Tips for Motivating Children to Learn

To learn successfully, children must be motivated. Certain children display intrinsic motivation at an early age while others seem to be uninterested in learning. Most children, however, want to learn; they just may not have been stimulated by exciting learning opportunities. Read on for ideas for motivating your young learner.

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Ways to Boost Your Child's Education

Cultivate a Learning Environment

Consider creating an at-home learning environment reserved for studying. Even if it's just a corner of a room, you might decorate it with fun facts related to what your child is studying from month-to-month, or create a graph with stickers for each homework assignment that he or she completes. Encourage your child to draw or paint visual decorations for his or her learning space as subjects shift at school. Consider speaking with your child's teacher for more ideas, or to ask for a schedule of topics that will be covered.

Stock this area with pencils, scratch paper, scissors, tape and art supplies. Ask your child to keep this area clean so that he or she has a fresh start for each new study session. A positive study environment that your child helps to create can support learning.

Set Autonomous Goals

Allowing your child to name his or her goals for each homework assignment can stimulate motivation. Children who feel a sense of autonomy while learning often succeed in school.

If your child doesn't want to set goals for each assignment, start with something simpler, like letting him or her designate an order for homework problems. If you're still struggling to find ways to help, ask your child for ideas about what can be done to improve the situation. Help your child feel in charge of learning by implementing some of his or her choices. External reinforcements for assignment completion, such as material or edible prizes, are less powerful motivators than internal motivation.

Maintain a Positive Attitude

Your attitude toward learning provides a strong influence on your child. When your child sees you enjoy activities that he or she must do in school, such as reading books or magazine articles, your child will be more likely to become interested in the activity.

Reassurance can also be a key contributor to motivation. Let your child know that he or she is capable of completing assignments and increasing his or her ability in every skill. Though children learn at different paces, attention and practice strengthens their skills. When your child makes mistakes, you can offer corrective feedback and point out a positive aspect of his or her effort, such as attentive participation.

Encourage Activities

Discovering whether your child is an auditory, kinesthetic or visual learner (as elaborated by Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences) will allow you to create study activities that encourage your child's natural strengths. For example, if your child is a visual learner, you might stock his or her learning area with a stack of associative visual aides. Then you can ask him or her to locate a correlative image for each completed homework assignment.

Auditory learners take in information by hearing and analyzing sounds. To nurture learning, practice listening to stories on tape or reading aloud with your child. Consider asking your auditory learner questions about his or her work that can be explained point-by-point.

If your child is a kinesthetic learner, he or she may enjoy activities that allow movement and touch. Acting out stories as plays, making angles or shapes with their bodies and physically locating objects related to the subject will engage kinesthetic learners.

Make sure that any learning activities you choose are age-appropriate. Activities that are too hard may discourage your child while activities that are too easy may bore him or her. Choose activities that are challenging, but not overwhelming.

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