Making them earn it!

I get asked often how I manage to get my kids to *do* their school work.  That’s not really an easy question to answer, because it’s a combination of years of habit training and expectations being set a long time ago.  However, there is a something that works really, really well for our family.  In this house, all privileges are earned by completing chores and school.

If my kids don’t walk the dog, or finish their math assignments, there are no fun privileges for the day.  Everything must be completed to use a TV, computer, or any other technology.  This rule also applies to play dates and homeschool activities.  I don’t “take” anything away, they simply fail to earn it.  It’s all about framing it under the umbrella of personal responsibility.  The real issue (for me) is consistency.  If I fail to back up my rule on any given day, I may as well forget I ever made it in the first place.  They know I mean business, and if they want their tech time/play time, they get their work done.  It has never failed me.  In the beginning I had some kids who cried in their rooms and grumbled under their breath, but eventually they realized that what I was asking was not unreasonable.

However, I should mention that our days are not a burden.  We don’t sit at a table doing workbooks and reading from textbooks.  We read lively, engaging stories and spend our time discussing interesting topics.  I alternate subjects they love (like history and science) with subjects they don’t love as much (like math).  We keep lessons as short as possible and I have a plan to keep us transitioning smoothly from one subject to the next.  I feel that frustrations arise when a parent doesn’t have a clear plan for the day.  Things fall apart if Mom or Dad has to scramble to find links or print pages.

I am not the only homeschooling parent who uses the “earn it” rule at home.  My friend Cori is trying this very idea in her homeschool this week.  Take a peek at her blog, Wonder in the Woods, and see how her boys are earning screen time for reading stories.  🙂


2 thoughts on “Making them earn it!

  1. Kimberly Hart says:

    Hey Becky, what is your plan that keeps your lessons short and moving along that you refer to, please? Could you describe it in detail…that would help. Thank you for your post

    • Becky says:

      Hi Kimberly! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      In the CM method, lessons are always to be kept as short as possible. 10-15 minutes for young children, and then gradually increasing in time as they grow older. Teens should be doing 45 minute to an hour per subject by high school.

      A few times a year I work on a schedule for us to accomplish our subjects as seamlessly as possible. I have three kids, so I try and make the schedule flow so that two are working on something independently while I work with the third child on something they need help with. It’s a little like a jigsaw puzzle. I try to have our entire day finished by 1:00 in the afternoon, with a small break in the morning and a small lunch break. The afternoons are free for them to pursue other interests and spend time outside.

      The way I keep lessons short is simply by stopping them at a reasonable time. If they don’t dawdle (and sometimes they do) they can finish most things in 15-20 minutes (for my girls who are younger, and 20-30 minutes for my son who is 12). We read one chapter at a time, and I only assign as much math as they can finish in that time frame (maybe all “odd” or all “even” problems if the lesson seems long. I don’t count narration as part of that short lesson time, just the reading or actual study part.

      There are examples of my previous schedules here on the blog if you do a search. Your schedule will really have to depend on the needs of your family. I hope this helps! Feel free to comment again or email me if you need any more info or clarification. Rebekah L Johnson @ gmail . com (no spaces).

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