It's the beginning of the school year here and I'm very interested in helping my kids get a lot done. Of course, I want them to do things that help them learn, but I also want them to do chores. I couldn't do what I do without their help. As a psychologist, I've always been keenly interested in motivation. I'll share what I've learned with you in a bit.
But first, I'd love to invite you to follow me on Pinterest. The exact URL is pinterest.com/melphd. If you have used Pinterest in the past couple of years, you know that it has changed and not necessarily for the better. When I searched for kitchen remodeling pins, for example, that's all I would see in my feed. That was disappointing to me because my favorite part of Pinterest wasn't just searching for specific things, but being presented with things that I wasn't looking for — a great new recipe, a cute outfit, an idea for fall decor. I'm excited to tell you that Pinterest has made it possible to experience that variety in what's called your feed once again. To make the change, click on Profile>Settings>Home Feed> and change “Picked for You” to No. I have an image to share with you.
Teaching Tip of the Week
is for parents of beginning readers (K through 2nd grade) who would like to teach their children Spanish. It's called Primary Spanish Made Easy, only the name is in Spanish. I won't make you cringe by trying to pronounce it. It teaches students over 100 Spanish vocabulary words, basic Spanish grammar, and both aural and Spanish speaking skills. Throughout each unit students will watch videos, complete simple worksheets, review with vocabulary cards, and play several fun Spanish games. The goal of Primary Spanish Made Easy is to provide an immersion environment during the early stages of learning.
The curriculum is intended to work alongside Salsa Spanish videos which are provided online for free by GPB Education. There are 88 lessons included in the curriculum which are intended to be completed every other day for a full-year plan. Each day’s session should only take a maximum of 20 minutes depending on the length of the video. It's just $19.99.
How to Help Your Homeschooler Get More Done
Now let's talk about how to help your homeschooler get more done. We can help our homeschoolers get more done physically, environmentally, psychologically, and spiritually.
First let’s talk about how we can help our homeschoolers get more done by supporting them physically. One of the most important things we can do for our kids to help them be more productive is to make sure they get enough sleep. Research tells us that without enough sleep, we will not only be cranky but we will have difficulty paying attention. That will certainly mean our children will be less productive. I don't have to tell a parent of a child with ADD that! 10-13 hours of sleep is recommended for preschoolers, 9-11 for school-aged children, and 8-10 for teens. Not only do our children need enough sleep, but they need consistent sleep patterns. That means we have them go to bed and wake up at the same basic times. That starts with consistent bedtime routines. Taking a bath or shower and reading in bed are a great way to prepare young bodies for sleep.
When kids wake up after getting adequate sleep, they need a good breakfast to do their best work. You’ve heard before that breakfast is a very important meal for all of us to have in order to be productive. But the type of breakfast is also important. Rather than only loading up on carbohydrates in the morning, which is honestly something that I tend to do, add protein to your child’s breakfast. Some options besides eggs and breakfast meats are protein shakes. My older boys are addicted to these. When they are home, you wouldn't believe how many bananas we go through! But you can add protein power to traditional carbohydrate-laden meals like pancakes or French toast. Peanut or another nut butter will also help.
The next way that we can support our children physically so that they can get more done is to make sure that we include exercise in their day. When we spend a lot of time sitting, we feel more sluggish. Research shows us that too much sitting can also take years off of our lives. In order to get the blood flowing to our children’s brains, we need to make sure that they are active. I have mentioned before my love for the app Move. It will remind you at specified intervals to do a one-minute exercise. Playing family games together is another painless way to add exercise. If you haven't played tag with your kids for a while, you'll be shocked by what a good workout it is. I've written before about our family's love for tennis. If that's not your thing, consider another family sport. But simply going for walks with your children is an excellent way for your for you to get steps in and for your children to get the blood flowing.
The second way we can help our homeschoolers get more done is by creating the right environment. Studies actually show what we know to be true. The more organized the environment, the more likely we are to get work done. If the workspace is a mess, we are likely to be sluggish in our work. When considering your child’s environment, make sure that the workspace is comfortable, well -it, and clear of distractions. You don’t want to just allow your child to tell you that they prefer to work in their bedroom. You want to ask them which environment actually allows them to get more done. You don't want to accept your child's argument that he can work with the TV on. Do some experimenting to verify that they get more done. You'll be teaching your child science at the same time.
