Quick check of Motivation and Homeschool Routines
Have you ever struggled with getting started? Boredom in class? You are not alone. In any homeschool, learning motivation is an issue. External motivation is to help a student learn with some ‘pressure’ from the outside, whereas intrinsic motivation relates to the inner drive a student has for a content or subject.
Homeschooling takes place without or at least with much less external motivation in the form of pressure similar to that in formal schooling. As homeschooler often, you don’t have limits on schedules, official curricula or times. Sometimes, methodes, environment or routines still need a change or an adjustment. The things you see do not reflect your ideal.
That is what this post is for: to help you see better what works best for your homeschool and provide you with ideas to adjust your learning environment by actionable homeschool routines. And it is to inspire first-time homeschoolers on what to take care of when starting out. Ideally, your kids develop intrinsic motivation on the way, and you find yourself in a smoothly-running home where your kids enjoy learning. Neuroscience is still researching ‘motivation.’ Read more about intrinsic motivation here.
Boost external motivation with good homeschool routines – 3 tips
Turn on music to start school
Start the day with a positive, up-lifting, loud, somewhat speedy song for kids. This is your ‘school sound’. It should be about 1 minute long. Even create your personal track to make sure it auto-turns off. It is a time to prepare yourself, and for the kids, too. A minute is long enough to get ready, but is short enough to not lose the excitement.
Discipline yourself to always be there on time, and start right away when music finishes. If you are there and your kids know you’ll be there by the end of the song they’ll be there. That easy. If you are a positive example you’ll reap what you sow. This is true in primary education. Elder homeschoolers do work more independently if educated with that vision. However, punctuality is a character quality and is built by your mindset.
Be around to support
Sit in the same room, at least at starting out and with young students. In the beginning (and up to grade 2), do your online work at their side being responsive to their questions. When younger ones have the presence of an adult around it motivates them to keep learning, it helps to avoid sibblings competition and arguing or teasing. It also helps you see their struggles. Being around keeps the motivation of your kids since you are able to intervene before they might get frustrated.
Boost intrinsic motivation in your homeschool – 4 tips
Help your students see their own progress
A simple method to motivate young students is to check the workbooks with a sticker or stamp on all pages well done. Make this part of your prior homeschool routines and a personal discipline. Don’t wait until the whole book is finished. Rather, try to motivate with rewards weekly. Make it a routine for yourself to correct workbooks on a certain day. If you use a digital course find something similar to give short-term feedback.
You may create a sheet to collect like 25 stickers. Once completed, you’ll have a prize box ready to choose goodies from. If you homeschool more than four kids at once, correcting becomes a burdon. Ideally, you have a key at hand and teach your kids to self-assess themselves. Then, you reward both – the result and the competency executed.
What kind of teacher or homeschooler are you? One that heads for perfectionism? These teachers happen to have some hard times to recognize the things that went well. If you see the progress in your kid the student will have much easier to recognize it, too and get motivated to hone in. How may you do that?
Another way to see progress for yourself is this: At the end of each month write down 3 things for yourself that your kid did well in learning: was it correct spelling of 3 words in a row? a Math addition sheet with only one mistake alongside 29 out of 30 correct results? This is worthwile to be noted. With every new month add one new category but try to keep the categories in which you’ve already taken some notes of. In the course of a quarter you may applaus your kid in a pretty concrete manner in at least 3 categories. This is likely to motivate a student a lot, much more than a “well done”.
Prepare for rewards
Put a cookie right next to a worksheet saying, “If you are able to finish the page within half an hour, you may eat this”. The same is true for the afternoon learning time: Prepare a reward for a homework well done. Example, “If you are able to finish the homework by x ‘o’clock you may …(x)”. It is possible to daily set out the goal like: Today we want to get finished with pages 45-46 or project x. On occasions however, you might want to prepare a surprise and reward them with a piece of fruit.
Set motivating goals
What does your kid enjoy a lot but has not much opportunity to do? Here, I don’t refer to a family activity, like visiting a fun park or playing games together all night long or what have you. Another good routine in every homeschool is to look beyond formal learning. Decide for a planning horizon and for a prize. Have your kid make suggestions and take one that you are sure to do when time comes. And have him or her work towards it. In addition, the excursion he or she reached to get finally ends up to being another learning opportunity.
