Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Keeping Your Sanity While Home Schooling- Getting Your Kids on Board

We have had our ups and downs of training in the Devine home!  Over the past few years, I have faced issues that I have found that many other home school mothers have faced.  We have tried many different solutions and have found some systems that work for us.  I thought I would share some of them with you today, and I hope you will also feel free to share what has worked for you!

I have heard many people say that they could never home school because they could never get their kids to listen to them.  While not an expert on the topic myself, I do know how important it is to tackle this issue!  As Christian parents we are called to train up our children and teach them right from wrong.  I will admit, that I have not always known how to do that so well, but I have found a few resources that have really made a difference in our home!

1.  Biblical Character Training is Essential!
Start your day every day with a character training tool!  If you are adept at using the Bible for this and are able to find the verses you need....great!  If not, consider some of these resources:

For Instruction in Righteousness:

This is a wonderful reference book!  It breaks character flaws down into categories and gives Scripture references to illustrate the problem, gives Biblical examples, and teaches what the Bible says will happen in the lives of those who choose to continue in that particular sin!  Very comprehensive.  I have used this book to write devotion times for my AWANA girls in 5 minutes flat!

Discovering Jesus in Genesis:

This book is a devotional book that is more about doctrine, but illustrates each truth with a great story that you can see transform your children's thinking quickly.  It made a huge difference in our home.  Other titles by the authors are just as useful, especially Big Truths for Little Kids which teaches the shorter catechism beautifully!  A word of warning, preview chapters before presenting them as you might disagree with some of the conclusions of the authors! ( I disagree with their views on baptism.)

The If/ Then Chart:

This is a great idea!  We bought this from a home school convention, but it is just as easy to make your own!  The idea is that you are able to sit down as a family and decide on a list of consequences for certain actions such as  complaining/whining, picking fights, teasing, etc.  Your child first needs to understand that these behaviors are unacceptable and why!  Together you can decide on consequences for various infringements.  If you child is part of the decision making process, then he can't say he didn't know!  As time has passed, and we have experienced reoccurring problems, we have sat down as a family and addressed the problems and made our own if/then charts.  Very, very effective for us!

2. Discipline is essential!

I am not one of those moms who say that you have to spank your kids for everything.  I believe that we have to decide for ourselves what is working-not forsaking Biblical instruction.  I have a few techniques that have worked for me.

When kids resist doing work:  You can't physically force them to pick up a pencil and start writing.  What's more, I think we all want them to enjoy learning and not see it as a punishment!  I have a daughter that would sit at the table with her arms crossed and complain that she hated school.  My first response was to apply the Biblical "rod" for disobedience.  However, it proved ineffective with her and a battle of the wills ensued.  One day I was exhausted and tired of lecturing and tired of disciplining and I simply said to her:  "I can't make you want to do anything.  I can't make you enjoy what you are doing.  That is up to you.  But you will sit here in this chair until you decide you are ready for me.  You will not play with toys, write, color, eat, or get up until your work is done.  So the choice is up to you how long you want to sit here alone.  I have many things to do today and I can't sit with you, so I am going to go and ________ and when you decide you want to cooperate, let me know and I will help you." 

Well!  What a difference that made in my sanity and my daughter's attitude!

Shortly after, we instituted a treasure box.  We sat down and picked an area that we needed to work on (for her it was obviously not arguing or complaining about school) and we set a goal with a date.  We discussed why it is important to allow God to work on our areas of weakness.  When the goal date was reached, and the child had rid herself of the behavior, she was able to pick a treasure out of the box.  This was great incentive for the both of them!

For my other daughter, letting her have a little control was the key.  She was not able to skip anything that I required of her, but she was allowed to do it in the order of her choosing and with as much independence as she desired. (within reason)  It is my goal to raise self-directed learners, not ones who lean on me for everything, and I saw this as a way to get her on her way. A rigid schedule would be a source of contention with her, and they are just not that important. 

It is definitely key to have your child's heart.  I liked Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp, but I found it essential to have For Instruction in Righteousness to help me along, as he assumes you know where all of the verses you need are located.   I think Ginger Plowman one-upped him with this book:

Don't Make Me Count to Three

Don't let the title fool you, Ms. Plowman would never count!!!!  This book was even endorsed by Ted Tripp.  Don't forget to order the behaviour chart! 

I have deeply enjoyed watching my kids grow spiritually over the last year.  God is certainly good, and He gives us what we need!  Please feel free to share any great resources you have found for this topic in the comment area!

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