How To Keep Your Kids Motivated in School
Ideally, kids’ motivation would come from within (intrinsic motivation) but sometimes it takes some support to get them to that point, and the messages children get at home can play a huge role.
Here are 5 areas you can focus on to help your child:
1. Show your child that you value education
Valuing education starts with making sure your child is present at school – only legitimate illness is a reason to be absent. Talk about school and ask about your child’s day. We use the “high and low” conversation starter around the dinner table, which really helps. When your child has an interest, help her research on the internet to learn more, and take educational trips – library, museum, etc.
Make time for learning outside of the classroom as well. Incorporating activities like reading into your child’s schedule doesn’t have to be hard – right now for our girls it’s “Bed at 7:30, lights out at 8”. Also ensure your child has all the supplies that are needed at home to complete school work. I suggest keeping a caddy with all materials that can be moved from room to room. Model reading and writing yourself, and call attention to real-life math you’re using in everyday life.
2. Reward…the right way!
I never recommend cash for report card grades, or buying “stuff” to reward achievements, but there are other ways to condition your child to feel positive about her school accomplishments. Praise is best. Verbally reinforce not only final results, but efforts and improvements. I make sure to read nice notes from the teacher out loud to my husband (so the kids can hear) and sometimes we call Grandma and Grandpa to share, too.
Your attention and time are valuable commodities to your child. A visit to the park, movie night on the couch, or trip for hot chocolate or ice cream can be surprise celebrations after the fact (not offered as a bribe in advance). Make sure that TV/video games/social media time come after homework and chores are completed for the night.
3. Support the school – your child is always listening.
It’s always important to speak respectfully about staff and school/classroom decisions when your children are in earshot. Show your child that you’re going to be involved in the school year by signing their agenda, and follow through by communicating regularly with the teacher throughout the year. Always follow-up with consequences at home when there is an issue at school.
4. Give your child ownership.
Starting at a young age, model unpacking bag, setting out homework, etc., (this will make life easier for you, too!). Then expect your child to begin taking responsibility for the routine. Help your child develop daily/weekly to-do lists, in order to be ready for school and bed each day, and for older kids to manage assignments.
Gradually allow your child to have control over the completion of tasks. Allow some choice. Let little ones pick their own bedtime stories (yes, even if it’s the same one every night) and older kids can choose where in the house they want to complete homework.
5. Be positive
You want your child to take in more positive messages about school than negative. If she’s struggling (academically or behaviourally) it may seem that every discussion about school is “bad”. Make an effort to give positive feedback. Enlist the teacher’s help for this, so you have material to use. One little boy in my class struggles with focus, and the mom and I have chatted about that a few times. She was thrilled (and so was her son) one day when I wrote a glowing message about his time on task.
If work truly seems too difficult or your child seems to have social concerns, speak to the teacher right away so action can be taken to make school the safe, happy and challenging place it should be.
How do you motivate your child in school? Join the conversation in the comments below or on social media!