Help for the Unmotivated Homeschooler

Help for the Unmotivated Homeschooler

Help for the unmotivated homeschooler

I received an email from an unmotivated homeschooler this week and with her permission, I am posting it here in the desire to encourage other home educators who are in the same place and to solicit even more great feedback from you veterans.

I came across your website tonight while doing a google search… yep, I googled, “What if I love the idea of homeschooling, but I’m really not cut out for it?” I’ve been trying to do it for almost 5 school years now. My first son took two years for kindergarten because I got sick (and lazy), my second son is special needs – on the autism spectrum somewhere, and my third school-age child is my first daughter in Kindergarten, and I have a 2 year old.

My point is that I’m at that place where I really think I’m doing an injustice to them by keeping them home. I’m not getting things done, they’re lazy and it’s most likely because they see it in me. There’s a lot that goes into that, but the question remains… how do you DO what you know you need to do? How do you kick yourself in the tuckus so to speak to get the job done? I know what my calling is and what is expected of me, but I’m really struggling in getting it done…thanks for any advice.

An Unmotivated Homeschooler

I had some thoughts, but I took the issue to my Homeschool Homies (HH) and here is what we have to share with her:

  • Check your expectations. One of my HHs suggested that if you took two years to do kindergarten, you might be expecting way too much. Kindergarten should be a gentle introduction to math, reading, and learning in general. There are few reasons to hold your child back in kindergarten, though you can continue to work on skills at his level. In other words, are you really lazy, or do you expect to do more than is reasonable? Unreasonable expectations lead to overwhelm which can in turn lead to feeling unable to start.
  • Do less. When you feel like you aren’t doing much, this seems like crazy advice, but having less to do helps you do more. One HH swears by taking time to train her children to do household chores like laundry and cooking. When my children were younger, I had a housekeeper come in once every two weeks. Both strategies can free you up to spend more time teaching. Next, simplify your schooling. Set aside time-consuming, activity-heavy curriculums and do the essentials (some Bible, math, reading, and some language arts instruction–maybe some handwriting practice). Subjects like history, science, and geography do not have to be done every day and can be simply reading a great book in that subject area.
  • Get accountability. Being a home educator is tough for many reasons, but perhaps the biggest is we have no one overseeing our work and giving us feedback (at least in most states). Ask your husband to hold you accountable, join or start a co-op requiring preparation every week, and/or find an accountability partner. Ask an experienced homeschooler to look over what you hope to accomplish in an average day or week and let her tell you if it’s reasonable. Once you have a reasonable plan, have an accountability check-in each day or week. I use a website called idonethis.com and when I reply to it each evening with a list of accomplishments, I cc my accountability partner. Agree with your partner that if you haven’t met a minimum standard in a certain time period, that you should send your children to school.
  • Get support. My HHs agreed that you have a lot to handle at this stage of your homeschooling. If you don’t get together with other homeschoolers in person or online on a regular basis, may I suggest that you do so ASAP? This is a very difficult calling and we need our HHs to cheer us on. I dont know what I would do without the time to talk, laugh, and cry with my HSing pals. I really like the Hip Homeschool Moms FB page for asking questions and getting support. You may also want to consider programs that can support your homeschooling. From enrollment in online schools where all the teaching and grading are done for you to day programs and classes, you will find that you really don’t have to do it all!

I also asked my HHs how they get things done that they’re reluctant to do. Here is what they said:

I just do it. If it has to be done…

That might seem unreasonable, but sometimes we obsess over a task ten times longer than it would take to just do it. Just doing it may be setting a timer and doing it for a minimum time and then being allowed to stop. Your children will respond well to this, too.

I give myself a reward. If we get a lot of school done one day, we might go to the park the next.

One of the biggest reasons we homeschool moms get stuck doing things that aren’t school-focused is we don’t give ourselves guilt-free time. Make sure you have some every single day. Whether your older child plays with the younger while you surf the web for half an hour, you pay a sitter to come give you time away once a week, or your husband takes over at scheduled times, you will find yourself refreshed and ready to homeschool once again.

