Gettysburg Adventist Christian School

Helping Me Be the Me God Made Me to Be


Home and School Meeting

Presented by:  Susan Karppala

Date: March 1, 2007

Online: May 4, 2007

1 Resources

  • I Hate School by Cynthia Tobias

  • What Great Teachers Do Differently 14 Things that Matter Most by Todd Whitaker

  • The Classroom of Choice Getting Students What They Need and Getting What You Want by Jonathan Erwin

2 Summary

A typical after school day… "Do you have homework?"  . . . I then nag until they get to it. When they finally start doing it you notice they are getting distracted, doing other things when you aren’t looking. Sometimes even being obnoxious  . . . Yes, really . . . “OK Johnny you need to get that done already…”

You are thinking. . , “I really hate to be such a nag, why can’t they be motivated to do it on their own?

You say, “If you get it done right away, you will have the rest of the day to do what you want!”

Okay. . . If they don’t do it we will have to ground them from the computer, TV friends, or games or whatever it is that they REALLY want to to. Then they don't do it, and you take away that thing, and your life is miserable the rest of the day. They have a way of making it ugly, and No FUN. There had to be a better way. My quest to find that elusive trigger that will ignite my kids to be motivated without nagging, bribing, or war has led to this topic choice for tonight.

I am no expert on any of this. In fact, I’m just beginning to try some of these things. So far with good success. I am breaking habits that I as a parent have done in the past to the detriment of my kids. This quest of mine has spurred me to try some really sensible tactics that I’ve found my kids truly appreciate. That is why I want to share some of these ideas with you.

While most of the research I’ve done pertains to classrooms and teachers this talk tonight is by no means targeted for their benefit. What I’ve tried to do is adjust some of the ideas to implement at home. After all, as parents, we are our children’s best teachers. The teachers will indirectly benefit from our efforts, and that I am sure. Of course, if they would like to try some in the classroom, I won’t object! Both parents and teachers share the same goal and that’s to help the children love learning. We want that to be the bottom line. It’s this goal attained that we will find our children to be self-motivated.

3 Details. .

Let’s get on with it. How do we get our children motivated to learn? We can take a lesson from Jesus. What did he do with the multitude? He fed their minds and their bodies with the fish and the loaves.

1. Food for thought. I used to offer a snack to the kids and then ask them to do their homework. This didn’t work. They would eat the snack and then go straight to the TV. Then there would be the struggle to get them away, usually ending up by turning it off. “Awe, come on Mom, after this show….” you’ve heard it too. Then I’d get busy with work or dinner and forget, then the next show …… It got old. So then we said no tv. This didn’t work either because they would go on the computer. Okay, no computer, no TV until you do the homework. This got ugly. Avoid it all by providing the snack at the table or desk where they will do the homework. They can eat AND do homework at the same time. Before ya know it they are totally engaged in it and complete it in no time! This one works great.

2. Do things at the right time of day. Morning Vs. Night Owl. I’m a nightowl, so are my kids. I realized this when one of David’s schoolmates said to me, “Why is David so sleepy in the morning.?” I say, “What do you mean, sleepy?” “Well about the first two hours of the day he doesn’t talk to anybody and just grunts if you ask him something. His eyes look squinty too.” Okay, no I never noticed. Guess it’s because I’m the same way in the morning. Wide away at night, can stay up all night working if I want and I sometimes do, but don’t function my best in the morning. This one is simple. Not only get the homework done, but the clothes laid out, lunches made, etc. the night before. This works for nightowl moms too. I never used to do this and you notice, we were always late. (Well it worked for a little while, anyway). This is a big change in our lfe. I now realize I have to do everything, including loading the car with book bags etc. the night before because none of us are capable to do it at 7 AM. During a school week, I have to get up at 5:45 AM to do my devotion and excercize, etc. This goes against my natural inclination. I will never get used to it. I just really love to stay up as late as possible and still get 7 hours sleep. If I do, I need to get the chores done at night! Same with the kids.

3. Let there be Light. Some people need more light than others. I am one of those people. That may be why I’m a nightowl. I turn on all the lights and especially love task lights. Kids have a preference too. Some like a lot of light, and others are turned off by it. (pun- do ya get it?). Again. My kids are like me. They like task lights too. They do more reading and homework with as much light on the subject as possible. I’ve included task lights on the table with their snacks to do their homework. This works like a dream. If you already have a very well lighted area to do homework and they are not doing it, try toning it down for the kids that might not like it. It’s trial and error.

4. Some Like it Hot. . . We keep it pretty cold in our house in the winter at night. We have a timer that lowers the temp as we sleep. At 5:45 it’s about 58 in the house and it slowly goes back up to 65. What do my kids do when they wake up? They sit on the radiator in the morning with their blankets. Now, instead. I have them get dressed from head to toe while they are still in bed. I’ve also increased the heat a bit. This gets them going. Cliff on the other hand is always hot. He works better when he’s on the cool side. The same is true for study times. Make sure they are not too hot or too cold. Dress in layers.

