When I potty trained my first son, I used treats and rewards for motivation. While rewards worked some of the time, the good old Cheerio in the potty was the best form of motivation.
Aiming at the Cheerio was fun and motivated him to work on a specific task.
Hitting the Cheerio gave my son a great sense of accomplishment because he did it all by himself and we made a really big deal about it. As homeschooling parents, we can motivate our children to learn in much the same way. Not by rewarding them but by allowing them to feel a sense of accomplishment and to seek out learning opportunities independently.
Know your child
Be observant, pay attention to the things that motivate and what squelches motivation. Just as we use different approaches to teach different children, in the same way what motivates one child might not motivate another. If you know the learning style that best suits your child, learning comes much more easily when the lesson makes sense. If your child doesn’t want to read or is having problems with comprehension, read to your child and encourage your child to read aloud to you. You will be amazed at how much more your child will grasp when he reads aloud to you. This is especially true for children unmotivated to read independently.
Expect your child to succeed, and chances are he will. Work with your child to set expectations, create goals and make a plan for the child to accomplish those goals. Give your child some choices and control of his learning. This will allow your child to do things independently and will challenge him and give him a sense of accomplishment.
We need to keep our emotions in check when teaching our children. I have tried to get my point across or “motivate” while frustrated or feeling anxiety with no success. Feeding our children negative emotions is counterproductive and will only make the child focus on our emotions and not on the task at hand. Unfortunately, our attitudes do rub off on our children. So stay positive and speak kindly but honestly.
Take baby steps
Break challenges down into smaller tasks. Your child will be proud of his work each step of the way without feeling overwhelmed or discouraged. Don’t forget to praise your child for each successful step he achieves too.
Focus on strengths
An easy way to motivate a child is to focus on his strengths. Encourage developing talents; if your child has a particular strength in math, find ways to nurture and expose him to more math.
Communicate and keep an open dialogue. Allowing your child to express his feelings and thoughts is necessary and beneficial. Ask your child questions. In order to figure out how to best motivate your child, ask him if a particular lesson is relevant, boring, challenging, difficult or easy.
Most importantly, turn everyday events into learning opportunities, a lifestyle of learning. Encourage your child to explore and ask questions. Motivated homeschoolers know that learning takes place everywhere. Always praise and encourage the child’s effort, determination and persistence as well as the actual accomplishment.