Friday, July 15, 2011

Seeds of Wisdom - Motivating Children

Sometimes, it can be hard to motivate children to do their schoolwork.  They may be tired, frustrated, bored, or simply not in the mood to work.  Figuring out how to motivate our children can sometimes be a huge challenge to homeschooling.  Today, our panelists answer the question: How do you motivate your child when he does not want to do his work?

I haven't run into this much {yet!} so when we do I switch gears. If she is getting antsy while doing table work I'll pop on a music cd and we'll do a silly dance to get some energy out and then we go back to finish up.

I think it would depend on the age of the child. Children who are younger would be treated differently than older children. If the child is having trouble with a particular subject also, you might change up the way you are teaching the material.

I think there is a big difference in not wanting to do schoolwork and being frustrated by the work. If they simply don't want to do it, then I take the approach of telling them that we can't move on to something else until they finish their... work. Usually that works pretty well. If they are frustrated by the work, I try to figure out why. Are they bored with it? If so, spice it up a bit. Play a game, sing a song. Make it more interesting. If they're not understanding the concept, I will try to present it in a different way. If that doesn't work, taking a break for a few minutes and coming back to it will typically help us.

For my kids, it is a hard and fast rule that lunch begins *after* your work is done. This is a terrific motivator. Often, I have found that if I sit with them, they can work through it when I have a helpful attitude. I also sometimes sug...gest that they lay aside the project that is frustrating them and work on a different assignment for a break. A change of scenery can also be a good change - I might say something like "that looks like an uncomfortable place to read, why don't you sit on the front porch?" Keeping things fun in the first place is most helpful, but kids have their "off" days just like anyone else, where patience and a stiff upper lip come into play for me as the parent.

I try to make all of her activities fun and built around her interests in order to avoid a problem with motivation.  I also use a sticker chart.  She receives a sticker for "doing good work" in each of our five subjects.  She really likes to see the stickers on her chart and will often work hard just to get the sticker.  If I can tell that it is going to be a rough day, I sometimes tell her that if she gets all 5 stickers, we will get a special treat.  When I taught in public school, I used reward charts.  My students each started a work session by choosing what they wanted to work for (time with a toy, a sticker, etc.).  During our work session, I would periodically give the students stars; at the end of the work session, the students who had the required number of stars got their reward (I made sure that the students almost always got the required number of stars).  Because I had control of when the stars were given out, I could give stars faster to children who were having a rough day and needed extra motivation.  I will likely change from our current sticker chart to something more like the star system for Abigail in the near future.

I tell him that the longer he stalls, the longer it will be before he is free for the day, and that he is not free until that work is finished. I really believe you need to let them know that the ball is in their court. The work is not a suggestion, just like when you are out of the house and working. You can't play or get paid until you do your job.If there is frustration I work with them very closely to see what is going on- we may step back, drill on what isn't being mastered, or see if we need to supplement or switch the curriculum.

I haven't hit too many spots like this yet, but so far my go-to options are to either take a break from the subject he is frustrated with, then coming back to it at another time, after there's been time to refresh a little... OR, I try to t...urn the school work into a game... For example, pulling out dominoes to do counting and addition or matching... Also, I'm not against the reward system :o) If he completes his school work - especially the tough parts - then afterwards, he can choose to do a favorite activity such as going to the park or swimming or playing a game or doing arts & crafts, etc... anything that involves doing something active and/or engaging the mind (rather than something like rewarding with candy or another type of junk food, or playing video games, etc...) Usually, the motivation of working toward a reward or the rejuvenation time given will help him focus on his work and get it done.

I have a timer set for each activity (10-15 minutes). If the kids are just not wanting to do the work, then I remind them they have to try their best for 15 minutes and then we can move on. If I see one of the kids is not making an effort, ...than the extra time it takes to complete that page comes out of the next fun activity. I also break up our schedule a lot, with 15 minutes on a work page, 15 minutes on a craft, 15 minutes on drillls, 15 minutes on a puzzle, etc. As Heather said, I deal with frustration much differently than lack of motivation.

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