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How do you motivate a reluctant learner?


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My 7 yo dd is very reluctant to do any kind of afterschooling. She's in grade 2 and is doing well in academics. She's a social butterfly, very creative, and would prefer to draw and colour in, rather than do any after school work.

 

Often I have to resort to banning her online games time or not paying her for her chores to get her to act. I don't really like this tug of war and I was hoping that you can share what you use to motivate your own reluctant learner.

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I'd either homeschool or send her to school. She's seven. No amount of external motivation, even if successful, is worth spending more than 8 hours a day in a school frame of mind.

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My 7 yo dd is very reluctant to do any kind of afterschooling. She's in grade 2 and is doing well in academics. She's a social butterfly, very creative, and would prefer to draw and colour in, rather than do any after school work.

 

Often I have to resort to banning her online games time or not paying her for her chores to get her to act. I don't really like this tug of war and I was hoping that you can share what you use to motivate your own reluctant learner.

Wait, there's an agreement in place that she's paid for chores, but you don't pay her even though she does them to """motivate""" her to do more school after she's been at school all day where, in your words, she is doing very well?

 

Dude.

 

That's a recipe for resentment and a shut-down.

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At age 7 after a long day at school, I would make sure that I didn't attempt anything until there was at least an hour play, some of it active.  Also, keep it short and focused.  You can make it a bit more fun and interactive by using colored markers on a white board, letting her do the extra work in colored pencil, etc.  

 

Also, games that are well designed can be useful, for example, my phonics concentration game is almost as efficient as word lists and a lot more fun:

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Phonics/concentrationgam.html

 

Right start math games are also educational and fun:

 

http://store.rightstartmath.com/math-card-games-kit/

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My 7 yo dd is very reluctant to do any kind of afterschooling. She's in grade 2 and is doing well in academics. She's a social butterfly, very creative, and would prefer to draw and colour in, rather than do any after school work.

 

Often I have to resort to banning her online games time or not paying her for her chores to get her to act. I don't really like this tug of war and I was hoping that you can share what you use to motivate your own reluctant learner.

 

But she's already been learning all.day.long. That she wants to be a child and play when she gets home does not mean she's a "reluctant learner;" it means she is d.o.n.e.

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School can't prepare us for everything. That's why I do afterschooling.

 

My kids spend 6 hours at public school and do about 20-30 min of mindless homework each week tops.

 

Kids will spend 4-5 hours of "free play" time PER DAY in front of the xbox, on online gaming, chat sites, youtube or watching TV... Sorry that's not what I want for my kids.

 

Afterschooling isn't confined to worksheets and countless drills

 

Afterschooling can be anything from learning maths with Miquon, buiding houses with rods and lego, bedtime read alouds, playing family games or reading LoF. Chores teaches a child about financial literacy and the value of work and life balance. It's time spent learning to swim, digging around in the garden and learning life science, going to art classes and learning to paint and draw.

 

Afterschooling teaches a child to value what's important, to be self-disciplined and to invest time learning skills for their own development and happiness. 

 

In short, afterschooling is about bridging the gap that my kids aren't getting at school. Its about time spent developing their minds, skills and talents to their fullest potential.

 

 

 

But she's already been learning all.day.long. That she wants to be a child and play when she gets home does not mean she's a "reluctant learner;" it means she is d.o.n.e.

 

Wait, there's an agreement in place that she's paid for chores, but you don't pay her even though she does them to """motivate""" her to do more school after she's been at school all day where, in your words, she is doing very well?

Dude.

That's a recipe for resentment and a shut-down.

 

Thanks Elizabeth, I'm already looking into RS Games as supplements.

 

At age 7 after a long day at school, I would make sure that I didn't attempt anything until there was at least an hour play, some of it active.  Also, keep it short and focused.  You can make it a bit more fun and interactive by using colored markers on a white board, letting her do the extra work in colored pencil, etc.  

