Your child is intelligent, and you know it. What you can’t figure out is why that intelligence is not translating to good grades at school.
The fact is, intelligence (and success) needs motivation to take off. Lack of motivation is a common concern of parents all over the world.
Get ready to rock with our 9 sure-fire ways to instill the motivation to study in your child.
Typically children are naturally motivated to learn until they reach the age seven. After that, they may need your support for targeted learning.
1. Discover your child’s strengths and encourage their interests
First you want to find out what your child is good at and encourage it. The feeling of being good at something and being able to explore an interest freely is highly motivating.
Day in and day out, your children get exposed to different subjects, some of which they are not interested in and not naturally good at, which can be very daunting. So listen in. What does your child talk about all day? Encourage your children to study topics that fascinate them. Give them time to do the things they are good at.
This will go a long way to instill a general love of learning in your child…
2. Foster a love of learning outside the classroom
Limiting learning to the classroom will make your child drop the learning mindset upon leaving school by default. If you really want to enhance your child’s ability to learn, cultivate an atmosphere of learning, especially outside the classroom.
One way to do this is to help your children develop a love for reading by reading to them regularly. Take turns and have them read something aloud. Fill your house with reading materials. Just setting aside 20 minutes a day will make a big difference in your child’s relationship to reading and learning.
3. Relate what your child is learning to life
Your children may not realize the importance of education this early. Sometimes, they just need to understand why it’s important to do something before they actually do it.
Explain to them why education is important and help them set goals.
Talk to your child and be imaginative in drawing connections to school subjects and areas that your child loves. Suddenly even dry subjects will appear more exciting and colourful to your child.
If your children are having trouble in math, and don’t see the point at all in learning it, find a way to link it to real life, to something that they are interested in.
For example, if your child likes horseback riding, explain how important math skills are in calculating distances when riding a horse. See, riding requires critical thinking and calculation: at what angle should you jump to overcome an obstacle? How much speed will cover what distance? Calculations, trigonometry, charting – really any discipline can be related to horse riding activities.
If your child likes to play basketball, explain how geometric concepts permeate the game in terms of knowing the width of the court or the distance from the three-point-line to the hoop or the path the basketball takes according to at which angle it is shot.
Once you start looking, you will find that math is everywhere. It arguably is the language of the universe.
4. Celebrate their efforts
Celebrating your child’s effort (not achievements!) – big or small – is a huge motivator.
Praise effort rather than achievement. Throughout life it will be their effort that will carry them.
If you only praise achievement, you are creating competitiveness, stress and lots of failure – because only one person can win first place. You are in effect mostly creating failure and fear of failure. This is completely counter-productive.
If your children studied real hard for an exam, you may send them off by looking them in the eye and telling them: “I know you studied hard for this exam and I want you to know that I appreciate that and I’m proud of you.”
Don’t restrict your praises to schoolwork, if your child helped you with chores like clearing the table or cleaning dishes, say something like: “I feel really happy you helped me with the table. It really shows that we are a great team and help each other. ”
If your child is learning how to play the guitar, you may say something like: “I’m so impressed how you keep picking up your guitar and practise it over and over. You can master anything with that kind of approach.”
Winning in life is not about achieving first place in anything. It is about achieving what’s important to us as individuals.
5. Talk with your child’s teachers
Sitting down with your child and their teachers is essential.
First of all it sends a clear message to both your child and the teacher that you care about your child’s education. This alone is worth your time and effort.
Your teacher wants nothing more than interested, engaged students.
Your child’s teacher will be more than happy to help you establish ways to motivate your child to study better. In fact, teachers are your best allies in helping with learning techniques and pinpointing ways to improve studying.
Together, you can set up a plan that will help your child make sure he or she does all the needed schoolwork. The teachers can encourage them more and remind them to study and do their work, while parents can take care of things from home.
6. Model the behavior that you want
You know the saying “values are caught and not taught?” The same thing applies in this situation. You do not teach motivation per se like a lesson with an exam afterwards, but you can model it to your child.
I think our children really are the greatest motivators for us parents. They inspire us to be kind, compassionate and do the best we can for our families. In turn, our children learn from us how to take on the world.
Let this thought be an inspiration to you. How you live your life and the way you select and pursue your goals will motivate your child to do the same.
Model passion, persistence and the immense joy of going after your dreams. Your child looks up to you and copies. Has there ever been a better win-win?
7. Teach them how to organize
There is no demotivator quite like disorganization. A disorganised environment will make it very hard to begin working, or in your child’s case – studying.
This is where you come in. Teach your children how to organize. Because once they’re organised, they will feel in control and ready to begin working on an assignment. Organisation is also one of the cornerstones.
Without organising, it is all too easy to get lost and overwhelmed.
Also take note of noise distractions. It is a great idea for all of us to reduce running the TV or radio all the time. Quieten your environment and allow everyone to discover their own thoughts and ideas.
8. Take studying on a whole new level by adding imagination
When you see your child struggling or starting to get bored with studying, try injecting a little fun into the whole thing. A little creativity goes a long way.
Have you ever tried games or role-playing? When a child learns from having fun, their mind experiences pleasure and associates pleasure with learning.
If your children are struggling in math, have them imagine themselves running their own lemonade stand or a cookie business.
If your children are getting bored with science, have them imagine as if they’re a scientist and the world is counting on them!
When I was at university I had to study a semester of accounting. The only way I survived that subject was to imagine I was the CEO of a multi-million dollar company and I wanted to know and control my empire’s finances….
When you see signs of struggle, think of it as an opportunity to devise another way of looking at what is learnt. Find imaginative ways of making it relevant, engaging and an adventure. After all, that’s what learning really is.
9. Have a regular study schedule – and stick to it
You probably noticed that I said 8 tips. So this one is your unannounced bonus.
Having a regular study schedule will help your child develop a good work ethic. Kids thrive on routine. Motivation and a good and solid work ethic go hand in hand. So every day, set aside a regular time for homework and study and stick to it. There shouldn’t be any form of distraction at this time so keep gadgets, tablets, and cellphones out of the way.
Even the most motivated child will not do well if there is no structure in place to support regular study.
To motivate your child to study needs time and patience. As stated earlier, you do not want to use force, scolding, or any form of punishment. All you will get is resentment from your child and a power struggle between the two of you that will make nothing better.
Find out your child’s strengths, set goals, model the ideal behavior and celebrate their efforts. Nothing works quite like your active, positive participation in your child’s educational journey.
If you follow through with each step, you will start seeing signs of motivation to study in your child. That motivation and intelligence will translate to success in all kinds of areas!