Homeschooling children is not the same as having a one-room schoolhouse. Homeschool moms don’t try to have a private school in their kitchen. But, there are still some of the same problems in homeschool that are faced in public/private schools. One of those problems is lack of motivation.
All children will deal with issues of motivation while they’re learning. Problems of motivation can occur because of: boredom, distractions, disinterest in a topic, confusion, and attitudes. Have you noticed this as a problem in your homeschool?
As a homeschool mom, my desire was for children to achieve a love of learning. I wanted them to be self-motivated so that they could learn on their own. As they grew older, I wanted them to be self-directed. Learning was different for each one of my children, and changed throughout the years.
There are different ways to motivate children: inner motivation (intrinsic) and reward-based (extrinsic) motivation. Rewards used to motivate children might include: stickers, smiley-faces, candy, treats, or promised-events. We’ve all used these types of rewards. It’s easy to say, “Go clean your room and you can get a treat.” “Finish your worksheets, and you’ll get a kitty-sticker.”
Rewards aren’t a bad thing, but they do not lead your child to be a self-directed learner. In fact, studies have shown that students do less-quality work and learn less when they’re offered rewards. So, what to do? The opposite of reward-based learning is when your child has an inner desire to learn.
One way to promote intrinsic learning is to have open discussions on learning. Talk about what learning will do for them. Talk about setting goals for learning. Let them ask, “Why do I have to learn this?” If you don’t know why, find out. Help children set goals. Talk about what learning this topic will do for them, and what doors it will open.
Another way to help them learn without rewards is to have options. When children are little, they respond well to learning centers. I set up learning centers when my children were young (Pre-K through 4th grade). We had a: writing center, art center, math center, reading center, and computer center.
With learning centers, children can choose where they want to spend time. In the writing center, young children could do letter tracing and older children could write a personal letter. The math center would have all types of manipulatives, activity sheets, and a white board/marker. The reading center would have lots of books and comfy seat (we used a bean bag). These centers are so much fun to set up and they are very unique. You can set them up for the interests of your children.
When students are older, journals can take the place of learning centers. Journals can be used to complete learning activities that are available. Mom can create learning activities on index cards and let the students complete the learning activity in their journal. All of this can be done on the computer, using files for each child.
Setting goals is very important for the homeschool mom. She should have long-term goals for her children and short-term goals. Long-term goals would include high-school graduation and short-term goals would be the: yearly educational and character goals, semester goals, weekly goals, and daily goals. Each child would have specific goals. You should share these with your children.
Children should also set their own goals. This will really improve their motivation and expectation of themselves. Studies show that setting their own goals improves their outcome and performance in school. They “own” their academic success when they are able to set their own goals. When they own their success, they are intrinsically motivated to do well. This works!
I learned the hard way that this is very important for long-term learning success. Whether your child is easily focused or has severe distraction issues, goal-setting will get the desired results. I wish I had learned this at the very beginning of my homeschool.
Implementing these ideas in your present curriculum can be easy. If you use a box-curriculum, you may need to be a little more creative with your lesson planning. In the teacher-edition, you will usually have extra activity ideas included. You can learn the chapter and then give your child the option of which learning-activity to complete. As long as they are covering the material, they should be ready for the quizzes.
If you use a unit study curriculum, this will be very easy. Unit studies always give choices about which activities to complete. When my youngest was in high school, we loved this. Instead of a written book report every time, there were choices. He could do a book report, critique, video, oral narration, outline, etc. He learned so much this way, and got to do something different each time.
If you teach this way, by the time your child is in high school, they may have career ideas in place. When they’ve been allowed to explore their interests, they have had time to evaluate what they love and what they’re gifted to do. They will then be self-motivated to work hard to accomplish educational goals in their desired field.
Using educational tools and ideas to direct your planning, the homeschool mom can help her children reach their potential. Directing and training our children to reach their best potential is the goal, isn’t it? Doing this without constant rewards, bribing, and threats of punishment, certainly makes being a homeschool mom a delightful and fulfilling experience.
@2018, copyright Lisa Ehrman
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