When you homeschool, or really when you try to teach anything at home, you are limited by your own virtue level. How consistent are you? Do you get up every day and teach your children to [insert important life skill here]? Do you model diligence as you tackle mundane tasks like doing the dishes? Do you get up and do your math every day?
There is no teacher to make you do your homework. There is no one to report to. It is easy to let things slide and say that you will get to that subject tomorrow. And suddenly too many tomorrows have come and gone. This happened this last year in Latin for my oldest and cello for my next oldest. I was feeling that frustrated feeling that comes when you feel ineffective.
My kids were probably 50%-ers in their least favorite subjects. I sat and thought about how to address this and realized that I am a 50%-er too. I was motivating for 2-4 days running and then I needed a break. I started looking for something that would help me have more diligence and patience, and I stumbled across this gem of a program on my Facebook feed.
We Choose Virtues is exactly what I needed to fill the gap. Continue reading
Systems within systems. That is the way I roll. So inside of my accountable kids structure, we use Zone Cleaning for Kids. Each of my kids has two rooms that they are responsible for cleaning (outside of their bedrooms). The three oldest clean a living room space and a bathroom space. The fourth cleans the hallways and brings the laundry from the upstairs to the downstairs.
At first it was really difficult to stay on top of the cleaning. I would be helping one child and then I would come and find that a different child had been daydreaming instead of actually cleaning. It was also difficult to enforce standards because I didn’t know how much to expect out of my kids. I just knew that I couldn’t keep up with the cleaning with all 5 at home all of the time.
Then I saw an educents ad on Facebook about Zone Cleaning for Kids. Continue reading
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The Accountable Kids program says that it is especially suited for children ages 3-14, and so that is the guideline that I am trying to stick to, but my 10-year-old seems like she is ready to move on to the written contract stage that the company recommends at age 14. Continue reading
Accountable Kids is a complete system to run your home. It includes a chore schedule, an allowance system, a negative behavior modifier, a positive behavior reinforcer, special one-on-one dates with a parent, and a weekly family meeting. It is a compilation of every good parenting idea I have ever heard.
The child’s supplies. On top there is the board with the special date card and stickers to its right. Underneath the board, going from left to right, are the chore cards, tickets, bonus bucks, best behavior cards, and privilege passes.
The biggest question I get when I tell people that I homeschool with 5 children at home is, “How do you motivate everyone and get everything done?” That is a real challenge. Some days are better than other days, but the biggest help to me is a program that I found online called, “Accountable Kids.” Continue reading
Whenever I run into new homeschool parents, I remember that feeling that I had when I was just starting out. I felt a lot of fear. Would I be able to teach my kids? Would I be successful? Would I ruin them forever? And what about that socialization thing? It just seems like you are thrown into the deep end of the pool and you don’t know how to swim at all. And you aren’t in the pool drowning alone either. There are a lot of spectators shouting helpful (or not) advice in your direction as you try to doggie paddle your way to…well, where exactly?
The first thing that helped me gain my footing was to set an end goal. What did I want my kids to be like when they graduated from my little academy? What knowledge and skills did I want them to acquire? We are a religious family (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and so I know that I am aiming my kids for Brigham Young University in Provo. I pulled up the website for the school, and there was a lot of information about how homeschool students are evaluated for admission. So I now had more finite requirements that I was shooting for. I now had a direction that I could swim in.
I always tell new homeschool parents to choose where they are headed and map out the steps to get there. You may change along the way, but if you have that end goal in mind, you will be better able to steer your children where you are headed. You will know what questions to ask and how to evaluate your progress.
Here are some of my goals for my kids at graduation time:
- Be healthy and happy members of our family with good memories.
- Be college admission ready using BYU admission requirements.
- Have the life-skills necessary to be able to run a household on their own.
- Have the character developed to serve an 18month-2year religious mission.
- Have worked a part-time job.
- Develop skills/talents that could be used to bring in income if needed. (music, home repair, computer programming, etc)
The second thing I tell new homeschoolers is that it takes a few years to find your groove, and that is okay. Kick out your fears and have faith that you can do this, and that you will be successful. If something isn’t working, you have the power to adapt and find something that does. There is a support system for you out there (you can reach out and find it), and with determination and perseverance it will all be worth it. And as several wonderful moms have reminded me over the years, you take it one year at a time. If homeschool works this year–then great–if not then there are lots of other options available. Just remember your end goals and head towards them.