Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Right Motivation

A large part of the educational process is motivating kids to learn, and teaching them to learn to motivate themselves. Most kids are self motivated to learn about the things they are naturally talented or interested in, but for other areas they often need a little push.

Our kids for the most part, enjoy the learning process, and are excited for their school work. For that, I am very grateful, but every once in awhile we come up against a little learning wall that needs pushed through. In the early years for Kellen it was reading. He really struggled when it didn't click at first. But we pushed through, or perhaps more accurately phrased, I pushed him through, and now he is in avid reader.

Later, it was multiplication tables. Kellen gets math. It clicks with him. He taught himself the concept of multiplication around the first grade. His older cousin was learning it, and he thought he should too. The concept clicked with him, but when he was older, and it came time to memorize the facts he struggled. He just did not want to take the time needed for memorization. It was a battle, but eventually I pushed him through that too.

Currently, the wall we face is typing. He completed a typing program a few years ago only because I agreed to suspend his handwriting assignments while he was learning to type. The CD program we had made it interesting and fun, and there really wasn't much of a battle. He did well with it, and after he completed the program I didn't think much about his typing skills.

Fast forward to the present, and Kellen is typing a lot. He blogs. He emails. He plays games, and does research. All the while I assume that since he has learned to type before, that he is now typing correctly while using the computer. My assumption was wrong. He has reverted to the hunt and peck method of typing.

Since learning this information I have been after him to type the right way, but he claims he has forgotten the key board and that he can type pretty fast his way. Before Christmas I informed him that part of the new semester would included typing practice. He was none to thrilled. Well, at least not until Tim stepped in with the right motivation.

Tim also hunts and pecks while typing, and has said before that he wants to learn to type. So, when he heard that Kellen was re-learning to type, he issued a challenge. They both are practicing and honing their skills. At the appointed day there will be a type off. Who ever types the fastest wins a Wii game of their choice.

Kellen jumped all over that challenge, and has been practicing typing voluntarily all week. Today when he finished his school work, he asked if he could use the computer. This usually means he wants to play a game or browse through Nintendo stuff, but today he wanted the computer to practice his typing!

Tim knew just the right button to push to motivate Kellen. Instead of me forcing, pushing, and prodding him to learn the skill we want him too, he is now eagerly learning that skill. In the other examples of learning struggles given above, the skills were learned, but only after much battling and frustration for both of us. I don't think large rewards are necessary for every accomplishment, but I have seen first hand the difference it makes to use the right motivation for a child who has hit a learning wall. I guess Kellen and I are both learning some skills this semester.


  1. When all three of my children were homeschooling, typing teacher was a daily part of our curriculum. All of my grown children now thank me for making them do that since they all type quickly and accurately.
    Good way to motivate! Enjoy these days they pass by way too quickly!

  2. Some say that competence is motivating in and of itself. We feel so proud and happy when we learn to do something! So maybe that's what motivates your kids too!!

    Kathy Seal

  3. Heehee, WTG finding the right motivation for both your men!

  4. that's awesome! good motivation boys of all ages.

  5. Yep not sure who is more motivated. :) Tim is also pretty motivated to not let his 11 year old beat him.

  6. Oh he is going to lose alright.*

    * this messege was writen with out looking.

  7. That's brilliant! I always needed motivation too if I didn't get something right away. I suspect both kids are the same way.
    However, school is out today again after being out all last week.
    What are they playing?