Dear Mom Who’s Considering Homeschooling (Post #2): Relationships and Behavior

This is the second post in a series of posts for moms who are considering homeschooling or who are brand new homeschoolers. The first post addresses the importance of learning about your state’s homeschool-related laws and how you can do that. Future posts will address topics such as identifying your child’s learning style, choosing curriculum, deciding whether or not to join a co-op, socialization, and other topics. Also, feel free to leave topic suggestions in the comments! 

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Something that is not often mentioned to moms who are considering homeschooling is the topic of behavior/relationships. This can be a touchy topic, so I apologize in advance if I offend anyone! I feel like this needs to be addressed, though, because it has a lot to do with how enjoyable and successful your homeschool will be.

Do you have a good relationship with the child (or children) you plan to begin homeschooling? If so, that’s wonderful! It will be much easier and more fun for you to homeschool because of the positive relationship you and your child(ren) have. If not, though, you can still homeschool! It will require a bit more effort at first, but it absolutely can be done.

Of course no child or parent is perfect, so please don’t feel like perfection is the standard! I’m just referring to whether or not you and your child have a generally positive attitude toward each other and are able to work together in the yard or cooking or doing other tasks and have fun and enjoy each other’s company. If not, you will need to work on building a positive relationship with each other first–before you really dive into homeschooling.

Some folks call this “deschooling.” It simply means that, particularly if your children went to public school and you’ve pulled them out to homeschool, you take some time to really get to know them, to build a positive relationship with them (if you don’t already have a positive relationship), and to help them and yourself get used to the idea that homeschooling isn’t simply bringing public school methods home.

And please don’t worry that  you’ll be wasting time by working on your relationship first! A good relationship will not only make homeschooling more pleasant for both of you, but it will also lead to a better learning environment and, therefore, more learning. So the truth is that building a positive relationship first will enhance your child’s learning even if it takes a few weeks or months to work on your relationship before beginning academics. Some moms who plan to begin homeschooling in the fall take the summer to work on relationship building, so that’s an option as well.

So what do I even mean when I say that you and your child need to have a “positive relationship” before you begin homeschooling? Well, I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean first! It doesn’t mean that you never get angry or impatient with your child. It doesn’t mean that you and your child never mess up or get on each other’s nerves. It doesn’t mean that your child always obeys every single time you ask him to do something.

What it does mean is that you take some time with each other to do things you enjoy doing. Maybe you have a child who enjoys cooking. If so, have that child cook a meal with you each day or every few days. While you’re cooking together, chat about things that interest your child. Encourage him to tell you how he feels about different topics related to homeschooling or to life in general. Or just let the conversation go however it goes–you’ll still learn a lot about each other this way.

If you have a child who enjoys arts and crafts, sit down together and paint or craft or sew. If your child loves animals, go to the pet store together and admire all the animals or volunteer at a local animal shelter together. If he enjoys books, read a book together or out loud to each other and then discuss it together. (I still read out loud to my teens, and they still love it!) In other words, make time to do some things that your child particularly enjoys doing. This will show him that you’re interested in getting to know him and what he likes and who he is. It will show her that you’re willing to sacrifice some time to spend with her just to enjoy being with her. It will make a huge difference in your relationship!

If you have very young children, this process will probably be easier than if you have middle or high school aged children. For younger children, you can do simple things like visit the library together and read books to her, play with Legos or blocks together, make a simple snack together, or color or paint pictures together.

All I’m really saying is to spend some time with your child doing things you can enjoy doing together. Be sure to lean toward doing things your child likes in order to let him know that he and his opinions and likes/dislikes are important to you. Have fun learning more about each other and enjoying each other’s company!

So all that may sound great, but what if you have a child who isn’t very compliant when it comes to behavior. What if you’re worried that your child won’t obey you or do her school work? What if you just don’t get along very well at all, and you want to homeschool but you’re not sure if you can? If that’s the case, there are things you can do!

It’s helpful to try to take some time to work on correcting behavior issues before your begin homeschooling. (Since summer is approaching, this will be a perfect time to begin addressing behavior issues before school begins in the fall.) However, I suggest working on behavior for a few weeks before beginning academic work no matter what time of year you begin homeschooling (if your child has behavior issues that need to be addressed).

Below are some of my favorite books on the topic of behavior. You may be able to find them at your local library. If not, they are available on Amazon or at a local book store.

