1. Lay Down the Law!
Who would you rather be?...
A parent with no workable plan for discipline...screaming and yelling all day at her kids who don't seem to mind getting yelled at in the first place and just do what they want to do ...or...
A parent who is alway on top of it, has a plan written down and communicated adequately to her children...who know and respect that plan and follow it day in and day out. So... So...who would you rather be?
I think we would all agree that the second example pictures success more than the first. So what's the difference? Other than the obvious difference in results, the difference is very simple... The second parent had a plan. And she communicated that plan clearly to her children. That's success for a classroom. That's classroom discipline at its best. You have to have a clear plan written down in black and white. Then you must communicate that plan to your children. They need to know... When the school day begins and ends.
What the classroom rules are.
What goals must be accomplished for that day.
What kinds of breaks are acceptable and when.
Let's take each of these one at a time...
I can't emphasize more how important sticking to a schedule is. If you get this part of classroom discipline wrong, you'll find yourself in the middle of a mind-blowing madhouse rather than a calm, cool and collected classroom. A good schedule includes when you begin class and when you end it. An ending time may not seem important. But it adds structure to your child's life by giving a clear "cutoff" for getting work done. Anything after this cutoff time is "homework." Rules must be established and enforced as well. Be strict with these at first. Then loosen up later when a pattern of acceptable behavior has been established. This alone can make a big difference in your home school classroom. Your child's goals should be clear and reachable. It's probably best to place some kind of goal chart in front of your child. You won't believe how excited your daughter will be when she has crossed off all the goals on her chart. She'll feel she's accomplished something! Breaks are another matter. Don't forget to take them! Some "overachieving" parents tend to push their child's attention span to the limits. For all you overachievers...let me ask you a question... How would you like it if your boss took away all your breaks at work? That's what I thought!
Children need breaks too. Make sure you take them often and on time. Breaks should be part of your daily schedule. And make sure to vary them in length. Your lunch break should be longer than your other "water breaks." "Play breaks" should be thrown in at least once a day. If your kids know what to expect for any given day, your life will be, oh, so much easier!
2. Be Consistent.
Once you have your plan written down, communicated and kicked into action... STICK TO IT! (Excuse me for yelling.)
Be consistent in how you implement your schedule. This is one of the most important parts of classroom discipline But consistency extends to more than just your written plan. It also comes into play in the academics of a classroom. We mentioned using a goal card in the last section. If you use this idea, remember to do it every day. It only works if you do it consistently. Consistency also extends to rules. Every home school parent should be careful to enforce rules. But those who teach more than one child at a time need to be even more careful. Make sure the rules and their correlating punishments are justly enforced. Don't favor one child over another. That's recipe for disaster. Be consistent with your rules! Be consistent with where you home school as well. Make sure you have a designated place for your children to learn. This "learning center" should be the main hub of your educational day. Not that you can't take your children outside or to other locations to learn. But the bulk of your academic work should be accomplished in the "learning center." The key here is be consistent in your classroom discipline! In what ever you do...be consistent. Classroom discipline depends heavily upon sticking to what you've come up with in your plan. More about this in our last point.
3. Always Consider Individuality.
Consistency is important in classroom discipline. But consistency does have its limitations. Where the realm of consistency ends, personal individuality begins. What do I mean by personal individuality?
There are certain unchanging rules in education. Teaching facts, making application and careful student testing are just a few. But keep this in mind... Every child learns in different ways. You must work with your child's learning strengths. What do I mean by learning strengths?
Some children can only learn with a hands on approach. These types many times become inventors, mechanics and carpenters. They don't normally come across as "intelligent" as students. But they are. Many times they're more intelligent then the average person...just in different ways. So put things in concrete terms, and illustrate your point with things they can touch, feel and interact with. Others learn in abstract ways. They're what most people would peg as "academic." These types learn more through challenging their thinking skills on an academic level. They like charts, flash cards and academic organization many times. So put things in academic terms for this type. And there are other learning types as well. The point is...
Don't pigeonhole your child. Try to find your child's strengths and work them into the curriculum you choose. Your child will be much happier if you work with their individual strengths. This is an important part of classroom discipline. Don't forget it!
4. Start Slowly.
As far as classroom discipline goes, this one's easy...but it's the most often missed. Many times home school parents who allow a "summer break" think their children can just jump into where they left off. After all...it was only a month or two... Big mistake!
It does make a difference. Yes, it's true. They are children. They learn things much more readily than we adults do. But keep in mind... They're miniature adults in many ways. They're still human. They have weaknesses just like we do. To expect them to recall everything they learned from two months ago with no refresher isn't realistic. Can you remember everything you did two months ago? I can't even remember what I had for lunch today!
The fact is, children need time to "recall" what they stuffed into their brains two months ago. Give them a few days to refresh their memories. Take it slow at first. Help them remember in a fun way some of the key concepts from the last academic year. Maybe you could make a "trivia" game out of some of the last concepts they learned before summer and "test" their knowledge. Whatever you do, make it fun the first couple days. You'll want to ease them into the year. The rest of school will go much more smoothly and if you do. Classroom discipline depends on it!
5. Stick to It...And Finish Strong!
If the last section was the easiest part of classroom discipline...this is the hardest. Stick to your plan. Be consistent in everything you do. And be consistent through the whole year. Once you get into the swing of the new school year, keep on going! Get a "rhythm" going and try to keep it. That doesn't mean you can't take breaks. You'll want to stop for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Easter and other holidays that may be important to you. You may want to schedule field trips and extra-curricular activities as well. But there's one important word here... PLAN!
If you're going to do these things, plan them into your schedule before the year begins. This will lead you to a much more consistent school year. And it makes your life a whole lot easier if you know what to expect. Of course, life may throw you your share of difficulties. Those will come. You can't schedule everything. When that does happen, try to come up with a backup plan that will at least keep your child close to where he needs to be. Remember... This is your child's education we're talking about here. Loosing a loved one or enduring some natural disaster may be difficult. But always keep your child's education well being in mind no matter what. You need to keep a consistent clip throughout the year and end on a strong consistent note. The key is...
Be consistent...all the way to the end. Keep on keeping on. Stick to it. Because... Your child deserves the best!