Loren Pinilis guest posts today. His blog keeps me focused on the one thing that really matters. I highly recommend pinning or saving his post for days when you’re overwhelmed by it all. I know I will be.
In the hustle of our modern world, no one has enough time. No one manages their time as well as they’d like. We read books, articles, and blog posts looking for that next tip or trick or system that will help us to be a little more productive.
But why do we have this anxiety? What are we really seeking?
If you dig deeply enough, I’m convinced we’re not anxious about how much we get done. We’re really concerned with how we feel.
We want to manage our time in such a way to avoid feelings of doubt, insecurity, and stress – while increasing our feelings of competence, worth, and success.
That’s what I want to focus on. Not the systems, but the mindset; not the tricks, but the perspective. Because if we’re honest, those answers are what we are truly chasing – those answers relieve our anxiety.
And for Christians, those answers are found by renewing our biblical worldview and connecting our faith to how we manage and think about our time.
Why are we so busy? Why do we load up our schedules with more, more, more?
The reason is because we’re seeking approval. We’re seeking to validate ourselves. We’re seeking to prove our worth.
We want to look in the mirror and feel great about who we are, and we want to receive praise and affection from others because of it.
But this is a harsh treadmill to jump on. We’re never quite where we want to be and are always fighting off impending feelings of failure.
Instead, as Christians, we have the solution – we just need to remember the truth. We already have God’s approval. We are beautifully created in his image. He loved us enough to die for us, and now when God looks at us He sees the righteousness of Christ.
Christ’s victory on the cross was so complete that no amount of work or busyness from us is going to make God love us any more or less. This allows us to breathe a sigh of relief – and for once, to truly relax.
Curing a Lack of Motivation
But when we truly grasp what God has done for us, our proper reaction is not one of passivity. We are now infused with new motivation, new gratitude, and a new fire in our lives.
Our love now propels us forward – not because we think we can repay God, but because it is our pleasure to serve Him. Our days now have meaning as we love God and love others.
Because we are forgiven and accepted in Christ, we are free to take risks. We’re free to be ambitious for God, to plan great things, and to fearlessly launch ourselves forward knowing we could fall flat on our face. The fear of failure loses its power.
Curing Unrealistic Expectations
Finally, the Bible allows us to break free from the tyranny of our own expectations and standards. God’s model of success is one based on stewardship: being faithful with what you have been given.
God understands we are limited, finite, created beings. He’s not going to expect us to do 36 hours of work in a 24-hour day. He knows we must sleep (He created us that way). He knows our capabilities. He knows our strengths and weaknesses.
Add to God’s supreme knowledge the reality of his supreme power: God controls everything. Every obstacle and obligation that comes our way is under the sovereign hand of God.
Knowing this, we can release ourselves to strive for the best that we can do – and leave the rest up to Him.
How do you think remembering these realities will change the way you live?
I keep hearing from moms whose kids don’t like to read or don’t read as much as their mothers hope. Why the concern?
The Problem With Kids Who Don’t Read
The main cause for concern with kids who would rather do anything else but read is that they won’t become proficient readers without enough time with their noses in books. Kids who can’t read well tend to do very poorly in life, no matter how you measure. That’s why literacy is a high priority for schools and it’s a high priority for homeschooling moms, too.
While there are audio and even visual Bibles, the most accessible way to take in God’s Word is to read it. As a Christian homeschooler, I hope that my children will have the reading skills they need to read the Bible and the will to read it, too, especially when they leave home. A lesser concern where reading is concerned is our desire to have adult children who read for pleasure. Reading is a great hobby that we want to pass on!
What if Your Child Would Rather Do Anything But Read?
Assess His Abilities
Most of the time, children who are reluctant to read find it challenging. Does your child have a visual impairment, attention deficits, or a learning disability that makes reading more work? Does she need to learn to read in a different way? My reluctant reader could not learn to read phonetically, though his three older siblings did. Once I let him learn to read using sight words (or a whole language approach), his reading took off. You may need an evaluation of your child, but read the rest of my suggestions first.
Ease Your Expectations
Because so much is riding on reading, we homeschoolers can overreact to any child who isn’t reading at grade level or just doesn’t like to read. I have heard numerous testimonies of children who were late readers but caught up with or exceeded their same age peers. I can tell you numerous similar stories of people who didn’t like to read as children, but are avid readers as adults. My husband, pictured above, is a great example. He seriously read Gone With the Wind just because he wanted to! When we are fearful, we can easily become impatient and even angry about reading. Our children pick up on our attitudes easily and soon you’re in a battle of wills or you’re dealing with a child who gives up because she feels she’s not a good reader.
