Wednesday, October 21, 2009


So I am finally ready to finish this post about our new "Inspire Plan." I don't know why its taken me so long to wrap this up.

Okay I have to admit I'm kind of a control, pragmatic freak who likes to see results. Embracing this principle of INSPIRE NOT REQUIRE has been a tricky one for me to get. I mean really couldn't it be inspire while requiring?! I could probably wrap my brain around that one, but in my heart I know from personal experience that forcing someone to do something, even if they end up doing it just damages the relationship, doesn't make a lasting impact, and causes the enforcer and the enforcee a lot of stress and grief. So for the past three years I've been trying to figure out how to be inspiring enough to motivate my children to want to learn. Here's what I've learned so far...

[First Inspiring begins with ME!]
If I am setting the right kind of example and living the life I want them to live then things start heading in the right direction. If I am reading books, cleaning up happily, interested in learning, etc... then they will follow the same path and totally start doing what I'm doing. Its kind of like a little game of 'Do As I'm Doing.' This is totally easy to type up, but doing it has been a HUGE challenge for me. I enjoy watching TV and love computer time both of which totally distract from me from setting an INSPIRING example. I also could clean all day and never read, because I am obsessed with having a clean house. So I've had to take some extreme measures to help me over come my bad habits.

We removed the TV from our living area, are getting rid of the TV in our bedroom, and will only have one TV in the loft that will be used for FAMILY activities such as family movies or gaming. My computer time each day has been limited to either when the kids are asleep or during our recess time (its recess right now). And as for cleaning...well I've gotten the kids way more involved which has helped. I've also implemented morning cleaning time (before school starts for us at 8:30), a pre-lunch pick up, and a pre-dinner pick up. I really try to not clean (other than do the dishes after the meals) during the day which has helped me be 100% present for the kids during the day!! This has made a HUGE difference with my relationship with them, and what we're able to read and study during the day. LOVE IT!!

[Structure Time NOT Content PLUS my Inspiration System=Progress]
After three years of struggling with either pushing to hard to do academics or not pushing at all I think I'm starting to get on the right path of how to inspire my kids to WANT to do their school stuff. Its a work in progress, and fairly simple, but its amazing how well its already working.

I already knew what I'd like my kids to do each day, and I had all the materials/books/supplies purchased and on their shelves. Scott and I worked on creating a little check sheet with the different chores they were responsible for doing each day, and the different subjects I wanted to them to try and do each day. We also had a place for bonus items, perfect days, and extra chores on the bottom. Each item on our list was given a certain point value.

I then got a clip board for each child, put some cute ribbon around the top of it, and drilled a hook into my 'family hall way' (which is another concept I'm still developing). This is where the clip boards belong at the end of the day or when the kids aren't working on their chores or school stuff.

At the end of each week we total up the kids points and put them on a white board which is also in the 'family hallway.' The kids like seeing how many points they've earned, and talking about what reward they'll be able to purchase with their points.

The reward center is where the kids can see how many points they will need to purchase the various items. I just printed out little cards with pictures on them (for the little kids to enjoy) and a brief description of the activity or treat they can get and the value of the item. Its SUPER simple and didn't cost me a thing, since I had this metal thingy I purchased from IKEA a few years back. I love it when something I've been storing actually comes in handy!!

[Allowing freedom]
The kids still don't always do school work 100% during our 'school time.' However, they are doing it TONS more than they did before. The hours they are spending reading and learning of their own free will and choice is getting closer to the hours they are choosing to play with each other (NOT ELECTRONICS) I mean old fashion play. Like building forts, playing pretend, riding bikes, swinging, you know just hanging out and playing with each other!!

They don't always get through all the subjects each day, but that's really not the point. I think the point for me is to get them started on something, and then if they get distracted on Rocks (like we've been this week) and want to study all about geology for three hours then we go for that!! This way, though, if they don't feel interested in any one thing they have a system they can choose to follow that will expose them to lots of different topics, subjects, and ideas. A system that will help them learn, earn fun treats, hang out with mom and read, and lots of other things that makes me feel like our structured time is inspiring and full of lots of learning!!

Having a plan for what I think we should be learning, and a structure to inspire and motivate them to engage with me in the process, has made inspiring my kids to learn a reality instead of just a dream!!


Anonymous said...

Hurrah!!! I'm so proud of you! What a job! Thanks for encouraging me too!

Nanette said...

I am SO inspried!! Thank you for sharing your hard work!

Ranee said...

You are such an inspiration to me! I am super excited about your chore/points system and I think I'll try it at our house! I can also feel the wheels turning in my mind, about a way to help my kids using the principle of structuring time/not content! I'll let ya' know what I come up with! :0) Thank goodness for good friends and great examples!

Tricia said...

Thanks for this great post about your amazing system, Andee! I think I'll steal the clipboards on cute hooks idea...we're losing "goal sheets" daily right now. You're so organized...I love it! I'm inspired!

Jen said...

I have been reading your blog for a little while and I have to say that you inspire me. My husband and I have been talking about homeschooling our four kids staring next year. I have wanted to ever since my oldest started school but I never knew exactly how to do it and reading your blog has really helped push me to just do it. If you have any tips I would love to hear them, especially how you teach at so many different levels at the same time - that kind of blows my mind :) Feel free to email me if you have a min. Thanks.