We can also help our children to get more done by supporting them psychologically. One of the important ways that we can help keep our children motivated to get things done is by giving them breaks. We’ve already talked about the importance of exercise. Children need breaks, and so do moms– just to relax and recharge. Research that has been done in the workplace shows the importance of breaks for improving productivity. We take a one-hour lunch break and we have a snack break in the afternoon. But you can also give your child breaks by using Pomodoros. Have your child work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. Experiment with the times and see what works best. Depending on the age of your child, the work period may need to be shorter or longer.
We also support our children psychologically by giving them a big why. As mothers we would like our children just to obey us because we are their mothers. We would like them to work hard and get as much done as possible just because we said so. But children need a big why. If all we do is ask them to do more work so that we can give them even more work to complete, it’s no wonder they will not be excited about working quickly. Instead of just piling on more work when work is complete, we should give our children the opportunity to have free time to pursue their own interests. I believe this is one of the most powerful ways we have to motivate our kids to get more done.
We can also use checklists to motivate our children. They work for moms and they work for kids, too. I have spoken before about the quarterly checklist I used to motivate my children to finish their schoolwork for the year. It continues to work well for my children. But we can also give our kids daily checklists. I found a kids' checklist on Amazon that I’m going to be demonstrating on Facebook live this coming Thursday at 8 PM central time. I hope you will join me. But you can also create your own motivating checklist. If you use a daily checklist, just make sure that your checklist isn’t too long. Nothing is more demotivating than an overwhelming list that your child couldn’t possibly complete. We know this to be true in our own lives.
When you give your children checklists, there is another way that you can make them even more effective. First you can ask your child what they are looking forward to doing that day. This gets your child into a positive mindset. You will also get insight into your child by asking this question in the morning. If your child is looking forward to drawing, writing, or doing math, wonderful! But if she is looking forward to spending time with her friend later, that is also important information for you to use in motivating your child. It can be part of her why.
At the end of the day, ask your child what wins they had. If they’re like my children, they won’t have any idea what you’re talking about. So you can explain that you want to know what they feel proud of accomplishing that day. You will get them into the habit of feeling good about getting things done. The next question you can ask them at the end of the day is what will they do to improve the following day. If they’re like my kids, you are going to have to prompt them. “Well, you didn’t get your math done today. Maybe that could be something that you could work on improving tomorrow.”
When it comes to engaging your children in their work, there is nothing more powerful than social pressure. Having my children in a group class, whether that is a co-op class with their friends in my home or an outside class like the MrD math class my son is in, peer pressure can help your child achieve more. It likely won’t bother your child to tell you he didn’t get his paper done. But it will be embarrassing to him to have to admit that to an outside teacher or to his friends, who have done their work.
We have discussed how to help our homeschoolers get more done by supporting them physically, environmentally, and psychologically. But there is another aspect that is just as important. It’s spiritually. To support our children spiritually, we can ask them to memorize Scriptures having to do with diligence. We do this as a family using Memlok software. You could also have children write out diligence Scriptures. Finally, and most importantly, we can pray with and for our children. Struggles to be diligent simply point us to the truth that we cannot do anything of value in our own strength. Talk with your child about your own struggles to get things done. And ask your child to pray for you. Believe together that Jesus wants you to grow in this area.
As a mom I think it’s really important to end this episode with an encouragement to look at the big picture. I have seen many people– myself included– who have become more diligent and productive as they’ve matured. Your child is going to be much less productive as a six-year-old than he or she will be once they’re in college. Development really does have a lot to do with it. So don’t despair! Think about the improvements and productivity you’ve made over the years and allow your child to take the time he or she needs to improve as well.
Today's Action Steps
Follow me on Pinterest at Pinterest.com/melphd. Check out Primary Spanish Made Easy. Help your child get more done by making sure they get enough sleep at consistent times. Consider adding protein to your child's breakfast. Make regular exercise a part of your child's day, too. Create an environment that is conducive to productivity. Give your children a big why for getting more done. Try using a checklist and discussing the day's wins. Use the power of social pressure to motivate your child. Memorize diligence Scriptures with your children and remember to pray with and for your children. Keep the faith that one day your children will get more done.
This episode of the Homeschool Sanity Show is brought to you by Grammar Galaxy, fun language arts made easy.
The testimonial for Grammar Galaxy on today's episode is by Ana Willis of They Call Me Blessed.org.
Have a happy homeschool week!