The same is true of little goals, like “if you finish your week’s Math worksheets by Thursday, on Friday you’ll be doing Math with an online learning program in that lesson”. So such online learning game my become part of your homeschool routines as a family. Only recently, a research was published about the relation between intrinsic motivation and goals related to conditioning. Read more here.
Make a chart to have various students compete with each other
Do you want to increase learning motivation? Use the power of group dynamics. Here comes the idea of competition into play. Maybe it is not your favorite focus however, it is a proven technique of teachers in favor of students’ external motivation. Let’s look at this picture: We all like sports, and some like sports because of the inherent idea of competition. This is especially true and important for boys.
Therefore you might like to give competition a shot, help your boys develop character and help everybody enjoy the ‘game.’ Plan a limited time as for a start, e.g. the two months before Christmas to introduce a competition chart. Christmas is usually a time when concentration is lacking, environment gets distracting and intrinsic motivation gets down. To give you an idea of what I mean when talking about motivating a bunch of students all at once please, check this chart.
Optimize your Learning environment and procedures
Nurture your vision. Are you actually motivated yourself to help your kids study at home with you? Sometimes, homeschoolers feel overwhelmed and lose vision for a moment. Maybe, this happens to be your issue right now. Let’s see if this post elevates your motivation a bit. Even if you don’t know much of German, in the post there is a link provided to an interesting study’s (non-valid) results published in the U.S. almost a decade ago. It is remarkable because it was the first long-term study on early child care outside the home and its impact on youth’s behavior patterns.
In short, it was found that – amongst other factors – the earlier in life the more important the role of parents is to their kids to prevent from unwanted outcomes in later life. Doesn’t that motivate, does it? Now, having talked about mindset you’ll get a list with ideas to see which one might work for you:
Stick to the same routines every day. Dedicate to your lesson hours, breaks, activities, and schedule. Start more or less around the same time every day and follow through the same homeschool routines every morning. If you don’t like schedules you might like to check out this list from a mom with a big family to organize your homeschool a different way.
Start on time, finish on time. Period. That simple.
Prepare a homework. As a rule of thumb homework should always be part of your homeschool routines except for the pre-schooler. Have your students get used to working by themselves. One way doing so is giving them school chores. As for the timing: Start out small in one subject only in the first week. Daily. By the end of the month have them do about 2-3 tasks/ subjects. On Fridays and days before days off be more generous. As for the content: Make your mind up before starting about what you REALLY would like to have finished – include this as homework.
Check off and correct homework given. Ideally, right the next school day. It is as with workbooks. Part of good homeschool routines is your discipline and leaderhip to check if your kid is on track. Some families include ‘homework’ into a general reward system they’ve got for household chores or kids’ chores, some won’t. It is important to note that when you give homework that they should have been done like in formal education. If you are not sure if your kids will accomplish it you may be better off to make a decision to skip homework at all. And if you hold onto homework check it off the next day in class.
Plan ahead. Go about your school year with a curriculum plan, which is a syllabus. Learn more here.
Write protocol of what you did that day in your homeschool. Use a digital or manual planner to take notes of your morning. Never miss a day. Choose for a style and be consistent taking notes of what you did in each subject. Use a scrap book or a file, diligently include the unit, number of module, or what you have, include the pages or techniques learnt or competencies stressed.
Plan for breaks. Make sure that breaks are filled with activities contrary to class time. This has nothing to do with motivation but with common sense. Class is class and breaks are breaks. Use a pause wisely. Snacks are always welcome with kids, so have them at hand alongside some fresh water. If your kids are online during class have them play offline in break. If they paint in class have them go out in the yard for some minutes. If they sit on the table have them play on the ground and so on. Open the windows for fresh air.
Apps and Online Learning. This post in German includes two interesting headings for you as English speaker: Check heading 1, introduction, for a YouTube link to a 10-min video in English (by Bark) on internet risks with kids. Check also heading N° 7 on international apps in various languages. To give you a glimpse: The final recommendation is a direct link to an intuitive game for pre-schoolers on German initial sounds and entirely for free. Just in case you’d like to translate words here you are with a free translation website.
Pre-K & Special Ed. Check this post for Math activities at an early age.
A schedule. If you are the type of person who needs a plan to getting things done, at all or if you prefer to start out with a general idea on the weight of subject hours per week feel free to go here for a class schedule suggestion for grades 1-4.