It is all very well to say, “Oh, there are so many resources. Your kids can study foreign languages, higher Math, Sciences, and take college courses online while they have to stay home.” The question is, Can you keep them motivated enough to do ANY OF THOSE THINGS? Will they explore the famous museums of the world online? Will they read great novels? Will they take advantage of all the amazing online courses? Can you make them?
You have worksheets and lesson plans and all sorts of great ideas and your child(ren) DO NOT WANT TO DO THEM! What are you to do? Do you let the kids run the show? Go without learning for months?
Remember kids are motivated the same way adults are motivated. Just because something is GOOD FOR US, doesn’t make us want to do it. (Otherwise we would all be buff, never eat any junk food, sleep 8 hours/night and have no bad habits.)
Just because something is interesting to YOU, doesn’t mean that it is interesting to THEM. My hubby loves football, but that doesn’t make me love football.
- Find something interesting to your children. They can learn Math, Science, English through almost anything. If they like the solar system, they can learn the obvious Science, but they can read about the planets (English), they can do calculations about the size of the orbits or how long it takes to do a rotation around the sun (Math), they can draw the solar system (Art) and they can play a planetary game (P.E.)!
- Allow them to create and ACCOMPLISH something. If I told you to build a complex Lego structure, but the moment you were done, I took it apart and threw the pieces into a box, and then asked you to do it again; no matter how much you like Legos, you would refuse to do it. That’s what children feel about worksheets and schoolwork. They do work and then the work is thrown away and they have to do it again. There is no sense of accomplishment or permanency. They need to do something that actually creates something. Maybe they MAKE a gift or accomplish something that is needed at home or that they have been meaning to do for a long time. People with a high need for achievement seek to excel. Their hunger for achievement isn’t fed by being better than others, but rather by continually reaching for a higher level of personal best. Achievement-motivated individuals avoid low-risk situations because the easily attained success is not a genuine achievement. They need to struggle and the road has to be hard and demanding for the achievement or accomplishment to have meaning. So DON’T give your children something easy to do, give them something HARD and when they manage to do it, it will MEAN something. Lead them, don’t do it for them.
- That leads to the next point. Adults love Autonomy/Self-sufficiency/Power to make decisions. Well kids love autonomy too. We would be rather put-out and unhappy if we were in a job where our boss was constantly standing over our shoulder telling us what to do and how to do it! Interestingly enough, that’s what we do to our children! We tell them to do this or do that and to do that NOW! Study this! Do this worksheet! Do it now! They may be perfectly willing to learn something/study something as long AS WE DON’T TELL THEM TO DO IT. One of my secrets is to leave books around the house, opened to an interesting page. Doesn’t matter what the book is about (Physics, Chemistry, World War II Tanks, Economics, whatever), it becomes irresistible to my children. We have unintentionally exposed them to philosophers, economic theory, finance, just because we were reading those books and the kids wanted to see what we were reading. So if you want them to do Math, leave a few fun Math books around (there are some that are comic books!) and see what they do. Maybe give them some autonomy in deciding HOW they want to learn Math/Science/English/etc.
- Security: People with a high need for security look for continuity, consistency and predictability in their lives. Your child may need a schedule where every day you do the same thing over and over. Just like reading before bedtime, perhaps doing the same thing at the same time every day may motivate your child to do it!
- Affection/Camaraderie/Social support: Some people do things because they get accolades or camaraderie or other positive emotions. My children like school because they like hanging out with other children. They like doing what other kids are doing and doing it WITH other kids. Maybe you’ll have to do a “virtual” school where your children can talk to other children. They like the social aspect of learning and are motivated by the reward of spending time with other kids. The kids may also need praise from their “teacher” – “Yeah! You did well!” or respect from their fellow classmates. In that case, you can’t have them learning from a website or a workbook. You need to arrange live virtual classes. Make it so that their “team” is depending on them. They can’t let the “team” down.
Think about what motivates YOU and what motivates your children. Most of the time, motivators are not physical possessions (once you stop paying someone to do something, they stop doing it) or punishments (once you aren’t there to punish, they stop following the rules), but the feelings that they get from doing the things that they do.
Remember you are the parent. The kids don’t rule the house. They don’t get to play 16 hours of video games a day. You don’t need to stand over them with the threat of your anger either. Motivate them to do what you want them to do – which in the end is to- Stay interested in learning, Value education, and Want to do well.
Good luck! This is a wonderful opportunity to learn how to motivate your children!
Message me with questions or specific ideas.
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