace. If the activity holds no interest or passion for your child and has no future career implications, say goodbye and find something they will enjoy!

Remember that the extracurricular needs to be about what your child enjoys, not what you enjoy personally. Don’t just guess that since you are nuts about classical piano and wish that you’d stuck with lessons, that your child is a future Chopin.

Do any of these three things strike a chord with your situation? I’m giving you permission now! Go ahead and call it quits. That doesn’t make you a quitter! It takes confidence to step back and evaluate and even more confidence actually to make that difficult change.

Your time is too valuable to use it up on things you don’t absolutely love when you have the opportunity to make a change. Your child will thank you!

We believe homeschooling is one of the best models for educating children, which is why we support families with encouragement and practical resources like you found in this article. Won’t you join us in making these resources available to homeschooling families by becoming a member?

Jessica Lovett

Jessica Lovett is passionate about homeschooling her own kids, sci-fi books, quirky coffee shops, and her scruffy black dog, Bofur. In her spare time, she loves playing the piano and also singing on her church’s worship team. Her writing can be seen on ChristianAnswers.net and her novel Transplanting Hope is available wherever books are sold.

Jessica Lovett