TEACH CT - The Education Association of Christian Homeschoolers

Motivating Your Children to Learn - Part 2

How can I get my kids to “buy into” my homeschool plans?

Q -
I cringe whenever someone asks my kids if they enjoy being homeschooled. No matter how hard I try to make school enjoyable for my children, they mostly think it’s boring. I just can’t seem to get them to buy into my homeschool plans. Any advice?

A -
Personally, I have found throughout my life that very few kids “buy into” whatever schooling they are experiencing. I myself graduated as Valedictorian from a public high school, but I never “bought into” school. In fact, if homeschooling was not unheard of back when I was a student, I would have been a prime candidate for homeschooling. I have heard plenty of public schooled kids say they would rather be homeschooled. Likewise, I have heard private schooled kids say they don’t enjoy school and would rather go to a public school. I have heard homeschooled kids say they don’t enjoy school and would rather go to a private or public school. To be honest, I think these sentiments are merely reflective of our sin nature that tries to convince us the grass is greener on the other side of the school fence. Really it boils down to coveting what we think we want but don’t have.

Rather than expend energy trying to get your children to “buy into” your homeschool program, I think it is important instead to concentrate on helping your children to simply put their best foot forward in whatever endeavors they must engage in throughout their lives. After all, they will be expected to do things their whole lives that aren’t necessarily going to be their favorite activities to do. (For example, what grown-up really enjoys washing a child and his bedding at 2:00 a.m. because the child woke up in the middle of the night throwing up? Or really enjoys cleaning gunk out of the kitchen sink after doing dishes because the kids forgot to scrape off their plates before putting them in the sink? Or really loves scrubbing the upstairs and downstairs bathroom floors after a child overflowed the upstairs toilet, and it ran down the piping and onto the lower level bathroom floor? Or jumps for joy at getting up at 5:00 a.m. every morning to go to work to earn money to pay the bills?) 

The reason I excelled at public school when I was younger ~ despite my not enjoying it ~ was because my parents taught me to always put my best effort into everything I do. This was according to Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men”; and 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I was taught that you can’t necessarily choose all the activities you need to engage in on a daily basis, but you can choose your attitude in the midst of doing even your least favorite activities. Likewise, I have tried to instill the same lessons into my children throughout their homeschooling.

Now, even though I recommend against trying to get your children to “buy into” your homeschool program, I do think there are things you can do to make school more meaningful for your children. I would particularly like to encourage you to consider that one of the biggest blessings of homeschooling is being able to spend so much time with your children that you get to better know their special gifts and talents. Be sure to allow your children opportunities to fan into flame those special gifts and talents. For example, does your child enjoy (maybe even obsess over) animals? Then in addition to providing him with the necessary basics of his education, also be sure to provide him with plenty of opportunities to nurture his interests and study them on his own (e.g., by providing relevant models, videos, books, field trips, pets, etc.). If your child has not yet shown any standout interests, then provide her with plenty of opportunities to discover new interests that she may not yet know she has. Even if your children still do not consider school to be enjoyable, hopefully by nurturing or helping them to discover their special interests, you can at least help them to find it to be meaningful.