Thursday, June 25, 2009

Get Motivated... or how to do what you don't want to do but have to! Part 2

Yesterday I wrote Part 1 of my blog about motivation. If you're a homeschooler you might like to buy my Practical Homeschooling Series booklet, Motivation in the Homeschool. It is a compilation of the various workshops I've given over the years about how to overcome many of the problems that we face as parents teaching our children at home.

I spoke about my need to plan my day according to my moods and state of mind: today I'm focusing on another tip I find really useful.

All too often I find that in the middle of doing one thing I think about something else and, worried I will forget about it, stop what I'm doing and do the other thing instead. Rarely do I get back to completing the first thing? And you can imagine how many unfinished projects I have lying around my home, can't you? And I bet you have just as many...!

One day it occurred to me that I'd be better off carrying around a notebook and simply jotting down my thoughts instead of doing them. This way, half of my 'must do' tasks turn out to be not that essential after all. The other half get done, but because I'm not rushing to get back to the unfinished task, they are done with more thoroughly and care. And I'm less likely to break something!

We can apply that kind of thinking to homeschooling too. While helping our children with a unit study on volcanoes we might come across some interesting information about plate tectonics. Yes, they are associated topics but wandering off topic exploring why earthquakes happen won't get that model volcano spewing out foam before dinner time! Staying focused will help us - and the children - learn as much as we can before moving on to the next topic. And it keeps the lessons short and sweet, just the way we all like them. I've read that it is better to stop while the children are interested than wait until their eyes glaze over and their minds begin to wander.

Staying focused is also helped by minimising distractions. Turn off the television, use a static screen-saver on the computer so that it doesn't catch the eye, mute the computer so you can't hear when the emails arrive, be selective with background music (so it stays in the background!), put the answering machine on and leave a note on the front door that says "Homeschooling in Progress! Disturb only if absolutely essential!"

Give your children your complete attention during homeschool lessons. They deserve it. You'd be miffed if their teacher kept interrupting his or her time with your children to answer the phone, talk to other teachers, read her emails, chat on Facebook, manicure his nails or fix the phone, etc. Even if is simply reading a story together or mucking about in the junk box with the glue and sticky-tape.

When we minimise distractions and focus on what it is we're doing we end up completing many more tasks each day. This makes us feel good. This makes us feel motivated!

© Beverley Paine

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