 

Also, games that are well designed can be useful, for example, my phonics concentration game is almost as efficient as word lists and a lot more fun:

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Phonics/concentrationgam.html

 

Right start math games are also educational and fun:

 

http://store.rightstartmath.com/math-card-games-kit/

 

Edited by EngOZ
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And to be clear, this stuff:

 

"buiding houses with rods and lego, bedtime read alouds, playing family games or reading LoF. [...] It's time spent learning to swim, digging around in the garden and learning life science, going to art classes and learning to paint and draw."

 

... Is what you're taking promised chore money away, to get done?

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My 7 yo dd is very reluctant to do any kind of afterschooling. She's in grade 2 and is doing well in academics. She's a social butterfly, very creative, and would prefer to draw and colour in, rather than do any after school work.

 

Sounds your daughter is *telling* you where her interests/passions lie (creativity / art). :)

 

And since it sounds like she is doing well in academics, it doesn't seem like there is a strong need for more formal after-schooling types of school work like Miquon and Life of Fred and financial literary programs.

 

Instead, why not encourage her with creative ways of learning -- having materials available for her to explore her artistic and creative interests; do some baking and cake decorating together. Do "after schooling" that actively nurtures her interests and re-charges her.

 

Since she's extraverted and social, why not plan to have your home be the "fun house" for her to bring friends home several times a week, and enjoy imaginative play (dress up with historical costumes or re-creating scenes from favorite read-alouds), making forts, doing fun engineering challenges together with her friends, playing board games and card games with friends, etc.

 

Doing those things, rather than more formal after-schooling work, may very well be what what re-charges her "brain battery" energy and allows her the time and ability to explore and learn in all the ways that formal school can't teach -- in contrast, doing additional formal school programs at home in the afternoons/evenings could actually end up back-firing, and cause her to burn out on academics or begin to actively resent school.

 

She may be having to expend the majority of her "academics" concentration in the hours a day at school doing academics in a way that may not be her strength or natural learning style. That can use up a LOT of a child's "brain battery" energy level, so that by the time the child gets home, the child really doesn't have a lot of that type of concentration and thinking left. 

 

 

...Afterschooling teaches a child to value what's important, to be self-disciplined and to invest time learning skills for their own development and happiness. 

 

In short, afterschooling is about bridging the gap that my kids aren't getting at school. Its about time spent developing their minds, skills and talents to their fullest potential...

 

I think if you encourage your DD in her creative and artist pursuits, you will absolutely help her grow in these areas. :) It is a wonderful goal. You may need to take a step back and see "out of the box" ways to reach for those goals. :)

 

 

...Kids will spend 4-5 hours of "free play" time PER DAY in front of the xbox, on online gaming, chat sites, youtube or watching TV... This is a different generation.

 

Pull the plug on electronics in your home. ;)

 

Honestly, the only way to combat this trend in our society is to get aggressive and be radically different in your own home. If the electronics and online activities are just NOT an available option for children, then other activities WILL become more attactive -- like imaginative play, board games, critical thinking puzzle books / mazes / jigsaw puzzles and other logic and thinking activities, building with construction toys, read-alouds, physical activities, hobbies, etc.

 

I also honestly think that if young elementary-aged children are already using all of their free time for "plugged in" activities like X-box, TV, and online chats, it's going to take a very big family-wide switch of *everyone*, mom and dad included, to set the electronics aside completely until the addiction for everyone passes.

 

AND here's the most important part: mom and dad model the NEW behavior. So, mom and dad TAKE the children every afternoon after school and do the activities WITH the children. Dad and Mom schedule TIME to do things WITH the children, and learn how to slow down and bring the children alongside to do projects WITH Dad and Mom. Ideas for filling all that now electronics-free time:

 

- family physical activities together: swimming, kayaking, running, dance class, martial arts class, frisbee disc golf...

- family exploration activities: orienteering, letterboxing, camping, biking, hiking....

- family field trips: zoo, nature preserve, nature trails, museums, local small farm, local historical sites...

- family hobby/personal interest together activities: baking, cake decorating, sewing, knitting, jewelry making, soldering electronics, wood-working, building kits...

- family home projects done together: digging and maintaining a garden, backyard chickens, build a fort or playhouse, paint a room...

- family game night once a week as part of the regular schedule

- family read-aloud at bed time, all curled up with lots of pillows and blankets and stuffed toys...

