Do you ever feel like your kids give video games, television, playing, sorts, their hobbies (add your own thing) their best effort, but when it comes to school they try to quickly hurry through, doing as little as possible, with as little effort as possible?
First, in order to avoid the trap of perfectionism, let’s define what best effort isn’t.
It is not:
- Never making a mistake
- Always doing things correctly
- Never taking chances
- Never trying new things
- Berating yourself for not doing it all, all the time
- “topping” your highest score
So, for our purposes, what is homeschooling’s “best effort”?
A student’s best effort can be more adequately defined as:
- Effort not limited by prior knowledge.
- Being a willing learner.
- An attitude of “I am willing to try.”
- A persevering spirit to follow it through to completion.
*Important*: best effort should be defined within the students’ appropriate developmental age and personality style. Learning disabilities also need to be considered.
For example, I have a perfectionist. When he is approaching a new math subject, he puts in the effort, he is willing to learn and try, BUT he often quits at the first sign of confusion.
His issue is that he does not have a persevering spirit. He is used to “getting” things quickly and when he has to push harder to understand, he gets frustrated and quits.
My other student, who by the way has dysgraphia, will see a new subject and say “I don’t know what this is about. It looks confusing. I don’t want to try.” He has an issue with being a willing learner and being willing to at least try.
What about your child? In which are do they need to grow so that they can achieve their best effort?
Effort not Limited by Prior Knowledge
This student sees a new topic and is willing to learn about it. They are not frightened and say “I have no idea about this topic,” or may have limited knowledge but be open to adjusting their current understanding.
Being a Willing Learner
This student has a desire to understand his world better. He is humble in his approach and not frightened of learning new information which may be challenging.
“I am Willing to Try” Attitude
This student acknowledges a lack of understand or exposure to a new topic, but doesn’t allow that to prevent him/her from absorbing it into his/her mindset.
A Persevering Spirit to Follow it Through to Completion
This student, when faced with new information or learning something for the first time, doesn’t give up. He/she sticks with the new information until a natural end.
It is my belief that in order for your student to achieve his/her personal best, the weakest area needs to be identified.
It is said, that you can only know where you’re going, if you know where you have been. Likewise, a student cannot perform at his/her personal best until you take and evaluate your current status and where you need to grow.
If your child struggles with one of these areas, don’t panic. Every child does. It would be a rare child indeed that could do them all perfectly.
These issues may, in fact, appear even when they are doing their favorite activities (like video games or drawing), but they are more willing to persevere through them because there is a higher reward of joy, satisfaction or fun. With schoolwork, though, the reward isn’t very obvious..and let’s be honest, it just isn’t as fun!
So, the next time your child is giving you less than his/her best, evaluate which concept they are wrestling with and make a plan.
Some ideas for turning around one of these areas of work struggles include:
One-on-one learning with a parent (even sitting next to them if needed)
Taking a break from said topic and approaching it with a new, fresh mind/attitude
Trying a new curriculum that teaches it differently
Adding more hands-on work to the topic
Asking another homeschool parent to help teach the topic
Utilizing a group learning environment (through a co-op or group) to teach the topic
Utilizing a tutor
Hope this helps and I am right there with you!