Education for 12 Year Olds: How to Motivate a 12 Year Old to Do Well in School

Preteens experience many physical, emotional and intellectual shifts, which can affect their motivation at school. Continue reading to learn about motivational strategies for 12-year-old kids.

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Tips to Help Motivate Your 12-Year Old

At age 12, preteens go through several important physical changes, which can make them self-conscious or prone to strong emotional reactions. Simultaneously, preteens often desire some independence from caretakers and parents. Peers become increasingly important, which can sometimes interfere with a preteen's willingness to complete schoolwork. During this time, your 12-year old's mind is developing, along with her curiosity about the world. Nourishing your preteen's natural curiosity by helping her find ways to link her interests with her studies may inspire her to become more absorbed in her schoolwork.

Study Environment

To support learning, help your 12-year old create a study nook in his room or at a spacious table in your home. Encourage him to decorate this area with images or articles related to the topics he's interested in. If he's passionate about athletics, for example, you can encourage him to tape up a list of strategies athletes use to stay on target during practice. Look for advice from his role models and encourage him to use similar strategies to succeed in school.

Make sure that your preteen's study area is stocked with the supplies she might need. This could include note cards to study for tests, highlighters to mark important points in her books and scratch paper for essay drafts and math practice. At this age, students need a certain amount of autonomy with school tasks, thus you might encourage her to schedule her homework sessions in an assignment notebook. Consider placing a clock in your child's study area to help her schedule homework tasks and study breaks.


You can have a large influence on your preteen, thus it's useful to stay in communication with him about academic subjects. Ask him if you can take a look at his graded essays and exams, and make sure that he understands what he excels at verses what he needs to practice. If you notice that your preteen doesn't understand a specific academic concept, explain the concept carefully or ask his teacher to give him extra practice exercises.

By staying in communication, you can also encourage your child to link her interests with her schoolwork. For example, if an essay assignment asks her to compare a fictional character's experience to one she's had, you can help her brainstorm by discussing the personal experiences she'd like to explore further through writing. Once you've successfully used this tactic together, encourage your preteen to use the same brainstorming technique to come up with her own idea for her next assignment. This way, you're also helping her to develop decision-making skills.

It can also be helpful to discuss the life value of skills your preteen is learning at school. For example, expanding vocabulary skills can be helpful for writing work reports, scribing poems or giving lectures and presentations. Computation skills are essential for figuring out the tip at restaurants and doing your taxes. To help her apply what she's learning to real-life tasks, ask your 12-year old to help you with everyday tasks, such as making sure a phone bill is correct or proofreading an important email to make sure you haven't made mistakes. Daily application of the skills she's studying can help your preteen feel the real-life value of her education.


Find out what your preteen is interested in and think of creative ways for her to interact with people engaged in these activities. For example, if he's curious about the natural biological world, consider taking him to a science museum or speaking with a scientist. If you don't know anyone who works in the field your 12-year old is curious about, educational websites oriented toward specific topics often have question and answer sections with professionals in those fields.

Giving your child new responsibilities around the house can be another useful way to help her develop a sense of autonomy and pride. If your child completes the tasks you've asked of her, let her know that you appreciate her effort to help at home. Finally, it's important to make sure that your 12-year old is getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet and exercising daily. When basic needs are out of balance, even strongly motivated children may experience lethargy or dark moods.

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