I keep hearing this past week questions about how to motivate a child, specially a homeschooled child. It seems that the coming of fall has some little people giving Moms attitudes about getting their work done. The curriculum might not be shinny and new anymore, the crayons show sign of use, and the materials you spent so long trying to get might be hard to even find in your school room. Things might not be so smooth. Don’t worry if this sounds familiar. I promise your not alone. I know your not alone because I have friends who have told me all the above this week and I thought I would share my thoughts on it with all of you and not just them because none of us are alone.
Yes, even after 8 years of homeschooling we have days that lack motivation in the right directions. I have to get creative. You might have to get creative too. One of the first things to do is to evaluate your motivations and goals for your child, for the work they do, for why your trying to get them to do a certain thing. This is important, don’t skip this step. Are you doing it because it is required by some outside organization? Is it important to get to a future step? How important? Is your goal to have a child that can parrot back some information while rolling their eyes to the ceiling or is your goal to have a child that loves to learn? Only you can answer these questions but I am betting you can tell my slant on these things by how I have written this.
So when I have a child that is giving me an attitude about a lesson or has no interest in it I try to evaluate just how important that lesson is and why that child is not motivated.
If it is something that must be done it is then my job to make it as least painful as possible for the child and myself and our home. Your the mom, you know what motivates your child, be it the park, special snacks, movies, video games… one thing many parents over look is their time. Children will often do about anything for special time with their parent. If my children are not wanting to do a lesson chances are it is because it is work they are doing alone. So if it something they much do, that is my first action. To get on their level and do it with them. Not for them, with them or at least next to them.
Your attitude is just as important at that point as theirs. If your aggravated, upset, impatient even if you don’t think your acting like it, they will pick up on it and it will not help. Get your head right before trying to help your child get theirs clear so they can do what they do best, learn. They learn from us, it seems specially when we wish they wouldn’t pay attention to those parts.
Now, you might be like me with other children and a house to run. Sometimes you can’t drop everything and be that change of energy your child needs just then. Go lean on those other things that do motivate your child. This might not work. Your child might be so down and out that no matter what you say nothing seems to work. I have had those days. “You can play an hour of video games as soon as you get this lesson done.” and he replys “I don’t want to today.” and so I counter with “How about after dinner we go to the park?” and he says “I don’t want to today Mom.” and it goes on and on. Finally it clicks, and I ask. “What would you rather be doing today.” and he tells me and we try to go from there.
In the end sometimes the simple answer take a second to sit down, remember the goals you and your child have, and then don’t force them to do that lesson that day. I know what your thinking, thats “letting them win” but aren’t we supposed to be on their side, aren’t we supposed to want them to win? Really though it is nothing to do with them winning. It has to do with preserving childhood and their love of learning. If you don’t have the time to spice up the lesson, to do it with them, how can you expect them to want to do it if it is not something they are self motivated to do. How can you expect to do it if your not willing to be in it elbow deep with them?
(When all else fails, bake something!)