How can you motivate your child to engage in schoolwork? Don’t call it schoolwork.
The word schoolwork has many negative connotations. Schoolwork at home is associated with homework. Kids usually think of homework as an extra boring pen to paper practice that they have to do when they would rather be having fun with friends or being in control pursuing their own interests during unstructured time.
For the next five days, I will be posting suggested strategies to hopefully help you and your children engage in learning. At first this might seem more work for you rejigging the formatting of tasks and engaging with the kids, but this little bit of planning and effort on the front end might just eliminate some of the resistance from your child and you might actually begin to enjoy the process yourself.
Today’s theme is reset your attitude. What my attitude you say! Yes! As parents, we approach education from our own educational baggage. We transfer our childhood experiences with education to our children, good or bad. In addition, many of us think that learning (especially if done at home without friends) is boring, structured, independent pen to paper work, involves extensive reading, success or failure and requires a repeat of the same tasks. For many of us the word work, conjures up feelings of miserable drudgery. School for many of us has a negative connotation, as it is often memory referenced to the structure and routines of controlling a group of 25-30 children in cooperatively performing the same or similar task in a designated period of time, before the bell rings. Generally speaking it is more like a systematized factory setting in the interest of keeping control, or as some might say ‘herding cats’. Remember, this doesn’t even account for your child’s perspective on learning which might be negative. Apply all these notions, PLUS our own desires to get the expected tasks done while juggling our work demands and keeping family living routines (dinner, cleaning and organizing), we are in a flurry of negativity before even engaging with our children and learning.
Begin by using different language. It isn’t schoolwork you are engaging in an adventure of learning. It is about the journey of discovery. Think of The Magic School bus and Miss Frizzle. It was built around the idea of learning and field trips. What were some of the most exciting times at school? When we went on field trips. As a teacher I used to love field trips. At the beginning of my career when filed trips were supported, one year I took my class on ten field trips. I have to say the students were not only excited but their engagement and behaviour was excellent. Discuss with your children what name can you give school time at home? Even think of creating that story idea as a family. Seeing no one can travel to far away destinations let’s take learning trips at home and in our own communities. Even take on the idea of characters. Dress up for it, why not no one is watching and kids love dress up. Be your own version of Miss Frizzle or Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Timing is everything! Look over what is expected from the school program in advance. Hold it aside with the intent of introducing this challenge at the right time, a time where kids are receptive. Maybe you choose a time when you can sit and encourage them? Remember at school they have their friends around them to share ideas and just the idea of having a friend sit next to you makes a task seem easier than alone at the kitchen table. Chunk the tasks into smaller bit done in increments throughout the day. Also, daily routine is important BUT choose a time to engage in learning when all parties are rested, fed, and open to learning.
Forget the School Imposed Curriculum Themes. WHAT? Yes, right now during COVID the most important things is engagement and basic skill practice (reading, writing, basic math, problem solving from a generic point of view not just applied to mathematical word problems, speaking communication, physical activity). If the school suggested theme does not meet the interest of your child drop it. Ask your child what they would like to learn about. Write these topics on a piece of paper and put them in a container, which you can pull from and use as ignition for your learning. Make suggestions to your child and they might think wow if that is something you would be interested in they might want to learn about it too. Each day can have a homegrown theme. BY asking your child they will feel a part of the process and heard. Do we not all want to be heard?
Dazzle’s Challenge: I found this great resource Big Life Journal, written by parents to support parents with home schooling. It looks excellent. Take a peek https://biglifejournal.com/pages/our-story
Quick Take Away Links:
This is very very extensive and overwhelming but maybe some of you want to take a peek…