Tips from 20 Years of Good Homeschool Behavior Management

One of the main reasons parents cite for homeschooling today is behavior problems (and safety) in public schools. However, those problems don’t just magically disappear when you bring your child home, do they?

Good homeschool behavior management is a critical factor for homeschool success and the importance of establishing this early on should not be ignored. As with traditional schooling, the homeschool requires structure and organization for your child or children to have a safe setting for learning.

I have acquired 20 plus years of tips for good homeschool behavior management after homeschooling children through kindergarten to high school graduation. Let’s look at the top five tips for good homeschool behavior management I’ve learned over the years.

Tip 1: Set Clear Roles for Good Homeschool Behavior Management.

It is foundational to set clear roles when you begin homeschooling. This is for both you and the children you homeschool. I say it this way because there may be some cases in which you homeschool children who aren’t your sons or daughters (I have included other people’s children when homeschooling my own for at time, in fact). And in those cases, this still rings true.

From the military to the local public school, roles are created in order to maintain safety and order-exactly the foundation necessary for learning. Roles are important because they help bring order and security to your environment.

Without roles, people step over lines or boundaries, and in each other’s way. This breeds chaos and conflict, not the type of atmosphere you want in your home, let alone your home school.

Clear Parent/Teacher and Child/Student Roles Are Necessary for Homeschools, Too!

Even though you already have presumably healthy parent-child roles established, you will still need to think diligently about your roles as teacher-student in your homeschool for it to be successful.

As the ‘teacher’ in your homeschool, you will need to make sure your voice is clearly heard as the lead. This means you are in charge and must maintain that directive. This doesn’t imply you are a dictator and mean ill will towards your student/child. Of course not! Just like regular classroom teachers set the tone, and final word, so do you.

As the teacher, you are in charge of setting the routine, making sure materials are accessible and ready, creating a learning environment that is safe, maintaining paper work and records, and last but certainly not least, teaching your child (or facilitating his or her instruction).

Even if these tasks become frustrating, it is your job to do these as the adult leader of the homeschool. And your child should barely, if at all, be aware of the duties.

As the child, he or she is expected to show respect for your authority and follow your directions to complete the homeschool assignments. That’s basically it as far as your child’s homeschool duties.

If either one of you start to falter on your role, then it becomes evident in your homeschool. If you don’t follow through to right the roles, that is, figure out where the slack is coming from and fix it, then your good homeschool behavior management suffers.

Good Manners Bring Good Management

Part of setting up clear roles is making sure those roles are respectful on both sides. This respect should be a natural progression from your parent-child roles, but should be clear none the less.

If you already have a respectful language expectation as a family, this won’t be too difficult to keep going during your homeschool. However, sometimes children test boundaries in new situations and this is one of those times it might happen.

Reinforce by modeling the type of language you expect. As well, mannerisms go beyond verbal. Body language is just as important to keep respectful. For example, ensuring that your student-child looks you in the eye when you’re speaking in very important.

When you are talking, your student-child should stop what they’re doing (i.e. take out their ear buds) and look at you. You should expect this each and every time. And likewise, you should provide the same attention when your child speaks to you.

In addition, you should model and expect a calm tone of voice and relaxed body.

Tip 2: Established Routines Help Provide Good Homeschool Behavior Management.

Routines are essential for any classroom environment. Merriam-Webster defines routine as a “a regular course of procedure.” The establishment of effective routines are the backbone of quality education and research proven.

This article from the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality explains that routines are a necessary preventive approach for behavior management.

Routines in a regular, traditional classroom involve such things as managing supplies, restroom breaks, passing out paper, read aloud time, recess, drills, etc.

Homeschool also has a need for consistent routines in order to create a setting for learning. Homeschool routines involve such things as designing and explaining schedules, handling and storing of material and work, reading time, whether or not music is permitted, how and when breaks are implemented and so on.

Without routines, it is quite difficult for your homeschool to be successful, and certainly leads to a disruptive environment.

Schedule Routines Are Important for Management

Probably one of the first routines you will need to set up is your schedule. This is your daily routine. You need to decide when school begins and ends each day, as well as the schedule in between it. For example, when is math? What time is science? When and if you break for lunch?

