Parenting Tips


How do motivate your child for school?

Nothing is more important for school success than your own motivation. You can use these tips to motivate your child.
On the first day of school, children are still highly motivated. Curious, they throw themselves into everyday school life. But over time, hobbies and friends usually become more important than learning. It is therefore important to encourage the child’s inner motivation in good time.

Parents should therefore help their child with one thing in particular: to stay motivated! But how?

1. Be more interested in learning content than in grades!

A child should enjoy learning and be happy about their new knowledge. Then a drive of its own develops, which psychologists call “intrinsic motivation ”. In contrast, “extrinsically motivated” children learn only to get good grades or to please the teacher. In a 2014 study of 200 primary school students, Portuguese researchers Marina Lemos and Lurdes Veríssimo found that both forms of motivation can work simultaneously. The decisive factor in their relationship: if intrinsic motivation prevails, i.e. the drive from fun and curiosity, the study showed that the performance of the students in the subjects Portuguese and mathematics improved steadily from the first to the fourth grade. According to the researchers, extrinsic motivation only played a role from the third grade onwards: if it then got the upper hand, the children’s school performance deteriorated again. In order to promote intrinsic motivation, you should emphasize learning content more than grades. For example, first, ask what a test was about instead of asking about the result.

2. Support the curiosity of the little ones!

Children who can act out their wacky ideas—like keeping an earthworm as a pet or squeezing green juice from weeds—are naturally inquisitive and willing to learn. Because they recognize how exciting it can be to discover and try out new things. No matter how unusual a child’s ideas are or are guaranteed to lead to chaos, support them! Praise creative ideas even if they don’t seem immediately meaningful and important. In this way, parents also help their children to get to know their own interests and limits.

3. Encourage hobbies!

School is often more important to parents than football and the like. But only through long-term activities do children realize that it takes stamina and perseverance to achieve small and large successes. It doesn’t matter whether it’s on the piano, PC, or hockey: Only with sufficient training do they become little professionals. Dry periods also have to be overcome. Anyone who has understood this can survive boring learning phases better.

4. Explain why you learn!

It is often not clear to children why the knowledge they learn at school should be of use to them in life. Give them a hand, because motivation needs goals: if you learn to write, you can send grandma a birthday card, for example. Good knowledge of English enables you to talk to computer gamer all over the world via the Internet. And a better grade in math may pave the way for your dream degree. If you have a goal in mind, you will also want to deal with more difficult learning content.

5. Be self-motivated!

In 2011, a team led by Idit Katz from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev showed how important the basic attitude of the parents is for the motivation of the child. The researchers surveyed 135 students and their mothers or fathers and found that parents who helped with homework for fun and on their own initiative gave their child a more positive feeling about learning and behaved more empathetically than those who supported their offspring out of a sense of duty. Their empathetic behavior, in turn, promoted the children’s intrinsic motivation.

6. Don’t be too hasty in offering your help!

You should let a child try each task for themselves before offering your support, and then always emphasize the steps that the child completed on their own. This is the only way it can learn: Every effort leads to a success that I can be proud of. If you intervene too much in the learning process, you risk that children will become dependent and have little confidence in their own abilities.

7. Be patient!

Even the most motivated child has a bad day. It is important to signal: mistakes and regressions are allowed. Learning is sometimes faster, sometimes slower. And you can also reach your destination by detours. You should be patient. Excessive pressure to perform is the greatest enemy of motivation, leads to excessive demands, and makes you passive. Instead, emphasize what the child has already accomplished. As the goal approaches, offer a reward, such as a trip together. Then the last stage is done in no time.


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