The secret to effective motivation

Aug 18 2016.

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Tips on keeping your children motivated in school

As parents, we want what is best for our children. From the lifestyle we provide them to their success at school, this is what is foremost in every parent's mind.

As your child now moves from Kindergarten to Big School, their ways of learning will also change. Before, most of the lessons were through play and fun activities; now your child will have to buckle down and do some concrete learning.

From the multitude of homework assignments, ad hoc revision tests to be studied for and of course the final exams to be studied for, school work which was quite fun for the Montessori child will now require more of a commitment and could prove to be tedious, boring and just a lot of hard work.

It would be great if one could also take a nonchalant stance and not emphasise success at school. But as parents we have responsibilities to help our children be the the best they can be. 

This is of course easier said than done. Not every child is motivated from the get go. Children, being children, will balk at the sight of homework; they would rather be running around than studying for a possible revision test. Sometimes the stress of getting good grades at the final exams might cause them not to try at all. 

Yes, trying to keep our children motivated can be a conundrum; it will require boundless patience from our end, but as parents, it is a task we have to face and handle successfully.  

Consultant Education and Behaviour Therapist Malathi Kahandaliyanage advises us to keep in mind the essential 5, which are:

1. What
2. Why
3. When
4. Where
5. How


She says to teach our children the importance of,

1. What they learn - for example, letters. 
2. Why they learn - for example, to write their own name. 
3. When they learn - every time they look at the letters/books.
4. Where do they learn - in the classroom and at home when they repeat what they have learnt.
5. How do they learn - By listening, creating and being able to demonstrate their skills.


Some tips to make studying fun and keep the motivation levels high:

1. As Mrs. Kahandaliyanage mentioned, rather than telling the child to “study” carefully explain to him/her the ins and outs of the benefits of studying, since he/she is of an understanding age now. Explain how studying makes them better individuals, how it gives them knowledge and power. In this way learning becomes an adventure rather than a task; the child is keen to read, to learn new words, to solve the intricate maths puzzle and to overcome the challenges presented. We can motivate them mentally.

2. At this age, children thrive on enthusiasm. If we are enthusiastic about learning and the benefits to it, they will be also. 

3. Teach your child that studying does not only have to be confined to the classroom. If they are learning about a particular subject (for example, Ancient History), then read books with them on it; go on road trips. This is a great way to teach.

4. Initially, you will have to focus on rewards; this is a great motivational tool to get your child working on his/her school work. Later on once the child gets motivated to achieve successes for himself/herself, then external rewards can be slowly forgotten as the only motivational factor.

5. Keep a clear line of communication with your child. When your child is not studying as you'd like him/her to, it is human nature to get frustrated and become angry but this will prove more disastrous than helpful. For when threatened the child will study for that instance, but our goal is to instill motivational tips for the long term. Keep calm and talk to your child, especially when a subject is too hard for them and they are not motivated to persevere.

Some children will excel naturally in their school work. This might demotivate your child if he/she is not achieving the success that you want them to. So remember that each child is different, and always make your child aware that whatever their final accomplishments, you are proud that they have put in the effort and that is all that matters. 

Expert advice provided by 

Written by Mayuri Jayasinghe based on an interview with Malathi Kahandaliyanage, Consultation Education and Behaviour Therapist


Mayuri Jayasinghe

Mayuri Jayasinghe plays many roles in her life but her most important and quite baffling role is that of being mother to her four children. She is the voice behind 'Parenting Life' for LIFE. A regular contributor to Women at Work and the Little Enquirer. Follow Mayuri on her Facebook page, The Parenting Club.



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