When your child is home all day and a parent is also the teacher, there’s the potential for challenges in maintaining discipline in your homeschooling, regardless of which homeschool style or method you’ve chosen.
It is easy for your child to misconstrue the freedom they have at home after school and on weekends and feel that homeschooling is just a long summer holiday, especially at the beginning. Any adult who has worked from home can tell you how the lines between work life and non-work life can start to blur. It’s important to make a clear distinction between those two worlds for kids (and adults!).
Homeschooling gives you and your child a truly immense amount of flexibility. You and your child decide where to learn, how much to learn and when to learn. But, these should be decisions made at the beginning stages. If your child is too little to take an active part in the decision, chart out a few hours of the day for the various activities, and stick to it. When there is no outside activity to supervise and no practice questions to answer, it’s easy to get sidetracked. If your child is old enough, consult them and find out when they want to learn. Apply your parental discretion and come up with a good timetable. Make a clear distinction between school and non-school time. These key approaches will go a long way in maintaining discipline in your homeschooling practices!
Homework or self-directed learning is typically a big part of homeschooling. What this means is that once lessons have been taught, your child should be asked to do some part of the course work by themselves without your guidance. You will need to make sure that your child sits willingly and finishes the work. It’s up to you, as the homeschooling parent to decide how much self-directed work you want to apply and to have a plan on how to gradually increase it.
Courtesy, manners and punctuality are some of the various facets of discipline that you’ll want to consider reinforcing in the early years of homeschooling life. It’s easy to fall into a little too casual of a relationship and miss some great opportunities to learn some of those basic skills. Try to think of opportunities to fit those elements into your chosen homeschool plan.
To add a little structure in a potentially unstructured environment, some parents use a particular room or a part of the room for their homeschooling. Try setting expectations around what time your child is expected to reach their learning space and in what condition. Set expectations with them about being dressed, clean and arriving with whatever material they need. This is all part of the learning and maturing process, so be patient and consistent. They’re not going to be perfect all the time and everyone has a rough morning once in a while, including (or maybe especially) parents.
Adding boundaries and expectations around your homeschooling program doesn’t mean you need to be a boot-camp drill sergeant (unless you and your child enjoy that), but setting expectations and consequences is key to a successful learning environment. Or even an overall successful child-rearing environment!
Homeschooling isn’t easy. It requires a lot of hard work and patience. The informality of the whole experience can sometimes work against your overall goals, so it’s worth spending a bit of time thinking about your approach and to plan ahead. Setting clear expectations at the beginning and reinforcing them consistently and patiently will be a big factor in making your homeschooling experience a huge success.
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