- weekly family trip to the library once a week

 

 

...Afterschooling can be anything from learning maths with Miquon, buiding houses with rods and lego, bedtime read alouds, playing family games or reading LoF. Chores teaches a child about financial literacy and the value of work and life balance. It's the time spent learning to swim, digging around in the garden and learning life science, going to art classes and learning to paint and draw.

 

Also, I say this very gently and not trying to undermine your desire to bring balance and a wide variety of learning opportunities to your family (which is a very worthy goal!): Not everyone has the same high degree of "love to learn".  And a child who struggles with academics will really burn out and resent formal educational activities like Miquon, LoF, and financial literacy as afterschooling.

 

I speak from the experience of having 2 bright DSs, who both started out in a private school, one going up through kindergarten, the other up through first grade. Both absolutely would have rebelled and resented academics entirely if I had tried to do formal afterschool things with them such as Miquon, Cuisenaire Rods, and Life of Fred. They were getting formal Math and Language Arts at school, and for my one right-brained DS, it was taking everything he had to make it through the formal school instruction during his day at school.

 

So after school they first had a good amount of down-time to just run around and dig in the dirt or play with Legos, or whatever, and then later in the day we did read-alouds (but we'd been doing it since they were born). And we did science kits and discovery things, but more during the summers and vacations, so it was something *interesting* to do in the day, and not just "more school" after sitting in a class all day.

 

We also limited electronics -- just 1 hour of computer games on each of Fridays and Saturdays, and

3-4 hours of TV per week (usually a family movie night once a week, and then several short videos from the library of their choice). So instead, there was lots of imaginative play with each other, and with the neighbor children. Lots of me walking to the neighborhood park with them every week to play on the playground. Lots of helping me in the kitchen to bake cookies and make dinner. And me drawing with chalk on the sidewalk with them, and reading aloud to them, and sitting and doing maze books and Puzzlemania books with them, and playing board games that involved critical thinking skills (Mastermind, Set, Secret Room, Clue, Chess) or math (games involving money or adding/subtracting), or language arts (Scrabble, Boggle, Quiddler). And a lot of time for them to work on their own to build with Legos, build forts with cardboard boxes, dig a big hole in the back yard, do some sports, etc.

 

And when we switched over to homeschooling when DSs started 1st and 2nd grades, *then* I could use the formal academics and programs I felt would be a good match for them as we homeschooled in the mornings. And we still continued all the interesting games, and read-alouds, and exploring, etc. in the afternoons.

 

Wishing you the best as you try to figure out what is a good balance in your family. :) Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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Given what you've written, I don't think banning video games is a bad thing.

 

My kids don't have full access to video games.  The 7yo is allowed to play on weekends, period, and can watch tv in the evenings.  Usually we pick a family show.  This is not a tug-of-war between developing interests and living in front of the tv.  It's a parent setting limits, just like I limit his access to junk food or soda.  I'm the parent.  I make the rules, and I'm not going to feel guilty about that.

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I have a 4th grader that is in public school (as well as 2 kids at home).   He was homeschooled for 2nd and 3rd, and he likes that he is ahead of almost everyone in math.  That is what gives him motivation for afterschooling.  Well, that, and a bit of a bribe/reward for finishing each book of Beast.  :)  Still, even with that, and even with a good attitude, most of the schooly stuff like Beast happens in fits and starts, on days off from school, on holidays, and in the summer.  He's just too full most afternoons to do any formal work.

 

Some of the kids he goes to school with do a bit of more formal afterschooling--Kumon or Mathnasium or Aloha math are the most popular ones.  Those tend to happen in the first hour after school or on Saturday mornings.  They often replace team sports for those kids.  There are only so many hours in the day, you know?

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Well, does she have any friends who afterschool or whose parents are on the same page as you?

 

It's a lot easier to fight and complain when you feel like you're being subjected to something none of your peers are, rather than privileged to be part of a special group whose parents have special, wonderful beliefs about learning and its place outside of school.

