Framing Khan Academy as a fun activity or reward instead of studying or a chore is one effective tactic to motivate learners. Below are a few other ideas that parents have shared with us about how they use Khan Academy with their children:
One of the simplest ways to motivate kids is to help them set milestones. For some there may be an overarching aim like complete Algebra. Regardless of the high-level objective, focus students by working with them to structure and/or breakdown the main objective into bite-sized milestones that can be accomplished each week or a few days at a time. These smaller milestones can reduce anxiety and increase excitement toward the larger aim. An example might be to gain mastery on all the exercises within a lesson. If you'd like to align goals to grade level standards, check out the Common Core map, which shows content aligned to the US-based standard.
Trying new activities
Some parents and mentors further engage their children by developing family-oriented activities related to Khan Academy. Examples include:
- Parents picking a new topic on Khan Academy like Computer Science to learn alongside their child
- Everyone watches a video - e.g., an art history video - and then dinner time discussion focuses on deeper discussion
- Parents competing with their kids, or siblings competing against each other for the most energy points
- Parents learning a Khan Academy topic separately and role modeling good learning habits like active listening and setting milestones
Incentivizing positive learning behaviors
While the idealists believe that the act of learning is reward in itself and works for some children, there are some families that choose to offer rewards associated with positive learning behaviors. Rewards can vary greatly depending on the family. Here are a few examples:
- Getting to choose the next topic to learn
- Freebie to get out of one chore for the week
- Getting to create a KA computer science program that's a game or artwork
- Staying up 15 minutes later
- Getting to go to the park
Learning alongside them
If it's been ages since you've seen the material your child is learning, it can be daunting to try to help your children with the content. There are a few strategies to handle this scenario. The first is to try to learn the material with them. Encourage your child to take a hint or look at the video if they don't understand. Or if you have time to prep, take a look at the material beforehand so you have an advantage when working with your child.
Another strategy is to fess up that you don't know the topic either, and role model that learning is a lifelong process, and one that you are excited about too!
What strategies do you use with your kids? Post your tips below!
One parent wrote us this note about using KA in lieu of bedtime stories:
...my father who was a math teacher, would give me and my siblings math problems instead of bedtime stories. It is a great memory I have of growing up and now as a father of two children, I hope to instill in them that same passion for learning that my father gave me...I watched your “Basic Addition” video with my daughter Lily, who is 3 ½ years old. It was a neat memory for us and I just wanted to say thank you for the impact you’ve made in our lives and in the lives of children and people across the world. I wish you continued success and look forward to what is in store for Khan Academy.
*Andrew O,, Portland
PS – on the other end of the age spectrum, I also have my 92 year old grandmother watching the Khan Academy videos that I share on Facebook as I watch one per day in 2013. Got the whole family covered!