Whether you have only recently opted to homeschool your child or you have been homeschooling all along you will, unless your child is some kind of doll or plastic action figure, run into behavior issues. There is something about homeschooling that makes parents wonder if the issues are homeschool-related and, if so, should they make the move back to traditional school.
There are tons of Homeschool Resources in print and online. Most shy away from behavioral issues so as not to confuse those issues with homeschooling in general. Traditional schools address behavioral issues as medical issue more often than not, leading to children being diagnosed with an amazing assortment of letters and given prescriptions. Let’s say we meet in the middle?
We live in a time of delicacy. No one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings. This is all well and good, but nothing gets done, nothing gets clearly stated if it might hurt someone’s feelings. You can search hundreds of homeschool resources and not find a concrete solution to anything. You can search hundreds of traditional school resources and find even fewer concrete answers. What’s a homeschooling parent to do???
The good news is that there are homeschool resources out there that can help with behavior issues. Whether your child is just acting up because that’s where they are developmentally, or if your child has a special need and would benefit from Special Education Resources, they’re available at the click of a button. Some of the homeschool resources listed in this article might be considered parenting resources. Semantics. When you get right down to it, homeschooling is parenting and then some. Remember, what works for some may not work for you. Trust your own judgement if you feel the need to tweak a method. Where do you think “methods” come from anyway?
1. Assessing The Behavior Issue;
Sounds easy, but it’s usually not. If you have a child that is: throwing tantrums, refusing to do work, taking hours to do what should be a fifteen minute task, you have a behavior issue.
- Have you always homeschooled? If you have always homeschooled and your child is exhibiting new and unusual ways to defy you, it’s likely he’s testing your limits (as well as his own). However, if your child has always exhibited some or all of these types of behaviors, he’s not only testing limits, he’s testing you.
- Are you a new homeschooler? The general rule is that for every year your child spent in a traditional school, you should allow 6 months for them to adjust to homeschooling. This is not to say you have to accept ugly/mean/destructive behavior. Nor is this to say that those adjustment months should be spent playing video games. The de-schooling philosophy allows time for you and your child to ease into homeschooling, gradually introducing the new routine while, in the meantime, providing activities and excursions based on your child’s interests.
2. Addressing The Behavior Issue;
Most parents will go to great lengths to avoid having their child labeled with a special need. Many homeschool parents pull their previously diagnosed children out of school to avoid labels, medications and/or special education classes. There are a variety of homeschool resources documenting parents’ successes AND failures when educating their children with special needs at home. However, avoiding a diagnosis can put your child in jeopardy of falling behind academically and/or socially. Whether you homeschool or not, if you suspect something beyond a child testing their limits, explore thousands of options available within special education to help make an informed decision.
If it’s determined that your child has a special need, there are plenty of resources and assistance available. Special Education Tutoring has exploded in popularity amongst the homeschooling community. Many parents view this option as a way for their child with special needs to get the resources and tools needed to be successful, without subjecting them to the overpopulation of the school system.
3. Resolving The Behavior Issue;
Medical issues aside, if your child is acting up while you are trying to homeschool, the first thing you need to look at is yourself. If your child was previously in school, think back and try to remember what behaviors your child had that you did not like. Homeschooling tends to magnify already existing issues. If you, prior to homeschooling, opted to ignore ugly, rude or obnoxious behavior, you child knows that you do not like confrontation and they are going to test your patience and boundaries now that you are homeschooling. They are asking you “What really does happen if I don’t finish this lesson?”
It’s on you, the parent, to be there and be ready to back it up. Provide consistent consequences. Be on top of things every single day (yes, it is exhausting). Use your homeschool resources – especially homeschool forums for support, solutions and sympathy. Channel your inner Barney Fife and “Nip it in the bud.” If your child knows you mean business – each and every day – they will come around. Just know that while your child will come around to the new program, your life might consist of a seemingly endless battle of wills.
4. Creating A Plan;
You do not have to make a plan from scratch! Use the wisdom of those who have been there, done that and take from them what works for you. You know your child best. Pick and choose from the various methods until you hit on the right combination for your family. Don’t forget about homeschool resources like the Well Trained Mind community and other similar homeschool forums. There is much to be learned from other parents in the trenches!
5. Homeschool Resources That Offer Additional Assistance;
If nothing is working, don’t despair. Start with a thorough check-up by your pediatrician. Ask them for their recommendations for behavioral therapists, psychologists and other specialists. Follow through as needed. Medication is no parent’s first choice, but for some children it is necessary. Once again, use homeschool forums like the Well Trained Mind or VegSource to connect with parents in similar circumstances. Learn from others experiences and save yourself a lot of grief.
Even Carol Brady had trouble with her kids from time to time. Address behavioral issues as soon as they pop up. Be sure you’re expectations are in line. Few kids care if their margins are properly spaced or if they have used the right pen or pencil. Let go of the image of the perfect family, much less the perfect homeschooling family. Parents, you need to pick the hill you are willing to die on and stick with that. What is truly important to you and/or for your child’s future? If, as a family, you cannot get past behavioral problems, seek professional help. Homeschool resources are great to a point, but there are times you need a live professional. The sooner you seek help, the sooner your life will feel normal-ish again.