You know we all have those days in which our children need a little motivation. You know, “do I have too?”, or “I would rather play today” For that matter we educators can sometimes use a little motivation when faced with such lack of enthusiasm. So here are some fun ways to motivate.
I. There is an Important Link Between Play And Learning
As we watch children playing, it often looks like a waste of time that might be fun, but otherwise of little value Yet studies reveal that young children learn best while at constructive play. There is a scientific reason why the Conventional Method (workbooks, flash cards, lectures) is often not effective. This method teaches to the left brain only because it is delivered in in serial order through verbal media either in speech or in print. The Conventional Method unintentionally shuts down the right side of the brain.
Movement of our body makes information flow from the left brain to right and back again at lightning velocity. Teaching to the whole brain (Total Physical Response) has been found to be far more effective. By physically involving the children in the learning process (games, real life experiences, choices…active learning), studies show children actually learn faster, retain more, drop out rates decrease by 90%, and it reduces stress. According to Dr. Daniel Amen, Physician: Child/Adolescent/Adult Psychiatry, Nuclear Brain Imaging CEO: Amen Clinics, Inc., whole brain learning/ teaching improves the health of the brain. This does not mean that workbooks need to be eliminated, but the evidence is clear that we need to be doing a lot more whole brain teaching.
II. The Power Of Choice
In the college text book, “Social Foundations of Human Behavior” (pages 591-601) fascinating studies were conducted exposing how important choice is in the success of any project (groups, classrooms, businesses, organizations, ext). You see when we are told what to do, we are not always eager to co-operate. However when we are involved in the planning of any project, we are invested in it. It is our creation, and we are more likely to protect it. Children are no different than we adults in this respect.
Following are some ways we can actively involve children in the lesson and its planning:
- Leave interesting educational items around the house. Amazing Math Projects You Can Build Yourself (Build It Yourself series) has lots of interesting projects to excite the little ones. For example, open the book to the chapter on angels, and place any necessary tools next to the open book. (in this chapter you would need an angle measure placed next to the book). Note: this is a technique often used by unschoolers). Sit back, and let the display do the work for you…no pushing or coaxing should be used.
- Leave a variety of books around the house in places where the kids like to relax or hang out. examples of books are: (a) Activity books like Archaeology for Kids: Uncovering the Mysteries of Our Past, 25 Activities (For Kids series), (b) picture books like Mummy Math: An Adventure in Geometry, (c) analytical children often are fascinated with Masters of Deception: Escher, Dali & the Artists of Optical Illusion, (d) and don’t forget to lay out a few favorite novels in the assortment, (e) The Scholastic Children’s Dictionary is interesting to children because it has graphics, and explains many interesting things that intrigue the inquisitive minds.
- One mother told me that her children had all learned to read, and learned to love reading with the active game, Ring Around The Phonics. She said that even though her children now all read quite well, she keeps it handy, and when her kids complain about doing their more advanced lessons… Well, she pulls the game out, and teaches her language arts lesson using Ring Around The Phonics. “They haven’t a clue…they think they are playing” :-), she explained.
- Real Life Homeschooling: Coupon Math is an article written by a home school mom. She beautifully explains how she uses a trip to the grocery store to teach reading, and math.
- Cooking in the home kitchen can provide a wonderful opportunity to teach your children about measuring and fractions.
- Nile Stanley PhD., Reading Professor at the University Of North Florida, teaches children with poetry and song. Creating Readers with Poetry , by Dr. Nile Stanley is an interesting book
Feel free to share your ideas about how to motivate children to learn in the comment box bellow. We all benefit from your success stories, and things you have learned.