Motivating your Child to Learn at Home

Motivating your child to complete required school work at home can be a challenge at the best of time.

B.Ed., MSc.
Sue has worked in schools and private practice as a teacher, system leader and Psychologist for over 35 years.

Motivating your child to complete required school work at home can be a challenge at the best of times, but especially during this time of social distancing and remote learning. Your child has been at this for a number of weeks now and what might have been initially exciting and novel, now feels mundane and routine.  With the arrival of spring, your child would rather be outside playing instead of inside working on school tasks. So how can you help your children stay motivated?

What is Motivation?

Research on motivation defines it as an internal process that moves an individual to take action. Motivation can be increased through what is called “Behavioral Activation”. In other words, one way to become motivated is by just getting started.  As they say at Nike, “Just Do It”.  Your brain seeks novelty, which contributes to increased motivation. Motivation is higher when your child feels a sense of purpose and control, is offered choice, and is learning something that is relevant and interesting to them. Motivation occurs when what your child is learning matters.

Research on motivation?

Researchers Tranter, Carson and Boland (2018) talk about the power of experiencing success and mastery as a motivator. According to Tranter et al “self-efficacy (as opposed to self-esteem) has been shown to increase as a result of success, and is a determining factor in whether students are motivated and confident to take on new and more challenging tasks. Increased self-efficacy increases the student’s own belief in their performance capability” (p.g 146). What this tells us, is that if your child is experiencing success and your child believes they can do something, they will be more motivated. In other words mastery and success are highly engaging..

Are you struggling to motivate your child to learn at home? Try these strategies:

13 Tips to Increase Motivation

  • Use goal setting and set reasonable expectations with challenging yet achievable targets.
  • Ensure you are giving some “choice” and give your child as much control as possible over their learning. Make sure that your child has input and keep communication open and ongoing.
  • Try to break down the work that needs to be done each day and remember completing little chunks is motivating.
  • Let your child choose an incentive or reward as a break for work chunks completed.
  • Help your child to just get started – no excuses.
  • Create a culture in your home that it is okay to make mistakes, take chances, risk.
  • Show genuine  interest in what you child is interested in.
  • Encourage curiosity in your child and be curious yourself as you explore learning topics together.
  • Remember to remain calm, clear and avoid power struggles about learning at home. Understand that when you become upset at your child for a lack of motivation, you’re giving this resisting behavior power. Try to  avoid arguing and try not to give resisting behavior power.
  • Be patient, flexible, and persistent.
  • Instead of giving motivational “talks” to your child, focus on what they can do differently next time. Have your child self assess his/her progress towards a short term goal.
  • Let your child know you see and appreciate their effort.
  • Celebrate all successes.

Reference

Tranter, D., Carson, L., and Boland, T. “The Third Path; A Relationsip-Based Approach to Student Well-Being ad Achievement”.  Nelson Education Ltd. 2018

Sue Humphry
B.Ed., MSc. Sue has worked in schools and private practice as a teacher, system leader and Psychologist for over 35 years.