How to motivate a child to study
Most tips for parents aimed at helping them to improve their child’s performance in school seem to refer to ideal children. Children who love studying and cannot wait to enter the classroom. But, what if your child shows no interest in school?
There are children who do not feel comfortable in school. Also, keep in mind that education is a long process during which children will frequently change their attitude toward learning, so as a result, their interest in school will fluctuate. Therefore, the tactics parents use to help them must be in line with their child’s current attitude.
What if your child does not like school?
It is not uncommon that children perceive school as a place with boring classes where they have to learn things they have no interest in and cannot relate to. Simply, if you ask children, they will tell you that they know dozens of better and more entertaining ways to spend their time.
In conclusion, many children show a lack of interest in school. However, a lack of interest should be distinguished from attention deficit disorder which demands another form of work with a child, as well as professional help. A child’s lack of interest in school does not include those difficulties children may face when they return to school after a long holiday. In this case, children need some time ‘to get back into shape’, whereas disinterest is a condition that continues throughout the year.
The first thing you need to know: even if your child is not particularly interested in school, it does not mean that they will not succeed in life. Simply put, traditional schools and classrooms are not equally suitable for everyone. Therefore, it is important to enroll your child in a school that nurtures children’s individuality, and adapts teaching to their needs.
If not prevented, disinterest can often become more serious, such as a child refusing to go to school. Even when parents find a way to persuade their child to go to school, such children will often be inattentive in class, study poorly and get poor grades. The mistake some parents make in those situations is to rationalize that their child hates school, and the reality can be far more complex.
The first thing you need to do is to find out the reasons for your child’s negative attitude. It does not have to be just laziness, it could also be stress, fear, even boredom if the child does not find school stimulating enough.
Whatever the reason, there are proven ways to awaken a child’s interest in school and improve their attitude toward studying. Here’s how you can do it.
10 ways to develop children’s interest in school
1. Rouse your child’s curiosity and motivate him/her
The resistance some children show toward education is often the result of a lack of motivation. You must help them find it, otherwise, there is a risk that over time, they may become completely indifferent and lazy. In doing so, you must take into account the following – you want your child to BE motivated to study, not FORCED.
Namely, a child who is forced to study will quickly forget everything they have learned, and one day, when they are free to make their own decisions, they will most likely decide not to continue their education. On the other hand, a motivated child studies because they feel an inner need, they remember the things they learned longer because they were driven by curiosity in that process, which is the best way for a person to fall in love with learning.
Even when they complete their formal education, such children will continue to learn and improve themselves. Simply put, they will adhere to the principle of lifelong learning, and this principle is one of the most important factors for professional success in the 21st century. Therefore, you need to motivate your child to study, rouse their natural curiosity, and help them become a person ready to improve throughout their life.
Harsh words and punishments are not a good solution, although sometimes they seem the easiest, however, the same is with all band-aid solutions, the results are only temporary, and the child’s lack of interest in school remains.
2. Be positive
It is important to be open, honest and supportive when you are encouraging your child to study. Remember, you are on the same team. If you behave this way, you are sure to get the best results.
Of course, the reality is that every parent often feels frustrated, tense or scared during their child’s education. However, that does not mean that you should give in to these emotions or base your reactions on them. Remember, your child is not trying to spite you or make your life hard on purpose. They simply are not in the same place as you, yet. So, whenever you feel you are going to react negatively, check yourself and repeat this: “My child is not mature enough yet, he/she needs time to understand”.
It takes time and patience for children to truly adopt the values you teach them. They will sooner or later reject a goal that is not their own. On the other hand, when a child does a good thing, not out of fear, but because you showed it to them and explained why it is good, then they use their own head and grow up into a responsible individual who knows the difference between right and wrong even when you are not around.
3. Establish the rules and make sure your child follows them
Children need structure in order to be successful learners. This implies certain rules that must be followed. Negotiate the rules with them, for example, when they will do their homework, how much time will be spent on these activities, or which days are reserved for practicing which subject.
Once you have established the rules, you need to make sure your child follows them. It is important to be firm and consistent here. Of course, as the first tip explained, it is also good to be positive, but positive is not the same as permissive. If your child shows resistance to studying and disobeys the clearly set and agreed rules, they should bear the consequences. This may include grounding them, or limiting their TV time and access to social media.
It is as simple as this: If you insist that your child follow the rules, you are sending him/her a message that you believe in them and their success.
IMPORTANT: It is extremely important that you do not shield your child from the consequences of their negligence and tardiness such as poor grades. If they did not do their job, do not do it for them. Consider yourself as their coach. Define a strategy, give them tasks, motivate them, but do not step onto the field. You should remain on the sidelines instead and watch them play. Praise their success, and don’t be afraid to let them fall, because falling is a natural and important lesson in growing up.
Avoid the mistake some parents make when they take their child’s success in school personally, like a reflection of their parenting skills. It can only make things worse and generate additional stress for you. Don’t forget: you are not doing this to be seen as a good parent by others, but for the benefit of your child.
4. Reward good habits
Just as it is important to be strict and insist your child follow the rules, it is also good to be generous when it comes to rewarding.
Rewarding is one of the best ways to develop your child’s work habits, especially in primary school. Many parents mistakenly equate rewarding and bribing. However, it is the same principle the world of adults is based on. Each of us is paid for the work we do. Studying is the child’s main responsibility, so by rewarding them, you will motivate them to do their job as best as possible, and show them how the world after school works. These rewards don’t have to be tangible, but may include activities the child enjoys.
