Keep an “If/Then Chart” to assist with creating order in your homeschooling.
Children should know very clearly what is expected of them. So, If/Then Charts work well for young children and older kids alike. For little ones, you can even draw pictures. You can purchase one here or create your own.
Here are a couple of ideas:
IF a child leaves a toy out, THEN they may not play with it for 24 hours.
IF a child grumbles about one chore, THEN they get an additional chore.
IF a child doesn’t finish their homework before dinner, THEN he/she will have to finish it during the family game time after dinner.
You get the idea! There are endless ways to use an If/Then Chart to clarify expectations.
Identify the most important issues that would help you create order in your homeschooling.
Every family’s priorities (and mama’s pet peeves) are a little bit different, but whatever they are, develop creative ways to train your children in those areas.
When my kids were growing up, one critical area for me for keeping order in homeschooling was to encourage kindness among the siblings. Sibling fighting was just not allowed. (You could say I loved them too much to ever see them hurt each other!) I hope you also encourage sibling unity in your home. As families, we are called to cherish each other. Oh, don’t get me wrong, sibling fighting happened in our home, but I worked hard at combatting it.
One thing I came up with to encourage peace was “The Peace Game.” It was silly, but it looked like this:
The Peace Game-
Stand face to face looking eye to eye.
(this is to re-establish relationships)
Now touch your toes to each other.
Now your knees.
Now your hips.
Next, move your shoulders together.
Now go cheek to cheek.
And lastly, nose to nose.
By the end of this simple ritual, there was usually some giggling and tumbling over. But the tension was broken, and love was restored. (And yes, I enforced the Peace Game even when they were teens! They protested, but the results were the same as when they were 4 and 7!)
Make Your Own Homeschool Rules
By my personality, I’m not a rule person. But I soon learned that I needed them to give me grounds for discipline! Now, the homeschool rules I’m going to share with you were not poured in concrete in our home, but they gave us tracks to run on. (I suspect I made most of them on a bad day!) To provide you with some vision, I’m sharing mine in a free printable. Use mine as is or make your own! But do establish some rules as you need them—and be willing to add or take away as needed. Once established, have rewards and consequences. For consequences, I resorted to fines! Keep reading. (And grab that free printable here!)
Creating Minor Fines-
Once rules were established in our home, I reinforced them by applying minor financial fines for my children that were deducted from their allowance. As a missionary family, their allowance was small, so even a quarter was very precious to them!. Knowing that disrespecting me as their teacher and as their mom would cost them a quarter was definitely a deterrent.
Since I kept lists of the offenses that warranted these fines (for reasons I don’t know), I have some funny and not so funny ones to share with you:
- Throwing baby powder
- Throwing pennies
- Throwing baseball cards
- Throwing scissors
- Throwing baby powder again (I had a ballplayer that threw a lot of things!)
- Making faces and moaning
- Insulting outburst
- “Being annoying”
- “Being a mean mom” (I was on the fine list, too and was frequently fined for unauthorized phone calls, sleeping in class, and foul language. Just being real here! Let’s move on.)
Use positive reinforcement to help create order in your homeschooling.
Train for what you want—rather than only disciplining for what you don’t want. It’s a known thing in the dog training world that the most effective way to train a dog is to be heavy on the encouragement and rewarding of the puppy when they have good behavior, rather than merely focusing on the negative actions. If that’s important for puppies, how much more for our children! Remember that old saying, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
Children LOVE to please, and rewarding them for good attitudes and obedience goes a long way! You can use verbal praise, sticker charts, dollar store treats, etc.
One of my friends used to have a jar in her house with pretty little stones. Every time her children displayed good behavior she would add a stone to the jar and visa versa. She would take away stones from the jar for bad attitudes. When the jar was full, they received a reward they had previously voted on. (Some ideas would be a unique gift they have been wanting, a night out bowling, or going to get some ice cream.) Not only did this give each of the children an incentive, but it created some healthy competition between the siblings to fill up their jar!
Remember, they are still children.
Keep in mind you are not teaching college students who are listening to a lecture. You are teaching children who wiggle and jump and need to move around. I allowed my kids to sprawl out on the floor while I was reading or encouraged them to draw while listening to an audiobook. A little guy might even quietly roll his matchbox car on the floor and be absorbing way more than you realize! Allow for wiggle room. (My son liked to hang upside down from a chin-up bar to give me his spelling words. Did the blood flowing to his brain help? Maybe! He grew up to double major in biology and chemistry.)
Begin every day with prayer.
Starting the day off by thanking God for the privilege of homeschooling—and asking for HIS help for the day—will always help in establishing and keeping order in your homeschooling. Focusing on the Lord will help you to remember why you are doing this (even on the bad days!) It will also help the children to remember that when they are respecting and honoring you, they are respecting and honoring the Lord! He is a God of grace and mercy, and this should be displayed in your homeschooling.
In closing, I will repeat what I shared last time. Homeschooling is family life discipleship. Beware of continually looking at the end of the game rather than enjoying the process. The days are long, but the years are truly short! Dear mamas, remember Galatians 6:9 and apply it to your heart, to your parenting, and to your homeschooling.