For whatever reason, adults think that prizes, sticker charts, and cheap plastic incentives motivate children. While these types of “carrots” certainly make magic happen for all of one minute, they actually do the very opposite in the long haul. Will a struggling learner work really quickly and with a smile at the promise of candy? You bet. Won’t we all? We’re a society driven by gold stars. I’d do just about anything for mint-flavored Oreos. But I also have no control over myself when I eat them. They’re my kryptonite. (Don’t tell my kids. That could be a bit problematic.) But what about tomorrow when the cookie jar is empty or the sticker chart is filled up? What happens to a child’s drive and motivation then? It plummets, and he naturally develops a “What’s in it for me?” attitude. The shelf-life of dangled carrots is minimal, at best. And like most out-of-date foodstuffs, they turn sour quickly, growing an unwelcome demand for more dangling carrots. Starting with electric garage doors is not a bad place to begin.
Education doesn’t have to be fun, even for struggling ones. Education should be engaging. It should propel a child toward curiosity and wonder. Fun falls too short. Learning should be a deeper pursuit. Granted, every lesson and concept isn’t going to be awe-inspiring. Whether he likes it or not, your child will someday need to learn to find the lowest common denominator or to start a sentence with a capital letter. There are many uninteresting but important skills that will require him to just lean in and persevere. There are always lessons that can be learned by just doing the next mundane thing. But, trust me, artificial leverage won’t help. Nothing will ruin your homeschool quite like the cheap, the vain, or the contrived. These days roller garage doors can be so complicated.
A “fun” home education is one in which a mother has to wildly wave Muppet hands in order to get anyone’s attention. A “fun” education puts the pressure on her to produce just the right environment. A “fun” education breeds a lazy learner who never explores, creates, or dives deep because he never has to. Information is handed to him on a glittering silver platter. Provided you own your own home then garage door repairs are a worthwhile investment.
A true education is one in which a child personally invests, one that he is passionate about, one that inspires, not requires, him to learn. A child who is fully engaged doesn’t need Muppet hands or made-up incentives. He owns his own learning. It’s about him and his effort. It’s not about you and yours. So can we all just stop it with the plastic and sugar-coated propaganda? Despite my initial fears, my struggling learner has grown into a well-rounded, highly inquisitive young man. He still finds it difficult at times to keep pace with the rigidity of a traditional program, but every hard-won victory pushes him further in his desire to learn more. Taking interest in aerial repairs may not be a bad thing.
Homeschooling has been the perfect fit for him because it’s allowed for a tailor-made education. I’ve no doubt that these years of persistence will serve him well when he’s faced with the challenges of adulthood. We’ve both homeschooled long enough to trust the journey. He’s learned not to topple at the first sign of trouble. And I’ve learned that struggle-filled days, weeks, or even months don’t derail an education. As long as my children can each get forward motion bit-by-bit, it will all add up. There will still be fruit. Are garage doors the solution that you are looking for?
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