Mistake #5 of our series, 5 Homeschool mistakes you don’t know you’re making.

Why using rewards can sabotage your efforts.

Do you use rewards for learning, you could be sabotaging you effortsDo you have some sort of reward system in place for chores?  Do you reward yourself when you lose a certain amount of weight or work out every day for a week? Do you pay your kids for good grades, or take them for ice cream if they read a certain number of books? When my boys were playing baseball, I knew a parent who paid their kids if they hit a home run. Perhaps you give your child a treat if they finish their veggies, or a reward when they finish their math.

Rewards are an odd thing. We’ve probably all used them at one time or another. You’ve probably read articles about using rewards to help establish new habits or change behavior.  The thing is, offering rewards can actually sabotage your efforts, and they should be used with caution and intention.

I’ve always been leery of rewards and have seen a great deal of negatives when rewards are overused. Let’s examine a few instances to see the danger.

The chore reward system, there are lots of these. In some kids put up stickers as they do their chores and earn a reward at the end of the week. In others, kids start out with a certain amount of money and if they don’t finish their chores, money is deducted from their ‘allowance’. In still others parents post jobs they want done with a dollar value attached and children can choose which chores they want to do to earn spending money. You can probably come up with many more.

In our house, every member of the family did some of the work, because we are a family. There were regular chores the boys did every morning and on the weekends there was yard work or cars to wash. I didn’t pay the boys for these things because they are part of the family and once they were old enough, they took on some of the responsibility and work to keep things going.

When I knew one of them was trying to save money for something (usually another musical instrument) I might offer to pay them for some work, but that wasn’t the norm.

I think I tried the pay system once or twice but abandoned the idea quickly because it led to an attitude of entitlement. It seemed that those systems quickly sent the message that they should be reimbursed for every contribution they made…and that wasn’t going to work for me. (more…)

Some Podcasts worth checking out!

I wanted to share some of the podcast that I listen to. These share insights into homeschooling with a bent toward Classical education, Charlotte Mason, Schole, and educating being about developing and directing our child’s affections toward the true and the beautiful.  Hope you enjoy checking them out.

If you find a great episode, let the rest of us know in the comments, so we can all listen and discuss.

This first podcast is about the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling. I’ve linked to the first episode which gives an intro to the method.

The Mason Jar

This next podcast is about using Schole in your homeschool. Too complicated to explain quickly here, but the concept will be like a breath of fresh air for those of you who feel stressed to always to more and more as you school.

The Schole Sisters

My Greatest Homeschooling Fear

My greatest fear when we began this homeschool journey was not that the boys wouldn’t get into college, or even I would miss some crucial bit of information, (that was inevitable); it was when they finished high school, they would breathe a sigh of relief and say, “It is finished.”

Over the years I’ve met many frustrated and discontented 20 somethings who felt completing high school meant they knew all they needed to know. Post high school, many of these kids never read another book, and what passed as intellectual stimulation came in the form of reality TV. In talking with these young adults, it became evident their world was very small and self centered. Frequently, they struggled with issues of identity and worth, but didn’t know why.  The lessons they had internalized were; school is a waste, reading is a chore, teachers are uncaring, and history is irrelevant…the school system had failed them and it was not just their education that suffered.

When our minds and spirits are starved of good healthy ‘food’ we don’t function as we were meant to, our growth is stunted and every area of our life suffers. This is not what any of us want. We want our children to live the full life God created them for. We want them to enjoy life, to excel in what they do, to find satisfaction in relationships, and to contribute to their communities. When we make homeschooling and parenting decisions we need to keep these goals in mind. Proficiency at math and reading are a start, but we also want children who are prepared to take on all the challenges of the next stage of life.

What do you want for your children? How can you help them get there? Philippians 4:8 gives us a beginning point. This verse points out that whatever is true, right, beautiful is about God, and it would benefit us to dwell on these things. As I consider this verse I am struck by how inclusive it is…all that is beautiful is worth studying, not just what makes a profit. All that is just, true and right should be our focus…not only what is expedient or has an immediate application.  By providing a ‘diet’ for their minds and spirits of the beautiful, the just, the excellent, we give our children a strong foundation, a good beginning…and instill the desire to continue to learn and experience what God has for them.

For me, I wanted my children to love art, and to play music. I wanted them to be in awe of the beauty in nature. I wanted them to be curious about past civilizations and engaged with current events. I wanted them to experience other cultures and to appreciate diversity. I wanted them to have an education rich and full, an education that encouraged curiosity and critical thinking. I was less concerned about the answers they knew and more concerned about the questions they asked.

As a teacher, or parent, approaching education this way is both exciting and uncomfortable. It’s exciting because it’s alive; changing and challenging us. It’s uncomfortable because very little of it is going to come through on some standardized test. It’s hard to measure the ‘educational’ benefits of art, or where enjoyment of a nature walk fits into a science scope and sequence. How does reading a great work of fiction that brings us to both tears and laughter, translate into a grade?

Embrace the discomfort. The most important aspects of educating your child are not measurable, at least not by a multiple choice test.  We want children who are excited about life, lean into challenges, and are confident they have the tools to deal with life in all of it’s complexities.

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What homeschooling (or parenting) fears to you have? Let’s talk in the comments.

 

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