One of the challenges of homeschooling is coming up with motivation for good work. Let’s face it, threatening to send a bad report card home doesn’t really work. But there are days that we really need a way to motivate junior to reach beyond his natural instinct to stare out the window and count the leaves on the trees during math time. So what can we do, take away their piano practice or the privilege of folding laundry?
In my 20 years of homeschooling, I have built a list of ideas that help me when I need to light a small fire under an unmotivated child.
1. Extra Free Time
We have about 90 minutes of free time every day, but occasionally if I need a reward I will give them 30 minutes of extra free time. Keep in mind, you have to have a regular schedule and generally stick with it for this to have value.
2. Rewards Jar
I have a jar filled with index cards of prize ideas. The prizes are anything from “an extra dessert” to “15 minutes of dancing with Mom”. Anything I could think of that is free, easy and a little bit special. A good day of school might mean drawing a reward out of the jar. The used reward doesn’t go back into the jar until all of the others are used.
3. Special Toys
My boys love those building bricks that are so popular. So I keep a small stock of them in a box in my closet and they can earn an hour of playing with them. This is a once a week opportunity and it is highly motivating.
4. Hero Day
Famous athletes, authors, heroes, anything your family loves….tell them that if they do really well in school Monday through Thursday then on Friday the whole family will dress up like those characters….including you. In our house it my kids like superheroes. So on the occasional Friday if you happen to see me in a cape and mask, you’ll know why.
Yes, I said it, we use sugar to motivate our children. We don’t eat much candy around here. So when I found a vintage candy dispenser at the flea market I knew it was just the perfect thing to motivate the kids to do their schoolwork. I filled it with their favorite candies and they get to buy some from the machine after a good day of school.
6. Get Out of School Free Card
Every once in a while, if we have had a particularly difficult week and I know a child has done their best, I will hand him a “Get out of School Free” pass. I have these printed up and ready for me to date and sign. Then, anytime he wants he can just hand me the pass and we stop school for the rest of that day.
7. Fifteen Minute Run
When the kids seem to be struggling with concentrating because they have extra energy I will tell them that if they get their work done in X amount of time then they can have 15 minutes to go run outside before starting the next subject.
The next time you need a boost in your school day, consider trying one of these ideas. You just might be surprised at how quickly that spelling lesson is finished.
Lisa Pennington lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of 27 years and 9 children. Her dream life of raising a large family on a little bit of land isn’t quite what she expected. Some days it’s heavenly and other days she wonders what she was thinking! But all days she knows God is right there growing her and blessing her beyond measure. You can find her at her blog, The Pennington Point and her etsy shop, Shop 24, The Pennington Point. Raising a large family and building a lovely home on a tight budget and with a sense of humor Shop 24 has unique handmade items for your home, party, wedding and great gift ideas! You can follow me on Facebook!