One of the questions I get asked from new homeschoolers, people who are thinking about homeschooling, or people who are just curious is, " How do you get them to listen to you and do their work?"
For children coming out of the public school system, this can be a bit of an adjustment. They are used to listening to a teacher all day long and not their parent and they do not see you in that role yet. Getting used to the idea may take some time. I know we had a bit of an adjustment and a battle of wills when my oldest first came home from school. Getting her into a routine right away and showing her what she could expect and when helped her make that transition from school to home.
But for the rest of the children (and Chelsea after those first few weeks), homeschooling is just an extension of our regular family life. They listen to me and do their work because that is what is expected of them. There is no other option. One of my favorite Bible verses says, " Children obey your parents in all things for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your to anger, lest they be discouraged." (Colossians 3:20-21) They listen to me and do the work that is expected because that is their job, just as it is my job to teach them.
Do they ever grumble and complain? Sometimes. Do they ever procrastinate? Absolutely. Do they always pay perfect attention? No way. They are kids. They are going to grumble on occasion over a Math assignment. A 10 minute writing assignment may end up taking 30 minutes because they are procrastinating over writing it. They are going to get distracted or stare out the window from time to time instead of listening. Sometimes they will not complete their assignment completely as directed (cutting corners) and will have to go back and do it again.
One of the things that has really helped me keep the children on task throughout their day is to follow the same routine everyday. Our school day starts at 9:30 everyday. If the children are late, there is a consequence. Our school day ends at 2:00 everyday. If they have not completed their work by 2 then they are not allowed their 30 minutes of media time with the exception that if they are having trouble with something and have to wait on me for help. Having media time after school gives them motivation to get their work done on time and a consequence to not get it done on time. This has always worked well for me, and they hardly ever get that time taken away from them.
One thing I do want to say, is listen to your children. If they are giving you a hard time about schoolwork, there could be a legitimate reason. They may be fighting about their Math assignments because they truly cannot "get it." They may have a different learning style than how they are being taught. Of course they need to be respectful to you but they may have good reason for not being able to complete their work. With little ones, this can be harder to figure out because they may not always verbalize things well. But if your child is usually respectful and a good listener and then all of a sudden gives you a hard time when it is school time, there may be something going on with him. Has it been cold and he hasn't gotten enough exercise? Is she developing a cold? Is the same thing over and over again everyday just boring him and he needs a change? Maybe you could set aside the Math books for a day and play store, do a Science experiment, or go to the library. Learning should be a delight not a chore (ok not everything is going to be a delight) and maybe changing things up a bit can fix the problem for both of you.