A sweet friend and new-to-homeschooling mama recently asked me on facebook what she could do to keep her kids on task with their lessons each morning. I had to stop and think, because our kids are so used to homeschooling, they've never known anything else, that I don't really have trouble in this area. Granted boys will be boys, and a morning of lessons rarely goes by without some reminders to put away their book and take out the assignment from the next workbox.
However, as I thought about it, I realizes there are things we do to help our kids be self-motivated. Here are a few ideas that work for us:
1.) Independant play and the sun shining out of doors is a great motivator.
The kids know that once their morning chores and workboxes are complete, the world is theirs to conquer and imagine.
Nothing much, I imagine, is worse to a six year old than all of his siblings being finished and playing while he has lessons left to learn because he spent the morning being distracted and fooling around.
2.) Numbered workboxes!
I love our workboxes, even though they are not the prettiest thing in our dining room right now. Each kiddo has six and each morning I look through my lesson plans and place their books/crafts/puzzles/cooking fun/etc in their bins in the best order I can think of. They don't each have six filled bins every day, that's just how many I have available for each child.
Our organized, logical thinkers especially love this system and the other kids do great with it as well. If you don't have room for actual workboxes, I've seen numbered folders used so this method can work for any sort of space restrictions.
3.) Extra motivation.
We love learning that comes from natural consequences, like missing out on playing when you haven't done your lessons, but sometimes a little extra motivation is needed. Our kids love dessert. Love. Love. Love. In a big family, there is rarely enough for a second helping and if you miss out on it when its served, it probably won't be there by the next meal. If I have a kiddo, who by no one's fault but his own (he/she has enough time, quiet space, understanding, room for normal childishness), is repeatedly not doing a chore, not finishing his lessons, or something to that effect, dessert becomes a great motivator. Instead of threatening "no dessert unless" I like to phrase it "you can have dessert if/when". That phrasing change gives your child the power and responsibility.
Sometimes, if its a new lesson, or a child with a short attention span, a break becomes necessary. Something as quick and easy as, "will you take a minute to go brush Bear" or "can you bring me a glass of water" gives the much needed break.
5.)Enough sleep/good diet.
Giving your kids a high protein/low sugar/no fake colors breakfast will go miles. We have a son, who if sleepy, just cannot make it through his reading. I save it for the next day and make sure he gets some extra sleep.
6.) Let your kids see you keeping on task.
I'm a list maker and I'll casually talk with the kids about what I need to get done during the course of the day, maybe what dinner prep I need to do, how I'll be right upstairs folding laundry if they have a question, and things to that effect. I think kids seeing their parents being motivated to keep on task, even with the daily interuptions as mamas that there is nothing we can do but handle with grace, helps them to have a similar mindset.
Those are the things off the top of my head, that I can think of. For the homeschooling mamas reading this, what else do you do or have found that works for keeping kids on task?