Keep Reading to Your Child
I didn’t understand for a long time the incredible value of reading to children in terms of building a child’s reading skills. When you read books out loud that are above your child’s reading level, he is building a vocabulary that will enable his reading to take off when he’s developmentally ready. For example, if you read a word like appreciate out loud, even if your child doesn’t see the word, when she comes to it in a book one day, she’ll sound out uh-pr–appreciate. She will recognize the word easily from a few phonics and the context. Don’t have the time to read out loud as much as you’d like? Consider a Disney Interactive Books or Audible subscription so your child can be read to any time.
Make Reading Easy
Capstone Publishers has succeeded in large part because of its focus on creating high-interest, easy-to-read books–especially for boys. No longer are readers who are “behind grade level” saddled with baby books. There are easy-to-read books on nearly every subject. Graphic novels (like comic books in novel form) are particularly appealing to boys. Calvin and Hobbes (not a Capstone title) has gotten many a boy, including mine, to love reading. You can find this book and Capstone titles at a library near you. I recommend giving your child a book at or below his reading level and telling him, “I’m not sure if this is too difficult for you or not. Let me know, okay, and I’ll find one that’s easier.” What this does is help your child save face if it is in fact too hard, but more likely your child will be thrilled to tell you that it’s soooo easy to read! When your child’s confidence is up, motivating her is easy, too.
Make Reading Rewarding
There are lots of great ways to make reading fun. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Keep a steady supply of new books coming into your home. I’m married to a book salesman and new boxes of books are a source of Christmas-like excitement. You can create that kind of environment by regularly getting books from the library, Goodwill, or Paperbackswap. Ask any school librarian and she will tell you that she has to keep a steady supply of new books on the shelves to appeal to reluctant readers.
- Offer a reward. My husband has often offered a shake for a certain number of books read. Lots of reading goes on at those times. While you wouldn’t want your child to expect a treat every time he reads, an occasional reward will help him see reading as the real reward.
- Connect books to movies or games. Whether you offer to let your child see the movie version or play the related video game of a book before or after reading the book, this multimedia approach has been proven to promote reading.
- Let your child express his creativity around a book. My kids love to dramatize books for the family. Your child may enjoy doing show and tell about her favorite book, drawing pictures to go with it, or competing in a quiz bowl with a sibling who has read the same book.
Have you been able to motivate a reluctant reader? What worked?
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!
I think I have tried just about everything to teach my kids their math facts–flash cards, repetitive curriculum, electronics, games, pictures, and software. The problem isn’t so much teaching them as it is the kids retaining them.
While I am happy with my current math curriculum, I decided to give Learn Math Fast a try. The basic setup for book one is:
- Teaching using money
- A worksheet on the facts
- A timed test on the facts
Competition Can Motivate
My children are competitive. While I know many homeschoolers aren’t wild about competition, I have seen the value of it in teaching–even when the only way you are competing is with yourself.
I time each of the kids with my iPhone (it’s my version of a Swiss Army knife). They know when their siblings have completed the test under the time limit. They also know how much time they have to shave off to come in under the time limit set in the book.
Rewards Can Motivate
Yep! Learning is self-motivating, but offering my kids a small reward for passing the timed test has them begging me to learn their math facts. Not even the math video games they’ve played have had that effect. The combination of competition and rewards has been a winner for me.
My kindergartner and second grader know their addition and subtraction facts cold. The upper elementary kids are making progress on multiplication and division. I expect them to really get them down when their younger siblings start learning them.
When it comes to motivating kids, timed tests, competitions, and rewards can be very effective!
Do you want to give Learn Math Fast a try or could you get the same results using your current curriculum or flash cards? Do you have any tried-and-true tips?
Through 12/5/15, get $5 off one book using code JUST1BOOK or $20 off the 7-book set with code ALL7BOOKS at LearnMathFast
The freedom to homeschool our children is a gift. But sometimes I’ve been disappointed with this gift. How about you?
