Hey there! You have reached Step 8 in the 12 Simple Steps to Homeschooling Series. Last time we discussed the benefits of science experiments and art projects in, Discover Why You Should do Those Messy Science Experiments. Today’s topic is dealing with your child’s behavior through discipline and rewards in your homeschool.
Let’s talk about those days that aren’t perfect.
I think it is funny because if you browse around on the internet you would assume that everyone who homeschools is bright and shiny and enjoys every single minute of it. Ha! That is not true. Not even a little bit. Some days are just plain hard. I talked about surviving a terrible week in this article, How to Survive a Terrible, Horrible, Very Hard Week, Homeschooling. I want to bring to light another side of homeschooling that is a reality. When Mom or Dad is also the teacher.
This brings a whole different set of issues with it. Especially when you are first starting out homeschooling. If your child has attended public school and is switched over to homeschooling, there is a period of adjustment. It is very real, and you just have to get through it. Your kids will most likely rebel and not take you seriously as their teacher for a while. It is hard, but it is something that if you keep trudging along will get better.
You have to decide, and better if you do it beforehand, how you are going to handle misbehavior. When my boys were younger, around 1st to 5th grade, we used a point system. Kind of like a chore chart but for school. For each class/subject that they behaved well in they earned a “gold coin” (we found them at the dollar store). The coin was rewarded for trying hard and paying attention. It was not on how well they did on their assignments. I gave each boy a different jar to put them in with their names on it. When they reached a certain point marked on the jar they earned a reward. I started gathering cheap little toys and made a treasure box for them to pick something out of. They loved it but some of that had to do with their age.
Now that my children are older with one in high school and the other middle school age I have to do other things. Mainly chores. If my boys misbehave they earn extra chores for the day. Usually, the chores that no one else wants to do like picking up dog poop from the backyard. But the funny thing is I haven’t had to assign extra chores in quite a while. The longer you homeschool the more of a routine you will fall into. They will just come to accept that it is time for school and they need to get their work done.
Giving choices to improve behavior.
A secret I discovered was when I give my children choices they do better in school. I lay out what assignments need to be done each week and then I allow them to choose what order they do them in. I don’t force them to do a little out of each subject every day. Most of the time they choose to work on 1 or 2 subjects a day in more of a block schedule. Allowing them to make choices on smaller things, gives them a little control over how we homeschool, and I get a much better attitude from them. It is not perfect, and I have to step in every once in a while and remind them but it definitely helps.
You must be consistent with your discipline. Remember you are dealing with temperamental children or hormonal teenagers. If they are not being respectful, you need to call them on it. This doesn’t need to involve yelling. Instead, find out what their triggers are. If they can’t wait to finish school so they can play on the computer, then consider having them lose computer privileges if they misbehave. Every child has something that is near and dear to them and you just need to figure out what that is.
Also, remember that positive reinforcement works as well to improve behavior. If your child does something really well in school that day, make a big deal out of it. Post it on the fridge or let them call Dad at work and tell him. Give them praise for their accomplishments. Your homeschooled children don’t come home carrying a report card to show you because you already know their grades or how well they are doing if you don’t use grades. So, you have to find other things to praise them on. This doesn’t just apply to school work either. This goes for day to day things. More parents need to remember to tell their children, they love them, or that they are smart, or trying hard. This goes a long way in building your child’s self-esteem and improving their behavior.
For your homework this week I want you to establish some ground rules for your homeschool. Decide what is acceptable and what the reward or punishment will be if they misbehave. Let me know what you come up with!
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