Spicing up the home school motivation…

End of holidays. Back to work. Back to schools. Or not back to school if you are home educating.

I’ve realised that home educating is just the same as any type of working at home. People tend to think that you, or the kids, are having an easy life, sitting comfortably drinking tea, baking biscuits and hiding away from the tough touch of a real world.

Yet it’s the opposite that’s really true. It’s bloody tough – tough because everything; motivation, drive, energy, inspiration, has to come from you. There’s no boss or teacher whose eagle eye is keeping you motivated, no colleagues or peers to give you a cheery good morning and pull you round. Sometimes not even any pay or payback to make it worth it!

Anyone who has worked at home or home schooled will understand how extremely hard it is cranking up again after time off. Forging your own route is akin to forging metal; it takes a lot of energy to stoke the hot fire of motivation and a lot of hard work hammering things into shape.

When we were home schooling, cranking up the children’s motivation after Christmas felt like cycling a rusty bike through deep mud sometimes. We had to be inventive. But there’s nothing like a new year to set intentions.

Intentions for the day really helped. It brought focus. It gave something to work towards. And a sense of achievement afterwards. And some of the strategies I used for the kids still work for me now, working at home, and I see the children using them for themselves now they’ve grown beyond home education and lead their own lives.

We used to discuss intentions for the day, made lists and set targets. ‘Targets’ is a horrible word because of the destructive associations with school, but don’t let that put you off, they’re a really useful concept. We’d maybe set a work target to achieve then plan a swimming trip afterwards. A work task completed could earn some gaming time later perhaps.

Small tasks that are achievable give children a sense of success and of being in charge. A specific target to complete motivates better than setting a time target (say an hour’s maths) because kids can so easily procrastinate and waste it and don’t see what they’ve accomplished so easily. Their accomplishments are their payback.

It also helped to make the activities variable. A sedentary task follow a more active one. Study followed by a practical activity. Or working on our own followed by a social activity. Contrast helped to keep the children fresh and active pursuits stimulate them much more than academic ones. It helped to keep me fresh too. Contrast is the spice of a day. I still practise that now and so do the children. Holidays wouldn’t be nearly so nice without the contrast of work in between.

So, having sat writing this indoors in the warm I’m now going to add some spice to my day and take a break by going for a walk in the freezing gales just like I made the kids do too. They really appreciated it once they got back!

What do you do to spice up your motivation and get back into work mode again? Perhaps you’d like to leave a comment with your tips for others.


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