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Motivation Tips
How Do I Keep Them Interested?
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Mrs. D's List
From: Mrs. D, the List Genius

These are in no particular order. Please remember, nothing works forever! And all children need to be watched to be sure they are doing what you think they are. I learned that the hard way!

  1. Allow them to use a timer. Time how long it takes to do 1 lesson, 1 page, etc.
  2. Sometimes it helps to alternate easy with hard, letting them know what is next.
  3. When evaluating a page, point out the best points rather than the worst.
  4. If a child gets done early, don't take advantage and add more work that he wasn't expecting. Rather, reward him with time for something special. For example; arts & crafts, woodworking, cooking, leathercraft, building something, reading, computer time. This is especially good for teens.
  5. Give a sticker at the end of each line. We used this in handwriting practice.
  6. Do some things orally, such as reading or history questions, a spelling quiz, etc.
  7. Do as much as possible before lunch. Anything done after lunch goes at half speed!
  8. Sometimes a little help from an older sibling can go a long way.
  9. Younger children especially enjoy writing answers on something other than paper. Try a chalkboard, whiteboard, sidewalk & chalk, sand table (or a reasonable substitute: cornmeal, rice, or sand spread on a cookie sheet), etc.
  10. For math facts practice, take 2 square blocks. Write 0-5 on the sides of one, and 1-6 on the sides of the other. The child tosses them, then adds, subtracts or multiplies the 2 numbers. My boys loved throwing these across the kitchen floor!
  11. My boys enjoyed "teaching" their lesson to their toddler brother.
  12. See who can finish a subject first (e.g. math).
  13. Some kids work best at the table near others. Others work best alone in their room.
  14. Some do better if they have a written list of the day's subjects with how much is expected in each.
  15. Pick-out Box - Have a box filled with new pens, pencils, erasers, pads, small toys (from yard sales or party supply stores), edible snacks, etc. Allow them to pick out a reward, for things like finishing a book, good test score, keeping good records, memory verses, etc. You should make it possible for them to pick out at least once every three days.
  16. Make a chart with a path, any theme. Along the path, mark squares with things like: 1 piece cheese, hug from Mom, skip 1 subject today, 1 balloon, extra 10 minute break, etc. Or draw a football field, move by yardlines, and reward for each touchdown. You make yardage for the same accomplishments mentioned in Item 15. You could also use a baseball motif.
  17. 10 minute breaks are sometimes helpful.
  18. If they need quizzes, let them quiz each other. My guys quiz each other on spelling words.
  19. Don't duplicate your work, especially in Language Arts. Once a child knows manuscript and cursive, any written work can be used for handwriting practice. Don't use both a spelling book and a vocabulary book; choose one.
  20. Don't get overly concerned about history or science in the first four grades. In most curricula, the same information is repeated, with a bit added, each year!
  21. Eliminate "seatwork" books unless the child just loves to color.  
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Hurry Up and Skate
From: Lynette

There are several optional activities in our week: ice skating, swimming, play dates after Wednesday co-op, going to the library for "fun" books or tapes, etc. These activities are rewards for work done on time. For example, today was skating. All the independent subjects had to be done by 11 a.m. to get to go. Works every week! Strangely, the same amount of work can take hours longer on other days!
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Kristen's List
From: Kristen

Field trips brighten things up. They learn so much more that way, than if I had covered it all at home. I also find that if I take the field trip first instead of last, it sparks a wave of interest in the subject. I can ride that wave over the next week or two because they have more interest in that subject.

Keep things short. At age 8, I wouldn't do more than 15 minutes per subject, especially math.

Combine reading with the other subjects. Use oral feedback to check comprehension.

For younger children, concentrate more on reading than writing or spelling skills. They can wait until later. With an 8 year old boy, expect some difficulty with anything involving handwriting. Let him dictate his stories while you write or type them, then let him illustrate them, if that would motivate him.

Feel free to take time off. A few days can be very refreshing.
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Change of Pace
From: Norma

We have one day a week for my children, ages 10 and 12, to work on their heart's content: drawing, painting, science experiments, etc. My only condition is that they tell me which principle they're applying, or what new concept they want to try out, or just give me an educational reason for doing what they're doing. They love this day!

Sometimes when MY motivation seems to falter, I'll pick out a subject theme that is applicable to their course studies, and we take a week or more to make a Unit Study out of it. The change of pace refreshes us all.

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If you have any ideas to share, e-mail me, Paula H