Raising Motivated Learners: Tools, Not Products

Raising Motivated Learners SeriesOur goal as parents and educators is to work ourselves out of a job; to raise our children to become responsible adults.

Join us as we share tips on how to raise motivated learners and equip them with the skills to pursue the path the Lord lays before them.


It’s interesting, isn’t it? We buy fancy toys and gadgets for our kids, thinking they are going to love the hours of enjoyment ahead, and instead they end up playing with the boxes. Or, as is the case with my kids, taking what was in the boxes and using them for completely different purposes. Maybe we need to reorient our thinking; instead of buying our children products, we need to be buying them tools.

One way we hinder our children’s motivation to learn is by constantly handing them products; finished pieces for them to merely play with. If, instead, we handed them countless tools for them to make their own toys, games, playthings, and projects, we encourage them to think outside the box and take matters into their own hands.

Cameras – Our children have a small, fairly inexpensive, camera which they have complete access to. They learned how to turn it on, take shots, take better shots, record, and download all by themselves! They are learning to become better photographers through practice.

Computers – While I don’t recommend hours spent in front of a monitor (our kids certainly don’t do this) and would highly recommend strong parental controls be installed on any device, computers are a wonderful tool to have available. Using computers, children can explore the art of writing, researching, programming, organizing, coloring, and so much more.

Apps & Editing Software – Having a computer is great, but, let’s face it, you also need a few good desktop apps, mobile apps, and websites to help your children out. Here are a few we recommend and use often:

  • Word (desktop app, used for word processing)
  • Pages (desktop, used for word processing)
  • Adobe Photoshop (desktop, used for images/art)
  • Garage Band (desktop, used for editing & creating music)
  • iPhoto (desktop, used for photo editing & storage)
  • iMovie (desktop, used for creating & editing movies)
  • Dramatica Pro (desktop, used for writing)
  • Image Capture (desktop, used for photo)
  • Minecraft (mobile & desktop, used for creative)
  • Google (web browser, used for research)
  • Scratch (website, used for programming)
  • Free Typing Games (website, used for teaching & building typing skills)
  • Stop Motion (mobile, used for stop motion animation & video projects)
  • Snapseed (mobile, used for mobile photo editing)
  • Retouch (mobile, used for mobile photo editing
  • WordPress (desktop, used for blogging – of course!)

Reference & Research Materials – Tools aren’t just for creating, but also for increasing in knowledge. Our children have full access to several dictionaries, thesaurus, rhyming dictionaries, an encyclopedia, and idiom books. We have books on art, history, philosophy, government, and logic. If there is something they want to look up, we’ve got the tools to help them do it.

Tool Boxes & Broken Equipment – Sometimes kids just like taking things apart and finding out how they work. We discovered this when an old sewing machine called it quits. We decided to let the kids have at it! We took out a bunch of tools and let the kids explore! If we don’t happen to have any older electronics, or pieces of wood, available for our children to be creative with Goodwill is always a good source of inspiration. As for wood, we can always visit my father-in-law’s house and snatch a few scraps. Given limits, kids really enjoy using tools and being creative.

Guitars, Drums, & Pianos – We own several guitars, a very large piano, and were given a small drum set. While our children do have formal lessons on these instruments, we also make sure they have plenty of free time to explore the world of music. No rules, no timed practice; they are free to create, experiment, and record their fun.

Knives, Pans, & Fire (Oh, my!) – Why should adults have all the fun in the kitchen? As our children grow older and become more responsible, we are giving them more access to kitchen utensils and tools. We set up a few guidelines and parameters for them, but allow them to explore and have fun.

Scissors, Paper & Glue – Crafting has always been hard for me. Free access to scissors and glue, even for little people? Really? (sigh) As our children have proven themselves able to handle such freedoms (mainly not coloring on walls and cutting each others hair), we have moved their crafting materials so they are always available to them. No more waiting for mom to get paper, scissors, stickers, or anything else. They are free to take it out, use it, clean it up, and display it as needed.

Time – Ah… here is the big one! While all of the above are wonderful, truly; our children need access to free time. It can be tempting to fill their days with endless learning possibilities, pre-organized crafts, field trips, and other wonderful things. However, sometimes what our kids really need is free time. Time to simply sit, think, and create; even if it’s just in their mind.

By handing our children tools, instead of just products, we are handing our children a world of possibilities. We are teaching and encouraging them to seek out creativity; giving them the opportunity to explore. When children have this ability, you’d be surprised just how motivated they can become!

Time to Chime In: Do your children have a favorite learning application or website they want to share? Tell us all about your favorites and why we should be using them!

“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
– Proverbs 22:6

15 thoughts on “Raising Motivated Learners: Tools, Not Products

  1. Great ideas! I love your list of media links and will keep it handy.

    My kids use Movie Maker to create videos. I personally prefer it over iMovie because it is more user friendly. It functions just like iMovie; you can import pictures, video, music and the like. It comes preinstalled on most of the older Windows versions, but it can also be easily downloaded from this link: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/get-movie-maker-download. I hope you and your readers find it useful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My 18 year old son loves Minecraft. My daughter has been on there as well, but he loves it much more than she does. I agree with all of what you have said. We did the same thing with our kids. They used to take the old video camera back in their rooms and make silly movies about 9 years ago or so and even involved friends in them at times. My daughter is an excellent photographer even though she doesn’t get out and take pictures as much as she used to. She has also taught herself how to play a little guitar and ukelele and how to make herself look like many different things such as animals with make-up. Free time to explore and become who they are supposed to be is the greatest advantage we give our kids when we homeschool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah… You brought up a great point, which I totally forgot; thank you!

      If we can, our children benefit from having free access to instruments and music. We have drums, several guitars, a piano, and more in our home. We do have formal lessons which they take, but they also have the ability to simply sit and create at will.

      I might have to amend my post… Thanks! 🙂


  3. Pingback: Our Week of Gifted Homeschooling – The Fourth Week in February 2015 | incrediblejourneyofgiftedness

  4. Pingback: Raising Motivated Learners: A Series Review! | A Homeschool Mom

  5. Pingback: Raising Motivated Learners: A Series Review! | A Homeschool Mom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.