One of the tricky things for me to balance as the children’s mother and teacher is where I should deal with attitude issues. My preference is for school not to be a time when I discipline, but if there are attitude problems they will appear there as readily as during chore time!
Lately the big two have been having a great deal of trouble with dawdling and choosing to be distracted. For Mouse it’s the wonderful world of words and anytime she can pick up a book she will- meaning that I can’t send her to do a job where I can’t see her as she will read instead of working. Buggle has my ability to start a job and be distracted by something that is vaguely related and needs to be done but isn’t the original task. Both of them have carried this into school hours and are really struggling with completing assignments in a timely manner.
Since our school-time depends on the big children doing some of their assignments independently before having teaching time with me, not completing those assignments during the time that I’m working with Bull throws everyone off. Last week I dealt with this by doing some behavioral charting and using the timer, but by the end of the week I realized that the problem was not so much an attitude issue as them having gotten out of the habit of following through quickly on things that they found uninteresting or difficult!
Well! Follow through (diligence) is an important adult skill and that means I need to intentionally train them in it. Monday I had a “Mom’s morning out” (otherwise known as three-hours-to-think) and decided that we would not be doing school this week. Instead I would take the opportunity afforded by our extreme busyness the last few weeks causing me to have fallen somewhat behind to do a thorough housecleaning and use housecleaning as a training ground in diligence and keeping oneself from being distracted while working.
That way I could do some intentional training without having schoolwork (which the children generally enjoy and which I want to be a calm, learning time) as part of the mix.
So yesterday we worked downstairs- each of the big children on their own task with me working nearby to correct and coach as needed. Today we’ll continue with cleaning, organizing, and training in diligence. I’m using behavioral charting to keep track of who is working well and who needs additional practice. There are rewards and consequences and I try to point out to the children how the way in which they discipline themselves will benefit the whole family now and build skills for the future.
This is one of the reasons that I love homeschooling. Because I am raising future adults I can take the time to start them on the path of responsible adulthood and be consistent across all of their hours. I’ve been a classroom teacher and I know that is nearly impossible for a teacher with 20 plus students to look at each one and figure out how to address the character issues that effect their academic performance. I had parents that wanted to work with me on these things but there simply isn’t enough time (or mental energy) for a teacher to do that well especially if he or she is teaching multiple class periods. By being home with the children I am able to address diligence and other issues of character across the whole day and in a variety of situations. The children benefit from consistency and learning that self-control and responsibility matter across all of life and I am able (by God’s grace) to patiently correct, model and instruct them into becoming competent and responsible adults!