How I’m Helping My Kids Stay on Track for Homeschool During Quarantine

This is a picture of what I’m doing today to keep my youngest girls motivated to stay on task with their school work (it matters to me that they’re motivated, rather than forced, otherwise it’s miserable for all of us!) This has been the best strategy so far.

You don’t have to be an artist to create these simple hand-drawn charts to help track & visualize tasks for kids who are homeschooling.

You need anyb special print-off, just trace their hands and be clear about which actions earn them a sticker to put on them (or just have them color each finger or fingernail as they earn, if you don’t have stickers). You can be super specific or not. Just keep it fun! The girls tasks are breaking down into things like worksheet pages, 15 minutes on the math program, reading a short book, changing their clothes, clearing off their place at the table, etc.

Ten is still a pretty big goal number, so I threw in a little bonus for my littlest when she earned 5 stickers for the first hand, and the girls will earn a manicure from Mommy once they’ve adorned all 10 fingers. This system is better than what we were doing before, because it visually displays how they’re progressing overall, rather than waiting all day for any benefits, or receiving little rewards for each step in the right direction (usually I would just end up enduring the push-pull cycle!)

Traditional weekly fill-in-the blank charts were doing nothing for us, because they proved to be too abstract for a 5 and 7 year old. Of course, a chart will never “do something” for us. Strategies fail quickly when they aren’t backed up by effort. We have to refer back to reminder charts frequently, reminding us to do the “work”. Having a visual strategy can really enhance those efforts, though!

My kids’ school allows them to be self-paced, which has its own challenges, but I imagine visualizing a “countdown” could also be useful for those children who seem to have endless Zoom meetings.

I have a bonus tip which I’ve shared with some of my younger clients: Make tally marks as you listen to online lectures. Use two categories, label them something like, “Stuff I already know” and “Stuff I didn’t know before” ~or~ “New” and “Review”. This gives your brain something to scan for, and scanning requires a lot less effort (and motivation) than active listening does. Think of it like when you’re in an environment with a lot of background noise and you hear your name; suddenly you’re at attention! Your name is something your brain is programmed to scan for, without conscious effort.

Depending on the subject, your brain can be somewhat casually scanning for “novel information or application” in order to try to add up tally marks, which may be used to gauge how well you were listening. Extra credit if you actually write down what the new information IS!!

Have a better day!