I show concerned parents who want to give their children the best start to life how to better understand their children.

19 Apr 2013

15 Ideas for Motivating Your Child to Do Well in School

It’s no secret that your child’s academic performance can directly affect her future, but it’s difficult to get kids to think about such long-term goals in relation to a task they don’t find particularly enjoyable. Helping your child to reach her full potential is one of your most important jobs, but it can also be one of the most challenging you face as a parent. These 15 tips can help you find ways of motivating your child to be the very best she can be, even when she’s struggling at school.
  1. Get Involved – Open a line of communication with your child’s teacher, work directly with her to make a difference and stay involved with her academic life to affect positive change. It’s almost impossible to make a quantifiable difference in your child’s performance at school when you’re just shouting orders from the sidelines.
  2. Support Independence – Helping your child when she truly needs it is important, but so is fostering a sense of independence and faith in her own abilities. Encouraging an independent, can-do attitude will almost always have better results than making her feel as if she can’t succeed without your help at every turn.
  3. Maintain a Positive Attitude – Even if you worked for weeks to prepare for a test that your child ultimately received a bad grade on, maintain an upbeat attitude and refuse to dwell on past failures. Instead, emphasize all of the steps you’ll take together to get better results next time.
  4. Praise His Efforts – When you know that your child is doing his best, it’s important to praise his efforts regardless of the grades that he gets. Embracing strengths and weaknesses lets your child know that his effort has value and that your love isn’t conditional upon his report card.
  5. Provide Corrective Feedback – Underscoring every mistake and using them to browbeat your child will only make him more upset, but providing constructive, positive feedback when he slips up can help him to avoid those mistakes next time.
  6. Know Your Child’s Individual Needs – It’s natural to want to believe that your child is an undiscovered genius in all aspects of life, but it simply isn’t likely to be true. Just like their adult counterparts, every child has his own areas of strength and weakness. If he’s a great speller but tends to struggle with math, spend extra time studying the numbers and offer plenty of praise for his grades on a spelling test.
  7. Create a Homework Schedule Together – Kids feel more ownership over a schedule they helped to create, and as such are more likely to respect it. Working out a homework routine together and giving your child plenty of input can cut down on struggles when it’s time to crack the books.
  8. Offer Incentives – There’s a difference between incentives and bribery, even if the line is a fine one. You may understand the long-term rewards of doing well in school, but a young child only sees something unpleasant and unrewarding. Offering incentives for strong efforts can help your child connect hard work with recognizable results, something that will come naturally as he gets older and understands the impact school and education will have on his adult life.
  9. Reward Extra Effort – Some kids struggle in school because they’re genuinely having trouble with grasping the material, while others fall behind out of a disinclination to do the required work. If your child falls into the latter camp, work with her to provide rewards for expending extra effort. For instance, an extra 30 minutes of study time gains 10 more minutes of leisure time before bed.
  10. Live in the Moment – You look at your child’s fifth grade report card and see a college admissions letter. She just sees the grades she got this term. While it’s important to keep the big picture in mind, it’s also essential to live in the moment and work on one step at a time.
  11. Set Attainable Goals – Expecting your child to go from a failing grade to the honor roll in one term simply isn’t reasonable, and her failure to reach that unrealistic goal you’ve set for her will only increase her frustration. Setting a series of smaller, more attainable goals will help her improve over time under less intense pressure.
  12. Communicate the Importance of Schoolwork – Berating your child about her future and the damage she’s doing by failing to perform academically probably won’t help much, but calmly explaining the role that her education plays in the rest of her life could be effective. Make sure that you talk about the reasons why good grades are important, rather than simply demanding that she get them.
  13. Look for Everyday Learning Opportunities – Work on simple math skills at the grocery store or sound out words by reading a menu together. Every day you can find a variety of real-world applications for the skills your child is trying to learn, and helping her to find them will not only hone those skills, but will also make it easier for her to understand their uses.
  14. Encourage Resilience – Learning to bounce back from a disappointment is an essential coping skill for everyone, regardless of their abilities. It’s especially important for young children that are struggling to keep up with their peers academically, as the experience can be a humiliating and disheartening one.
  15. Avoid Self Comparisons – Telling your child that you were great at reading when you were her age and that you don’t understand why she’s struggling doesn’t encourage her to do better, it only makes her feel worse about herself. Avoid the urge to draw comparisons, and remember that your child is an individual completely separate from you.
Syndicated, with consent, from http://www.parttimenanny.org/blog/15-ideas-for-motivating-your-child-to-do-well-in-school/

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