Starting lines are important, but so is a strong finish line.
Last week was the first time my children heard about summer break.
“Really?” my seven year old exclaimed when told that public schools closed for almost three months in the summer.
That was the beginning of their dissatisfaction. But it wasn’t just that. We have various camping trips planned this summer and they weren’t coming soon enough. We’ve done all the book learning and memorization we wanted to for now. We need a break.
My planning has missed the mark a bit – we lost the last sticker chart and I didn’t time our camping / fishing vacations well enough.
Do you Need a Break or a Finish Line?
Classical unschoolers, homeschoolers – call us what you want – learn everywhere all the time. Most of our learning occurs through conversations anyway. We accept that we don’t need a classroom to learn in.
Learning is fluid and we are always “on.” There is tons to learn and it’s all very interesting. But we are also human and we get tired.
No matter how much we tell ourselves that there is no reason to stop, at some point, we need a break to recover if only to catch our breath.
No External Rewards?
However, most unschoolers I know don’t like sticker charts and other external motivators. Traditional homeschoolers also tend to shun them because they believe learning (and all virtue) should be its own reward. That’s another reason they do not pay their children for chores.
But that’s awfully Stoic of them. And much as I’ve enjoyed reading Meditations, that Roman philosophy is not for me.
Everyone is motivated by rewards. So are you, if you think about it. We do not learn in a vacuum. We learn something because it has value to us. Either it interests us or it helps us move forward in the pursuit of some other goal. The only discipline that matters is one is pursuit of a larger end.
As homeschoolers, we have the opportunity to create various finish lines for our children. They don’t have to be sticker charts and they don’t have to based on the public school calendar, but they do need to give them goals and a sense of accomplishment and closure.
So do your end of the year / summer school pictures or take a great vacation. By all means, motivate your children with sticker charts, goals and video games, if need be. Or take those sticker charts and put them toward a bigger reward you’ve chosen.
Don’t accept a finish line just because it’s handed to you. Establish some great finish lines – on your schedule and motivated by your needs. And walk through them with your family.
A finish line can be a huge motivator. Don’t dismiss the idea just because you homeschool.