The Motivated Student....
Motivation to be in charge of your own education, to love learning and to be a positive member of our community is one of the primary reasons parents give for homeschooling. Parents want their children to want to learn, and to enjoy learning. So what's the secret? Why do some children gravitate to learning, begging to take more classes, read more books, have more experience while other children just want to do the minimum?
If you asked people, you would get a list of reasons that related to their own experience or their children's experience and while this may be helpful to you, it may not relate at all to your home. So how can parents help kids to be motivated to do their very best?
Many experts say autonomy is the secret. Both adults and children are motivated to do their best when they have been given some control over the situation. Some parents have questioned this, especially in light of an unmotivated student. But here are some areas in which you can provide some level of autonomy;
the order in which subjects are learned each day
the curriculum that is used. Try to match their learning style with their educational plan. Find out more at Learning Success Institute
Give essay and project choices, or better yet, let them create their essay and project choices!
Books they read! You can give them a choice of all the books that you think are great and then trade off; one time it's their turn to pick anything of their choice, and the next time they have to pick from the list of books you want them to read.
Off time is Free time! If they have done everything you've asked of them, it's free time for them to explore and learn on their own, right? Everyone needs to have some time where they are completely in charge!
Service Projects are great ways to help kids give to their community and understand that it's not all about them, but everyone likes to give differently. Try to find some choices where they can be in service, and let them pick! Being in service is perhaps the very best way to increase gratitude, build social skills and broaden horizons. It's the best way to combat loneliness, and it helps put everything into it's proper perspective. Being in service to others is a huge motivator as well, and helps everyone see aspects of the world that our busy lives don't normally allow us to see.
High Standards! It's not about the grade, it's about doing your best work. You can help kids do their best by asking them if they think they've done their very best work. If not, allow them extra time to do their very best. If they think they've done their best, and you don't, scaffold their learning by pointing out a few areas in which they could improve. Kids need to learn that revisions are GOOD! Almost no one does their best work the first time around with no revisions, so why set them up to think that is normal?
Related TED talks, article and more!
Dan Pink TED talk on motivation
Although Pink is talking about adult motivation in the corporate world, his words resonate in our world as well!
students are motivated to work harder when they get feedbace indicating a desire to help them improve, and not just a grade.
Book: An Ethic of Excellence by Ron Berger
his intro is online for free! Ron is the master of project based learning and consults all over the US helping teachers make projects real, helping them build models for success and more!
Book: Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn
Manipulating people with incentives seems to work in the short run, but it is a strategy that ultimately fails and even does lasting harm. This might work on lab rats, but our kids deserve better.