(Later in this series, I will give tips for dealing with children who refuse to do their work or who want you to “hold their hands” while they work. That topic will be addressed in a post of its own.)

We would love to hear from you! Do you have specific questions you’d like to see addressed in this series for moms who are considering homeschooling? Please tell me in the comments!

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net “School Zone” by anankkml

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  1. I’m following this series closely and greatly appreciate it.

    My question in this case is about certain behaviors that affect learning. My son has Asperger’s and ADHD. He is terribly quick to give up on things when tired, stressed, distracted, bored, etc. Since he claims boredom anytime he’s not playing, this is a huge problem.

    Further, he has a very short attention span if I am not with him every second. He’s 10. He needs to be able to wait 30 seconds while I get something. He wants to pull out a book and read for that 30 seconds, which might be ok if the Asperger’s didn’t make it so hard for him to put the book down (*transition* from something fun to something less fun).

    I think spending some summer working on these skills is a great idea. But I haven’t a clue how to help him on these subjects (which is part of the reason they persist). He needs to de-stress over the summer anyway, so I’m scrapping my original plan of starting our writing instruction early. He thrives on structure and rewards, if that helps.

    Do you have any advice or know where I should go for advice?

    1. Michelle, I also have a son (age 17) who has Asperger’s and ADHD. He used to do the same kinds of things your son is doing, and it was very difficult for both of us! I don’t know if this will help your son or not, but I finally had to come up with a new system (which my son originally hated but liked once he got used to it). Here’s what we did:

      Before he began a subject (math for instance), I sat down with him and went over the instructions. Then he was required to go in a different room (otherwise he would whine and beg for me to help him, etc.) to do his assignment. I emphasized that he was to try to do every single problem the best he could and that it was ok if he missed some or didn’t know how to do them. He simply had to try his best. Once he was finished, he could come get me to go over his work, explain anything he didn’t know how to do, and help him make corrections.

      We did that for every subject. This turned out to be the only way he would get his work done without wanting me to be right there with him holding his hand and telling him exactly what to do. It wasn’t easy for him to get used to this system because he was used to getting lots of attention and lots of help. I felt like I was being mean (even though I was very nice and matter-of-fact about it) to him, but I went with my instinct and tried it out anyway, and I’m glad I did!

      Again, I don’t know if that will help your son, but it definitely turned out to be great for mine. It might be worth a try. Because of his Asperger’s (and being OCD), he still whined a lot and hoped one day I’d allow him to go back to his old “system,” but I stuck with it. After a few weeks (or months? I can’t remember exactly.), he actually began to like this way better. He’s a junior now, and that’s still how we do things.



  2. In your line-up, do you plan to have anything for those who are literally starting at the beginning? The “we’ve just hit 5 (or 6 or 7) and we’re getting ready to cannonball into kindergarten. At home. With our firstborn.” crowd. We decided mid-summer last year, when said child was 4, and have spent the year testing the waters with pre-kindergarten activities at home, but some are just now thinking of it. At any rate, we’re all getting the “it’s time to sign your child up for kindergarten” from our school districts and responding with “no, it’s really not”. Any suggestions?

    1. Yes, Nicole! The post from last week (about learning the homeschool-related laws in your state) is the best place to start. Then, before you begin homeschooling, it’s good to think about whether there are relationship/behavior issues that need attention. (If not, that’s great! But if so, it’ll be best to address those before you begin homeschooling.) Next week’s post will be about identifying your reason for homeschooling. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready to start thinking about curriculum choices, perhaps joining a homeschool support group or co-op, and so on.

      If the school district is pestering you, then you definitely need to find out what the law requires you to do as far as “signing up” to homeschool. Part of that process may include some kind of notification for the local school district. Once the school district knows you have fulfilled the requirements for signing up to homeschool, you should ask them (nicely) to please stop notifying/questioning you. I always recommend that homeschoolers (whether established or beginners) join HSLDA because they will step in if necessary and make sure the local school district stops contacting you. They do lots of other great things to help homeschoolers retain their rights to homeschool too. You can find them at hslda.org.

  3. Some great ideas here, though I’m so sorry to read that the whole post is about reaching your child’s heart, but then the book recommendations are titles that heavily suggest spanking 🙁 Spanking is going to do the opposite of bringing a healthy connection between parent and child. Research proves this. There are much better resources for getting in touch with your child in a way that guides and corrects, but with physical punishment. And they are in line with the gentle. loving way that God corrects and teaches us. One superior resource is http://www.ahaparenting.com.

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