Rewards and Breaks: How to Homeschool Your Kids

Questions and answers from parents and teachers on how to homeschool your kids. See what works with rewards, breaks and leniency.

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Insights on How to Homeschool Your Kids

This is apart of our homeschooling topics that I’ve have been recently discussing with Coronavirus school closures going on right now, but it is also helpful for anyone trying to learn about how to homeschool your kids.

I am actually a certified secondary teacher, I didn’t spend a lot of time in a traditional classroom, but I have found there are many different tactics that can work well.

After receiving a long list of questions that many of you are asking, I decided to open up a Q&A to some parents and teachers to get their insights. There are so many tips and tricks that you will need to check out these additional posts: Creating schedules for homeschooled kids and Temporary homeschooling: tips and tricks to motivate. Here we are going to talk about how to homeschool your kids with rewards, breaks and leniency. Let’s get started.

Should I be rewarding my child every time they do any assignments or stay focused?

First of all, let me say there is no right or wrong way of how to homeschool your kids. It’s fun to see everyone’s different opinions of this topic and hopefully it will help give you some ideas.

Megan says, “end of the school day”

“I reward at the end of the school day. Usually with a treat and technology time.” ~Meagan

Tristan says, “add chocolate chips”

“Stay focused. Set a fun activity for after all schoolwork is done. Only exception is math, for that, add chocolate chips! It makes math go so much smoother.” ~Tristan

Jennie says, “check list or sticker chart”

“Not necessarily. But a check list or a sticker chart is a great way to see their progress and feel accomplished for the day. We also like the “Can I have screen time?” “How’s your check chart?” scenario because it keeps them self-accountable.” ~Jennie

Brittny says, “their reward…is knowing they did a good job”

“I don’t personally like to reward them for something that they would be doing if they weren’t at home. Their reward at the end of the day is knowing they did a good job, and the more focused they are the sooner school is done and we can move on to fun things. That being said my kids have things they like to get out and play with everyday and we weather they get to do that or not depends on the attitudes that were had during school time.” ~Brittny

Rachel says, “be very careful about your rewards

“Well, our goal is to have the child feel as successful as possible. We want them to feel like they can do this, but also to be and feel challenged. For the most part, I would be very careful about your rewards. As they rarely help develop a positive attitude. The reward of school work being completed is the knowledge gained. You want to develop healthy habits. So to help build stamina, set a weekly goal (ie, at the end of this week if we can get all the assigned work done, we will have a ice cream sundae party), or a behavioral goal (ie, if you go all day today without complaining or telling me no, you can have 15 extra minutes of screen time) or an overall success goal, (ie if you increase your math facts score, we can have a day with no math next week).

You aim to help them win…to develop the habits to motivate them to choose learning. You’re goal is to tempt them with any arsenal you have. The truth is they don’t have a choice as to whether or not they have to do schoolwork. It’s a must right now. So you need to get them to do it with as little resistance as possible. But a reward for every little thing isn’t sustainable and is unnecessary.” ~Rachel

How Long of a Break is a Perfect Amount?

Breaks a certainly something to think about. As the teacher and the student will both need breaks to get through the homeschooling day.

Brittny Says, “15 minutes is a good amount of time”

“This will be different for every kid/family. We are not super strict with our schedule, however one thing we do keep the same is the time we wake up everyday and the times we go to bed. They know they have class zoom meetings so we always make sure to be prepared for those and then work on assignments next, if we need a break between things or had a hard time with anything we take one, I have found that 15 minutes is a good amount of time. It gets them up and moving, and then they can come back and refocus. I find that much more time than that makes it hard for them to come back and drags out how long the next assignment or two takes.” ~Brittny

Rachel Says, “10-15 minutes of hard work for each grade they are in, is the goal.”

“I think depending on the age of a child, 10-15 minutes of hard work for each grade they are in, is the goal. For instance a kindergartener should have 10-15 minutes of work then a few minute break. A 6th grader should be able to work an hour to 1.5 hours before needing a break.

Breaks should include getting out of seat, bathroom break, drawing, free reading, getting snacks. If I were setting a schedule for a kindergartener, I would do 10-15 intense learning, some kind of wiggle activity, in between each 10-15 minutes, then intense learning again for 10-15 minutes, after 1 hour learning with tiny breaks, I would give them 15-20 minutes outside. Personally, I think screen time during this break would make them more grumpy to have to leave to go back to learning. I would avoid that at all costs. Rainy day? Play a board game, do those follow dance videos on YouTube, or a kid yoga session.” ~Rachel

Jessica Says, “incorporate an activity that’s aligned with their schoolwork”

“For my kindergartner, I try and incorporate an activity that’s aligned with their schoolwork. After we complete each worksheet or reading assignment (ie. once we complete some math worksheets we have done an outside scavenger hunt, which requires a designated number of each of the items in the hunt… for example, find 5 sticks, find 20 pine cones, find 10 leaves….)” ~Jessica

