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Maria B

Motivation/Advice

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Maria B

Good morning!  I'm curious what strategies you all use to motivate your homeschoolers. 

 

We started our first year of homeschooling in June, and overall things are going pretty well.  However, there is a lot of moaning and groaning and "I don't want to do it," when its time to sit at the table and do written work.  My boys are 4 1/2 and 6, pretty active learners so we do a lot of experiments, and games to reinforce concepts, etc.  But I really feel like there is a place for workbooks so we still do a math workbook page, explode the code phonics, and then either handwriting or journaling daily.  (A little less writing, more drawing, etc for my 4 year-old.)  Its not much seat time if we could just sit down and do it, but when there's 30 minutes of whining about it before hand, it really drags it out (and puts a damper on the possibility of enjoying it...).  I could understand it if they struggled with this kind of work, but they don't!  Its not too hard, not too easy most of the time.  They just don't like to stop to do it. 

 

So I was just curious what kind of motivational/incentive you all use, if anything.  I'm ashamed to admit that bit of our day has quickly escalated into them whining and me yelling, which was not what I envisioned for our homeschool.  :(  I also have a 3 year-old with developmental challenges and an adorable, yet feisty, 1 1/2 year-old at home, so when I get those two settled with something so I can have time with the older two, I really need that time to be USED because its limited. 

 

 

 

 

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kohlby

We didn't do anything formal at all until legal first grade age.  At 4.5 years old, there are some kids who love worksheets but many do not.  My daughter was one who begged to do them at 3.  Then there's my youngest, who asked to do some around 4 and loved them for a few days and then lost interest.  He is 5 and goes in phases still.  At only 4.5, I'd suggest making his worksheet, journal, etc available if he wants to do them.  Treat them like any other toy.  If he thinks they're fun, then he'll do them.  (Also, keep in mind that a 4.5 year old boy is very different from a 4.5 year old girl so be careful not to compare him to your friends' daughters).  My eldest however, did not do worksheets and was a wiggle worm.  He's the reason I stumbled into homeschooling - and why we unschooled for kindy.  (Before kindy age, I just called it parenting for my kids, but it really was just the same as kindy, following their leads).  In first grade, I needed to document the core subjects.  So we did interest-led as much as possible - but we did use a math curriculum.  He spent no more than 15 minutes on math a day - that's all he could handle.  He learned quickly and really didn't need more.  That 15 minutes is the total time spent doing math though - not from start to finish.  He couldn't do 15 minutes at once, or even 10 minutes.  We had a way to get through 5 minutes: First, I had him do some exercise to help him focus.  Then I had him sit on the exercise ball while doing his work.   I'd tell him that after a certain number of problems that we would race around the house - so more exercise.  Then back to work.  Doing his math this way got him able to get through it.  He was extremely advanced in math - but not advanced in his sit-down-and-pay-attention skills.  And that was okay.  That came in time.

I did use an incentive for my eldest for handwriting however.  His fine motor skills were behind, probably borderline for needing therapy.  We focused on fun ways to help his fine motor skills, like legos, k-nex, and playdoh.  That's what I suggested and encouraged.  Then, he could practice handwriting if he wished.  My kids get 30 minutes of video game time a day.  He could earn 30 more minutes for every three pages of handwriting he did.  These were Dollar Tree books - so there wasn't much on a page.  I didn't tell him he had to do any - but he would sometimes do a lot since he wanted more video game time.  Other times, he would do less, and that was okay.  So, though it was an incentive, it was totally his choice if he did it or not.  He needed to feel like he had the power.  (And it's not a bad thing for kids to feel like they're in control of their learning).   Another thing that helped with writing was writing their own books.  All three of my kids love this.  In first grade, the older two would orally tell me what to write.  Then, they would copy one or two lines of it on a page and draw a picture - so a manageable amount.  They loved that it was their words and their book.  My current unschooled 5 year old now has a stack of about 30 books that he's been doing without dictating this past month.  The stories only have a few words and they don't always make sense, but he's been having a blast creating his library.  (Note - pick up those file folders cheap this time of year for an easy way for them to make books!)  He's also been busy drawing his own pokemon cards and keeps asking me to spell things for him.  He has a couple backwards letters and hasn't realized how important spaces are yet, but he's learning so much without me doing a thing other than providing the supplies.

