When we first started homeschooling, we faced a challenge. The line between home and school was blurred, and we soon found that the ways my husband and I dealt with our children’s misbehavior didn’t always work during homeschooling times. We made adjustments and ended up with a new set of family rules. I also found that there were times in our homeschool day that were more difficult than others. Those times needed a different approach.
Precorrection is a behavioral term for something that all parents do from time to time. It occurs when we remind our children of the rules or expectations prior to a specific event. We may remind them before a company picnic, a family reunion, or at a special event. But it can be used much more strategically in your homeschool to help you and your child avoid a lot of frustration.
My son gets stressed about his science class. He’s currently doing that online. While he’s learning a lot and being challenged, the amount of work is sometimes overwhelming to him. As we prepare for science, I sometimes take a moment to remind him of what is expected. That is precorrection. As he starts working with a good attitude even though he may feel overwhelmed, I praise him specifically for that attitude. He may not agree with me, but the praise encourages him to keep trying.
I use precorrection with my younger son when he needs to do independent work. He has a tendency to follow me around the house and constantly ask questions or ask me to check his work after each item. I’m trying to get him to be more independent. As he begins an independent task, I remind him of the expectation that he do a specific amount of his work before he asks me to check him. The exception is if he doesn’t understand what to do. Then I praise him specifically for that perseverance when he does it. That’s also precorrection.
Use precorrection with your children just before times that you know are tough or potentially problematic. Be clear about what you expect them to do and for how long. Then praise them specifically for meeting that expectation once they do. This increases the likelihood that they’ll meet the expectations and do it again the next time.
Does precorrection always work? Nope. My younger son still has a tendency to stand outside the bathroom door asking me to check his math work. But in time, this strategy along with others and his increasing confidence will help him to become more independent.