Tips on Maintaining Discipline for Homeschool Learning
We began homeschooling our 8-year-old third grader this school year (2012-13), utilizing the Indiana Connections Academy program. He'd been in public school the previous three years. Positive discipline has been something I've been experimenting with, to see what works, what doesn't and what I could change to create as positive and peaceful a family life as possible.
I want to share what we started four days ago, on the first day of 2013, that - so far! - has had the most positive impact on our son's attitude and behavior, without having to go the 'spanking' or 'time out' route (neither of which has yielded positive results for us).
Besides me learning to stay firm with our son, mean what I say and not get so overly frustrated by his behaviors, we now have some tools that have really helped with reinforcing and teaching positive self-discipline, reducing negative behavior, and all without the emotional toll of feelings of frustration, anger and helplessness.
Now, he is currently (as of January 4, 2013) on winter break from homeschool (he starts back next week). So, we have yet to apply these positive behavior modification tools to discipline for homeschool learning, but I am positive and hopeful that his new, more self-disciplined attitude will carry over to semester two of third grade homeschooling.
Tips, Tools and Techniques
I have adapted some tools and tips from this pdf for the techniques we are currently using.
One of the main things I picked up from the above pdf is the concept of a 'chore jar'. Simply small pieces of paper with age-appropriate chores put into a decorated jar. When the child has to be told more than twice to get something done, or to not do something, he or she picks, at random, a chore from the jar. Usually I will supervise our son carrying out the chore for safety reasons, as well as to chat with him about why he has to do that particular chore. It has really made him more aware of his actions.
We have set up a schedule for our son to follow, as well as a daily chore checklist. He knows to check off each item and make sure they are done well before he is allowed to ask for screen time. His daily chores include keeping his room clean, doing his school work, feeding the cat & dog and taking out the recycling.
We have a calming bedtime routine that we carry out like clockwork, which I believe helps our son sleep better, and for the most part we eat healthy foods (our eldest son even loves spinach!) so that he's not bogged down or bouncing off the walls from sugary snacks. There is so much to be said for what kind of fuel we feed our bodies!
Meditation also helps our son to calm down and deal with his feelings in a more conducive way. There are many meditation resources out there, and I've been taking the time to learn a few methods and techniques that I then pass on to my son. I feel it is so important to center and balance ourselves so that we may respond to our children's big feelings without being swallowed up by them ourselves.
Most of all, our children look up to us as role models, no matter how many times they may shout: "I hate you!" or call us unfair. So, for our children to become more self-disciplined, we must become the role model we want them to follow. Practice self-discipline in our own lives and our children are more likely to follow suit.
Best wishes and happy homeschooling!