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The Mid-Year Bump
When we start out homeschooling in August or September, there are fresh books, new topics to study, and a bit of a break behind us to create enthusiasm for learning. By the time December and January roll around, burn out sets in, motivation sinks, and the day-to-day grind gets old. There are ways, however, no matter how old your student is, to help increase motivation and keep them plugging away.
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Switch Up the Routine
Just like our muscles need a change in routine to tone correctly, our brains also need a change in routine to be stimulated. When children lack motivation, sometimes switching the routine can help because it will make things seem new and exciting again. For example, if your child always does math first and then language arts, switch the order. You could create a rotating schedule, allow the child to pick the order of the subjects, or switch up the order of subjects that are not time-dependent. Take your child to a coffee shop once a week for reading. By changing things around, you help stimulate the brain and get your child excited about learning again.
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Make Learning Fun
Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise, authors of The Well Trained Mind, suggest that elementary and middle school science should be experiment-based. There's a very good reason for this. Experiments are fun! History projects make battles and beliefs come to life. Putting on a finger-puppet play of the child's favorite Shakespeare play makes it exciting. Learning doesn't always have to be serious. If the child loves Star Wars, let him write his own Star Wars story as part of his writing lessons. Children learn best when they are excited about the subject. Not every subject will be exciting, but if there is a way to make it fun (a flash-cards game for multiplication tables), they are going to be more likely to want to do it.
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A well-planned field trip can create more motivation than a video game. Seeing science at a hands-on museum can create more excitement for chemistry or physics than a video on the same subject. Taking a trip to the local government offices can create more excitement for learning civics than reading it out of the book. Take advantage of the resources in your town. Are you studying Native Americans this year? Is there a Powwow coming to your area soon? Take advantage of this rich cultural experience to help history come alive for your child.
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Every home schooled child should have one subject they learn about because they just want to know more about it. Is your daughter really into building with Lego's or blocks? Help her to learn more about how things are built by checking out books on architecture from the library. Does your son tell wonderful stories at the dinner table? Help him by allowing him to study creative writing. By allowing your child to choose one subject that they learn about because they want to, then they feel as though they have control over their day. By making the elective the "last" subject of the day, you help motivate them to get those math problems done so there's time!