08 Feb 2024

How to Motivate your Children in School

Do you ever wonder why some students appear motivated and successful in school while others do not? Is it genetic, learned, or both? Most importantly, how can we redirect unmotivated students?

Many parents complain that their children are only motivated to do fun things, like hang with their friends or play games and socialize on their phones. Some of these students are not completing assignments or don’t seem interested in what is happening in school.  If this is your child, don’t despair. There are many ways to help them become more motivated to get their schoolwork done and become more interested in school subjects.

Assess the difficulty of assigned homework. Challenging homework is a major reason for students to lack motivation. You can sit down with your child to analyze where the roadblocks are. Do they need clarification on an assignment? Do they need extra help learning the concepts? Does it take too long to do an assignment? Once you have some answers, you can work with the teacher to find ways to make homework more approachable and get outside help if needed.

Be involved but not too involved. Ask your children about what they are learning and about their teachers and classes. Discuss some topics they are learning in history or science and consider enhancing the topics with YouTube videos or even a day trip. Try to get a general idea of what they are studying without getting too involved in the minutia.

Help your children break down assignments into chunks. Some assignments seem too daunting to begin. By breaking them down, students can incorporate breaks every 20 minutes or so. Having a time limit for working and break-time built in may increase productivity. (For example, after completing this article, I am planning to take a nature walk.)

Use positive reinforcement for effort. While getting good grades may be the goal, grades are subjective and don’t give kids much control. Effort, however, is up to them, and praising them for specific tasks like completing a study guide or the first draft of an essay goes a long way.

Have a structured homework time. It is easy for children to tell their parents that they have no homework. Sometimes this isn’t quite true, and even when it is, it is always useful to take some time to review a lesson that has been taught or read for pleasure. A structured homework schedule usually increases productivity and learning. Parents can also let their children know that they are available to help during a particular time frame.

Assess and discuss what else might be getting in the way. Many students have difficulty attending to schoolwork and homework due to learning issues, attention problems, social challenges, or emotional problems. Some of these issues may need to be addressed by arranging for a psycho-educational evaluation or setting up appointments with a psychiatrist or therapist.

Emphasize the value of learning. Show your children what kinds of things you learn regularly to make your life more interesting. Make learning a priority in your family and relate learning to long term goals like college and a rewarding career. Give your children examples of topics you learned in school that have served your well in your career or daily life.

Finally, be realistic with your expectations of your children. Always try to convey more positives (being proud) than negatives (being critical). Motivation to do things that are not fun is challenging for all of us. Help your children build self-confidence by being on their team and cheering them on!

View more on motivation from Tutoring For Success.

Child Mind Institute published a helpful article to help your children be motivated in school.

By Cheryl Gedzelman, President, Tutoring For Success

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