For example, you can tell your child to go outside and play, or watch a movie, or do whatever else they want when they finish studying. This way, you teach them discipline, patience and hard work through delayed gratification.
5. Provide your child with a learning space
Together with your child, find out their ideal location for learning. Maybe they prefer a remote corner of the house or the apartment where they can study in peace and focus on their responsibilities, or they like being closer to other members of the household. Allow them to try out different options, but once they find the one that suits them, let them stick to it.
TIP: It’s not good to leave most children alone in their study space, because they can easily lose focus and concentration, failing to fulfill their responsibilities. You should make sure that you are always close by, but without disturbing their space, because that way, you will always be there to lend a hand.
Of course, be careful not to end up doing their homework for them. It is okay to review their assignments, or help them if they encounter difficulties, but do not get yourself into a situation where your work is being graded, instead of your child’s. Your task is to help the child only as much as he/she needs to overcome the obstacle, but it is their task, and at the same time, one of the main outcomes of the teaching process to learn to fight and overcome obstacles on their own.
6. Help your child believe in success
It is very important to develop your child’s self-confidence. When they start an activity, children need to believe that they can master it: their success often depends on it. However, regardless of talent, the reality is that everyone must face failure at some point. The most important thing is to teach your child that although they failed the first time, it does not mean that they will not succeed the next time. Continuous practice can make up for many shortcomings.
Role models have a special role in strengthening one’s belief in success, as well as a healthy degree of comparison between oneself and others. For example, if a child sees that his/her peers have successfully mastered a lesson, or earned good grades, they will start to believe that they can do the same.
Warning: many parents make a well-intentioned mistake of comparing their child negatively with their friends: “If he can do it, why can’t you?”.
TIP: Try to make the comparison positive and encouraging: “See how he managed to master it with hard work and diligence, it means that you can too, only if you want to”.
When it comes to role models, parents are their children’s role models, especially during primary school. You will probably help your child with homework. All this can be a challenge for parents, but you do not have to know everything your child learns in school.
However, do not make the following mistake, saying: “I am not good at math, ask your mom”. That way, you will show them you are not even trying to overcome your own limitations. Say this instead: “I do not know how to solve this problem, but let’s try to do it together”. This way, you will demonstrate your curiosity and willingness to learn, which will help your child to adopt this healthy habit as well.
7. Allow your child to acquire fundamental knowledge
In order to be able to successfully master the teaching material, a child should possess some fundamental knowledge: that means possessing a certain mastery of vocabulary, and other skills specified for his/her age. One of the best ways to do this includes educational video games and applications.
They help children acquire fundamental skills in an age-appropriate, encouraging and entertaining way, and in a familiar environment. Schools that make use of modern educational apps and technologies make the learning process more engaging, and their students achieve better results.
8. Explain the importance of the things they learn
Same as everyone, children learn better and faster when they can see the bigger picture. No one should learn just for the sake of grades, but because knowledge is necessary for the survival of mankind. In other words, show your child how the things he/she learns relate to the real world, and why they are important.
For example, if they are learning a lesson about human anatomy, tell them that doctors know which medicine to prescribe when we are ill precisely because of their knowledge of how the human organism works.
Or, if it is a geography lesson, tell them that you can travel to the seaside, because you know exactly where it is, how to get there, and what to expect thanks to your knowledge of our planet, its regions and countries. Children should feel that the reason why they study is because one day, they will actually use what they have learned.
ATTENTION: Demonstrating the practicality of certain knowledge must not interfere with children’s ability to think in abstract terms. Therefore, don’t try to link school knowledge with the real word at any cost. Sometimes, the knowledge of certain subjects is a reward in itself, an interesting method of problem solving, or a shining example of human spirit and thought. Certain mathematical solutions, poetry and art forms cannot be easily connected with everyday life, and yet their value is indisputable. Help your child appreciate such value.
9. Give your child a choice
One of the most efficient ways to arouse your child’s interest in learning is to allow them to be an active participant in the learning process, instead of a passive recipient of knowledge. This is most easily done if you give them a choice in the process, i.e. allow them to make certain choices in the learning process. You need to think about the choices you will allow them to make, i.e. it is crucial that each choice results in the genuine development of the child.
For example, let them choose how they will solve a math problem, provided there is more than one way to solve it, and whether they will do their English homework or math homework first.
ATTENTION: Children will know if the choices you give them are fake. If your idea of a choice is to let them decide which color of the paper and pencil to use, it will not be enough to hold their attention, or make them active participants in the learning process.
10. Distinguish between laziness and stress
We often interpret a child’s lack of motivation and interest in school as their laziness, when in fact the child suffers from mild anxiety and stress caused by their responsibilities at school. Every individual reacts differently, and facing a new environment and academic expectations in general is simply too much for some children. It should be noted that children cannot always explain their feelings, so parents often misinterpret their behavior. Remember: excessive anxiety often manifests as giving up, losing interest, evasion or seeming indifferent to what is causing it.
Moderate levels of anxiety and stress can be stimulating for students, whereas excessive levels can cause a complete blockage. Therefore, do not immediately think that your child has no interest in school, perhaps they are just afraid of it. You will help them by providing them with a structure, by being supportive, nurturing positive emotions about school, and sharing some effective learning techniques. In other words, all these tips will increase your child’s interest in the school material, and reduce their stress when faced with it.
Remember, you are not alone. School plays the most prominent role, apart from you as a parent, so it is important that your child goes to a school that will help them develop their full potential.