Thursday September 21, 2006

How do you motivate your children to learn?  Now that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?  When our children our young, they are quite often motivated simply by their own desire to learn.  They are fascinated by the world around them and eagerly enjoy any activity that can tell them why or how something works.

Sometimes learning is difficult for a child.  My twelve year old was a late reader. The skills necessary to read did not come naturally to him.  He was motivated.  He wanted to read – but he couldn’t.  Keeping him motivated to learn during those years was important.  We were able to use all sorts of different things to keep him learning and loving it – reading aloud to him, allowing him to watch the wonderful Moody science videos, and lots and lots of hands on learning experiences.  Because he was still motivated to learn by being provided with alternatives to reading, he learned a lot.  By the time phonics “clicked” for him, he was quickly able to make up the lost time and was soon reading at adult level.  He was able to make up for lost time because we kept him motivated to keep learning.

As our children mature, we have the unique opportunity, as parents, to be able to look for areas of interest or giftedness and then help our children to grow in those areas.  By educating to their interests or areas of giftedness we can keep them motivated.  And a motivated student learns quickly and painlessly.  Notice I didn’t say effortlessly, but the effort doesn’t produce pain when they are motivated!

I’m not saying that we should teach entirely to their interests and abilities. Nope, not at all.  My twelve year old has NO interest in learning math right now, and it is definitely not an area of giftedness for him either.  He has to have some level of proficiency in math, though, to be able to one day support a family.  So it’s my job to help motivate him to learn math.  If I knew, for example, that he had a burning desire to build a fort in our orchard, I could explain to him how his math skills could be applied to that project.  If I knew that he desperately wanted to be a police officer like his dad (which he does!),  I could explain to him the math skills that are necessary to secure a position in law enforcement.

For right now, though, I am motivating both of my boys with more “meaty” stuff.  Right now we are in the midst of learning submission to authorities, and that some things in life are necessary even though they are unpleasant (or maybe even distasteful).  Motivation in our household right now is based upon what is pleasing to God.  It’s pleasing to God for children to be in obedience to their parents.  It’s pleasing to God that we obey without whining or complaining, even if we’re being told to do our math lesson.  While I want my boys to be well educated so that they can one day become husbands and fathers and be able to support their families, I even more want to see them secured for eternity.  By submitting themselves to God, through their parents, they are learning to walk the narrow path. This is what I want to motivate them to do more than anything else!

We have this silly black lab mix named Dixie.  She is, without a doubt, the smartest dog we’ve ever owned.  She even tattles on my boys!!  I kid you not! When they are misbehaving, she has a special bark.  When I hear that bark, I always scream yell holler call out sweetly, “Boys! What’s going on?”.

She also knows how to open the sliding screen door in the school room.  She lets herself out when she wants to go out to check on the sheep or to see what the boys are up to, and she lets herself back in when she wants to be with us (which is all the time).  She learned how to open that sliding screen all by herself.  We have tried and tried, in vain I might add, to teach her to close it behind her.  She can do it, but she won’t. Why?  She’s not motivated.  She’s motivated to OPEN the door because she wants what’s on the other side.  Once she’s on the other side, though, there is no motivation to turn around and close the door behind her.

You see my point?  I want my children not only motivated to open the doors that will lead them to a closer walk with God, but I also want them to WANT to open those doors.   I also want to motivate them to turn around and close doors behind them.  I want them to close the door to sin.  I want them to close the door to temptation.  That’s what I’m motivating with these days.  It’s hard for me, though, and it just doesn’t come naturally.  Which has motivated me to learn more myself!

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!

bouquetf18 Remember to pray for Karen:

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3 comments to Thursday September 21, 2006

  • Hi!  This is Mary T. from I’m just trying to manuveur my way through being able to leave comments on your wonderful blog.  Thanks for visiting mine and be encouraged to get those knitting needles clicking.  Socks can be very therapeutic when the world seems to be hustling by too fast.

  • Great post. I have found the “motivation” for my oldest ds. Its dd I need to work on. She likes Barbie princesses, and Disney princesses, Brats and other girly things….hmmmm….

    This video is too cute! What a clever doggie you have. 🙂 Give her a good scratch behind the ears from me for being such a smart girlie. My doggie “friends” all know I am good for a scratch or two every time they see me. LOL

  • “scream yell holler call out sweetly, “Boys! What’s going on?”

    That was funny..hehehe.
    This was a great post. You have given me lots to think about.
    Loved the cute video!