When your child (student) knows the schedule, he or she is able to focus on the other parts of homeschool. This most definitely supports your homeschool behavior management.

Other parts of the schedule include when work is due, the grading/return of completed work, and test expectations. The more your child understands this part of the homeschool routine, the more successful the behavior management will be.

Content-Driven Routines Support Behavior

You will also have routines that are content-driven. This means you will set up procedures based on subject matter you cover.

For example, you will set up procedures for how science flows in your lessons, such as whether or not you will use particular equipment, how often you will demonstrate experiments or do labs, etc.

Likewise, you will have routines involving language arts. You might start each language arts time with journal writing, incorporating well-known quotes, or learning SAT vocabulary.

You will have routines for your extracurricular content, too. For example, you will have procedures for music lessons, cooking class, or Bible time. All the ‘things’ involved in doing the lesson become the routine for it.

The more routines you establish and connect to the homeschool content, the better you will be able to manage homeschool behavior. Your student (child) will lock these procedures into his or her homeschool schedule and know what to expect and/or do, as you move from one content to the next, each and every time.

The more you are able to set these routines consistently, the better your homeschool ‘works’, I promise you!

Tip 3: Include the Student-Child in Curriculum

Homeschooling allows you the freedom to select your curriculum. I’ve written more about the freedom to create your own curriculum here, if you’d like to jump over to read it as well.

To promote good homeschool behavior management, I encourage you to involve your child with selecting and/or developing your homeschool curriculum.

Granted, you will have some loose parameters when homeschooling to follow, based on your state’s requirements. However, these mandates still leave you plenty of room to customize and personalize your child’s education. And frankly, the more involved your child is in this process, the more guarantee you have for good homeschool behavior management.

This doesn’t mean that you study Fortnite and Tik Tok, though this article on EdWeek.Org shows Fortnite has (arguably) educational potential. No, you will want to ensure the curriculum is appropriate for your child’s future. Whether your child expresses interest in higher education or not, you will want to make sure he or she has every door available.

Include Interests and Hobbies in Your Homeschool

It is easy to incorporate your child’s hobbies with homeschool curriculum. You can include it simply as extracurricular activities, but often it can do double duty and fulfill higher education requirements, too.

For example, our daughter expressed an interest in learning foreign languages. She dabbled in Spanish before moving on to German more long term during her middle and school years. We were able to use free Rosetta Stone and Mango Language programs from our local library and include that in her homeschooling time.

In addition, she always had a passion for art. We signed her up for art classes at the local studios for kids, and as she grew older, she took lessons meant for adults at the Smithsonian. She also utilized Youtube for art during part of her homeschool curriculum. She learned to paint happy little trees, courtesy of Bob Ross videos.

All of our children always participated in martial arts for their P.E. (physical education) requirements from their kindergarten days through high school. They were able to earn their black belt as part of their homeschool education, personalizing their homeschool curriculum.

Your child could even do martial arts online for his or her P.E. If you would like to learn more, read this article by my husband.

Imagine how invested your child would be as your homeschool student if they help select what it is they study…it is only logical that good behavior management is a natural outcome.

Choice in Core Content

As well, homeschoolers also have freedom of core content, too. Of course there are some expectations from the state as mentioned earlier.

Our graduated children had to have four English credits on their high school diploma. However, what they studied for their English credit was up to us.

This means if your child prefers science-fiction over nonfiction literature, you can make this more of the focus. Naturally, you’ll need for your child to be familiar with Shakespeare and other college-prep reading, but it doesn’t mean you spend an entire year reading only that.

It also means you can decide how the material is delivered. For math, we used a lot of Khan Academy and a math video dvd set.

Here is the math set we used to supplement math curriculum, which we purchased from Amazon if you’d like to look into it for your homeschool.

For history, our children watched a lot of documentaries from the History Channel.

Again, homeschooling gives you so much freedom that you and your child can truly design something that works for your child- this personalization of material is what keeps your child focused and engaged, not your side eye!

