Wishing to Go Back to School

schoolbus-81717_1280Question:

My daughter is 10 years old, and we are homeschooling full-time this year. It is hard because we moved to a small town and she is used to having friends in the neighborhood. We are slowly getting to know some really nice homeschoolers in this area. How do I continue to keep her motivated? It seems like things will go along smoothly, and then she wishes she was back in school. I don’t want to send her back.

Answer:

The big issue with keeping your daughter happy learning at home may be having enough social contact. When she wishes she was back in school, she may be wishing for friends to be around. I assure you she is not missing the lessons that move slowly, the long school day, the homework, the lack of time to be a child, the stories unread, waiting in line, missing out on cooking with Mom, the group mentality or the peer pressure.

So, Mom’s job, in addition to providing a rich, stimulating educational environment, is to take care of the social dimension. At 10 years old, if she has siblings, your daughter needs be involved with friendly, interacting peers for at least a few hours 3 times a week minimum . This can be accomplished in many ways:

1) by attending a support group meeting where she can play with girls her age

2) by inviting over a child for a play date at your house

3) by attending a class where she can interact with other children (gymnastics, dance, art, music). A class only works if she feels comfortable interacting with those children.

4) by holding your own “Girl’s Club” meeting in your home and inviting a few other girls over to do a craft or activity, plus play together

5) by offering a educational class once a week, such as “Art” or “Learning to Crochet” or something else of interest, and inviting homeschooled kids to attend

6) by joining a club such as 4H or church sponsored activities

She also needs to get out of the house a few times per week, into the bigger world. Taking a trip to the library, having a little job to earn money, actively helping you grocery shop (price comparison, etc.), doing service by visiting an elderly person or babysitting–these all help meet that need of interacting in the world outside of home.

Make sure that she is not just doing “school” at home, but that she is fully integrated into your life, that you are her friend, and that she is learning other skills as well. You are modeling to her what an adult woman does with her life all day long. She needs to be actively involved in doing laundry, baking bread or sewing (or whatever you do), helping plan and cook meals, serving those in need, taking care of little ones (if you have them), keeping her personal history (journal and/or scrapbook), reading the same book together or aloud with you and discussing it, learning to do mending, and more.

It doesn’t take too much to get kids motivated to do fun, enjoyable things! As far as motivation to finish a less desirable task, I think varying activities is a key element to staying happy working on anything, schoolwork included. When my daughter and I do her math together at the table, we take breaks every so often to read a story, do an art project, take a walk outside, stir up some muffins to bake, etc. Then we come back to it and work on it some more, but never to the grueling point. Breaking the task into smaller bite sized pieces (say 1/4 of the lesson), and doing just that much at each sitting can help too. I stay feel it is important to stay present, either working with her, or doing my own writing, or reading nearby while she does her schoolwork.

Seek for ways to learn that are fun and interesting. One thing I have done with math is to mount a huge chalkboard on the wall. (You could also paint a wall with chalkboard paint!). We do the math problems on the chalkboard, where it is much more fun to write big numbers, work out problems and draw diagrams! Another favorite is the chin up bar (just a wooden dowel and those round closet dowel end parts to slide into) across the top of a doorway, so that my kids can swing and chin-up while doing their memorizing. Just post the memory verse or poem on the wall nearby and ask them to recite while they swing–works great! I also use whatever is handy (dimes, legos, blocks, pencils, etc.) to demonstrate the math concept in a hands-on, visual way. Whatever the subject, I try to find videos, games, electronic educational toys, photo illustrated books, community events, museum trips, pictures, a fun internet site, audio recordings, and even willing people that have an expertise in some area to add spice to learning. In this way, there is seldom disinterest and need for motivating. I, myself, enjoy very much learning whatever the topic happens to be. You are never to old to have fun learning. But no one is old enough to sit through dry lectures, boring worksheets, dull textbooks, and other sleep inducing forms of learning.

Best success to you. Remember that you are doing the most important work that you could be involved in! Nothing is more vital than giving your child the strong, loving foundation of a caring environment where learning is considered delicious. Your efforts will have positive consequences far beyond your lifetime. Keep up the excellent effort! Your daughter is very fortunate!

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