According to researchers our children’s capacity for learning is nearly infinite and heavily based on motivation. Motivation has been found to direct behavior towards goals, increase effort and energy, enhance performance, and even change the way we think (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002; Hardré & Reeve, 2003; Maehr & Meyer, 1997).
So, knowing what we know about motivation and its connection to learning it is important to ensure that we learn the best techniques for motivating our children. It is also important for us to become aware of what to avoid.
- Always set positive examples with your own behavior.
Parents are their children’s first teachers and role models. Exploring the outside world, reading together, solving math problems, and conducting experiments can show children how exciting and meaningful learning can be. Learning begins in the home. School and tutoring should be seen as an extension of what is already being explored.
- Create a pleasant and stress-free learning atmosphere
Attitudes toward the learning environment have an important effect on motivation. Incorporating humor, laughter and a positive attitude can be highly motivating. On the contrary, being harsh, negative, and closed minded can hinder motivation. Also be sure to create a physical environment that promotes learning; an environment that is quiet and free from distraction.
- Pay attention to how your child learns
Is your child a talker? Are they shy? Are they capable of sitting for long periods of time? One of the most important things a parent can do is notice how their child learns and what their interests are. One of the worst things they can do is ignore the way their child learns, or disregard their strengths.
- Present tasks to your child properly and with patience
Be sure to give your child clear instruction when teaching them learning tasks, provide them with guidance before confusion develops, and make them aware of the usefulness of what they are learning. Try to avoid being vague or failing to answer questions appropriately, doing so can lead to confusion and decreased confidence.
- Develop a positive learning relationship with your child
This one is very important. If your child see’s learning as a punishment, they will attempt to avoid it. They want to make you proud and the best way to foster positive learning is to build positive experiences around the learning process.
- Increase their self-confidence
Give your child positive feedback. Help them experience regular success by integrating less challenging tasks that lead up to more difficult ones. Constantly encourage them, and allow for mistakes to be seen as a natural process of learning. When mistakes are not seen as a natural process to learning children can begin to question their ability and look to you before being able to make a decision.
- Make Learning Interesting
Learning can become mundane. Try to make tasks interesting, offer a variety of materials, and increase their curiosity by introducing new and exciting elements. Try to focus on your child’s abilities rather their achievement.
- Develop realistic goals around learning
Collaboratively develop realistic goals and expectations with your child. Try to be specific with your expectations and talk to your child about their opinion on achievement. Ignoring your child’s independence can lead to resistance and defiance.
- Be supportive
Encourage your child to do their best and express interest in their learning tasks. Whether big or small, showing appreciation for their achievement can help boost their self-confidence.