I pray about it.

Love this one. We are doing something great for the glory of God. Why would we expect it to be easy or to do it alone? God is there to help us and will certainly equip us for the work He has called us to do. My Homeschool Homies and I are praying for you!

for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. – Philippians 2:13

P.S. Treat your homeschooling like a career. Develop habits and a routine (FLYLady is wonderful inspiration) or a schedule (Managers of Their Homes is excellent). Build in break times that coincide with times you’re tired. Give yourself credit for what you DO do, rather than what you don’t.

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest for plenty of motivating ideas.

Do you have any other suggestions for our Unmotivated Homeschooler? Are you an unmotivated homeschooler who needs advice or prayer? Just ask!

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High Score House Scores Well With Chores

High Score House Scores Well With Chores

I believe I have tried just about every chore system ever devised. My current system of having morning and evening chores that rotate daily has lasted the longest. But the kids and I seem to thrive on change. So when a friend sent me a link to High Score House, a free online chore manager, I thought I would give it a try.

I’ve tried computer or iPad-based chore systems before, but when you have six kids and one computer, it just creates computerized chaos. But we now have multiple computers and several Apple devices that can use the High Score House website or app. I’ve been having some difficulty with logins on other computers, so we still have some conflict over whose turn it is to check off chores, but I’ve alerted the site developer and I’m hopeful the problem will be resolved.

Here’s what I love about High Score House.

  • First, the website and apps are FREE! Their website mentions that they will have some paid add-ons in the future. But you’re only risking a little time in using it now.
  • Second, I have an easy way to check to see what’s supposed to be done. I look at the iPhone app and I can not only see which chores each child was supposed to do, but the school subjects as well. That has been a serious problem for me. Each child has his or her schedule of chores and homework to complete, but it entailed a lot of page flipping to see what was supposed to be done on a given day. Often, it was just too much trouble to check.
  • Third, the system takes very little time to use. With other systems, being late in approving chores was a big problem. That isn’t the case at all with High Score House. I can see “old tasks” for each child. I can also approve everything a child marked as complete with one click or touch.
  • Fourth, rewards can be added that appeal to every child. I added a number of rewards like stay up an hour later, get ice cream, and choose dinner that I knew they would like, but I’ve asked them for their ideas, too. They keep coming up with them. Kids can choose which rewards to work toward and can see their progress.
  • Finally, I love High Score House because the kids are motivated to do additional unscheduled tasks. In fact, the kids have been fighting for the chance to sharpen pencils and organize movies into cases! I have plans to add additional tasks like putting game pieces back into boxes and even scanning photos.

As of January, 2012 there are some changes I am hoping to see with the program, too.

  • First, I hope they add more chore icons. They have some good ones now, but more would be great.
  • Second, I would like the kids to be able to collect their star points with one click. They seem to have to collect them individually, which is somewhat rewarding for them, but creates a line at the computer.
  • Third, I hope some of the bugs get worked out. I need to be able to login without using a Facebook account. When my son clicks on the star for the workout task (yes, that’s in there, too!), it locks up the whole website. We’ve used a different icon in the meantime.
  • Fourth, I would love to be able to see all my kids’ activities for a given day so I can quickly approve tasks without going in and out of menus. That’s an issue when you have six kids!
  • Fifth, I would have had an easier time entering chores if I could have entered it once and then clicked on the days and times each child was to do it. Currently, you can only specify that more than one person is to do a chore on the same day and time.
  • Sixth, my kids have requested that they be able to pool stars to get one reward. That isn’t a huge issue as I’ve explained they could use their stars for a cash reward that they could pool.
  • Finally, I would love to see some kind of motivating chart or calendar so kids can see how they’re doing over time.

Overall, High Score House is a great, free motivational tool that can be of benefit to homeschoolers. I haven’t been asked to review it, nor have I received anything for doing so. If you try it, let me know what you think! Are there other systems that work better for your family?

 

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