Monday, April 19, 2010

Oh, I Could Never Do That- My Kid's Won't Listen.

This week's Blog Cruise asks, "How can I homeschool if my child won't obey me?"

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This is both an easy and a difficult question to answer. The flippant and quick response is "How can you parent if your child won't obey you?". This is not a specific to homeschooling question.  If we're struggling with disobedience in our children, we need to work on this whether we homeschool or not.  I think the root of the question is fear that our children will not listen to us and respect us as teachers.  So the easy answer is that we need to teach them obedience no matter what our educational choices.

The difficult part is that I will not pretend to be an expert in this, despite having seven children.  Our children are not animals and I refuse to train them like pets.  They are individual people with their own free will, who make their own choices.  I will place consequences for bad choices in their way. I will teach them the reasoning behind what I think are good choices.  I will train them up and help them memorize Scripture for areas they struggle in.  I have taught my children to be very independent, to be themselves, and to not worry about what everyone around them thinks.  Sometimes I am pleased with this upbringing, other times I am concerned I totally blew it.  So there's my disclaimer in answering this question!

When it comes to homeschooling though, I believe it actually helps in this area.  When I only see my child a few hours a night and on weekends, I do not want it to be filled with strife and discipline.  It's easier to let things slide and ignore the issues.  If they are home with me every day and we can't possibly accomplish an iota of work because of the strife, we are forced to work through the problems.  For me, one of the most important aspects of homeschooling is building relationships with my children.  If I need to put the books aside while we work on this, so be it.  Relationships are first, the book work comes second.  

One thing we have started this year, which has helped with some of the daily frustrations, is having them be responsible for their own independent work.  Each child has their own assignment book and I write a week's worth of assignments for them at a time.  They are responsible for completing the work and they can decide when they will get it done.  If they want to do four math lessons on Monday, they are free to do that.  If they want to wait until Friday to read four chapters in their book, that's fine too.  If it is not completed by Saturday morning, they will be unable to do anything else until they complete their list.  

This past Saturday, my nine year old had to read three chapters in her book because she had not finished.  This is a lot for her to do at one sitting and she sat on the couch for a few hours when she would have rather been playing with her siblings and their friends who had come over.  Hopefully she has learned to manage her time better, without a lot of strife and misery for the both of us.  She knew this was the consequence, and while there was some whining, there wasn't a lot of arguing. 

I do try to be sure that I don't over schedule them and that I allow them time during the week to work on their lists.  This is key too, I believe.  We need to be sure we are not asking too much of our children and prompting them to rebellion and disobedience.  I want to set them up for success rather than failure whenever possible.  And I want to be sure I am disciplining disobedience and not inability or simple mistakes.

The honest answer to the question of the week is that you can't.  We can't homeschool our children if they won't obey or respect us (not perfectly mind you, as they are as imperfect as we are!) but our relationships with our children are important enough to make this a priority.  Whether we ultimately choose homeschool or traditional school, this is vital and worth every bit of effort.   

Check out more answers to these questions at the TOS Crew Blog Cruise Hub.  



2 comments:

Nikki said...

What age do you start giving your children their own assignment book? I think this is a wonderful idea!

Lori said...

I just started this halfway through the current school year, and my youngest is 8. I would think that once they are old enough to read the list on their own and understand what is expected of them, they could start with this idea. Which for my youngest, probably would have been this year anyway!

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