Edited by kohlby
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Dianna

So I was just curious what kind of motivational/incentive you all use, if anything.  I'm ashamed to admit that bit of our day has quickly escalated into them whining and me yelling, which was not what I envisioned for our homeschool.  :(  I also have a 3 year-old with developmental challenges and an adorable, yet feisty, 1 1/2 year-old at home, so when I get those two settled with something so I can have time with the older two, I really need that time to be USED because its limited. 

 

Hi Maria,

 

Research overwhelmingly supports the fact that child-led learning is more effective than any other method (children learn more, retain more). The schools can't create this kind of environment because they don't have the resources and it would wreak havoc on crowd control. But homeschoolers can. If children have a say in what they're learning, then the arguing, whining, etc., lessens considerably (or disappears altogether).

 

In my opinion, four years old is too young for children to be doing worksheets/workbooks and other sit-down structured learning unless they initiate it. If you wait until he's older, he'll learn the material much faster, with much less resistance. And if you view learning as a life-long endeavor, does it really matter if your children learn to write the alphabet (or whatever) at 4.5, rather than at 6 or 7 or even later? I can almost guarantee it's not going to come up in a college scholarship or job interview. They won't care.

 

For your 6-year-old, can you reduce the amount of writing each day? Maybe one math worksheet, and one handwriting? Phonics (again, my opinion), should be oral, not written. For my children, I taught them the basic letter sounds and blends using AlphaPhonics as a guide. I didn't use the entire book - once they had the consonants, vowels, and basic blends down, I put it aside and we read real books - starting with the simple Bob Books and working up to more complex beginning reader books, then beginning chapter books, etc. (It's amazing how much reading/phonics publishers - both mainstream and homeschool - can take something simple and make it so complex that instruction stretches out over several years or more.) My children also listen(ed) to audiobooks and we always have closed-captioned on when we watch television.

 

I'd also recommend waiting until your son is older for journal writing. Just focus on handwriting for now, and as he gets older and more skilled with the mechanics, he'll hopefully become more interested in writing.

 

I hope this helps! Take what you think will help, and throw out the rest. :)

 

Warmly,

Dianna

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Maria B

Thanks ladies.  That was a good reality check.  You know when I picked these books (I'm using Sonlight scheduling), I had planned to go about twice as slow as I'm going now, since we're homeschooling year round, and there is no rush.  I'm doing what I said I wasn't going to do!  But everyone was so excited the first few weeks, that we kept up with Sonlight's schedule, and I guess I forgot that I wasn't going to go at that pace!  We're 7 weeks in and set for a break next week (headed to the beach, yay!), so I'll re-evaluate.  My 4.5 year-old initially LOVED doing the workbooks (which shocked me), perhaps after a break if I return to my original plan and have him do a page every other day or whatnot, he'll enjoy it again.  I've been printing off so many "center" activities and games from pinterest for their level math and phonics, but I haven't used any yet.  Maybe I'll get them out, make a few available at a time and let the boys choose what they do for awhile.  

 

Thanks for the advice ladies, truly!   

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Lorietta Purpura

Thanks ladies.  That was a good reality check.  You know when I picked these books (I'm using Sonlight scheduling), I had planned to go about twice as slow as I'm going now, since we're homeschooling year round, and there is no rush.  I'm doing what I said I wasn't going to do!  But everyone was so excited the first few weeks, that we kept up with Sonlight's schedule, and I guess I forgot that I wasn't going to go at that pace!  We're 7 weeks in and set for a break next week (headed to the beach, yay!), so I'll re-evaluate.  My 4.5 year-old initially LOVED doing the workbooks (which shocked me), perhaps after a break if I return to my original plan and have him do a page every other day or whatnot, he'll enjoy it again.  I've been printing off so many "center" activities and games from pinterest for their level math and phonics, but I haven't used any yet.  Maybe I'll get them out, make a few available at a time and let the boys choose what they do for awhile.  

 

Thanks for the advice ladies, truly!   

Maria

My son is 4.5 years old and he gets 30 mins of *homework* time and then playtime. Sometimes he does an hour- that is the online ones he does first thing in the morning. He thinks it is a game (math, reading etc) but in reality he is learning. I do only 20 mins of writing (broken up) and 30 mins of math. We do a lot of reading and verbal *education* and that seems to work as well. I get in a lot of break times for him as that seems to work well and motivates him.  Good Luck!

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