 

I think instead of threatening or bribing (and honestly I wouldn't even pay for chores myself in the first place, and I don't really allow any screentime that hasn't been carefully curated to its educational content, and I did phrase that to be intentionally self-mocking :laugh: ), you set it up as positively as you can. I don't afterschool, but as a homeschooler, I feel like I do need to affirm to my kids the reasons we do what we do because it is out of the cultural norm. I have to bring an extra level of excitement to our family culture and our choices so they will not feel deprived, but empowered.

 

I can understand the responses you've gotten (what!?!?! MORE school after a full day of it?!?!), but I can also be a little honest here and tell you that my 7 year old, clever little girl complains about schoolwork even when I'm just asking her to do 15 minutes of math practice after playing for hours outside. Find the ways you can to make it fun and energizing, special time you spend together, and when you're feeling discouraged, go back and reread the response you wrote above defending your choices to re-energize yourself. It sounds like you have a lot of cool things you do together. I wish my dad had spent that time with me!

 

P.S. On the homework? I don't do public school, so take this with a grain of salt, but many of my friends who do send their kids say they simply told the teacher their kids wouldn't be doing mindless busywork in early elementary. That may not be the message you want to send your daughter about respecting authority or education, but that's one place where you could possibly take a stand and show that you're on her side when it comes to not wasting her precious time.

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See my reply below about peers who afterschool. In a nutshell, no we don't have peers who afterschool, rather the majority of parents send their kids off to coaching college or set up home tutoring. We even have another girl who comes along on Tuesdays and Saturdays to study with our kids, and whom I provide remedial help. Other parents have asked us to join them, because they can see that what we do plainly works (and doesn't cost 10,000's of dollars per year), but I have resisted, sadly because I don't like the underlying pressure and expectation that these parents put on their own kids to perform, perform, perform. I don't want that mindset carried over to my kids.

 

As for chores, there's no way that that's going out. I expect my kids to do their beds, put away their school shoes, help fold the laundry etc. all within their ability. We've used Dave Ramsey's Financial Literacy program, it's fun and it just works. When they learn to work, save (over several weeks) and buy their own toy, with their own money, the look of pride and satisfaction on their little faces is priceless. Sorry, chores are part of our family culture and it's staying.

 

Well, does she have any friends who afterschool or whose parents are on the same page as you?

 

It's a lot easier to fight and complain when you feel like you're being subjected to something none of your peers are, rather than privileged to be part of a special group whose parents have special, wonderful beliefs about learning and its place outside of school.

 

I think instead of threatening or bribing (and honestly I wouldn't even pay for chores myself in the first place, and I don't really allow any screentime that hasn't been carefully curated to its educational content, and I did phrase that to be intentionally self-mocking :laugh: ), you set it up as positively as you can. I don't afterschool, but as a homeschooler, I feel like I do need to affirm to my kids the reasons we do what we do because it is out of the cultural norm. I have to bring an extra level of excitement to our family culture and our choices so they will not feel deprived, but empowered.

 

I can understand the responses you've gotten (what!?!?! MORE school after a full day of it?!?!), but I can also be a little honest here and tell you that my 7 year old, clever little girl complains about schoolwork even when I'm just asking her to do 15 minutes of math practice after playing for hours outside. Find the ways you can to make it fun and energizing, special time you spend together, and when you're feeling discouraged, go back and reread the response you wrote above defending your choices to re-energize yourself. It sounds like you have a lot of cool things you do together. I wish my dad had spent that time with me!

 

P.S. On the homework? I don't do public school, so take this with a grain of salt, but many of my friends who do send their kids say they simply told the teacher their kids wouldn't be doing mindless busywork in early elementary. That may not be the message you want to send your daughter about respecting authority or education, but that's one place where you could possibly take a stand and show that you're on her side when it comes to not wasting her precious time.

 

My 2nd grader doesn't really have a competitive mindset when it comes to school, but she is bright. Her teacher will always ask her to go around and assist the kids who are struggling, which makes me even more proud. I see that as the cumulation of skills that she learns from our afterschooling sessions.

 

The majority of kids in dd's school attend private tutoring or coaching college, which are really schools that prepare them to pass two formal academic assessments at the primary level. The majority are from an Indian, bangladeshis or Asian background, so education is highly valued in their culture. The other majority are the white Australians, who value sports and physical activity over academics (we're a sports obessed country).

