Q:

Do you have any suggestions on ways that we might motivate our children? Hope it is not too late as it is the middle of the school year. - Unmotivated Children

A:

So many parents lament that their children are not motivated to do well in school. They may even brand their children as lazy. This usually is not true. However, as children get older, their passion for learning often seems to shrink. It happens for some because they have failed repeatedly at school tasks and no longer see any sense in trying. And it happens for many young teens because of the distractions of biological changes, emotional concerns and social and peer pressures. Plus, some unmotivated children may never have learned that school success takes time and effort. The loss of motivation can also be fueled by insufficient support in a new school or by an increased workload and expectations to which students haven't yet adjusted.

As children get older, it seems to become more difficult to motivate them to do well in school. Of course, part of this job belongs to your children's teachers. Children are more motivated to learn in classes where the work is challenging yet achievable and where they see how the skills that they are learning can be applied outside of school. And many schools motivate their students by having an atmosphere that stresses learning.

Parents also play an important role in developing, maintaining and rekindling their children's motivation to learn. Because of the importance of children valuing learning for its own sake, our New Year's resolutions this year deal with ways you can help your children be motivated to learn.

  • Resolve to be a good role model. Let your children see that you put forth your best effort in completing work and meeting obligations.
  • Resolve to show your children that you are interested in their schoolwork.
  • Resolve to have a good relationship with your children's teachers.
  • Resolve to help your children succeed in school by contacting teachers whenever your children encounter any difficulties in learning to find out how they can be helped.
  • Resolve to offer sincere praise to your children based on their effort and improvement at school.
  • Resolve to find tasks in and out of school that your children can succeed in to build an "I can do it" attitude.
  • Resolve to use rewards infrequently to encourage your children's motivation to do school tasks.
  • Resolve to find your children's strengths and to build upon them.
  • Resolve to teach your children how to set goals and to work hard to achieve them.