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With the use of the Internet for learning, whether that’s through school work or home educating, much of a youngster’s education is moving towards being self-initiated.

Even schools are losing the idea of ‘talk and chalk’ as it was once referred to, when teachers stood at the front of a class and ‘delivered’ a lesson. More common now are approaches where the learners are expected to be more actively involved, to research and find answers for themselves.

With these increased expectations and the facilities to do so, for learners to watch tutorials and learn online, they need to build strong self-motivational and will-power skills to resist the temptation of everything else on the Net.

Self motivation is an essential life-skill, valuable beyond study, for working and living. And there are various strategies which can help it develop and be transferable to other aspects of life.

Here are a few to talk about together, because encouraging discussions about achieving tasks can make it shared experience and less isolating or tedious:

  • Whatever needs to be done it helps at the start to set a simple objective. This gives the task a foreseeable end. This could be achieved through a ‘piecework’ approach e.g. one page of maths, or 500words, as an objective. Or a timed objective; e.g. half an hour’s work. Then the learner is free to do other activities.
  • A second strategy which helps is to make sure, before they’re set, that these objectives are reasonably attainable so the learner is encouraged by succeeding. Trial and error will eventually find the right balance.
  • Encourage the learner to recognise their optimal time for learning. Some youngsters are hopeless first thing, or before meals, or need to let off steam first, others can be the opposite. Some like to get their work done straight away to get it off their mind, others work better under the pressure of deadlines looming. Each learner is different and understanding what works best for them, however unorthodox, is worth investigating to optimise the chance of achieving what they set out to do.
  • Sometimes self-set rewards for having accomplished tasks are helpful, whether sweet treats – or activities (e.g. a swim session) – or gaming – whatever the learner finds rewarding. Some find charting progress works for them, especially if it’s something that builds up and can be looked back on. Autonomous choice of these rewards is essential.
  • Talk about ways of resisting being distracted by other stuff on the Internet and keeping focus. This is necessary whatever we do and you can relate it to other jobs and how you manage to do this. It’s about building will power – useful for all aspects of life, so think of times you needed will power and how you maintained it.
  • It doesn’t matter where or how the work is undertaken. E.g. lying on the floor, or with a mate, listening to music, etc. Everyone’s different and stillness and silence is not the best for all. Some learners need different prompts to help them achieve.
  • It’s helpful sometimes to share how you managed to achieve things you’ve had to do and the self-taught skills which you’ve found useful throughout life.

Whatever tasks our learners have to accomplish the more they can tackle them for themselves the more chance they have of success, both now and in the future.

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