Tip 4: Provide Choice Where Appropriate to Maintain Good Homeschool Behavior Management

As a public school teacher, as well as mom of four, I’ve learned that you can provide choice in a lot of low stakes areas, which in turn, increases good behavior from your students (your homeschooled children, included). This is quite the effective management tool.

Homeschool Setting

One simple way to promote good behavior is to allow your child to select and/or design the homeschool setting. I’ve learned over the years, that the learning setting is best if flexible!

Your child doesn’t have to sit at a desk, feet planted in front and shoulders back, in order to learn. Neither do you as the teacher, by the way.

Many children like to sit on the carpet to work. As kids get older, you might find your teen prefers to do his/her work lounging in bed. As long as the work gets done, don’t argue with them.

Let your child design or choose the posters to go on the wall of the homeschool area.

Remember, it doesn’t have to look like a traditional public school classroom. After all, ,you chose homeschool for your family, so take advantage of the flexibility it offers. And the setting is a low stakes area you should feel comfortable leaving to your child.

Field Trips

Another fun yet effective area you can let your children take part in handling (within reason) is with field trips. And yes, homeschoolers go on field trips, too.

Often in traditional schools, students go on 1-2 field trips per year and have no say in what they’re doing. With homeschool, you can cater the adventure to your customized curriculum, and wallet!

Living near Washington, D.C., our family took a lot of trips to the National Smithsonian Museums, whether or not it particularly connected to what they were studying. The family has always enjoyed museums and this was a perk to our living locale.

We also took day trips to Jamestown, Virginia. They boys enjoyed looking at the ship replicas and our daughter found the reenactments at Williamsburg fascinating. This wasn’t connected per se to their studies (though we found it insightful none the less), but it certainly engaged our students and supported our homeschool management.

Tip 5: A Flexible Calendar Supports Good Homeschool Behavior Management.

Parents rarely have any say or control over the school calendar. Unless of course, you homeschool. With homeschooling, you don’t need to follow the same calendar as the local school. Except for filing deadlines, you are pretty much free to decide the instructional calendar each year for your child. So…make it the best for your family.

Year Round Calendar

Depending on your child, a year round calendar could be what’s best for your homeschool. A year round calendar doesn’t mean your child goes to school all year (though it could if that is what your child wants or needs). A year round calendar just means you can alter or modify the calendar throughout the year, for your child’s needs.

If your child likes short breaks, you can sprinkle them throughout the year and not be beholden to an antiquated schedule.

If your child is involved in certain clubs or sports, it might be better to have a long winter break. Or maybe your child prefers to work hard and push all of his/her schooling at the beginning of the year to have an extended break the second semester. This is a ‘year round’ calendar.

Our daughter wanted to study abroad and won a scholarship to pay for it. However, she essentially would miss an entire academic year of school to do this.

So to prevent her from repeating a year or falling behind, she doubled up the year before. Homeschooling provided a great way to customize her education to allow for this ‘gap year’ to study abroad.

Do you think we had any behavior management issues from her when she had to do double math or write twice the amount of essays for language arts? No…she was totally engaged and motivated because the calendar was catered to her needs.

Weekends, Too

In addition to modifying the months your child attends homeschool, you can change the days from what you see in traditional schools. It is perfectly fine for your child to have Saturday school!

One thing we’ve done for most of our homeschooling calendar is to homeschool Monday to Thursday. Our children (and their teachers!) enjoy long weekends.

Fridays off meant time for extracurricular activities, short excursions, field trips, and just another day to enjoy sleeping in.

Trust me, the more you’re are able to design a homeschool calendar that is flexible and specific for your child, the more likely you will have good homeschool behavior management.

Good Homeschool Behavior Management Wrap Up

Let’s wrap up the highlights of good homeschool behavior management:

  • Set clear roles for you, the teacher and your child, the student.
  • Routines are essential for good homeschool behavior.
  • Your child should be included in curriculum selection.
  • Low stakes choices such as homeschool setting and field trips should be permitted for your child.
  • A flexible calendar supports good behavior.

With planning and organization in the beginning, and following these 5 teacher-proven tips, you can ensure good homeschool behavior management.

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