In our initial consultation calls, parents often express their worries that their child won’t work independently. Their child lacks self-motivation. Homework is a battle! The majority of children are like sponges when they first start school, eager to please and soaking up knowledge. Sometimes, as they get older, their motivation can wane and schoolwork may become a chore.
Understandably, this can be a worry for parents, who want their children to achieve their full potential. It is important to know that there are many reasons why a child’s motivation to learn may drop off as they progress through primary school and beyond. This can happen when something they always found easy suddenly becomes difficult, or as the amount of homework increases. Children can start to resent the burden of homework. This is especially true if homework starts to crowd out the activities that your child enjoys.
With this in mind, we decided to create some tips for any parents out there experiencing this problem. The good news is that there’s plenty you can do to encourage your child to stay motivated from a young age.
1. Reward effort
As a parent, if your child struggles to motivate themselves, it can be very tempting to offer incentives; for example, linking pocket money to good marks at school. The problem with rewarding the result is that it creates a mentality where children are looking for what they must do to get the reward. Often, it can be better to reward effort rather than achievement, whether that’s with praise and kind words or something concrete.
2. Encourage curiosity
If your child has a passion for something – whether that’s maths, music or Minecraft– they’ll naturally be motivated to do it, and that can help instil good habits. Be child-led and let them explore their curiosity, even if it seems a bit odd to you. If you want your child to be motivated to achieve, as parents it is good to demonstrate that behaviour also. A child’s chance of success in a particular area is massively increased if their parents have a passion for it. For example, if you want your child to learn guitar, don’t just send them to lessons: be involved with their practice, and let them see you playing an instrument yourself– or better still go to lessons with them and try to learn the instrument as well!
3. Build their self-esteem
When kids make their own age-appropriate choices, they feel more powerful – this is true across all aspects of their life. Metaphorically ‘holding your child’s hand’ through every piece of homework might make them get it done, but it won’t increase their self-motivation, so aim to guide and support without taking over. It’s important to remember that success comes as a result of practice, and children are most likely to succeed if they choose to practice for themselves. Even if the outcome looks imperfect, their teacher will be happy to see homework completed independently.
4. Know when to step back
It’s natural to feel frustrated if your child isn’t trying their hardest but try not to slip into nagging and remonstrating. To help your child become more competent, you must learn to step back and let your child take risks, make choices, solve problems and stick with what they start. To build confidence in the world, kids have to take chances, make choices and take responsibility for them on their own.
5. Show an interest
You can engender a love of learning in your child by showing genuine interest in what they’re doing at school. Try to make time to talk, and instead of asking what your child did at school, ask them what they learnt and what was interesting, and how they managed to overcome any difficulty. This has the effect of starting a dialogue, rather than simply getting your child to list what they’ve been doing (or tell you they can’t remember!)
Sometimes a child’s interest can decrease as they get older. If this becomes an issue ,talking to their teacher or a trained professional may be beneficial. If you would like further advice, feel free to contact us here at Primary Tutor Project where we have numerous techniques to help children maintain their motivation to learn. Our if you’d like to find out more Harvard University have given some interesting advice here.