Tip of the Week: Use Incentives to Motivate Your Children (But Not All the Time)

Last week I presented the third of five tips that I consider to be foundational to helping insure your success as a home school parent. This week I present the fourth.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we all respond to incentives or rewards in one form or another.  Even for those of us who learn for the love of learning, or teach for the love of teaching, there is a “pay off” to doing what we do.  In these cases, the reward is internal.  This might take the form of the joy (or relief) of a task completed, the satisfaction of a problem solved, or the pleasure of an insight gained.  Rewards can also be external as evidenced by receiving a paycheck, going out to dinner, attending an event, or taking a vacation.

Rewards, whether internal or external, aren’t necessarily the same for everyone.  That goes for yourself and your children.  Think through what incentives will motivate your children to complete their work.  Think internal and external.  Think short term and long term.  Discuss the incentives with your children, write them down, and follow through by putting them into play.

However, like I said above, just don’t use incentives all the time. If you rely on them too often to stimulate action, you’re likely to end up with a child who begins to screen every activity with the question, “What’s it worth,” or, “What do I get out of it?” And, if the incentive isn’t worth enough, he or she just might say, “pass.”

Your children need to know that some things are done simply out of obligation. There are somethings we just have to do, that we don’t necessarily want to do. Life is just that way.

Nevertheless, acknowledge and use incentives with your children as you home school.

That’s the tip of the week!

Curt Bumcrot, MRE

Many of our classes and tutoring groups here at Basic Skills are holding their first meeting this week. It’s not too late to join in! Click here to view our class schedule, or here to see our tutoring opportunities.

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