As you can imagine, when you homeschool the students feel very comfortable expressing their displeasure to their teacher. When teacher is mom, the floodgates open. There is little-to-no filter (whatsoever) when it comes to what they want to express.
And sometimes because the teacher has an invested interest in her students (beyond what a normal teacher might have) she lectures and talks too much because she really wants to drive her point home. And sometimes she gets sucked too far into the issue and allows the issues to suck up school time. Even when she knows she should disengage and back off.
This is what happened last year sometimes. One of my students would get frustrated. Not with being unable to actually understand the work, but with staying focused or just not wanting to do the work. So they would procrastinate, goof off and complain. This would distract and upset the rest of the "classroom" and push. my. buttons. A lengthy discussion would ensue, including threats to take away privileges which often turned into reality (if you know me, you may know that I don't bluff). This would leave the student even more discouraged and distracted and the cycle would repeat itself through the remainder of the day making for a lousy school day to be had by all.
Why did it take me so long to change up my tactics? I don't know. Maybe because the problem became more of a problem at the end of our school year and switching gears and starting something new sounded too exhausting. Being completely honest: I might have been being lazy, just wanting to get through the year.
After having the summer to think things over, I decided to look for a plan that used earning privileges versus dolling out punishments. I've always known this is a preferred method of behavior modification but for some reason I failed to implement it. After a fairly thorough search online, I found two separate tools that I thought would work for us when used together. Here's what we're using and so far (we're three weeks in) it's working really well.
This can be found here.
At the beginning of each morning, the kids start in the "Ready for Team Work" section. If there are problems or if they are working nicely, I move their clothespin down or up. The best part of this system is that they can change their behavior and improve it, getting moved back up if they've been having a rough time. At the end of morning and afternoon school, we take a look at where they ended up. If they are at "Think About It" or above, they get a sticker for that half of the day.
Earning a certain number of stickers per week earns them privileges. At this point, we're using a weekly family movie night as the major reward with a smaller prize (a new bookmark, mechanical pencil, etc.) as a bonus if 7 or 8 stickers were earned (we do a 4-day school week = 8 possible stickers to earn). We don't actually give a punishment or make them lose a privilege if they hit those bottom two levels (that could get mighty complicated)- it just illustrates the severity of their current behavior, hopefully motivating them to move back up.
This can be found here.
Miriam (who is three) has a clothespin so she can have see how her behavior looks alongside the faces. She doesn't do school yet (although she usually paints or "writes" in some pre-school workbooks at the table with us) but her behavior is paramount to the rest of us being able to get work done. She doesn't earn stickers, though, because while I think she could understand it all, it's hard being three. So we leave it at that. She always gets to join in movie night.
The other morning, the student who had the most trouble last year started having the same kind of trouble- in earnest. Instead of launching into a lecture and threatening a consequence, I simply reminded them of the plan and how much time they had left to complete their work. They turned around and headed back to work (albeit grumbling) and earned a sticker for the morning. Whoo-hoo!
Now, I don't expect this to work like that every time, but even if they have a rough morning or afternoon now and then, they still have the potential to earn the reward. Being able to see a response to their behavior (through a clothespin, of all things) helps them to regulate themselves a bit.
Do you use any kind of reward system for school or for homework time if your kids go to school? Not all plans work well for all kids, but we can all always use fresh ideas now and again. Pin It