Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Motivation

Someone found my blog by searching ‘homeschooling and completely demotivated‘ and it got me thinking…

Motivation is one of those areas for me that on some days, it strikes hard. I feel good, I’m enthusiastic and eager, the day swims by quickly and I feel productive and accomplished at the end of the day (today is one such day). Other days, it feels like every action is a chore, I have to push and pull and prod the kids (and myself) to do every little task and the job of ‘homeschooling mom’ just seems overwhelming.

Balance is a wonderful thing and maybe it’s personality or lack of organization or time management, but I seem to have little of it in the day-to-day – things tend to swing from one extreme to the other a lot of the time. In some ways that’s a good thing. It feels like we’re following the natural ebb and flow of life.When inspiration strikes, I tend to gorge myself on whatever interest is catching my eye, then put it down until interest sparks again. That’s a ‘natural’ rhythm for me, and how I learn best.

In other ways though, I question the validity of this mindset as a style of homeschooling. It seems like a bad thing because I feel like there should be some level of consistency to our days. I feel like when we stick to a more regular and balanced schedule, there’s not a rush to ‘catch up’, and it seems like the kids are more focused on what we’re doing. Now, whether that’s a ‘truth’ for us or just a feeling I have remains to be seen. Letting the natural wax and wane of interest seems to sound like unschooling to me, and obviously that is a completely viable homeschooling style for some people. As drawn to the idea of it as I am, I haven’t gotten to the point where I am willing to jump in whole-hog with it… yet. Maybe one day.

When I find myself lacking motivation, one of the ways I try to inspire myself is by shaking things up. As I’ve mentioned before, we rarely stick with the same thing for very long (same area of study, yes – we just hit it from different ends, sources, materials, projects, etc). That gives us a fresh look at and a new direction to come from on the material we’re covering. I also find that a change of scenery does wonders; if we’re having a wretched day, we’ll pick up and go to the library or to a museum – anything as long as we’re out of the house for a bit. Ideally, whatever we’re studying will come into play for this excursion, but really the change in locale is the key. I’ve often just packed our books into the Big Red Bag (that’s what I call the spacious red alligator bag that I got from my Grandmother on one of her cleaning sprees… it’s amazing!) and we just moved ‘school’ to somewhere else, often with a similar good outcome. Fresh air also is a fine motivator – my kids enjoy working or reading outside so when the weather is nice, we’ll bring school into the yard.

We also take frequent breaks. I am learning to prepare my kids for the next segment of the lesson by telling them what we’ll be doing or giving them a specific question to think about while on a break. Letting them free to roam and run for a few minutes with a task seems to be an effective re-focusing technique for them. It also gives me a few minutes to myself to prepare for the next part of the lesson or check Facebook (I won’t lie, lol).

That’s another carrot that I dangle in front of myself – working on whatever project I have in the back of my mind. Lately, it’s been preparing for our upcoming Teacher’s Retreat in January, and getting the groundwork laid for the Texas Secular Homeschooling Network.

What are your best motivating tips?

Warmly,

~h

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4 responses

  1. I look back at all the homeschooling posts I’ve written (private and public) on my blog and remind myself of why I chose this. I think about the joy on my son’s face (and photograph it!) when we do something he thinks is “really cool.” I send pictures of our activities that we complete to family members so that I can receive positive feedback from them. I post on http://www.secularhomeschool.com so that I can feel like I’m part of a community. I shake it up by just declaring the day “a holiday” and we lounge around in PJs and do something I would normally think of as slacking. I tell myself to suck it up! (That’s a remnant from the Army. 😉

    November 16, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    • Oh, that’s a good one – taking pictures. I find that I really enjoy looking back through the pictures we’ve taken while doing projects and mid-lesson.

      I love SecularHomeschooling.com’s forums – my home away from home, lol.

      Thanks for sharing, Jen!
      ~h

      November 17, 2010 at 12:14 am

  2. jesslynn

    TSHN- what a great idea!

    I appreciate your candid post. I struggle with my motivation from time to time as well. My desire to teach my children “how” to learn motivates me. Understanding the different seasons that we go through as indivduals and as a family keeps me grounded as well. I’d like to be motivated to read some great books to my children. THat has been the foundation of our homeschool and something that has been sorely lacking, as of late!

    November 16, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    • Thanks 🙂 I am looking forward to seeing how the group progresses.

      By ‘candid’, I’m assuming that you mean the frequency with which I check Facebook, lol.
      The reading thing gets me, too. I love reading, but it is a chore to make myself read aloud. We strive for 15-30 minutes a day, but usually end up with a couple of times per week unless the story is just uber-interesting. More often, I find the story being read aloud on the internet.
      ~h

      November 17, 2010 at 12:26 am

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