As this unusual school year remains uncertain, one thing is clear. Our kids must keep learning and stay on grade level. The most difficult part is keeping up the momentum. All of us are motivated to do things we like. The key is to get ourselves to be motivated to do things that are important but don’t necessarily provide immediate gratification.
Here are some tips to help your children keep that motivation going.
- Getting started: Is procrastination a problem? Is there a task or homework assignment that your child just can’t get himself to do? Try taking out all the materials needed and get started for 5-10 minutes. If it’s not so bad, he can continue. Otherwise, he can put it aside and take a break. When he returns, it will be easy to just sit down and resume.
- Taking breaks: Incorporate 5-minute breaks after every 20-35 minutes of work, preferably movement breaks, into the daily schedule.
- Visualize: Is wasting time a problem? Does homework get done too late? Teach your children to visualize what they will do when they are all finished with homework and chores. Even take a picture of them doing their favorite things and hang it in your home classroom.
- Find a passion. Encourage your children to develop outside hobbies. If they can discover a sport, instrument, or hobby that they are passionate about, they will work hard to achieve mastery. This hard work teaches them how to work hard at other tasks whose rewards may be further in the future.
- Start a reward system. Trish Cochran purchased reward cards like the ones you can find here. Each time her child does his assignment, reads a chapter, does something super nice, or shows a positive attitude, he gets a hole punched. When ten are punched, he receives a prize from the prize closet.
- Reward systems can work for teens, too. There may be a particular game or “grown-up” privilege that will motivate them.
- Work with your children to look at the big picture. Where do they see themselves in the future and what do they need to do to get there? Together, write down a list of their goals and display it in the home classroom.
- Help your children find the interesting parts of school and books. Everyone likes to learn something if they find it interesting. Discuss what your child is reading or learning and try to relate it to your lives.
- Show what you know through creative projects. These days, most teachers offer the opportunity to do interesting projects using a variety of media – art, film, drama, etc. My children really enjoyed these projects and didn’t mind spending many hours working on them because they were fun. Rather than choose the easiest project, choose the one that matches your talents and is the most exciting.
- Find a groove. Whether with projects, engaging books, discussions, or group work, there is much potential to find a groove with school. This means striving to find a happy balance between challenge, stimulation, not too much, and not too difficult. Ideally, students will find a balance by being in their comfort zone most of the time and out of it sometimes to provide new challenges.
- Give Support. One reason that some students are not motivated is that they find their school work too hard. If this seems to be the case, make sure they receive the help they need. If they are overloaded with assignments, talk to the teacher about making them more manageable, such as reducing the number of math problems.
- Review the day and preview the next. Take some time at the end of the day to go over what went well and didn’t, and to make a plan for the next day. Some children like to talk at bedtime. Listen to what their stressors are as well as the things they look forward to.