How to Motivate the Unmotivated Homeschool Student

By Crystal Ladwig, Ph. D.
unmotivated student

Let’s be honest. We all have days when we just want to stay in bed all day. The last thing we want to do is get up, make sure everyone gets their schoolwork done, and go to co-op, music lessons and sports practices. But we do it anyway because we’re responsible adults, right? If we have unmotivated days, it should come as no surprise that our children do, too. If those days are occasional, don’t worry about it. They come and go for everyone. But if those days become chronic, it might be time to make some changes to motivate your unmotivated home-schooler.


One of the first things we need to do is look at our own expectations. If our children are bored or struggling every day, then they naturally become an unmotivated homeschool student. Examine their activities and honestly evaluate if they’re helping children learn. If not, it may be time to make changes.

We also need to look at our behaviors. When parents take a hard look in the mirror, we sometimes find that we’re the ones causing our children to become unmotivated. Are we pushing them in an unhealthy way? Of course, we want to encourage children to learn and become productive members of society. But that should be done in a loving, encouraging way. Unfortunately, when we get stressed out, we may approach our children and home schooling in an unhealthy manner.

Finally, we need to look at our children. ere is no better motivator than one that’s internal and doesn’t depend upon anyone else. We’ve all seen children glued to video games. Why? They’re motivated to do them. They’re interested in them and enjoy them. What interests your child? How can you incorporate that into your homeschool?

We used my son’s interest in video games to fuel his school. He took computer coding classes and researched careers involving cyber security. We even went on a eld trip where he learned about how the military uses people like him to design, develop and refine training simulators to train pilots and plan for missions.


While we don’t want to bribe our children to do their schoolwork, we do want to encourage them. Rewards are a great encouragement. They have the added bonus of allowing us to express what we value most about our children. When you see your child push through a hard subject, provide a reward. It doesn’t have to be huge. Extra free- time or a special treat will do. They key is to reward their persistence. Local homeschool mom, Corissa Jones, says her family celebrates small things, like a special treat when her son finishes a unit.

One of the greatest things you can do to to keep your unmotivated homeschool students motivated is to send them outside. Physical activity works wonders for resetting the brain and helping adults and children alike to focus better. Go outside or change the venue, suggests local homeschool moms, Melanie Van Steenburgh and Staci McGovern. Math on the trampoline! Why not?

In the end, it comes down to what you can do to encourage your child. Whether it’s something they enjoy, the positive feelings that come when parents acknowledge hard work, or changing the setting, encourage your children and help them discover their own motivations.


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