20 November 2009

Homeschool Minute: rebellious children & the school bucks reward coupons program

I have a very rebellious, headstrong child to homeschool. My son's attention wanders and flits like a butterfly from thing to thing. He has problems sitting still and doing his lessons. He can take up to 3 hours to complete one lesson. He often mouths off to me or his father and often treats his little sister like a plague.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Through hard work, struggles, and tears, we have finally made some headway. The lying and mouthing off we have cured with old fashioned soap. He bites down on the bar for 30 seconds the first time and it increases by 30 second intervals each time he lies to us. I told him at 5 minutes we'd change it to chewing slivers of soap starting at 30 seconds and going up from there. In three weeks we've gone up to 3 minutes of holding the soap in his mouth. Joshua is like a new child with the lying and disrespecting. :)

As for the rest, one of the things that has really helped me to understand my son is the e-book Homeschooling The Rebel by Deborah Wuehler available here. There is also a second part where she has her child speak out directly about how they felt. The book is free, you just have to go through a shopping cart process to get it.

Now, I don't believe in indulging bad behaviour. In her book, she speaks about letting her child cover herself with a blanket and stay that way to do her work because she wanted to have a blanket on her head. I'm the parent, my son is the child and I believe that teaching a child to listen to what you say is more important than indulging them in bad behaviour just to get them to do their work. Children have to learn how to get along in society, as bad as that society is. Children will never get anywhere in the world if they do not learn self-discipline.

With that said, I really loved the book! I had few other problems and it was so terribly informative for me. I talked to my son about it and read some of the passages from the second book to him. Joshua said that he felt the same way that child did.

We've used some of the methods from the book, and they've worked so far. The biggest one is to give breaks between lessons so Joshua can stretch and burn off some energy.

And on a tangent, I don't believe in ADD or ADHD. I think it's utter nonsense. I believe in 'little boy-itis' and I believe that I also am a bit dreamy and distracted. It happens. My personal opinion is that it has to do with a combination of diet, possibly subluxations in the spine, and a build up of heavy metals/chemicals in the body. Just so everyone knows where I stand on that. It's possible to heal yourself of this problem, but it's also possible to deal with it. Labelling someone as 'ADD' gives it power over you. It gives you an excuse. 'Sorry, can't help being distracted, I've got ADD.' Instead you could say: 'I'm sorry, I get distracted sometimes. Let me do that over.' You take personal responsibility for yourself and what you have or have not done.

Tangent completed, moving back to the subject at hand. My son has done wonderfully with taking breaks between lessons. It helps him to focus when he comes back to his school work. Then I thought of an idea that has proved to be even more successful: school bucks.

The school bucks system I created works like a charm. For each lesson Joshua completes in a timely manner (I determine how much time he needs for a lesson and set the timer so he can see it) he gets a school buck. He earns extra bucks for good grades on tests, showing kindness to his sister during school hours, and sometimes if I do a pop verbal quiz or give him bonus questions on a test worth a buck each.

Joshua spends his school bucks on things he wants. I made a list of things, with his help, and each was assigned a price in school bucks. Since the 'annoying little sister' is with us all the time, I also added some things I wouldn't ordinarily add on like '20 minutes of undivided attention' or 'a night out with dad'. That way, he earns some special one on one time with us and we can make a point to give it to him when he needs it.

It has also proved to be an invaluble lesson in handling money and saving up for things he wants.

Below is a copy of our price list:

=======SCHOOL BUCK REWARDS========

(Rewards with * next to them can be used during school hours)

15 minutes on computer = 1 school buck*
20 minutes of undivided attention = 1 school buck*
15 minutes to play across the street = 1 school buck*
30 minute delay of bedtime = 2 school bucks
1 hour of bike riding = 2 school bucks
30 minutes for fossil hunting = 2 school bucks*
Choose dinner menu one night = 4 school bucks*
Have a friend over to play = 5 school bucks
Watch a movie on the computer = 5 school bucks
One cooking lesson = 5 school bucks*
One lesson about blacksmithing
or woodworking = 5 school bucks*
Night out with Mom = 10 school bucks
Night out with Dad = 10 school bucks
Friend over for dinner = 10 school bucks
One book (worth $5.00 or under) = 15 school bucks
Go out for ice cream = 15 school bucks

Have a friend over for the night = 15 school bucks
Sleep over at a friend's house = 15 school bucks
A dinner with grandma = 15 school bucks
Go to Gatti Town = 25 school bucks
Go to Explorium = 25 school bucks
Go to Cincinnati or Louisville for bookstore and museum = 100 school bucks

One lesson completed in the time given = 1 school buck
100% on a test = 2 school bucks
A on a test = 1 school buck

And here is what the school bucks look like.

Please feel free to use this system for your very own if you also have a hard-headed child. Please let me know how it works for you! If you'd like a full size page full of school bucks to use for yourself, send me an email or leave a comment here with your email address and I'll send you the file. Or copy the image above.

I hope this helps some of you out there dealing with the same problem we are having. It's hard, and frustrating, when one of your children is continuously disruptive or disrespectful. Anyone with stories or tips, please feel free to share for everyone's benefit.