Another school year is coming up ahead! You may have settled everything in preparation for the school year. Your child is enrolled, you have bought books and school supplies, and you may even have planned out your child’s packed lunch menu for next month at least. All things that you need to prepare are now ready.
However, is your child ready for school? Is he excited or does he dread the month of June? One of the main reasons why children ready for school is that they are not motivated. Probably, last year was not academically fulfilling for your child so he does not get hyped for the incoming school year at all. As a parent/guardian, what can you do to motivate your child to improve this year? Below is an adapted version of Debbie Pincus’ 10 Ways to Motivate Your Child to Do Better in School:
Keep a relationship with your child that is open, respectful and positive. Stay on your children’s team, don’t play against them. This will allow you to be most influential with them, which is your most important parenting tool. Punishing, preaching, threatening and manipulating will get you nowhere and will be detrimental to you relationship and to their ultimate motivation.
Incorporate the “when you” rule. You may start saying things like, “When you finish studying, you are welcome to use the computer until bedtime.” By sticking to rules like this, you are helping your child learn how to structure, plan, initiate, and persevere.
[Make a move] when you are invited in. If your child is not studying and his grades are dropping, you’re invited in whether he wants you there or not. Help him to set up a structure that he is not able to create for himself. The structure might include scheduled study times, having the computer out in a public place in your home, and setting some rules like “No video games or TV until after homework is done.” This is helping him develop a good work ethic and to focus on his school work. Some kids do better listening to music while they study, but no other electronics or multi-tasking is recommended.
Ask the teacher. If your child’s grades and work habits are not up to par, communicate with his teachers at school. During a Parent-Teacher -Conference, you can set up a plan that may be of help to the child by sitting down with him and his teachers.
Identify a study spot. For younger kids, you may need to sit with your child while doing homework or at least be nearby to help your child stay on track. A quiet location away from siblings may be needed or perhaps he does better in a room near others. Help him experiment on what works for them. Once you discover what works best, stick to it.
Break it down. Decide together with your child whether or not it will be helpful for you to help break down assignments into small pieces and organize on a calendar what should get done each day. School work can get overwhelming, so it may be best to conquer them bit by bit.
Be kind but firm. Try your best to be a parent who is kind, helpful, consistent and firm versus punitive, over-functioning and controlling. Try to put the focus on supporting and encouraging him instead of worrying and nagging.
[Evaluate:]Lack of motivation or anxiety? Recognize that so much of your child’s lack of motivation (or what looks like irresponsibility) might be his own anxiety or shame about academics and schoolwork. While a little anxiety can motivate, too much blocks your child’s ability to think and to have access to the part of the brain that helps him with motivation. Keep your emotions in check by recognizing that it’s your child’s anxiety at play rather than his laziness. Your job is to not react to his anxiety or your own.
Teach life balance. Rather than go crazy over your child’s grades, help him to balance his life with friendships, other activities, volunteer work and family activities. Remember that school is just one part of a child’s life. Academic success does not define your child; rather it is one area that would help to mold him into the person that he can be.
Don’t futurize. When we see our child seeming to have no interest in his life, it’s easy to start fast forwarding into the future. Minding only the negative things will create friction. Instead, focus on your child’s positive traits and help him work on those in the present. Focus on the things that make a developed, and successful person, not just academics and grades. Help your child develop in social, creative, and emotional ways.
For a student to achieve academic success, it is important that he gets support from the school as well as from the home. Together, let us motivate to elevate our students to the next level of their academic potential.
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