The freedom to homeschool our children is a gift. But sometimes I’ve been disappointed with this gift. How about you?
I have been certain that my homeschooled children would:
- Have no difficulty learning
- Be motivated to complete school each day
- Take pride in cleaning and caring for their belongings
- Be ahead of their same-age peers academically
- Have a strong faith
- Not be peer dependent, but Christian leaders
- Would get along
- Agree with me and my husband politically and spiritually
- Not engage in immoral behavior
- Be respectful and first-time obedient, especially in others’ presence
- Always want to be homeschooled
- Not want to date until they were ready to get married
- Be capable of adult responsibilities by age 12
- Not want to go to a secular college far away
To summarize, I expected my children not to behave like “other children” and to make me look good. Go ahead and laugh. You already know that my expectations are ridiculous because we can always see the problem with others’ attitudes. Our own unreasonable expectations are another story.
After more than twelve years of homeschooling and the opportunity to witness the disappointment of many dedicated, godly homeschooling parents, I now know that our children aren’t the problem–our expectations are. Invariably, when new homeschoolers ask me about their children’s lack of motivation, I discover unreasonable expectations at the source of it.
When we lay our homeschool hopes and dreams on God’s altar, we discover that we love the gift God has given us in homeschooling. Little Johnny may not be the most focused student, but he is really, really funny. Teenage Susie may not see things the way you do, but she will not be brainwashed by anyone. The kids may not be making you look good in the world’s eyes, but God thinks they’re making you look a lot more like Jesus. And that’s exactly what I wanted. How about you?
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27
I believe I have tried just about every chore system ever devised. My current system of having morning and evening chores that rotate daily has lasted the longest. But the kids and I seem to thrive on change. So when a friend sent me a link to High Score House, a free online chore manager, I thought I would give it a try.
I’ve tried computer or iPad-based chore systems before, but when you have six kids and one computer, it just creates computerized chaos. But we now have multiple computers and several Apple devices that can use the High Score House website or app. I’ve been having some difficulty with logins on other computers, so we still have some conflict over whose turn it is to check off chores, but I’ve alerted the site developer and I’m hopeful the problem will be resolved.
Here’s what I love about High Score House.
- First, the website and apps are FREE! Their website mentions that they will have some paid add-ons in the future. But you’re only risking a little time in using it now.
- Second, I have an easy way to check to see what’s supposed to be done. I look at the iPhone app and I can not only see which chores each child was supposed to do, but the school subjects as well. That has been a serious problem for me. Each child has his or her schedule of chores and homework to complete, but it entailed a lot of page flipping to see what was supposed to be done on a given day. Often, it was just too much trouble to check.
- Third, the system takes very little time to use. With other systems, being late in approving chores was a big problem. That isn’t the case at all with High Score House. I can see “old tasks” for each child. I can also approve everything a child marked as complete with one click or touch.
- Fourth, rewards can be added that appeal to every child. I added a number of rewards like stay up an hour later, get ice cream, and choose dinner that I knew they would like, but I’ve asked them for their ideas, too. They keep coming up with them. Kids can choose which rewards to work toward and can see their progress.
- Finally, I love High Score House because the kids are motivated to do additional unscheduled tasks. In fact, the kids have been fighting for the chance to sharpen pencils and organize movies into cases! I have plans to add additional tasks like putting game pieces back into boxes and even scanning photos.
As of January, 2012 there are some changes I am hoping to see with the program, too.
- First, I hope they add more chore icons. They have some good ones now, but more would be great.
- Second, I would like the kids to be able to collect their star points with one click. They seem to have to collect them individually, which is somewhat rewarding for them, but creates a line at the computer.
- Third, I hope some of the bugs get worked out. I need to be able to login without using a Facebook account. When my son clicks on the star for the workout task (yes, that’s in there, too!), it locks up the whole website. We’ve used a different icon in the meantime.
- Fourth, I would love to be able to see all my kids’ activities for a given day so I can quickly approve tasks without going in and out of menus. That’s an issue when you have six kids!
- Fifth, I would have had an easier time entering chores if I could have entered it once and then clicked on the days and times each child was to do it. Currently, you can only specify that more than one person is to do a chore on the same day and time.
- Sixth, my kids have requested that they be able to pool stars to get one reward. That isn’t a huge issue as I’ve explained they could use their stars for a cash reward that they could pool.
- Finally, I would love to see some kind of motivating chart or calendar so kids can see how they’re doing over time.
Overall, High Score House is a great, free motivational tool that can be of benefit to homeschoolers. I haven’t been asked to review it, nor have I received anything for doing so. If you try it, let me know what you think! Are there other systems that work better for your family?