Motivating your kids to learn

One of the most difficult aspects of being a parent is finding ways to challenge your children and help them grow through learning. Many children are taught in school with methods that are extrinsically motivating despite research that shows children who are intrinsically motivated learn more and remain motivated longer. What can you do to help your kid embrace learning? These are four of our favorite strategies for motivating your kids to learn. Start incorporating these four strategies into your daily routine to increase your kid’s motivation to learn and to help make learning a lifelong habit.

Purpose Can Change the Psychology Behind Learning for Your Kid

It might sound counterintuitive but kids actually need to know the “why” and understand the purpose behind learning to make necessary changes in their study habits. For many kids, it isn’t enough to know that they are doing poorly in algebra, science, or literature class. They need to know “why” those subjects matter as explained by Kate Roberts in Psychology Today. Sometimes this can be as simple as explaining the importance of developing critical thinking skills or explaining why good grades are important for getting into college. Explaining why these courses are vital in order to reach life goals can help students motivate themselves to learn. Imagination can play a role in teaching as well.

Read to Your Child to Widen their World View and Build An Essential Motivational Skill

Read to your child and have them read with you. Take turns reading pages. Allowing and encouraging your children to read will also give them the opportunity to explore different world views by jumping into character’s minds and different imaginary circumstances. It will jumpstart their imagination and help them build critical thinking skills. Another important aspect of reading when it comes to motivation is the ability to conquer an essential skill. Reading is used in every subject, course, and all future professions. Even construction builders must read emails from clients or bosses and be able to read safety information. As your kid works through school, there will be a lot of required reading. For kids who struggle with reading, this can make learning feel like a chore. Strong readers are better able to focus on learning rather than spend time struggling to read and comprehend what they read. Work with your child daily to strengthen his or her reading ability. If you have a child in first, second, or third grade who is behind in reading, enroll your child in a reading program or find a tutor. Reading is one skill that your kid cannot afford to fall behind on if learning is going to be a priority.

Praise Your Child’s Effort Not Their Ability

Eileen Kennedy-Moore at PBS writes about the importance of focusing on effort and not ability if you want to encourage your child to love learning. Kids need to know that you value their effort and their study strategies more than their natural ability to do something. They need to see the value in working hard and moving towards mastery. You can give your kids the strength to take on new challenges by praising their effort and not their ability. Similarly, you can model this behavior for them and talk about times from your own childhood when you persevered and how it helped you. This can be helpful when teaching young children to learn colors for kids or when teaching older children how to learn their multiplication tables. Make sure that you praise your kid’s efforts while they attempt to learn their colors, multiplication tables, or other critical memorized facts.

Kids Love to Question Things So Build On Natural Curiosity

Building on your kid’s love of questioning things and the famous “What if?” questions they ask on a daily basis, is a great way to encourage intrinsic learning. It can be boring and frustrating to memorize information even when you praise your kid’s effort, but sometimes information can be learned naturally by allowing your kids to question you. When your child asks you, “Why is the sky blue?” or “Why is the color blue a mixture of yellow and green?” then you can explain. If you don’t know, tell your kid that you are not sure but will get back to them and go find the answer yourself to share later. This is a great way to motivate your kid writes Annie Murphy Paul in KQED News.

Remember, your kids will develop a love of learning if you work with them to foster their existing curiosity and passions while praising their effort.

Adam Richards

About Adam Richards

Adam Richards is a semi-retired business professional originally from Bangor, Maine. He spent the majority of his career in sales and marketing where he rose to the marketing lead of a Fortune 1000 company. He then moved on to helping people as a career counselor that specifically helped bring families to self-sufficiency through finding them rewarding careers. He has now returned to Bangor for his retirement and spends his free time writing. This blog will be about everything he learned throughout his career. He'll write on career, workplace, education and technology issues as well as on trends, changes, and advice for the Maine job market and its employers.