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My Homeschool Student is Not Motivated! Help!

“Mom, can I go to real school?” I remember my 8-year-old asking me this question like it was yesterday. Would our homeschool journey end that same day. God was faithful...Here is what we did that worked and brought us to graduate all three of our children from homeschooling.“Mom, can I go to real school?” I remember my 8-year-old asking me this question like it was yesterday. I feared that our homeschool journey might end that same day. But God was faithful, and my son graduated happily from our homeschool ten years later.

During our twenty-one years of our homeschool adventure, I could often trace my children’s expressions of dissatisfaction or boredom to my own attitudes. At times I needed a new vision, a change in focus, or a little more creativity. Other times I simply needed to alter a child’s course by discerning his needs and strengths…a benefit to being a homeschool family!

The following ideas worked for me, and they can bring energy, motivation, and life into your home year after year:

1. Set aside a half day at the beginning of each year and ask the Lord to supply you with fresh vision and inspiration for your homeschool.

“Mom, can I go to real school?” I remember my 8-year-old asking me this question like it was yesterday. Would our homeschool journey end that same day. God was faithful...Here is what we did that worked and brought us to graduate all three of our children from homeschooling.

God boldly promises, “Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3, AMP).

In Isaiah 28, God teaches a farmer to farm in very specific ways. Here we learn that “God teaches him order; He instructs him” and “God gives wonderful advice; He gives great wisdom” (Isaiah 28:26, 29, HCSB).

If God is willing and able to teach a farmer to farm, He is willing and able to teach us how to educate our children. God promises that when we call to Him, He will answer. As you read the Bible and pray, wait expectantly for God to answer and reenergize you. Write down what you learn in your time with the Lord and review it as needed.

2. Realize that a good educational plan begins with the child, not a cold, impersonal scope-and-sequence chart. Become a student of your children and ask these questions: What are their individual learning styles, personality types, and spiritual gifts? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are they interested in learning? What encourages or discourages them? In the process of recording this information for each child, you will discover clues as to why he or she might be discouraged, disinterested, or unmotivated. Choose your curriculum, areas of study, and teaching methods based on your answers to these questions.

For instance, auditory-kinesthetic learners need freedom to move and to talk while they learn. Forcing them to be still and quiet during instructional times will require most of their focus, leaving little energy for processing new information.

Remember, much of the educational power of homeschooling lies in the ability to tailor an educational plan and learning environment to each child’s needs.

 

“Mom, can I go to real school?” I remember my 8-year-old asking me this question like it was yesterday. Would our homeschool journey end that same day. God was faithful...Here is what we did that worked and brought us to graduate all three of our children from homeschooling.

3. Add field trips and travel to reinforce topics of study and inject vitality and variety into your home school.

If you are studying electricity, tour a power plant together. If you’re studying history, explore a museum, battlefield, or historic landmark. If you’re studying civics and government, visit your state capitol and meet your senator and representative. God created a fascinating world—encourage your children to explore it. Homeschooling should be an adventure!

4. Focus on your children’s strengths. When my boys were young, I read a book that provided some defining principles for our home school. In Growing Up Learning, author Dr. Walter Barbe made this observation:

In many academic settings, [our children] are tested and confronted with their failures. They are given endless hours of practice, not in their areas of strength, but in their areas of weakness. Eventually this can destroy their self-confidence and their willingness to learn. At home, too, we expect our children to do things the way we do. If our learning strength is different from theirs, we may not be reinforcing their strengths.

I often think of Eric Liddell, the Flying Scotsman, who was preparing for a life in the mission field when he ran in the 1924 Olympic Games. Even though Liddell chose not to compete in his best event because it was held on a Sunday, he nevertheless won a gold medal and set a world record in the 400 meters. In the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire, the character of Liddell told his sister, “I believe that God made me for a purpose—for China. But He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

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We should always be observing our children so we can help them identify their true passions and strengths—the areas of their lives where, like Eric Liddell, they feel God’s pleasure. We should be constantly asking God to use our children’s gifts and abilities to display His glory to a watching world.

5. Practice hospitality and serve others. Nothing rejuvenates us like focusing on the needs of others. For example, do you have family members or friends in the military that have been deployed to other countries? Pray together as a family for their safety. Have your children write them letters and assemble care packages. Invite the spouse and children of a deployed soldier into your home for a meal. Your children will learn eternally significant and life-changing lessons from this type of outreach and hospitality.

 

6. Make a habit of reading aloud to your children and listening to audio books together. Reading together creates an inexplicable bond and excitement about learning that is contagious. I highly recommend The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. This classic novel culminates in a life-and-death battle between good and evil. After finishing the book, choose one of the plays, movies, or audio dramatizations that have been made based on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and enjoy it with your children.

If you enjoyed this article by Zan Tyler, check out I Can’t Homeschool Anymore!,  The Power of Relationships and Books and What Should Your Homeschool Classroom Look Like?

 

 

Zan Tyler is director of Apologia Press. Her life as a speaker, writer, and homeschooling advocate began thirty years ago when, as a homeschooling mother, she was threatened with jail by the South Carolina state superintendent of education. Zan founded the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools in 1990 and served as its president for ten years. She has been honored as the South Carolina Homemaker of the Year and has appeared on NBC’s Today Show. In addition to her book 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential, she has written for numerous academic journals and homeschool magazines such as HSLDA’s Court Report.

 

 

 

“Mom, can I go to real school?” I remember my 8-year-old asking me this question like it was yesterday. Would our homeschool journey end that same day. God was faithful...Here is what we did that worked and brought us to graduate all three of our children from homeschooling.

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