4 Strategies to Tackle Your Child's Unfinished Homeschool Assignments


Do you ever have days where you feel like you're nagging your children more than your teaching them?

Before the teens hit, most homeschooled kids are usually compliant when it comes to school work. Mine were and I'm guessing yours are too.

But then, there are the days when you find yourself telling your child more than once to finish an assignment only to come back again to find the work undone and your homeschooler reading a favorite book or outside playing.

How should you respond? Do you cajole, plead, bribe, threaten, or get angry? If you do, it'll only make matters worse. 

Here's what works: first, you have to recognize and understand the problem. 

Regardless of the particular circumstances, remember that your child did not wake up that day with the intent to infuriate you. Just like us, there are days when he or she may not feel like doing something and that feeling has nothing to do with you. Do not take it personally.

 However, if your child leaves an unfinished assignment for some leisure time, unless there's a legitimate reason, then he or she has failed at two things. The first is obedience. You have to call it by its name, disobedience; otherwise, you won't choose the right strategy to correct it. The second thing I'll get to later.

What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do.
— Aristotle

Rather than cajole, plead, bribe, threaten, or get angry; take a deep breath.  Remain calm, cool, and collected; and then decide upon an appropriate consequence plan using John Rosemond's Godfather principle.

Give your child an offer he or she can't refuse. 

By giving your child an irresistible offer, you're putting the problem back in his or her lap, not yours. 

Explain the offer first by saying something like "Sophia (we'll pretend Sophia is your child's name), moving forward I'm going to put a new rule in place. You're usually good about completing your assignments, but on the days when you aren't—if I have to remind you even once—here's what's going to happen..." 

And then you'll courageously pick one of the following four strategies and explain to Sophia, as concisely as you can, what she should expect. 

1) She can expect to go to bed an hour early.  

If you usually put Sophia to bed at 8:00 pm, you will send her to bed at 7:00 pm on the night of her folly. If she fails to finish her work the next day, you will extend the new bedtime curfew to one week.

2) She will be forbidden to use any technology for the rest of the day including, but not limited to cell phones, video games, and television.

If she has a cell phone (hopefully, she doesn't!), you will immediately confiscate it for 24 hours. 

3) She will have a (insert) privilege taken away. 

You would choose a privilege that she usually looks forward to like riding her bike in the afternoon or playing with friends outside.

Losing a privilege is not just enforced until she finishes her work. It's a consequence that's in place until the next day, assuming she doesn't fail to finish her work the next day too. If she does fail to finish it again, then it was an offer she could refuse. In this case, you extend the consequence for one week.

4) She will have to do an extra chore which is above and beyond what she would typically do. You'll decide what that chore will be. 

The chore could be something like removing the dishes from the dining room hutch and cleaning out the hutch, or removing books from their shelves and dusting the books and the shelves. 

You will make a list of about ten chores ahead of time, so you're prepared when you need to draw from them.

Until then, pick your strategy and remember the #1 rule you must always obey whenever you mete out a consequence:

You must never fail to be consistent! 

Not following through with what you say is breaking your word, and your children won't take you seriously if they know you are more likely to break your word than to keep it.

To be respected by your children, you must stand behind your word at all times. Treat it like it's carved in stone. When you do this, you are not only teaching Sophia that you mean what you say, but you are also teaching her to honor her own word, which is an essential lesson in developing good character.

If for some reason you need to modify your consequence, that's fine. It's the idea of saying you'll do something and then not doing it again and again that adds up to a sack of empty threats which children eventually learn to disregard. 

But that's not all. Remember in the beginning I said there were two things Sophia had failed in? The second was that Sophia had succumbed to her desires rather than to do what she should have done which was to finish the assignment you had given her.

This is merely a lack of discipline that needs to be corrected in Sophia. A critical lesson when you teach Sophia to finish her assigned work is that she will learn to develop the habit of discipline.

Self-discipline is vital to Sophia's moral development and her worldly and other worldly success. Holding Sophia responsible for finishing her assigned work provides an important opportunity for Sophia to acquire the habit of self-discipline. 

No evil propensity of the human heart is so powerful that it may not be subdued by discipline.
— Seneca the Younger

Looking a little down the road, it will also make it much easier to homeschool Sophia when she does reach the rebellious teen years. She'll already be accustomed to obey you, and she'll have  acquired the discipline to finish her assignments. 

While there's a lot of flexibility when you're homeschooling, there is less flexibility when it comes to good character development. Except on rare occasion, you don't want to ignore any behavior on your child's part that will lead to bad habits. You want to nip undesirable conduct in the bud.

Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.
— Julie Andrews

Be the parent who raises a child to fly. 

If you would like to become a more competent homeschooler, please join the waiting list for my upcoming course: How to Homeschool the Smart Way.

If you enjoyed this, you might like my free download Ten Books Every Well-Educated Child Should Read.

If you need help with your homeschooling, you can schedule a one-hour consultation with me (that's usually all you'll need) http://bit.ly/2GJAZEr