Children are under signiﬁcant pressure to do well in school. As the pressure mounts from Primary 4 onwards, parents face the new challenge of keeping their child motivated under these stressful circumstances. Research has shown us time and again that motivated children do better in school. This is not because they feel that they have to be the best but because they are trying to do their best.
According to US-based The Parent Institute, which encourages parents’ involvement in their children’s education, motivated kids are more likely to:
• Choose tasks that are challenging.
• Begin tasks without any prodding.
• Show serious effort and concentration.
• Have a positive attitude toward learning and schoolwork.
• Use coping strategies to get through rough times.
• Stick with tasks until successful completion.
Conversely, unmotivated children are likely to choose work that is inappropriately easy; need lots of prodding to get started; put in minimal effort; show a negative or apathetic attitude about learning and schoolwork; give up quickly when the going gets rough; and leave many tasks unﬁnished.
It is easy to see why motivated children will be more successful in both school and life. So, it’s important that you put your efforts into keeping your children interested in learning and motivated to do their very best, instead of focusing on keeping their grades up.
Show of support
We are models for our children — this is true even for tweens and teens. There are ways to show our child how important we think school success is and that we are there to support him.
Make time to develop a relationship with your child’s teacher. E-mail has made this much easier for both busy teachers and working parents. Share information about your child and what your idea of success is. Make time to attend parent evenings and special school events. If you can volunteer as a parent helper, this is an enormous motivator for your child.
Support him in his assignments and homework. This doesn’t mean doing it for him, but making sure he has a suitable space to work, away from distractions. Keep an eye on deadlines and speak to him about his progress, ﬁnd out what he needs to complete an assignment. Limit the time he spends on video games and TV if these take up too much of his homework time.
Be positive about school and school work. Even if you don’t see the point of a certain assignment, keep that to yourself or share your concern with his teacher. Tell him what you enjoyed about school and how you beneﬁted from what you learnt. Say how much fun you think a certain ﬁeld trip will be or how exciting a new subject may be.
Broaden his mind
Children who understand that learning is not restricted to classroom time are more motivated. If you recognise your child’s learning style and know his interests, you can help him expand his point of view and raise his awareness that many things offer him opportunities to learn.
Concrete experiences such as museums, theatres and different cultures help make what children learn in school relevant. Once you are able to help your child see that what he does in school can be applied and will beneﬁt him — he will naturally feel more inclined to continue learning.
Article by Fiona Walker, principal director of Julia Gabriel Centre.