How can I motivate my children to study?

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    Elizabeth Gallaher

    I find I have trouble catching my children engaging in positive behavior.  I suppose it's easier for me to notice bad behavior than cheerful compliance, as the former is disruptive and the latter just flows into a well-ordered day.  

    Do you have ways to remain mindful of catching the kids doing good things, other than completion of assignments?  I am thinking of encouraging them to nominate siblings for rewards based on particularly positive actions or attitudes they noticed that I may not have.  First, I'm trying to imagine all the ways -- good and bad -- this could play out.  

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    William Michael

    This is part of a bigger problem in home-schooling that I always talk about. If a public school student takes a class trip to the local grocery store (as I did in 5th grade), he gets school attendance credit, assignment credits, take-home souvenirs, coupons, etc.. If a home school daughter assists her mother in the actual work of grocery-shopping, she gets NOTHING.  This is simply not fair--and home schooling parents need to find ways to not only reward children who do good, but develop ways of turning all of these activities our kids do into school activities/assignments.  That's what modern school teachers do, after all.  

    "On Tuesday, we're going to watch Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and students will complete a set of comprehension questions while they watch the film."  School/class attendance credit?  British Literature study credit?  Check.  World history study credit?  Check.  Home-school kids may do this on any random night...minus the comprehension questions...and get NOTHING for it, academically speaking.  When they hear school kids talking about all of the stuff they do at school, they feel like toothless hillbillies because of how their activities are considered from an academic perspective.

    This is why parents who home school have to take the SCHOOL part more seriously and give their children credit for everything their kids do in the way that modern schools are giving kids credit for what they do.  It's part of a bigger problem in home-schooling, I think...and establishing a points and rewards system is a beginning to the formalization of home-schooling.

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    Kati Serio

    We implemented a points reward system a few weeks ago and my how the behavior and household has changed for the better! The kids have a clearer sense of what's expected and I have a clearer (consistent) way to discipline and reward. They get points for morning and evening chores, lessons done, good table manners...all with a good attitude...and misc things that my husband or I notice. Their rewards come from a small list and different rewards "cost" different points. Rewards that work well for us so are playing a game/drawing on the tablet, watching a short episode of "puffin rock" on the tablet (Netflix), getting to choose a new book from a stash I keep and "camping" out in the living room. Our children are <6 so these things may not work as well for older children.
    Also since we live in a state that has more rules about homeschooling, I'm learning to count a lot of the kids daily routine as "school". Keeping an organized planner has really helped me put those things into words and quantify them for reward points.
    Thank you so much for this article!

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    Rebecca Kranz

    Because of your recommendation, we implemented a point system similar to this in our home a couple of years ago and it works fantastic!


    I am wondering: you note at the beginning this system is for children "under 12."  I am wondering if you have alternate suggestions for children older, or if the expectations are simply higher for them to work with less external motivation?



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    William Michael

    Well, when kids get into their teens, their habits should be pretty well established and their vocations or occupations emerge based on their personalities, achievements, interests, etc.  As they get to their upper teens, they begin to experience the fulfillment of the promises and threats their parents made to them when they were younger, and they have bigger rewards and penalties to worry about.  Those early years are crucial and when we see this "unschooling" movement and parents bragging about how they have their "home schooling" done by lunch time, that's where we're going to see some ugly teenage issues.  The goal is to avoid them, not become experts in dealing with miserable teenagers.

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    Tessa D

    What method do you use to keep track of points?  This is where my system usually breaks down because it gets time-consuming for me, and I know it shouldn't be.


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