 

I'm helping a kid from the first group who got burnt out from all the tutoring and homework. These kids start coaching from as little as K or preschool. Afterschool has been a more gentle alternative for us because everything gets done there and than, and I know my kids enough to push them when it's needed, or pull back when it's too much. But as they grow, I'm always trying to find balance. 

 

I have a 4th grader that is in public school (as well as 2 kids at home).   He was homeschooled for 2nd and 3rd, and he likes that he is ahead of almost everyone in math.  That is what gives him motivation for afterschooling.  Well, that, and a bit of a bribe/reward for finishing each book of Beast.   :)  Still, even with that, and even with a good attitude, most of the schooly stuff like Beast happens in fits and starts, on days off from school, on holidays, and in the summer.  He's just too full most afternoons to do any formal work.

 

Some of the kids he goes to school with do a bit of more formal afterschooling--Kumon or Mathnasium or Aloha math are the most popular ones.  Those tend to happen in the first hour after school or on Saturday mornings.  They often replace team sports for those kids.  There are only so many hours in the day, you know?

 

 

I don't completely ban video games or using the internet, but I set limits because my kids are not capable of self-regulation/balance at this stage in their life.

 

My kids don't have full access to video games.  The 7yo is allowed to play on weekends, period, and can watch tv in the evenings.  Usually we pick a family show.  This is not a tug-of-war between developing interests and living in front of the tv.  It's a parent setting limits, just like I limit his access to junk food or soda.  I'm the parent.  I make the rules, and I'm not going to feel guilty about that.

 

Edited by EngOZ
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It sounds like you are in a very unique position!

 

And that is very generous of you to help tutor this other student. :)

 

Is there a reason you don't or can't just switch to full homeschooling? That would reduce the overall hours a day needed to be spent on academics, and the academic learning would be very focused and directed, with no wasted time on "busywork" or classroom management time. And then you would have a lot more time free for pursuing learning and growing and exploring through informal / non-schoolroom activities. :)

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My 2nd grader doesn't really have a competitive mindset when it comes to school, but she is bright. Her teacher will always ask her to go around and assist the kids who are struggling, which makes me even more proud. I see that as the cumulation of skills that she learns from our afterschooling sessions.

 

 

 

I had to do this as a child.  I hated it.  It made it very obvious to every one in the class exactly what level you were working on.  The result for me was that i learned to minimize what I could do until I knew that I could trust the teacher (sometimes late in the spring of the year, sometimes never).  

 

If your dd is reluctant, this might be something to explore--the feeling of being different than the other kids.  Especailly because you describe her as non-competitive and a social butterfly.  She might not like the continual attention.

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I have explored homeschooling, from every possible angle but I could never make it work. Finance has always been an issue because we're migrants who moved to Sydney about 10 years ago. It's one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in.

 

Anyway, long story short, our goal was to give our children the very best education that we can give them despite our lack of financial resources.  Luckily at that time, I came accross SWB's the WTM book, FIAR and posts from Bill (Spycar) who helped me to teach math using Miquon. Miquon really shined here, thanks Bill :hurray: . The secret to afterschooling wasn't the time you spent, or the material (although they helped) - it all boiled down to consistency and instilling a love for learning with your kids.

 

While my eldest dd was afterschooled by me from Kindergarten using FIAR, Phonics Pathway and Miquon, I noticed that she began to excel above and beyond her peers. Lasts year she passed an examine and was admitted to a selective class (OC) for top performing students. She outperformed all of the students in her school, including the kids that were attending coaching college since Preschool/Kindergarten. So that's my story and why I afterschool.

 

 

It sounds like you are in a very unique position!

 

And that is very generous of you to help tutor this other student. :)

 

Is there a reason you don't or can't just switch to full homeschooling? That would reduce the overall hours a day needed to be spent on academics, and the academic learning would be very focused and directed, with no wasted time on "busywork" or classroom management time. And then you would have a lot more time free for pursuing learning and growing and exploring through informal / non-schoolroom activities. :)

 

Edited by EngOZ
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