How to motivate your child to learn: practical tips
Many people are familiar with the situation when a child loses desire to learn, he becomes less attentive, ceases to make efforts and doesn’t know how does a abacus work. Achievement drops, parents are worried and trying to find an approach to the child, but neither the “sticks” or “carrots” do not help to increase motivation to learn. How to revive the faded interest and re-awaken the desire for knowledge? How to make sure that the learning process is not perceived as a heavy duty? In our article we will try to understand the causes of loss of motivation to learn well and give some tips that can help parents to form a conscious and responsible attitude towards learning.
Types of motivation
Motivation is in the broad sense of prompting to action. It is not a goal that we need to achieve, but the very incentive to do something to get a result.
Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation
Extrinsic motivation is the incentives and rewards we receive for doing certain things. In the case of studies, these are good grades, sometimes additional privileges for students with high results. Parents promise a trip to the zoo or a new toy for an A in a quarter, sometimes they even pay for solving a problem or learning a poem. This may work for a while, but such an approach leads to the fact that the child tries not for the sake of the learning process itself, not for the sake of knowledge which he can acquire, not out of interest to the subject, but only for encouragement. And as a result, learning itself becomes less important to him – the main thing is that there is a reward for a good grade.
Intrinsic motivation, on the contrary, is born of interest, fascination, desire to learn as much as possible, as well as understanding of why school knowledge is needed and how to apply it in today’s life and in the future. Even if it is not possible to achieve a sincere “I want” everywhere, the child needs to understand why and for what purpose there is a “need”. It is the development of intrinsic motivation to learn that needs to be worked on, so that the child finds positive moments in the learning process itself, rather than waiting impatiently for his “hard labor” to end.
Why don’t children want to learn?
In order to justify his failure, a child often shifts responsibility to a “bad” teacher, the complexity of tasks, his own forgetfulness about unscramble words. But these excuses are just a consequence of deeper problems, and we need to understand why there is actually indifference and sometimes even aversion to the process of learning. Here are some reasons that affect the desire to learn:
1. The child went to school early.
For successful learning it is not enough that the child learned a lot by a certain age. It often happens that a young pupil is not psychologically ready for school, its rules and routines, can’t sit in class for long periods of time without a chance to rest and distract. Do not hurry to take your child to the first grade. Pay attention not only to intellectual preparation, but also to the development of discipline and assiduity.
2. Conflicts at School
If there is a misunderstanding between a teacher and a student or even an open conflict, a child feels uncomfortable and has a negative attitude towards school. The child sees no reason to try and do well on assignments, as he/she is afraid of being picked on by the teacher, based on personal animosity. Problems with classmates have the same effect on the child. The longer the conflict situation lasts, the more tension grows, and motivation gives way to depression. Talk to your child about his relationship with teachers and classmates, let him know that you sincerely want to help him find a way to resolve the disagreement.
3. Pressure from parents
It happens that parents, unwittingly, discourage their child from studying and make him give up. Too high requirements for grades, a large number of extra curricular activities and circles, comparison with the success of others and indignation that the child does not reach a given high bar – all this hurts self-esteem. The child’s efforts gradually lose meaning for him or her – he or she thinks that he or she is not capable of anything, and cannot earn parental approval, no matter how much effort he or she puts into it. Avoid inflated demands and do not be afraid of bad marks – calm and confident in your support child can easily fix them.
How to motivate your child to learn
1. Speak from the heart
Listen to your child, find out what he is passionate about and share his interests. If you know what occupies and attracts your children, you can help them discover and develop their talents. Don’t impose what you think is right and useful – let the child try different things and choose exactly what he really wants to do. Approach children’s hobbies creatively – find connections with school subjects and let the child see them. For example, it’s easier to interest a young nature lover in biology, and computer games can be the first step to learning the basics of programming and related sciences.
2. Introduce game-like elements into your teaching.
The term “gamification” is quite new, but we have known the principle of game-based learning for a long time. It is much easier for a child to keep interest in the learning process if game elements that arouse excitement and creativity are introduced into it. Game makes mastering even difficult material easier, reduces stress and nervousness, giving way to the desire to achieve as much as possible and to conquer a new peak. Turn study into an interesting quest that your child is sure to want to pass.
Especially well the method of learning by playing a game in the study of a foreign language. A monotonous memorization of a list of words “from now to now” will not impress anyone, but the competition, who will name more words to a certain letter (the names of animals, clothing, etc.), will be a stimulus to memorization. A page of vocabulary can remain a complete abstraction, but the suggestion to represent a beaver or “fly” around the room, imitating an airplane, will cheer up the child and definitely remain in his memory. Watching an interesting movie or TV series in English, going through your favorite game in the original voiceover or translating your favorite band’s songs by yourself will all help both effective learning and staying motivated to learn.
3. Encourage your child without bribing
As already mentioned, extrinsic motivation is not an easy thing. It can be very difficult to assess where encouragement ends, which gives a child an incentive to try harder and do as well as possible, and outright trading for grades, lessons learned and passed topics in the textbook begins.
Of course, young children may not yet realize what it is to study for the sake of knowledge itself, and the future with a prestigious university and a successful career is far away and incomprehensible to them. Therefore, in some cases, external motivation can help, but only in conjunction with the development of internal aspirations. Too big gifts or money will quickly cease to motivate the child, and small rewards (preferably non-material ones) will become another reason for him or her to study diligently. Don’t emphasize the reward itself, let the main goal be striving for it, not possessing it.
4. Be glad for successes and don’t scold for failures
“A” is wonderful, but the most important thing is not the grade, but the knowledge behind it. Maybe the subject teacher is very strict, and the “B” he gave your child is worth several excellent grades. Or your child just started to understand the topic and didn’t have time to reach the level the program requires. The measure of success for everyone is different, so take an interest in what the child has learned, what he or she has learned new and interesting, and whether he or she is able to understand unfamiliar material. Explain the incomprehensible, praise when you get what was difficult before, and show that one failure is not a complete failure, but only a small obstacle that you will help to overcome.
Fostering a motivation to learn is a long and challenging process. But if there is an atmosphere of trust and support in the family, attitudes toward learning will change over time. Accept your child for who he is, and find a way to work with him that takes his abilities, his personality, and his aptitudes into account. Don’t pressure or show impatience or aggression: frightened or stressed out children definitely won’t be able to perform miracles of intelligence when they’re studying. Help your child to open up, to develop his obvious and hidden talents, inspire him – and he will surprise you more than once with his successes.