No matter how dedicated our children are to learning, there will always be a time that they become demotivated for various reasons, most of them temporary (hopefully!)
However, there are some children that only put in minimal effort and need lots of urging to get started. They tend to leave many, if not all, tasks unfinished and have a negative attitude to learning and schoolwork.
“Reluctant learners need to be both challenged and supported if they are to develop the self-efficacy they need to take risks and succeed.” Nancy Protheroe
Albert Einstein said: “It’s not that I’m smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” His incredible persistence lead to success because he was motivated. It has been proven that everyone can use motivation to achieve personal success.
Journalist Paul Tough in his book “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character”, identifies more important qualities that lead to success: persistence, self-control, curiosity, grit, conscientiousness, self-confidence and optimism.
By creating an encouraging environment, you, the parent, can start your child off on the right path.
1. Have a strong relationship with your child
Have meaningful conversations, actually communicate with and listen to your child, have conversations about life. Show an interest in what fascinates your child and explore areas of interest. Focus on how they feel and facilitate learning through guidance and nurturing.
2. Remember that character strengths can be taught
For example, curiosity and self-control. This can be achieved by turning everyday events into learning experiences so that they can see how learning relates to their lives. Encourage problem solving through daily activities.
3. Let them learn from failure
Often children are trying to conceal their concerns about scholastic achievement. Help them to embrace their imperfections and to accept that mistakes are okay (and part of our daily lives) and how they can learn from them. Empower them by showing them how to identify a mistake and to see it as part of the learning process.
4. Encourage expression of opinion
Let them have a say when making appropriate choices and voicing their opinions. Read my blog post 7 Ways to Help Your Child Become a Good Decision Maker.
5. Set goals
short, medium and long term goals should be set. Be realistic, making sure that they are achievable. Write them down, making sure they are specific and measurable. Provide incentives along the way.
6. Ask your child about their learning at school
Ensure that their basic reading, mathematics and listening skills are in place. These are paramount to reach success. Without them no amount of motivation or support will be significant. You’ll find that WorksheetCloud helps with these basics, and provides you with access to hundreds of online and printable CAPS-based worksheets and tests with complete memorandums.
You should also fill your child’s world with reading by making it an everyday occurrence enjoyed by the whole family. Read my blog post The Art of Reading with Your Child for tips.
7. Adapt to their learning style
Online tests are available. It is very important to ascertain if they are visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learners. Refer to my blog post When Should You Start Preparing for Exams.
8. Lead by example
By having a healthy attitude towards school and valuing education yourself, you are leading by example. Your attitude does rub off on your child.
9. Celebrate achievement
Praise effort, not results. There is nothing that beats affirmation. By offering positive reinforcement you will inspire your child to keep learning.
Exam time considerations:
- Make sure that there is a safe, peaceful place for your child to study.
- Make sure that your child’s basic needs are met.
- Make sure that your child has the tools to be successful i.e. understanding of the subject matter and how to use this understanding effectively, questioning techniques are understood, is able to think critically etc.
You may also want to read my blog posts 3 Question Techniques to Improve Your Child’s Results and How to Ace Exams by Thinking Critically.
Children need to know that not all learning is fun and that not all learning makes sense immediately. BUT it does all fit into the bigger picture – LIFE. Ultimately, hard work is the key to success.
“Self-efficacy starts with students believing that what they are working on is meaningful. Consequently, they need to know why what they are learning is important.” Harris 1991