It’s occasionally hard to motivate children to work conscientiously at their studies, motivation being a topic I talked about in a previous article. It’s also a subject that’s often raised in relation to home educating.

Home educating, instead of choosing school, usually stimulates plenty of discussion about education within a family. If the children are involved it increases their understanding of the purpose of education and this aids their motivation and helps them make choices.

However, schools promote a more conditioned view of education that rarely explores ideas beyond results and grades.

The trouble with this concept of education is that it sometimes overlooks the fact you need other personal attributes besides qualification, like common sense or initiative for example. It is also a generalised view which doesn’t relate to the individual and is based in a future often inconceivable to youngsters and this can affect their motivation.

It’s important to discuss education with the kids from both a broad and a personal view; talk about what you’re doing, why, what choices you can make and what purpose education serves both to the individual and in a wider perspective.

Through these discussions children begin to see purpose and if purpose is understood motivation takes care of itself. It doesn’t mean there are never days when motivation or the willingness to undertake certain tasks is lacking. But it generally means that the children have a better understanding of why we’re suggesting certain activities and outcomes.

So it can be valuable to raise these ideas with them, maintain a dialogue about what they do and why and be open to their views, expanding on them as the children mature.

With very young children these ‘chats’ will be based very much in the here and now and relevant to whatever is going on in their lives at the time. Budgeting their money is a good reason for studying maths, for example.

With older children it’s possible to discuss more conceptual ideas like:

  • What do they think education is?
  • What is it for?
  • How does being educated affect everybody?
  • What would they consider a ‘good’ job?
  • What educational achievements would help them achieve that?
  • What personal skills would contribute to that or is qualification enough alone?

You can update these ideas as they mature, but open honest discussions with young people, where we listen rather than control their opinions, helps them formulate their own ideas about the purpose of education and how it serves them. And this understanding will help them make choices and take their education wherever they want it to go.



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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.