5. Look Who’s talking. Some kids can only learn when they are talking. I never knew this. This is true. We need to allow kids this opportunity at home if we have one of these kinds of kids. This will help the teachers when they are at school because they will have some of it out of their systems.  Let them talk at home to their hearts content!  Try to look at them when they are talking, too.  This is huge.  Especially, when you have them at home or in the car. Have them repeat what they’ve learned. If you do this, they will retain more and have much more confidence and love learning while in school. For teachers, you know how annoying tlaking out of turn can be.  Have your chatterboxes get in the practice of writing down a big thought they might have and then discuss it with them at more opportune moments. Study buddies actually work well for auditory children.

6. I See What You Mean. Visual learners. These are kids that take everything in visually. They like to see things being done or demonstrated. They like to doodle, make graphs, designs, illustrations. They appear to be daydreaming many times but they are really just visualizing something they may be learning in their mind’s eye. I think I’ve got one of these. His name is Cliff. I haven’t tried this but it seems like a good suggestion. As he is reading he can make pictures in cartoon squares of what he’s reading. Ask questions about what he’s learning like, “ What do you picture when read that, or hear that? What do you think this assignment should look like? Supposedly, flash cards work well with these kids. Don’t fight the child’s urge to doodle. He’s actually learning while doodling. Hard to believe but true, unless of course, they aren’t doodling what they are learning. Make sure they doodle with a purpose.


7. On the Move Some kids just move more than others. Believe it or not, it is possible for these kids to learn while moving. These kids can actually do their homework better standing up at a counter. I might be one of these. I get my best work done at the counter, moving around doing other things, while I listen to the radio or seminars, etc. I hardly ever sit and watch a tv show. I am always up moving around doing other things. It amazes me when my husband, who gives his tv shows his undivided attention, will actually ask me what a tv character has just said or done, even though I was doing a couple other things while watching. As if I would know!

My problem is I just can’t sit too long. If I do, I have a hard time staying awake , as during a sermon (sorry about that Pastor! It's not your sermon, it's me!) I would get so much more out of it if I could be doing something else while listening! I actually read in one of the books that it was highly successful for teachers to assign two seats for kinetic kids. So they can move between the two. Rocking chairs are also good for restless kids. For these type of kids it is good to give them an entire room to have free reign with different areas to do their studying. Clip boards & lap desks are good, too. Be sure, if you have a kinetic kid, to have a foot stool so their legs don’t dangle. Have them take breaks to shoot hoops, going up and down stairs in the winter, and so on while memorizing spelling words and memory verses. Let them do it on the stairs - one stair for each word. Make a game of it.  You get the idea.  Kinetic kids are really less of a challenge than you think. 


8. What’s Your Focus Analytic vs. Global. Global people, and I’m one of them, look for the big picture. They don’t grasp details at first. Globals always need to hear the directions twice even though they are impatient to do so. Globals almost always want to talk to someone that’s done the task, rather than reading the directions. If that person is not around they will just jump into it without instruction and find their way. For example, Candy and I are opposite in the way we tackle the internet web mastering. I just kind of dove into it, while Candy really thinks everything through in detail. She instantly figured out it would be best to file all the images in new online folders so we can easily find them for future. It was only after I had loaded quite a few that I figured out that I should have done that. I like to work trial and error and jump into creating pages even though I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, while Candy prefers to explore different ways of doing it, reading the instructions and learning by watching. No one way is correct. We are just different and probably complement each other in this regard. The same is true for kids. It’s actually very good to pair up an analytic with a global types for study dates and collaborative projects when possible. They can learn from each other. Also, most analytics work well on written schedules and like things organized. Globals on the other hand need to learn be organized, keep schedules and lists because they are usually focused on a number of things at the same time and have trouble with time management. (Anybody ever notice this about me?) Parents can help both by establishing a 60 second rule. If you can’t find it in 60 seconds or less it’s in the wrong spot.

How do we know what works for kinetic kids? Some experiments won't work. It's trial and error. Try: -

  • 10 Minute Trials

  • We can do this as long as it works. If it doesn’t work we go back to the old way

Letting your child be aware of their own personal learning style and comfort zones will help him deal with those times when they are out of their comfort zone. Hopefully, they will try harder to deal with those times just being aware they have a problem with them. The goal of all of this is for them to LEARN what we are teaching them. They can deal with contending with their comfort zones later!

9. Who Needs Homework

ASK. . .

  • What grade do you want out the subject?(What grade is acceptable to the parent too.) Goal setting

  • What happens when you get a lower grade than desired? Consequences.

  • How much time do you want to commit to this assignment? Challenge

  • Now, what will it take? Ask what they think.

  • Do you want to be reminded? If so, how?

  • When do you want to do your homework?

  • What’s the best environment to do it? Ask them! You might be surprised.

  • What will you need to do your best work? You might not get an answer to this right away but keep pushing!


4 The Bottom Line

Communication, need satisfaction, providing the right tools for their learning style and giving control to the child over their own destiny will produce a better student and a more confident child. Having a more confident child that is control of their own destiny makes for a happier and more productive student and lowers your level of stress to be the policeman.

Letting go, and letting God is the final and most important thing we can do for our children. Pray diligently that both you and your child will have the wisdom to do God’s Will and that He will reveal that will and give us wisdom daily! Pray that both you and your child will be a blessing to each other, their teachers and all those they come in contact! Our teachers will thank you! We're all working on breaking bad habits together. If you find something that works for you, please share it with us! Enjoy your children! They won't be this age forever! Have fun with finding the best way for your child to learn!


Susan Karppala