Thursday, September 8, 2011

How To Get Those Kiddie Engines Running in the Morning

On any given day, my children will decide that school is just not for them, they don't feel like it, or they just dawdle and delay the start of their day.  I used to try nagging, threats of not finishing their work in time to play in the afternoon and all sorts of ineffective frustrating methods and then I changed.  The emphasis being on me.  Now I am NOT implying that we should pander to our children's wants and wills but with just a few shifts and changes, you can change the momentum and atmosphere of any homeschooling day.

1.  Change the order
I like to have a similar pattern on every day so that the children know what they are supposed to be doing.  Maths first, Mandarin next, English etc.  But just as much as we get bored doing the same ol' things every day, so do they.  As the saying goes, a change is as good as a holiday.  So I swing things around, do the fun stuff first like experiments, read alouds/ literature, computer/Internet research, cooking etc.  They love it, suddenly the classroom comes alive.  Though don't dress your boys up in flower aprons as you never know who might see them:)

2.  Get Out and About
We have a fairly busy program when it comes to sports and outdoor activities but its always at the end of the day.  If you are finding that they are not able to concentrate or sit still - why not go for a run on the beach, go to the gym (we belong to Virgin and they have wonderful facilities available for the children), do some gardening and teach them about planting, seeds, sun and insects and while you do this take a magnifying glass and let them just walk around looking and exploring.

3.  Schedule an unexpected excursion
This doesn't have to be for the whole day either.  Remember we are trying to change the learning atmosphere not give them a day off.  Go to somewhere local like a museum or even the library.  You can even just take out books on the subject you are currently working through and let them look at the pictures.  They will soon be asking questions and reading without any effort on your part.

4.  Read, read, read
Reading living books is learning.  So often we fall into the trap that learning has to be done in a specific way, usually with lots of writing, diagrams and theory.  Read to them, get them to read to each other, read to you.  All of these help to improve their comprehension and skill which will have an impact on every subject!

5.  Have rewards in your back pocket
Have a mini competition for the first person to finish something.  In our house, our children are VERY competitive and so this always works but be careful - this could also derail as we have had situations where there have been tears when someone has lost.  We have tried to create goals for specific children.  For example if the youngest finishes his Maths in 10 minutes - he gets rewarded, the eldest in 30 minutes etc. This way they are competing against themselves.  You can't do this too often as the thrill of the competition quickly wears off but can be used occasionally.

6.  Pray
I have found that this often settles the children.  God is good and faithful and when we come together as a family and ask Him to help - He does.  Ask for wisdom to know how to manage them.

7.  Take a Break
Maybe they just need a breather. Make them some rooibos tea, give them a snack.  They also have their moments where they need some extra attention.

8.  Try an Educational Video
Let me just clarify that an educational video is NOT teletubbies or the Gadget show on Discovery.  What I am talking about are videos that are rich in content and appeal.  We have watched a few of them like Wild China , National Geographic, David Attenborough (bearing in mind that I sit with them making sure that what is being taught is in line with our beliefs and value systems especially with regards to evolutionary references).  I don't plonk them in front of the telly and then leave them there while I get on with blogging or emails - this is a learning opportunity for all of us!

9.  Move them to a Different Environment
Sometimes my boys lie in bed and do work.  Yes! Can you imagine? Shocking isn't it? But when its cold and they are working - what's the problem?  Surely if they are learning you are not losing.  I don't let them hand in sloppy work but giving them a different space to work in also helps.

Hopefully some of these ideas will help you. How do you get your children going when they really don't feel like learning?  I would love to hear your thoughts and hopefully pick up some more tips.

Don't forget to sign up for our Webinar on Saturday - we look forward to chatting to you!


  1. These are great ideas! Thanks for linking up at The Modest Mom!

  2. Thanks Caroline, took a while to get the linky thing on my site, but on now!

  3. We're not quite at the book-work stage yet as fairly new parents (our oldest just turned two), but as a homeschool graduate myself, I know your list works because my mom implemented similar ideas with us! Our favorite was #9. We knew we'd have to go back to our desks if our work didn't get finished, so we worked EXTRA hard when sitting outside on the pool deck with our toes in the water. ;-)

  4. You are so right Jacinda. Funny how children get so motivated over things that we don't consider important:)


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