I have been certain that my homeschooled children would:
- Have no difficulty learning
- Be motivated to complete school each day
- Take pride in cleaning and caring for their belongings
- Be ahead of their same-age peers academically
- Have a strong faith
- Not be peer dependent, but Christian leaders
- Would get along
- Agree with me and my husband politically and spiritually
- Not engage in immoral behavior
- Be respectful and first-time obedient, especially in others’ presence
- Always want to be homeschooled
- Not want to date until they were ready to get married
- Be capable of adult responsibilities by age 12
- Not want to go to a secular college far away
To summarize, I expected my children not to behave like “other children” and to make me look good. Go ahead and laugh. You already know that my expectations are ridiculous because we can always see the problem with others’ attitudes. Our own unreasonable expectations are another story.
After more than twelve years of homeschooling and the opportunity to witness the disappointment of many dedicated, godly homeschooling parents, I now know that our children aren’t the problem–our expectations are. Invariably, when new homeschoolers ask me about their children’s lack of motivation, I discover unreasonable expectations at the source of it.
When we lay our homeschool hopes and dreams on God’s altar, we discover that we love the gift God has given us in homeschooling. Little Johnny may not be the most focused student, but he is really, really funny. Teenage Susie may not see things the way you do, but she will not be brainwashed by anyone. The kids may not be making you look good in the world’s eyes, but God thinks they’re making you look a lot more like Jesus. And that’s exactly what I wanted. How about you?
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27
I was recently asked how I was able to write for Woman’s Day magazine and thought many would-be writers might have the same question.
While I’ve always been a writer, once I was in the midst of diaper changes and a very part-time clinical practice, I didn’t think my dreams of being published could be fulfilled. While I am far from being a full-time freelance writer, I have enjoyed seeing my work in print and have even enjoyed getting paid to do something I love.
I’m not going to give you the standard advice about perusing The Writer’s Market guide or the The Christian Writer’s Market guide and then sending off good query letters. I’m not going to do that because that isn’t how I was published. That certainly isn’t to say that it’s a pointless approach; it isn’t. It just so happens that I spent hours fantasizing about which periodicals and publishing houses I would send my work to, but never did. I understand from other writers that pursuing publication in this way can be both rewarding (a presenter at a writer’s conference I attended was making over $100,00 a year as a freelancer) and frustrating (with long wait times and lots of rejection).
I’m going to tell you the atypical way I was able to get published because I believe it can work for you, too.
Let People Know You Want to Write. In my first job as a psychologist, I made sure to let our clinic supervisor know that if there were writing or speaking opportunities, I wanted them. Tell your pastor, workplace, organization, or municipality that you’d be glad to write for their newsletters, blogs, and more. I’m not talking about knocking yourself out to put “writer” on LinkedIn or marketing yourself aggressively. Simply mention it!
Write What You Know. We often try to write what we think will sell, rather than what we know. To get published, start by writing the information others ask you for. Because I was a psychologist, I was often asked for information on a host of relationship and mental health issues. My church was the first to ask me to write for them. Without any action on my part, a parachurch organization asked me to write an article for its family newsletter. Are people asking you how you make delicious homemade bread, stay so fit, or organize big events? Write about it.
Give it Away. I wasn’t paid anything for my work for quite some time. Honestly, seeing my published work was payment enough! Share your writing with others for free and let it be reprinted without charge. Early on, you want as many people to have your name in front of them as possible. The combination of these three steps led to my being hired to write booklets for another parachurch ministry. I was well paid and rewarded by seeing my work in our pastor friend’s office in another state.
Write in Love. The reason I was able to write for Woman’s Day, a magazine with a circulation of 6 million at the time, was because I responded to a request for nominations of women who make a difference in their community. My nominee was selected as a winner and I was invited to New York to meet the editors of the magazine as well as the First Lady who would be giving the award. My friend, Deb, was able to write for Woman’s Day after responding to their online request for bloggers on The Happiness Project–an idea she loved. She also responded to a request for bloggers by her favorite store and is now a regular HomeGoods contributor. Respond to and write about people and organizations you love and you may end up published, too!
Pray for Publication. If the Lord wants you to be published, He will make a way. When I learned I would be meeting with the editors of Woman’s Day, I prayed about a topic idea. Immediately, I thought of FLYLady (the online organizing system I was using at the time), but she hadn’t responded to an email I’d sent her. I prayed about it and that day, Marla Cilley emailed me back. I was able to pitch the idea to an editor and received a rewarding contract several weeks later.
I believe publication is possible for any aspiring writer no matter the competition, the changing nature of periodicals, or the writer’s season of life. Do you have other suggestions for aspiring freelancers?