23 ways to motivate your child to learn

shutterstock_134024105Parenting expert Michael Grose believes, “Children can achieve just about anything if they are motivated enough, yet they will learn very little if motivation is missing.” That’s great news if your child is one of those self-motivated self-starters, but where does that leave the rest of us?

There are tried and true ways to motivate even the least enthusiastic learner. Some will work some of the time, while others will work brilliantly on some kids while hardly budging others. The trick is to find out what works for your child.

Here are 23 techniques that other parents have found successful to motivate their kids. Try tailoring a few to see how they work for your child, but always remember that you and your child are on the same team. Pressuring a child to do well at school usually makes things worse. Maintaining a relationship with your child that is open, respectful and positive is the best way to help them understand the value of learning. Most importantly, keep it fun.

  1. Teach the concept of delayed gratification early. “When you have done your homework, then you can go out and play”.
  2. Does your child regularly tell you they have no homework? Some kids do manage to finish their homework quickly, but having a regular homework time helps kids develop the study habits they’ll need to meet the demands of higher education. Have a set time on school days when even early finishers are studying.
  3. Have a chat with your child’s teacher to get a better idea of how they’re coping with school work. Experienced teachers often have great ideas about which learning style works best with each student, and they will have unique insights from working with your child every day.
  4. shutterstock_177913448Have a designated study spot to help your child focus when doing their work.
  5. Many of us delay big projects until the last minute, but breaking down projects into smaller tasks helps both you and them to avoid the stress of deadlines. Keep an eye out for major homework projects, and help your child organise a timeline to finish the project in sensible chunks.
  6. Be kind, helpful, and consistent rather than over-controlling and punitive. While you shouldn’t be doing the homework yourself, be the parent a child can come to for guidance.
  7. Anxiety can look like poor motivation. Your child could be avoiding schoolwork for many reasons other than laziness. Encourage your child to talk about their feelings, so you can talk through motivational problems.
  8. Achieving life balance is an important life skill. Teach your child that work and play are both important, and help them schedule both into every day.
  9. shutterstock_137209721Self-esteem plays an important part in learning. Encourage your child to pursue their interests and talents alongside the subjects they’re struggling with, so that they are not constantly feeling behind.
  10. Enthuse your child in reading. Read to them, read together as a family, and show how important reading is to their lives by drawing attention to how often you read. For example, you could point out packets in supermarkets, road signs, magazines, etc. Visit your local library regularly and show enthusiasm for new books.
  11. Let your child to take some ownership over their study by letting them choose their own stationery or book covers.
  12. Show enthusiasm for things that interest your child and look for ways that you can link their interests to their study. Reluctant readers are more likely to read books if they find the subject matter interesting enough.
  13. Find ways to support your child’s individual learning style. Visual and tactile learners may learn more through unstructured play than sitting still and listening to verbal instruction.
  14. Show your child that learning is a lifelong activity by commenting on things you’ve learnt about that day.
  15. shutterstock_155860238Ask your child what topic they’re learning about in school. Verbalising their learning is a great opportunity to reinforce concepts and correct misunderstandings
  16. Turn everyday experiences into learning opportunities. Allowing them to make small purchases while out shopping teaches them life skills, and shows them that maths has real life applications.
  17. Learning is more than sums and spelling. Give your child opportunities to be creative, and discover what they can make.
  18. Visit learning spaces. Museums and art galleries often have programs designed to motivate kids and many displays are interactive.
  19. shutterstock_168170189Use intrinsic rewards to encourage learning. Ask your child how they felt when they finally learnt their tables or completed a big project.
  20. Give immediate and specific praise for effort and achievement.
  21. All learning doesn’t have to be at a desk. Try the times tables while jumping on a trampoline.
  22. Watch documentaries with your child.
  23. Level up. If you’re having trouble luring a child away from a video game to do their homework, try using the same techniques that game designers use to make their games so addictive. Set learning tasks at levels that your child can achieve, and move on to higher quests. Remember, make it fun.