What can we do if we notice that our children are not motivated to learn? As parents and teachers, we want to inspire and encourage our children to learn and live a full and healthy life. What do we do if we start noticing a problem?
Findings from studies in the business world indicate that often companies and managers themselves can cause a morale decline in their newly-hired, enthusiastic employees, and this situation can continue to deteriorate, with social and financial implications. Obviously, managers are not deliberately trying to harm morale. They do it with the best of intentions simply through not understanding causes and effects. Something similar can happen in the homeschooling environment.
What is Motivation?
Motivation is what causes us to act. It’s our purpose. It’s a force or influence that drives us.
Demotivation, on the other hand, is not being fully committed to act. Types and causes of demotivation include fear, wrong goals, lack of charity, values-conflict, excessive change, lack of autonomy, boredom, uncomfortable studying environment, grief, loneliness, micromanagement, burn-out, no direction, lack of confidence in the teacher or method, insecurity in a major area of influence such as family relationships, or being around unpleasant or unkind people … just to name a few.
Solutions usually offered to address the problem include working harder, goal setting, planning, etc., but sometimes, these well-intentioned suggestions can exacerbate the problem. What is first needed is to identify the causes of the problem. These are not always obvious, so the power of prayer can be very helpful.
What can homeschooling parents learn from the findings of demotivation studies in the business world?
What causes demotivation in the business world? Sometimes, an employee can feel or be treated as expendable with inadequate recognition and reward. Other causes include: excessive criticism with little praise; excessive levels of approvals to get answers; endless paperwork; insufficient training; unclear communications; poor delegation of authority; no short-term goals; goals too far out into the future; no benchmarks to assess progress along the way; no strategic plan; lack of focus; ugly environment; non-functioning work space; lack of team work; and lack of purpose … just to name a few.
Now that some of the causes are identified, what solutions does the business world offer to address or prevent demotivation?
Many times employees offer new ways to do a job better. After task boundaries are defined, managers should allow employees the freedom to create and make changes on their own.
Homeschooling Application: As homeschooling parents, we can listen to alternative solutions our children find to situations and problems. Each person in the family unit can learn from the next regardless of age. What a boost to their self-esteem if we acknowledge their creative solution, incorporate it, or at least try it out. Everyone wants to make valuable contributions. This acknowledgment will encourage children to try to find other answers.
2. Work as a team.
Functioning together as a unit can be more effective than performing alone— plus more fun. Tasks are more exciting when produced through interaction with others. Cross-learning and sharing different ideas, methods, and approaches keeps the task vibrant, thus minimizing boredom.
Homeschooling Application: Teamwork in families strengthens family bonds and usually gets the job done faster, often with much fun and laughter. Jobs are less boring when we never know what to expect next. This human interaction is becoming more and more critical in our society as we become more bound to technology. By working together, we assist those who do not have certain skills, we learn about what each person can or can’t do, individuals discover their skill set and talents, and all hopefully appreciate the contributions that each makes. In the Mystical Body of Christ, each person has a different role to play, and that is what makes the body move as one.
3. Communicate clearly and completely.
Do not give out information on the “need-to-know” basis. Obviously some information has to be withheld because of its confidential nature, but other information doesn’t fall into that category.
Homeschooling Application: Clear communication is a skill every family member can improve upon. Sharing information is a sign of respect and trust. When we see the bigger picture, we have more information as to the appropriate action to take. It is also rewarding working toward the bigger picture.
4. Address poor performance.
Lazy and hard-working individuals should not be treated equally. Those that don’t pull their weight need to be removed or disciplined. If not, this situation becomes an obstacle to those who want to work hard but will then question, “Why should I?”
Homeschooling Application: Discipline is important within a family. Sometimes parents even have to practice “tough love” if a child develops an unhealthy behavior pattern. If inappropriate behavior of one child is allowed to continue, other family members can be adversely affected. Each person within the family needs to be treated with respect and dignity.
5. Establish focus, benchmarks, and have a vision.
Smaller goals make it easier to achieve larger goals.
Homeschooling Application: Students need to know what is expected of them and by when. Having short-term projects makes the longer-term projects less overwhelming. Having focus eliminates useless mind wandering and wasted time. Arriving at short goals successfully builds up individual self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment.
Help your employees to improve without discouraging them. All comments should directly relate to the tasks performed. If problems are encountered, do the employees have the tools and knowledge to address them?
Homeschooling Application: Does your student have the information to tackle his problems? Give students specific instructions to help them perform their tasks more efficiently and quicker.
7. Be an expediter.
Help your employees get their jobs done better and faster.
Homeschooling Application: Don’t let your children flounder unnecessarily. Show them shortcuts and easier ways of doing things. Are there ways to make their work and learning more fun? Take breaks when necessary.
8. Acknowledge individual contributions.
Everyone loves genuine praise.
Homeschooling Application: This is one of our most basic human needs. Do you give out praise freely when your child accomplishes something – even if it is something small in your eyes, but perhaps big for them? Take photos of special highlights in your child’s life. Over the years, this will be a constant reminder that they did something special.
9. Instill an inspiring purpose.
What is the employee’s reason for being there? To what are they contributing?
Homeschooling Application: It is so important that our children know that they are a unique creature created by God, with special talents, and that there is no other child like him/her, nor has there ever been. Out of all the inhabitants of the world, no one else even has their same fingerprints. God created each person with a unique mission, and it is our job to discover that mission through prayer and developing our talents.
Purpose is such an important topic for our children to understand. In this day and age, when it is so easy to get lost in the relativism and endless distractions of the secular world, the most important thing our children need to know is that there is a purpose for their lives.
God is real and He loves them. They were created to know, love and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him in the next. Eternal happiness is the goal. Without knowledge of this purpose as a compass, they will probably become lost, as many have. Along with this, they need to know that God’s greatest attribute is His mercy. If they make mistakes down the road, and are penitent, He will always forgive them if they come to Him and ask Him for forgiveness. He is a loving God, and hopefully that will be a great motivator in their lives.
We are not perfect, but we keep trying, by pursuing short-term goals each day, to one day achieve that long-term goal of Heaven.