Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Motivating Reluctant Learners!

Image from web.
If you haven't read my last few posts about the Nebraska Christian Home Educator's Association, after you read this post, click on the title of my blog and scroll down to read other reviews from the workshops I attended. 
    I have been lucky...so far.  I only have 2 1/2 kiddos that I am teaching and so far they are pretty motivated to learn.  I hope this won't happen, but one of these days my kids could become reluctant to learn new things.  Again...I really hope not.  This workshop was an eye opener of what could possibly happen to a child.  I think back to my high school teaching days.  I had some students who were excited about learning and being in school...and then there were quiet a few that just didn't care about anything it seemed like.

This workshop was presented by Dr. Joyce Herzog.  A little description about her is featured in a few of my other reviews.

Motivating Reluctant Learners!

The first question to answer is how old is your reluctant learner?

Dr. Herzog goes through the steps of what you should typically be working on at certain age levels.  Nothing specific like you should be studying this certain history lesson at age 10....just generalizations of skills.  The KEY is when they are little (under 2) that you have established OBEDIENCE and who is in charge.  Quick cheerful compliance.  She says if any of those three things are not present...it is not obedience.  She then goes through each age...but always asks first: Is your child obedient?  If not, work on that.

Questions to ask about your child if they are reluctant to learn:

1.  Why is he/she reluctant to learn?

--Not interested in life at all
--Not interested in what you are teaching.
--Not able to learn in time frame or manner of presentation

The first point...scary.  I pray that my kids don't ever fall into that category.  Ever.  
The second point....I can totally see this happening.   I have tried to gauge my teaching to what interests my girls.  I will have to switch gears a bit when my boys get older, but I know what my girls are interested in, so we tend to lean towards those topics.  There is no mandatory curriculum or things that you have to teach your kids...so figure out what their interests are.

The third point...I have been guilty of this.  We try to get our basics done by 10am...snack time...duh!  But I have to take a step back and think...my kids will not starve.  Even though my 3 year has asked me 500 times if it is snack time yet, it is ok to not set a time limit.  So I try my best to not remind them that they have 10 minutes before snack time...so focus.  Also, my kids learn better through activity and not as well with cut and dry workbooks...sometimes I get lazy and rely on workbooks too much...I should know better.

2.  How is he/she spending their time?

--Doing nothing--staring out in space.
--Bumming with friends
--Playing with hands on activities
--Television or computer related games

Some of those are pretty dangerous.  If you have a hands on learner...provide more hands on activities when teaching a new topic.  If you have a reader....have them do activities related to what book they are reading.  Friends can be good or bad.  Are they influencing your child in a good or bad way?  It is OK to be a parent and tell them what they can and can not do or hang around.

If you are having trouble motivating your child, find out what motivates them and reward the child with something they value...praise, money, free time, trips, food, quality time etc.

Dr. Herzog says that:  
Motivation is determined by perception of gain!
Some other tips that Dr. Herzog offered:
--Learning inspires the desire to learn.  

Inspire your kids to want to learn...and love doing it at the same time!

--Bonding is an important motivator.

Spend time with them.  She stresses...play games with them, sit and color with them, read to them.  Be with them...not just around them.

--No magic answer to increase the learning of any student.

It is a slow and steady progress, through many learning opportunities, in a wide variety of approaches, with much repetition.  

--The real magic is being patient and willing to work at it no matter how long it takes.  The real magic is spending time with your child.

Don't give up on them...you just have to find their trigger points...but remember...have you established obedience first?

--Appeal to what they like or considers fun

Math-- make word problems to topics they enjoy.
History-- find topics that they are interested in.
Geography-- go somewhere-- explore!
Reading-- have them pick out books at the library.
Writing-- let them be creative writing and write about their own interests.

--Teach and appeal to their spiritual responsibility

Dr. Herzog asks-- How would you want your son/daughter to respond in XYZ situation?

--Provide work that is challenging and interesting.

--Provide opportunity for success and show progress.

--Give them some control (choices within limits).

--Reward obedience, progress, and effort.

--Punish willful (but not accidental) disobedience, bad attitude, and laziness.

So that is a quick little recap from the workshop about Motivating Reluctant Learners.

The three key words to stress from this workshop are:





Totally agree with her!

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