Homeschooling parents often get frustrated because their kids simply won’t do what they say when it is ‘school time’.  They are sloppy in their school work, lack motivation or refuse to listen to instruction.  If we see homeschooling as a separate part of our life – like an event we go to, or a programme we sign up for, we look for a new role (like that of teacher or Principal), with new or different discipline techniques,  to deal with their behaviours.  But homeschooling is a parenting issue – the way we deal with these things in the other parts of our life will be effective during study times as well. As a parent:

  • I know the uniqueness of each of my children, I know their strengths and weaknesses.  I know what encourages them, motivates them, or excites them.  I need to take this information into the choices I make for homeschooling.
  • I want my children to respond to people and circumstances in a way that reflects the values of our family (I call this character based responses).  I need to expect the same quality of response in all areas of life – including reading, writing and arithmetic!

We need to have the same expectations and responses to our children’s behaviour whether they are playing, visiting or studying.  This means I will teach and correct the same values regardless of what we are doing:  we may be cleaning bedrooms and bathrooms, we may be playing monopoly, we may be visiting friends, or learning about volcanoes, inventions, or algebra.  Values such as obedience, respect, orderliness, punctuality and diligence are what I want to see in my kids (and myself) regardless of what they are doing.  I need to teach them these values, I need to expect them to respond that way, I need to correct when they don’t, and encourage when they do.  It doesn’t matter what aspect of their life, or what they are doing, these values are the same. Because behaviour is a heart-driven thing – often the behaviour we see in our homeschooling is the exact same behaviour we see in other areas of their life.  But because we have a background (or most of us do) where teachers deal with school stuff and parents deal with home stuff, we tend to react to our kid’s homeschooling issues differently.  But there is no difference –

  • We cannot expect a child who is messy in their bedroom to be tidy in their school work.  We need to teach orderliness in their life.
  • We cannot expect a child who is always running late when we want to go somewhere to be ready for instruction.  We need to teach punctuality.
  • We cannot expect a child who is refusing to listen when you ask for a chore to be done, to follow instructions when an assignment is given.  We need to teach obedience, a willingness to hear and obey instructions.

The tools I have to help my children grow and mature in responses to life are the same, whether we are studying or out and about as a family.  Each one of my kids have dug their heals in at different times, over different subjects.  They didn’t want to learn that lesson, and this was the day they decided to take me on!  It was a heart issue – they didn’t want to – they had an attitude! I could have ranted and cajoled them, but instead we stopped lessons for that child, for that moment and they had time out to reflect on what was going on with their attitude and choices.  This was the same parent response that I had whenever they had a bad attitude or made bad choices. Their choices on how they are going to respond to me and the things I ask of them, how they are going to respond to their responsibilities are the issues that parents deal with.  Homeschooling simply gives us more face-to-face time, more opportunities to be with our kids when they make their choices, and therefore more opportunity to teach and train and help them in making the right choice.  When we separate our homeschooling from our parenting we complicate the process. We will be far more effective in teaching our kids the 3R’s (and beyond) if we deal with their hearts – but we will also be far more effective in our parenting generally if we have one standard, regardless of what we are doing.

 

Be Intentional

 Every week I'll email an encouragement to stay intentional and relational in all your family life.  But for now, download your set of reminder posters - posters which I've used over the years to remind me to keep my eyes and heart on what is important.

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Learn to respond to your child in a way that changes their heart.

 

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When we Respond instead of React we find a way to deal with the heart not just behaviour.

 

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