Discipline in the Homeschool Classroom

I was recently discussing the following issue with some fellow homeschoolers: what do you do when your child doesn’t want to do the work? Andrea just wrote about this very topic last month and offered some great practical suggestions for how to deal with a child who is unmotivated to work at home. If you have not read her blog yet on the topic, I highly recommend it.

I am always amazed at the number of parents who use classroom discipline techniques (or even innovative at home discipline techniques) to get their children to do school work. Suffice it to say that we do not in our house. To be honest, we don’t have that problem. In fact, it’s a problem I refuse to have. And I’ll tell you why.

My favorite college professor, not surprisingly, was very popular with all the students. There was actually a waiting list for her educational psychology class and people took it just to take it because they had heard that she was such a great teacher. It took me three semesters to get into her class. . .I had to sign up for it as a freshman to take it the second semester of my sophomore year!

On our first day, as most teachers do, ‘Connie’ as she let us students call her, was explaining the syllabus, what books we needed to buy, etc. She asked if we had any questions and someone asked about her attendance policy. Connie thought for a moment and replied:

“Well the college says that I have to fail you if you don’t show up at least two thirds of the time.” We all kind of chuckled. But then she said something that has stuck with me and remained a guiding force in my teaching philosophy:

“But, I think I’m the one who has failed you if you want to show up to my class only two thirds of the time. The pressure is not on you as the student to learn the material. The pressure is on me to teach the material. And I want to teach it in such a way that not only do you master the minimum but you’re hungry to learn more.”

What a drastic change in how most of us were taught! It’s a complete paradigm shift in thinking. So I exhort you today, if you’re having problems with a child who doesn’t want to do the work, to consider how you can teach the material differently so that your child not only wants to master the minimum but is hungry to learn more.

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