Motivation is the Key to Unlocking Your Child’s Maximum Potential. Part 1.
Striking the spark that motivates a child produces an internally fuelled quest for success that no amount of external rewards, threats or pleas can equal. Motivation is truly the secret to helping children develop their greatest potential. Parents have a big role to play in whether or not their child will be motivated to do his or her best in school. In the end, it’s up to the child —but as the parents you can create an encouraging environment. In Part 1 of this two part series we will highlight three out of the seven ways that will keep your child motivated in order to be successful at school.
Set realistic expectations
Expect your child to succeed, and her chances for success improve greatly. Children are usually very aware of how their parents view them, and they often tailor their actions to those views. So it’s very important to have high expectations—and communicate them to your child.
It’s equally important to base your expectations on your child as an individual who has strengths and weaknesses like all individuals. Set appropriate expectations by communicating honestly and openly with your child.
Help your child to set goals
Goals turn expectations from ideas into reality. Here are some ways to help your child set meaningful goals: Write the goals down. Research shows that we are more likely to accomplish written goals than those we merely talk about, perhaps because written goals provide a visual reminder of what we need to do. Post them in a prominent spot—such as a kitchen wall—where she/he can refer to them often.
Make the goals specific. “For example, “Eric will improve his math grade from a B to an A,” and then the child knows exactly what is expected of him. Next step, “To accomplish his goal, Eric will do the following: 1) review math problems 20 minutes each night, whether or not he has an upcoming quiz; 2) ask Mom to give him a practice math test every Thursday.”
Finally, make the goals measurable. A measurable goal allows you and your child to chart his progress. For example, you can tell whether Eric is on his way to improving his grade by whether he is finishing homework with less difficulty and whether his marks on math quizzes are steadily improving.
Show that you think school is important
Taking time to set expectations and goals with your children clearly communicates your interest in helping them to be their best. Build on that by showing your enthusiasm for education in a variety of ways:
Maintain a good relationship with your child’s teacher. Tell the teacher about your expectations and your child’s goals. Ask her/his for suggestions on achieving them. Also ask the teacher to clearly state her/his own expectations and goals for your child.
Support the programs at your child’s school. Attending events like conferences, plays and musicals show your child that being at school is a priority for you. Also consider volunteering at school and participating in school fundraisers.
Create a suitable environment for homework. Make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to study. Make sure that the desk and chair are comfortable so that the child can concentrate better. Be available to look over homework and give suggestions, but never do your child’s homework for her/him. If your child has difficulty doing her/his homework, write a note to the teacher explaining the problem.
Keep track of your child’s assignments. Doing school work is your child’s responsibility, but you should be aware of what she/he is studying as well as the status of homework assignments, tests and class projects.
Knowing your child’s learning style will help to keep him more motivated. Part 2.
As a parent, it is difficult not to become invested in your child’s academic life because you know how important it is for their future. In last month’s issue we highlighted three strategies to help keep your child motivated. In this second part of the series we identify different learning styles and give suggestions which will also help your children to reach their maximum potential.
It’s important to identify and support your child’s learning style
Your child will probably be motivated to learn if he uses the learning style that feels natural and makes the most sense—to him. So help him to figure out what his learning style is.
• Does he learn best by hearing, such as listening to a talk or a book? If so, he may be an auditory learner. He enjoys music and hearing stories; can probably follow oral directions very well; is comfortable talking; and would probably prefer spelling his words aloud to the teacher to taking a written quiz. Auditory learners feel motivated and engaged when they can incorporate more listening into schoolwork. Here are good ways to motivate this type of learner: Have your child record himself reading a chapter out loud and then review by listening to it; use rhymes and songs; give him oral quizzes or listen to him recite math facts; or suggest that he “talk himself” through a problem, for example, “Let’s see, multiply and divide before you add and subtract. So the first thing I need to do is multiply three times nine …”
• Is he a visual learner? He appreciates artwork, movies and theatre productions; can probably follow a map like a professional; likes to have something written on paper to back up oral lessons; would probably prefer studying a chart of the times tables to repeating them out loud with the class. Visual learners thrive more when they can incorporate more seeing into their schoolwork. Here are some ways to motivate a visual learner: Help him use colour wherever possible. Take notes using different coloured pens for example, write spelling words and key concepts in “rainbow style”—write each word three times, first in red, then in green, then in blue; highlight important passages in books in bright tones, such as pink; when reading a text, suggest that he first looks at all the pictures, charts, graphs and diagrams in the chapter and then encourage him to use the illustrations to reinforce what he is reading; help him make a study wall with posters of whatever he needs to learn and remind him refer to it often; flashcards are great for visual learners for math facts, vocabulary words and anything he needs to memorise; and talk with him about staying attentive during oral presentations by watching the speaker.
• Does he like building models or making charts? If so, he may be a kinaesthetic learner. He loves to be on the move, and enjoys recess and exercise classes; he would much rather participate than spectate; likes using his hands to create things; and is happier doing hands-on science experiments than doing theory. Kinaesthetic learners feel more motivated when they can incorporate more doing into their schoolwork. Try these ideas: Help him look for ways to make learning more hands-on, for example, use counters to learn addition and subtraction; learn spelling words by manipulating alphabet blocks into place; combine study breaks with physical activity, for example study for 30 minutes, then a short run (about 10 minutes) and then back to study; help him with reading comprehension by having him tell you about or act out a passage from a book – be his audience or play a role yourself; encourage him to do hands-on projects; kinaesthetic learners usually shine at science fairs and art shows because they love to create things. Therefore participation in these events can boost your child’s self-esteem, which can in turn boost his motivation.
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