Keep your homeschooler motivated

How can I keep my homeschooler motivated to their work?

Even the most enthusiastic homeschooler will at one time or another go through a phase where they just lose interest. Keeping your child motivated and reigniting the love of learning can be one of the most difficult and frustrating parts of homeschooling.

Signs your child is losing their motivation:

  • They start taking FOREVER in one or more subjects.
  • Or, they start to rush through their work without any attention to detail.
  • They refuse to do their work.
  • They whine and complain incessently.
  • Their work becomes sloppy with lots of errors.
  • They start pestering siblings and interrupting you.

So what can you do to keep your homeschooler motivated?

After fifteen years of homeschooling four kids I feel like I have plenty of experience in this department. No family is immune to phases of the homeschooling doldrums so first and foremost know you are not alone. The following tips will help you get right through this and back to the love the learning.

Top Ten Tips to Keep Your Homeschooler Motivated

  1. Evaluate their curriculum.

    The number one reason kids lose interest in learning is because their work is either too difficult or too tedious. Look closely and if your child is having trouble take a step back and review. If your child is just bored by too many problems have them do fewer and add in additional for each one they do incorrectly. The point is not to answer every single question or solve every single problem. The point is to learn and once they know something they shouldn’t be forced to keep doing it over and over and over and over again just because the book gives them that many problems. Less is more. Read PencilTreks Curriculum Archives for inspiration. Or use the search on the side (bottom for mobile) to find specifics by grade level.

  2. Give them more mommy time.

    When we homeschool it’s very easy to feel like we spend so much time with our kids already that when the school work is done we expect them to just play. In reality you still need to have just plain old mommy time and not teacher time. What are normal things you would do with your kids in the afternoon if they were in school? Play a game with them. Make a fun snack together and sit and talk about non school stuff.

  3. Give them a life of their own.

    Kids need a life of their own beyond homeschooling. Arranging a few extra play dates, joining a co-op, getting a job, or doing some volunteer work all can go a long way towards giving your kids a life of their own– which is important.

  4. Watch their health.

    Be sure they are getting enough sleep and healthy food. I cannot emphasize enough how sleep and nutrition deeply influence a child’s ability to learn and concentrate.

  5. Don’t forget exercise.

    Kids have a lot of energy and it’s important that they keep fit. If your child is bogged down kick them outside for a few minutes to climb trees or do some jumping jacks. Join a homeschool sports team or take them to the pool. Every single day your child needs moderate to intense physical activity. (and you probably do too!)

  6. Shake things up a bit.

    Drop your regular curriculum for a week to do a unit study or take a break for a couple days to regroup. Or just change up their schedule a bit. Let them sleep later or have them do work on Saturday and take Wednesdays off. Just do something to switch up the monotony of a routine that’s not working.

  7. Go on a field trip or better yet, plan a travelschooling unit.

    Having something to look forward too can often get you through when you are just not feeling motivated. Plan ahead for a field trip that your child will really enjoy. Or even if it’s a year away start talking about a travelschooling trip they would like to take. (Contact me at Christopher Travel and I will be glad to help you come up with an entire unit around your next vacation) Even a beach vacation can be part of school. The key is to demonstrate that learning can be fun and should be incorporated into your daily life.

  8. Learn something with your child.

    This can be worked into your field trip or travel schooling unit or can be something as simple as learning an instrument or taking a taekwondo class together. Since moving to Alaska I’ve made it a point to study things I don’t know. I took a mushroom foraging zoom class last night and I’ve been working with the girls to recognize plants in this unfamiliar forest.

  9. Threaten to send them to school.

    This may or may not work for you depending on your child and your reasons for homeschooling, but for me it was a standby when nothing else worked. I would make my kids get up at the crack of dawn and watch the kids walking to the school bus. Then we would sit in the afternoon and watch them come back. Just knowing that they could sleep in and were done well before the school kids were went a very long way to getting them to do their work.

  10. Just be patient.

    Kids aren’t really all that different than adults and sometimes life just gets a bit mundane. Maybe it’s their current unit in their math book or perhaps its just they are growing really quickly and need a little extra rest. Whatever the cause you may never know, but kids are always changing. This, too shall pass.

There are so many different reasons kids lose interest in their work. Follow these ten tips for keeping your homeschooler motivated and you’ll soon find yourself back in the swing of things again! Just remember this is all very normal.

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About Mary

Mary Stephens holds a degree in international affairs from Georgetown University and a Masters in Teaching from the American University. Mary spent almost twenty years homeschooling her four children and is now navigating post homeschool life in Alaska. She offers personal insights, recipes, homeschooling tips and tricks and travel advice on her website Mary also owns Christopher Travel, a luxury travel company specializing in exquisite vacations around the globe.


  1. Patrice Payment on September 25, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    These are great and I think some could apply to virtual school too. Good point about sometimes needing extra sleep during a growth spurt. I hadn’t thought of that!

  2. Carolyn on September 30, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    Great ideas! I’ll be coming back to this post later this year, I’m sure. We’re only two weeks into our homeschooling, but I’ve already learned a ton with my seventh grader. It’s more fun than I thought it would be! She’s definitely enjoying the sleeping in part too!

    • Mary on October 7, 2020 at 2:02 pm

      I love the sleeping in part lol.

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