My Child Has Poor Behavior at School. Can Homeschooling Help?
If your child struggles with meeting behavioral expectations at school, then homeschooling may be the solution. Rather than anguishing over thoughts like “my teenager is failing school and doesn’t care” or wondering how to satisfy teachers’ requests for consistency and discipline, you may want to consider homeschooling to investigate causes and offer strategies. Bringing teaching and learning into the home with Time4Learning can provide you and your child with the opportunity to explore behavior from your child’s point of view and within the contexts of motivation and interests, learning successes and challenges, and family expectations. It is never too late to improve behavior, and the current and future benefits to both you and your child can be significant.
Understand Your Child’s Point of View
Professionals in the fields of education and psychology have claimed that all behavior is motivated. In other words, children are always motivated, so it is our job as adults to help them find what motivates them, especially when it comes to learning and behavior. That makes teaching a classroom of students particularly challenging. Well-meaning teachers in traditional classrooms must navigate the unique learning and motivational styles of many students while creating a classroom structure and setting expectations to enable effective learning without behavioral issues.
Unfortunately, managing the classroom while delivering instruction in an engaging and productive way is difficult, and students who are disinterested in the material, do not learn best using a particular instructional method, need more challenge, or struggle with the content can fall through the cracks. Feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, these students may act out or give up, with resulting behaviors that become issues for both teachers and parents.
Regardless of whether you are homeschooling, talk to your child about behaviors. Using age-appropriate communication strategies, ask questions like these:
- Why do you think you are doing this behavior?
- What happens immediately before this behavior?
- What consequences generally follow this behavior?
- What could you do instead?
- What do you think would happen if you did this other behavior?
Homeschooling with Time4Learning allows you to focus on only your child(ren) and gives you the ability to discover the answers to these questions through observation. Once you know more about your child’s point of view, you can then adjust the learning environment or teach and reinforce strategies to best support the improvement of behavior.
Learn What Motivates Your Child
More important than finding ways to discipline a child is finding what motivates your child. In his book,The motivation breakthrough: Six secrets to turning on the tuned-out child, master educator, Rick Lavoie, describes six motivational styles that can help teachers and parents understand the children in their care. If a less structured approach is your style, you can learn a lot by simply observing your child. With the flexibility of Time4Learning, you can
- Watch your child’s eagerness to begin certain activities and note hesitation or even reluctance with others.
- Review past progress and current performance and monitor behaviors while your child is succeeding versus while your child is struggling.
- Try various incentives and consequences to see which ones are sought or avoided by your child, and you can give your child choices and observe the outcomes of those choices.
- Be a motivation detective!
Create a Learning Plan Using Their Interests
As a homeschooling family, capitalize on what motivates your child by diving deeply into their interests (even if it is the science of slime or the history of jelly beans!). Again, using age-appropriate communication strategies, talk about learning that is about to happen, not just what has already been learned. Ask your child what would be interesting within a given topic. Finding ways to motivate students to learn can boost engagement, learning, and retention while simultaneously decreasing unwanted behaviors:
- Your child is disinterested in the material: Based on what you’ve discovered about what motivates your child, modify Time4Learning’s learning activities to focus more on areas of interest (e.g., by using inquiry-based learning) or approach challenging or less interesting material from a point of strength or interest. Follow topics that are not so interesting with a deep dive into something that is of interest. Incorporate project-based learning or unit studies based on areas of interest that can help stimulate engagement while building confidence. If you are hearing questions like, “Why do I have to know this?”, your child may be seeking relevance. Add life skills instruction to ground learning in what is needed for college, career, and life in general.
- Your child does not learn best using a particular instructional method: If you can, change the current method of instruction entirely. You can modify that activity, or if you discover a complete mismatch, you may need to change curriculum. If you can’t easily modify the instruction, or doing so would make learning inefficient or less effective, consider adding a learning activity that is based on your child’s learning preferences. For example, if instruction is based on reading, but your child learns well with audio or visual input, add a debate or view a documentary to reinforce what was learned through reading. If your child is more kinesthetic, try adding a notebooking or lapbooking activity.
- Your child needs more challenge: Children who are bored can also act out, which is problematic, but the more critical issue is that their potential is not being maximized. Incorporate accelerated learning by allowing your child to test out of material or by increasing the pace. Time4Learning, for example, offers self-paced learning and access to the next grade-level of content so that a student who is gifted is challenged enough to avoid boredom and resulting behavioral issues. Adding a middle school elective or high school elective can provide the additional challenge your child needs.
- Your child struggles with the content: Some of the most intense student behaviors can come from not understanding material and feeling hopeless. Time4Learning’s self-paced curriculum can help by allowing access to the prior grade-level of content and the opportunity to revisit instruction and retake tests and quizzes. Rather than forging on in the classroom, homeschooling can allow your child to learn at a productive pace with a level of mastery that you have chosen. The flexibility of at home learning also enables your child to take breaks when needed and allows you to switch approaches when necessary.
Set Clear and Consistent Expectations
All the methods above can help you to increase engagement, prevent student burnout, deal with bad homeschooling days, and maximize the learning of your child—with the end goal of decreasing inconvenient behaviors. Equally important is setting expectations that are clear and have effective consequences. Rather than focusing on ways to discipline a child, avoid the need for consistent discipline by managing your child’s expectations and making your expectations known and understood. When your child understands your expectations, your child can monitor behavior and make adjustments when necessary. In order to make direct improvements with behavior, set SMART goals with your child that not only express your expectations but also allow your child to feel accomplished and celebrate successes when goals are met.
Support your child with strategies for meeting goals and expectations, and coach your child on how expectations can change with different adults and different situations. Doing so will take persistence and patience, but at the end of the day, your child—and you—will be grateful when expectations are clear and behaviors are improved.