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A Base

If you started homeschooling and found it's not working like you thought it would, this post is for you.

Maybe you talked to some homeschool friends you had before you started.

Perhaps you researched all the best curricula.

You likely set up an area in your home just for homeschooling.

Maybe you've spent hours and hours thinking about how you wanted it to be.

And weren't betting on how things are really going. The arguing. The tears. The frustration. The refusal to try. What is happening?

I'm here to tell you that homeschooling won't work unless you have a base. That solid base must be established before any academics and learning can truly happen in your home.

At the risk of sounding like Nanny McPhee, do the children do what they are told?

Do they perform chores cheerfully and work hard?

Nothing is more important than establishing these basic things in your home. If you are struggling through every homeschool day, stop. Stop the academics and work on these things.

First of all, for this to work (and work much quicker), screens need to go away. Yes, all of them. The TV, the Switch, the phone, the iPad--all of it. This will be hard, but so necessary. In 2 weeks you will see a change in your child. But they can't talk to their friends. It's OK. This is temporary.

If your family is Christian, do Bible together each day. Memorize verses, read stories, etc. Stopping school work shouldn't stop Bible time.

Then, train your children to work. Do chores together. Tackle projects. Show them how to do a thing and then have them show you they can do it. Praise them. Laugh. Work together. Did they do it with a stinky attitude? They need to try that again. Show them the difference by slamming dishes around and being "mad Mom" and then do the dishes while you sing and smile. They can see the difference. Let them know, that in this family, we all work and we do it without attitude.

Work on having them obey. If they are younger this can be made into a game. I used to wait until my girls were absorbed in a TV show and then say, "Girls, turn off the TV and go to your room." Of course, I was met with, "WHY?" "But you said we could watch this!" "Mom there's only a few minutes left!" I just dropped my jaw and said, "Oh, I thought you would remember to obey the first time I told you something. I'll try again in a few minutes." Of course, when I tried again they giggled and ran to be the first in their rooms and I praised them up and down.

My husband and I approached obedience as necessary for their safety. If they were walking out in front of a car and I called them to stop--arguing with me wouldn't be good. We pointed this out. We told them of incidences where it would really matter that they know how to listen and obey us quickly. (Notice I didn't say they had to obey any adult immediately--that's a topic for another day. But their parents? Yes.) Therefore, at home, we practice doing things the first time we ask so they have that good habit. Praise them when they do get up and put their shoes away when asked. Now, is it OK for a child to respectfully say, "Mom, I'm trying to get this to glue together and if I let go, it's all going to fall. May I do that in a minute?" Of course. We aren't unreasonable or trying to be tyrants. But this too is a skill that must be taught. It is OK sometimes to respectfully acknowledge that they heard you and will do that thing when they are able. If your children are older, you might tell them what you need them to do and a deadline. For example, "I need you to take this laundry and put it away in your room before lunch." If you truly need it done right this minute, then that's the deadline. They need to learn to obey as well, but with some understanding that they can decide some things for themselves.

This story from Little House in the Big Woods made a huge impression on my oldest daughter when she was young.

Now, you've detoxed them from screens, you've continued Bible time together, you've taught them to work cheerfully alongside you, and they can listen to you the first time. How much better do you think your school time will go now? What you've been doing is establishing a good relationship with your child. One in which you are in charge, but also being their example. So can't sit around on your phone and bark orders at them and expect change.

You can now slowly introduce a subject or two at a time. You can work on these together. You can establish regular chores. You can re-introduce limited screens if you wish. With the base that you have established, I think you will find that it all goes much more smoothly.

It isn't easy, but oh the benefits for years to come by settling all of these basic things now.


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