Creating and enforcing homeschool rules

Can anyone give me examples of rules and consequences you have and enforce during your home school time? I’m not homeschooling, yet, but I have one child I know is going to give me a run for my money. It’s like pulling teeth to get him to settle down to do daily homework the way it is. I have no clue how I’m going to get him to focus on homeschooling for the time frame required! Ugh! Any advice?

Not knowing your child personally, I would suggest inviting him or her to help you make the rules. If all the rules come from above, the kids often feel resentful. We have certain privileges that can only be accessed after table-school (seat work) is done. I also made out a rough schedule (color coded) for my older child to show her visually what the chunks of time in her day could look like. Being able to see things visually helped her to understand that if she drags her feet during table-school time, it squeezes out other stuff (like playtime, free time, time for fun projects). It also helped to have a timer (we like the Time Timer ) for her to set, for example, 45 min for math. I explained to her that we don’t try to do slipshod work just to finish in 45 minutes, but more that it’s to be a visual reminder to help her stay focused. For my younger child, I think the timer would just distract and promote messy work – so you have to think through whether that would work for your child.


If you’re transitioning from public- or private-schooling, make sure to work in some time to de-school. You may find it goes better than you expect since it likely won’t take at long (they don’t have to sit all day and then do more homework–actual work will probably take less time than spent at school now, and lead to more free time.)

That said…how does he obey for chores? I always found that was a good way to work on obedience in general, and that if I had good obedience there, academics would follow suit. Problems with academics were then usually due to curriculum mismatch or frustration, rather than obedience issues.

I would think more proactively than about rules and consequences. Set up a good routine (which can take a few attempts–I’ve always found it helpful to implement a routine gradually rather than all at once). Lay out the expectations clearly (subjects, order, how much time you’ll spend on each), so that your kids know what to expect (some kids drag their feet because they think school will never end, so why not?). Workboxes really helped here with setting up clear expectations and making work seem doable to the kids. Be cheerful and upbeat.

You’ll find different things along the way that work–and different things at different stages. When mine were young, we did things together. If they were getting frustrated, I scribed while they gave answers orally for math or sometimes other subjects. Gradually we went to taking turns and then them doing it more. As they got older, I used “racing.” “Who can get done first, you with your math page, or me folding this laundry? Ready…go!” I made it so they could win if they tried, and would be impressed and mock-upset at my “losing,” which they loved.

When they were in upper elementary, I put a time frame on subjects. If they dawdled, I’d give a reminder of how much time was left, and I had let them know ahead of time that work not done during the time was “homework.” Homework was to be done at the kitchen table (not lounging on the floor or couch or bed), and was scheduled during “free time.” “School’s done, it’s free time! Unless you have homework…” That was much more concrete than just letting a subject drag on. If time was up…math time is over, it’s time for history or whatever. Math not done is homework. It only took a few times of sitting for a long time for them to realize it was better to get the work done during our regular time. Mom also wasn’t as available “after school.”

Outside of that, we really didn’t have a lot of rules. If they got frustrated, I had them go pray and come back when they were ready to apologize for any bad behavior and try learning again. Or if needed, they would get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, do some jumping jacks etc… to calm down/get energy out. It’s not so much punitive (consequences) as…what do they need in order to be able to get the task done? How can we work together on this goal?

Here are the “school rules” I posted in our kitchen:
 Be Kind
 Be Cheerful
 Do Your Best!
 Ask Mommy for as
many hugs as you want

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. –1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Thank you so much for the verse you put at the end of your reply. I was a little shocked to see it. We have a daughter in her 3rd year of college studying for her bachelor’s degree in nursing. We bought her a stethoscope for her high school graduation and had this very verse inscribed on the bell (the part that touches the patient). It was meant to be an encouragement and a reminder to her that when she is obedient to the Lord in every situation she is right where she is supposed to be. It was also meant to be a conversation starter so she would have the opportunity to minister to those she is caring for. It always amazes me how things we mean for others end up coming back and having great meaning to us personally. I have been in deep conversation with Jesus over whether to homeschool or not. The verse was a little whisper from Him…or maybe it was an enthusiastic and very loud reminder He is with me.


Wow, that’s amazing! God’s word is so rich and full. We had that verse at the bottom of our “rules” chart that was up in our kitchen. I’m glad it spoke to you (again!)

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I give detentions, which are after school writing sentences. I also give out play money for being good and make them pay me when they misbehave. I hope that helps

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If they have “money” left at the end of the day/week, are they able to “spend” it on something special?

Yes, I have an orange box that has goodies in it such as suckers, gum, and small toys, such as guitar necklaces and such. Each thing costs a certain amount. I also give certificates for extra special behavior and these are for; 2 free picks from the box or depending what the good thing is that they have done. I even write on the back a $1 thing from the dollar tree which has everything for a $1 so they can pick any one thing.