Every week mothers write me asking variations of this question. “How do you get them to do it?”

That question is easily answered but takes a great deal of work to implement at first. Home schooling is not for the faint of heart or inconsistent. However, it is not as hard as many make it. Hopefully, with the information below and found elsewhere on this site, you will have the problem I had of how to get them to stop doing it.

Like your family, your homeschool is a tiny society with its own behaviors, language, atmosphere, traditions, and folklore. With this in mind, every family can create a dynamic homeschool environment that encourages leadership and achievement. But first each mother must decide what it is she really wants.

Behaviors-What is acceptable? What is not? Because we didn't do school year around, we had a meeting each year to set boundaries—a celebration of new beginnings. (If I could do it over again, we would hold school year around. Our new beginning would still be the beginning of September.) Charlotte Mason, the Coveys, and Suzuki have written extensively on the subject of habit building, which drives our family's goal setting desires. In our home, the parents discussed which habits and academics needed work. Later, with the children, we reviewed our school mission statement, rules of etiquette, grooming, and order. We set up the younger children's record book, schedule, and journals and helped the older ones do it for themselves. We helped the children set goals for academics, habit development, and spirituality. After this was all set in motion each year, we were careful to monitor progress, usually weekly but with some children daily.

Language-The development of habits and behaviors is very important but will be impossible without this valuable component. How many times do you think about what your children can do as opposed to what they cannot do? Every day they should hear you say: “You are wonderful. You did a great job on your responsibilities. It's wonderful how much progress you are making. I respect and love you. You amaze me. I'm so glad you are part of our family. I'm so glad we get to have this opportunity to learn together. I love to spend time with you. You played that scale perfectly. You have a lovely singing voice. Wow—You run fast. I like the way you drew that bird. What is your opinion about ___? Please ___.? Thank you for ____.” A formal compliment time during devotional, where each child is given a public compliment, is especially valuable and encouraging.

It works wonders to continually point out the strengths of a child. In our family, I have seen the difference between a child who believes they are essentially good and another who does not have this confidence. Catch your child doing the right thing. Sure you need to build habits CM style by never letting a poor behavior go unchecked. But isn't it equally as important to give 20 “you did it right” statements to every reminder to “pick up your jacket?” The most important thing you can do to “get them to do it” is to have positive, proactive relationships with your children. Be firm and kind!

It is imperative that mother/teacher model how she wishes her children to speak and act. Yes, we must be anxiously engaged in teaching habits. But if we do not inspire trust in children by making a great effort to be thoughtful before speaking, to speak pleasantly, to speak kindly, and so on, we cannot expect it of our children. Perfection is not required—effort is.

Atmosphere-What does your school room or space look like? I read of one family with 10 children who set aside one bedroom of their tiny home for school. The only two bedrooms left besides the master held many sets of bunk beds. They reasoned that they spent several hours per day doing school work; school ought to have at least equal space as that allotted to electronic entertainment. Another family also with a large number of children lined the walls of their dining room with shelves. The lower shelves held quiet and educational activities for the preschoolers—the top shelves were for school books. They spent three to four hours per day around the dining room table. If a child needed a question answered, they stood in line behind mother for a turn to ask. Both of these families understood the value of decorating their “school” with pictures of Christ, temples, and family. The children's artwork was framed and displayed around the house. Additionally, they taught their children to keep things tidy, since nobody likes to search through a haystack to find the needle.

Traditions-To what things do your children look forward? What events define your school?

Wild Days- This was a weekly tradition.

School Parties- We loved to invite other homeschoolers over for parties.

Daily Quiet Time-This is a life saver for families with littles.

School Devotional-However you decide to do this, it should be your number one educational pursuit.

Exam Week-

Presentation Evening-This is a wonderful time to serve others and show what the children have learned throughout the year.

Father's Blessings-In the LDS religion most men hold the Priesthood, which can be used to bless the sick, etc. At the beginning of a new school year, fathers should be encouraged to give a father's blessing to each child. If this is not possible, each child might be mentioned in the family or school prayer.

Field Trips-While we lived in the Pacific NW, we went to many interesting places: cookie factory, science center, farmer's market, aquarium, symphony, museums, and more. Hawaii had lots of cultural enlightening experiences as well. After we moved to our very small town, we had to get a lot more creative. However we always found fun field trips several times per year.

Service Projects-Hygiene and School kits for humanitarian services make great projects for children too small to work on larger projects. Attend service projects put on by boys earning Eagle Scout, clean parks and your local chapel, visit and play music for the elderly in nursing homes, and cook for sick neighbors. In small towns and large cities opportunities for service are everywhere—let your imagination be your guide.

Culture-You might like to keep a school or family scrapbook. Take pictures especially during your traditions. A scrapbook or wall of fame is a great way to remember fun events. Retelling funny stories of things that happen during school or milestones of learning give everyone a sense of connection. You think you will never forget these events—perhaps you won't. But writing them down is very fun. Additionally, reading through the scrapbook might really help a mom who is feeling a bit overwhelmed to remember her successes.

In our family, homeschooling built a culture of love and achievement. Of course I made many mistakes and took a few wrong turns. However, I learned that to be successful, the homeschool must be priority from 8-3 five days per week--treat it as a full time job. To homeschool properly, we must stay home (except for the above traditions.) We must require hard things of our children even if they occasionally bring a few tears. Mother must smile and be positive, when she does not feel like it. Mother must try to build on the positive and nip the negative in the bud. This is possible. This is no more than Our Father in Heaven requires of all mothers--for a very short time our children should be our main focus, whether we homeschool or not. If you diligently stick to it, your children will thank you for "making" them do hard things, helping them excel academically, helping them build a testimony, and teaching them to think for themselves.

I am, I can I ought, I will for Mother