Motivation 101: Meeting Basic Needs
by Beverley Paine, 2005
There are some basic things we need to cater to in our children's growth and development, without which we don't stand a chance of helping them developing self motivation. I am thinking about the things that children need in order to develop physically, socially, intellectually, emotionally, morally and spiritually each day.
I know that if I attend to my children's developmental needs everyday then we have very few motivational problems in any area of their lives. If you are having motivational problems consider these needs first.
SLEEP: Children often need 9 to 12 hours per day, depending on each child. Is your child getting enough sleep for him or her? Is their sleep disturbed? Are they waking up naturally? Children need more sleep when they are stressed, unwell or very physically active.
EAT: Good nutritious food is absolutely essential. Junk food clogs the brain, slows the ability to remain motivated and interested. Investigate allergies and intolerances, and cut out excess sugar, refined carbohydrates, additives, and sweet snacks. Have water on hand, a jug on the table, individual bottles, all day. The brain needs water to function. Teach by example and by coaching that they can be fully involved in the preparation of nutritious food for themselves and that they need to be involved in clearing away and cleaning up after them. Get them interested in growing food, cooking, etc?
EXERCISE: This includes play and scheduled walks, sports, etc. Kids need to stretch growing muscles everyday. They need fresh air, even in winter. Especially in winter. Physical activity is absolutely essential every day. For us this usually means at least a couple of hours of either work and/or play outside - everyday!
PLAY: Especially play that is on the children's own time, on their own terms, and uninterrupted, as well as organised play sessions by themselves and with others. Play also includes games such as cards, dice, board games, word games, having fun with others, parents, self, and mucking around. It means creative play, pretend play, structured play, sports, anything where there is an element of fun and relaxation. It may mean creative work of the child's own choosing. Lots of play is absolutely essential for healthy motivation. Time playing alone is as valuable as with friends - avoid peer addiction of the kind seen in schools.
WORK: In early childhood this usually means helping out around the house, although it can mean creative work of the child's own choosing In the teenage years this usually means voluntary community and work around the house and garden. Children will not grow into satisfied fulfilled adults unless they get the opportunity to be involved in meaningful work.
Begin small with personal duties - helping with small household tasks, gardening etc, in small doses. Do negotiate workloads and expectations. Be realistic. Don't compare what one child can do against another or yourself. Don't expect children to work unsupervised, always be there to help out and share. Show by example. Don't work for too long - gauge the child's tolerance level. Don't despair, even children put off by work can rehabilitate if handled sensitively and if parents take a positive attitude.
Meaningful work builds self-esteem faster than anything does else does. Children need to feel useful to grow. More than anything else I have found this to improve motivation in all areas of life. Don't turn work into drudgery and chores. Work is an honourable, pleasurable past time, as essential to healthy development as play.
REST: Every day children need time for reflection, sometimes alone, sometimes in conversation with others. Little kids may need naps, some kids need time just bombed out in front of the television, or quiet time with a book or a sketch book. When a child is resting - don't disturb! Value time out. Structure it in for all family members.
GROOMING: Each day some time is taken up by personal grooming. This is extended to learning to take care of clothes, cleaning and mending as well as personal hygiene. Help your children learn to be responsible from an early age to take care of themselves. Don't leave them to learn in isolation - be with them physically for as long as they need your watchful guidance.
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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