Updated: Sep 17, 2020
As a homeschool parent, you may notice signs of your child’s diminished interest at various times during the school year. Here are some practical solutions that will help you keep your child motivated.
1) Articulate how the concept is relevant
Relate what your child is learning to everyday life or correlate it to jobs for which your child can apply their newfound knowledge. When children can understand the relevance of the concept they are learning, their attitude and efforts will improve.
Some curricula incorporate this information throughout their textbooks or prerecorded instructional lessons. If these points are not included in the tools you are using to educate your child, research the possibilities on your own.
As your child learns about differing jobs related to varying studies, they may be inspired to pursue a new interest! After all, no one has a crystal ball that will predetermine each child’s future.
If your child is still unmotivated after addressing the relevance of the concept they are learning, rest in knowing that requiring effort for matters that don’t hold interest helps one learn how to persevere through matters of importance. For instance, I don’t particularly like cleaning toilets, but I know that maintaining a clean home helps keep my family healthy!
2) Have your child help you create a schedule
Converse with your child about the order in which they would prefer to study each subject.
Discuss the reasons for their choices and help them weigh out the benefits. For example, math may be a challenging subject for your child. Therefore, that specific subject might be best if scheduled for morning study when their mind is fresh. On the other hand, activity-based learning will work best when scheduled for the afternoon.
Listen to your child as they articulate their reasons for their choices and be open to their suggestions. When you allow children to play a part in formulating their own schedule, you will foster their responsibility for completing tasks. Furthermore, you will be cultivating the skills necessary for them to manage their own day as they become teenagers, college students, and adults!
3) Keep distractions to a minimum
Uncover any distractions that your child is susceptible to. For example, does your child enjoy electronics or gaming systems? Implement a “no screen time” rule until they complete their studies each day.
4) Change things up once in a while
Doing the same thing day after day can become mundane and boring. Plan an outing or field trip at least once each month. I know from experience that many homeschool families live on a single income. Budgets can be tight. Be on the lookout for free opportunites at parks, museums, or local business tours. We have toured our local police department, fire department, and even a local chocolate factory near our home for free. Plan ahead to give everyone something to look forward to!
5) Take a break
A break can renew and refresh everyone’s mind. When we incorporate breaks, we can think more clearly, be more purposeful, and be ready to work hard at any task. To work out restlessness, your child may only require a few minutes to run around and get some fresh air. Other times an afternoon at a park or a game of UNO can be just what the doctor ordered!
6) Create a competition
Is your child competitive? If so, they may be motivated by various types of competitions. Use your best imagination to come up with competitions that add interest and stimulate your child’s motivation to learn. A few options include having them race a timer when they work on papers, administering a spelling bee, or challenging them to target their words with a Nerf gun as they read them.
7) Be creative with incentives
Since every child is motivated by differing interests, you can be creative with incentives you offer each child as they complete their studies.
Here is a list of incentivizing ideas:
Partake in an ice cream treat or visit their favorite ice cream shop
Play their favorite game with them
Promise 30 minutes of your undivided attention
Make chocolate chip cookies together
Fulfill special lunch requests
Plan a field trip to a museum or other place of interest
Take a walk
Visit a park
Plan a tea party
Let them earn nickels, dimes, or quarters for completed study or small tasks
8) Model the behavior you would like your child to have
If you would like your children to apply their best effort in everything they do, you must also apply your best effort toward everything you do. For example, I rely on my children to complete tasks or commitments. Therefore, I must also complete tasks and commitments I have agreed to.
9) Attitudes are contagious
Children hold parent’s ideas and opinions in high regard. Consequently, our attitudes have great impact on our children’s attitudes. For example, if I don’t believe a particular subject or concept is important and even question why my child needs to learn it, my child will likely feel the same way. Their attitude will be evident in their study performance.
10) Praise your child for trying their personal best
Each child is capable of varying levels of excellence. Your expectations should correlate with their capabilities. Always praise your child when you know they are applying their personal best effort.
As you and your child walk the homeschool path, always remember there are three aspects to learning; your ability which determines what your are capable of doing, your motivation which determines what you do, and your attitude which determines how well you do it.
Make every effort to be a wise and sensible adviser to your children, helping them understand the benefits of gaining instruction and wisdom so they may add to their learning. As you work with your child’s abilities, motivations, and attitudes you will help your children become increasingly selfless with their intentions and inspire them to use their gained knowledge, skills, and God-given gifts in service of others.