Jennie says, “there isn’t a perfect amount of time”

“There isn’t a perfect amount of time. And there isn’t a perfect amount of time to do an assignment. That’s the beauty of homeschool!! The same assignment that takes one kid 15 minutes could take another one 45 minutes. That’s ok. You get to say “hey you’re frustrated, let’s take a break” or “stay focused, this will only take you 5 more minutes then we can play outside” ~Jennie

Nicole says, “If they worked about 30 minutes- do a 15 minute break

Depends on how long you just asked them to work. If they worked about 30 minutes- do a 15 minute break.
If they worked an hour- give a 30 Minute break
Also, younger children might need more frequent breaks for less time. ~Nicole

Should You Homeschool your Kids as a Tough Teacher or Lenient Teacher.

All homeschooling parents are trying to find the right answer to this topic. Playing both parent and teacher can can be a challenging balance. How to homeschool your kids with the right amount of authority and leniency can be tricky. Let’s see what our parents and teachers are saying about this.

Brittny says, “we are still their parents”

“I think this is hard to balance, we are still their parents and while we want them to learn and be prepared for next year sometimes our kids just need us to be mom- and that’s okay! Sometimes when they are having a hard time they don’t want to be corrected by the teacher but they need comfort fromMom/dad. Each child is handling this time so differently so that will vary by child/family.” Brittny

Meagan says, “approach to be rough or lenient depends on the kid

I think your approach to be rough or lenient depends on the kid. My son Boston does NOT respond well when I am hard on him. He completely shuts down. So I have to be kind with my words and tone with him. However, Braxton doesn’t take it serious if I am not stern. So much of homeschooling is a learning curve for the mama too! Finding how to best teach each kid can be a real struggle, but it is possible! ~Meagan

Rachel says, “Be the kind of teacher your child needs”

“This answer isn’t so straightforward. Be the kind of teacher your child needs. Most importantly, even though they are receiving guidance from their school teacher, you are now their main teacher. Be in charge of watching for their needs, and finding the areas they are needing extra help. You are the one executing their school plans. Decide how you want to do it, don’t let them tell you what they do at school, or say “we don’t do it like that”. You are their new teacher, you get to execute the plans how you see fit.

As students, this is a new way of learning, so understand that. They don’t need to call you Mrs. So and So, or raise their hand to ask questions, but they do need to listen to what you need them to do and correct their mistakes without complaining. In other words, they need as much structure as possible.

I tend to be more practical and firm with my kids in learning situations. But that is what my kids are used to, I had taught my two oldest at one point in a school setting. They know I mean business. But I also lighten the load when I see they need it, and give them an early break if they start to lose focus. If we are rigid with no flexibility, we will all burn out. But if we are overly flexible, they won’t stay on track. It’s a happy balance.

A rule of thumb when I started to a new school year, was to be less flexible at the beginning and then lightened up as the year went on and they knew my expectations. Parents feel like they don’t have any authority when they are teaching the school work, because they aren’t the teacher, but in actuality you are. Once you step into that role as well, they will start to fight you less and test your control.” Rachel

Nicole says, “Pick and choose”

Be lenient, but remember if you are lenient every day then it will lose its effectiveness. Pick and choose when your child needs the leniency versus that “strictness/structure”~ Nicole

Jennie says, “are you a tough parent or a lenient one”

“Well… you’re first and foremost their parent so are you a tough parent or a lenient one? How do you get results in obedience with home things like chores and attitude? If your kid isn’t listening and respecting you, it’s probably a parenting problem. So start there.” Jennie

Tristan says, “The school is no longer the boss, you are”

“Relationship matters more than academics. Talk with the child and brainstorm different ways to do a subject that they would enjoy more. Do they hate the writing assignment? Let them choose a topic that they love to write about. Minecraft? Great! Their favorite movie? Sure. The crazy dream they had? Go for it. The school is no longer the boss, you are. It is Ok to fit the learning to your children.” Tristan

Hope these Insights on How to Homeschool Your Kids Helped

If you liked reading about how to homeschool your kids with this insightful Q&A, be sure to check out our other Q&A on schedules and motivation. Homeschooling can be so Hard, but you got this. We will get through tough times together.


Thank you to all of the parents/teachers who contributed to this article! Meagan Barrow, Rachel Bott, Nicole Jones, Jennie Rippey, Jessica Brock, Tristan Rowlee, and Brittny Lopez.

Time Out For Us

Looking for more ways to connect with your child and grow your personal relationship? Check out Time For Us, a five-ten minutes a week membership that invites creativity, connection, and love. Our kids will forget the day to day things they learned this time but they will most certainly remember how they felt. Focus on love and taking it a day at a time and you’ll be just fine.

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    MyMommyStyle Meet Camille

    Hello! I am Camille, a wife, mother of four, Disney obsessed, certified teacher, and reality optimist. Motherhood comes with its ups and downs, and I hope while you're here you'll find something that makes your #momlife easier!


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