Wow, I'll bet it's all "together" in your house now, right? You've instituted your behavior chart and everyone is jumping up and down to encourage one another and to strive to earn those gold stars and trips to the ice cream shop with mom and dad, right? Well the changes might not happen overnight, but they may happen if you can "stick with it."
It seems that in my house, whenever I try to start something new, my family members roll their eyes and say to one another "here we go again." I could be angry about that, but there is a reason they react this way. The reason, unfortunately, is me. I know you probably find this hard to believe, but I have, occasionally, had struggles with consistency. I don't think I am the only one, because shortly after the release of the last newsletter, someone asked me if they could buy that "consistency thingie" from my website.
Consistency comes from self-discipline. This is a toughie for me. I want to check my e-mail first thing in the morning but plan on starting school "early." Well, once I get on the computer, "early" becomes 11 a.m. (Most folks do NOT feel like that is "early"). You know how it goes, you talk to someone on the Internet and just as you get ready to get off, someone else comes on and you don't want to appear to be rude, and the cycle continues.
But, I have had to learn that if I expect my children to respect my time, I must respect my time as well. That person that just came on the Internet will understand if it is time for me to go and do my schoolwork. (Chances are it is another homeschooler!) If I show a lack of regard for being on time with school, why should my children feel any different?
I have to admit, I have had to make myself accountable to my children to make any permanent changes. Now they have my permission to come and GENTLY remind me that they have been waiting patiently upstairs for the last 10 minutes and that it is time for me to "unplug" myself from this machine and go do my REAL occupation!
Another area in self-discipline I have struggled with over the years has been the actual verifying of my children's work. Jessica Hulcy says that you cannot expect what you do not inspect. I have tended to "forget" or be "too tired" at the end of the day to check my children's work. This has led (surprisingly enough - NOT) to work not always getting finished or done with their best attempt. I have to share responsibility for this. If MY self-discipline were better, I could consistently train them to be better disciplined. To quote a dear friend, "It's not what you say, but what you do that counts."
One last thing about discipline. I don't know if you would call this self discipline or just good parenting, but I have had to learn to judge each of my student's performances in relation to their own work and not their siblings. I know of families with twins who are totally different in their learning abilities.
Both my children are completely different. One is a whiz with anything verbal. If you give her a writing assignment, her greatest challenge is keeping it short enough. My other child hates to write and struggles with getting out a four-paragraph paper. However, this same child leaves us all "in the dust" when we start talking computer programming or "geek talk."
Isn't it lovely the way God has placed so many different flowers in His garden? Sometimes, when I am working with my son, I forget about his giftings and try and make him into her. This is not how he is designed and MY attitude causes he and I many frustrations.
Note: I am not saying to not work on weaknesses with each of our children. I am saying to work on the weaknesses without trying to turn them into something they are not able to be. Everyone would be happier and you can then concentrate on bringing out the best they have to give instead of making them into someone else. This has been a struggle for me, and if it has for you too, here is a reminder for you to stop! (I am reading this carefully to remind myself as well!)
Our schools and our homes are so much more fun when we are working inside the giftings God has given us. Homeschooling give us that opportunity!
Lynn Hogan is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 11 years from High Point, North Carolina. Her first child has graduated and is attending a Christian liberal arts college in Tennessee. Lynn is still homeschooling her 10th grade son. She is the owner of the Unit Study Helps website (www.unitstudyhelps.com) and editor of the Homeschooler's Notebook, a free weekly e-mail homeschooling newsletter. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org She is also a columnist on www.parentsandteens.com