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Here I am back at it after a super-fun, yet crazy summer! We had an incredibly busy summer of travel, swimming, friends, family reunions, church activities, camp, and more. In all of that we had a ton of great family time, but with all the activity I’ve recently been craving a regular daily schedule. This is also true especially for my preschooler who thrives on predictability. The week leading up to school, my son and daughter fought about everything and picked at each other constantly. More than once my daughter lamented, I wish school would start! I love that school motivation.
Yes, it’s that time of year again. School’s starting and kids are either super-excited, clinging on to summer, or dreading going back. For all these situations how do you cultivate a love of learning in the form of school? How can you continue school motivation consistently and throughout the year when even the most excited kid sees some burnout?
So what can we do as parents now to help our kids want to participate at school? School motivation can sometimes be a battle. With jobs and crazy schedules, it can be nuts. However, a little time here and there consistently is a huge investment in the future. I’ve come up with some techniques as a mom and a former teacher I’ve seen work to motivate your kids to take an active interest in their learning and progress. Of course, every child is different, and you know your child, so choose what’s best for you.
School Motivation Techniques
Talk about what’s happening at school
This one’s pretty basic, right? But so important! Show interest in what they’re doing at school and expand on it when you can. Go to the museum, watch the eclipse, read with your child nightly (or if they’re older let them see you reading). If you show excitement, they will too. Even the teenagers.
Volunteer at school
Get involved and volunteer at school when you can. This one is tough, especially if you have little kids at home or a job that’s not flexible. Can you volunteer to read with kids at school once a month or week? Does the teacher need someone to run another center? If you can’t come often can you take the day off work and volunteer to go on the field trip to the zoo or the state Capitol?
Professions: Discuss what your kids will need to study to get there
Talk to your kids about the future and what they’d like to do. Have/help them research the subjects they will need to learn about, and if the kids are older arrange a job shadow. If your kids are younger, talk to them about what they’ll need to learn about to do the job they’d like.
Schedule homework time
Include homework and study in their daily after school schedule or as a part of a chore chart. There’s a lot of discussion about the pros and cons of homework. Whatever side you’re on, homework’s generally expected, and it’s good to get into a routine. I like using the Dave Ramsey chore chart in Financial Peace Junior, but you can incorporate it to whatever system you use. My daughter in third grade gets a “commission” instead of an allowance for certain chores she does around the house. She also has chores and tasks she does not get paid for but are expected as being a part of the family. The catch is, if she doesn’t do her expected tasks like making her bed, doing homework, and practicing piano, she doesn’t get her commission for the extra chores she does. Money motivates all of us! Let’s instill a work ethic and not just an expectation of a weekly allowance.
Pssst! Be on the lookout for my free printable after school schedule coming out soon!
Host a book club or after school activity
Host a book club for your child and friends at school. You can do so many different activities with books – costumes, reenactments, discussions, parties, games, it’s truly endless. My daughter is very social and loves to be in a group. This is an awesome way to hang out with friends in a super positive way. Take a look at my post on Roald Dahl’s The BFG for ideas! Click here.
You can’t do it yet
If your child says, “I can’t do it!” respond with, “You can’t do it yet.” Make them understand you have to work to accomplish a goal.
Remove distractions and stick to a schedule
Remove distractions and stick to a schedule after school. I’m guilty of not getting this one right, but it’s so important. Set a specific time and place for your child to study or do homework. In addition, be sure the TV’s not on or a sibling argument’s not happening right in front of them. Remove other tempting distractions like that bead set she’s been using to make bracelets for all her friends, and have a snack before the homework starts.
Exercise and play!
Get those kiddos moving! So many schools have cut gym and recess time so make sure your kids get some play and movement in their day. What does that look like? It may mean playing on a volleyball team, going to soccer practice, playing at the playground, or running around the backyard.
Celebrate improvements and accomplishments
Point out improvements and accomplishments more than the negatives. Every little step is huge in motivating a child to enjoy school. Especially if the student has had past trouble in class, recognizing improvement and new understanding can be an amazing motivator.
Catch some Zzzs
Make sure you and your kids get enough sleep! Yes, I know it’s tough, but stick with bedtimes. I have a harder time with this than my kids because I’m trying to get so much done and still have some quiet time after they’re asleep. But, shockingly, I find I’m so much more efficient and get more done when I have a good amount of sleep! Imagine that! The same is true of kids.
Write out specific goals for the semester or year, with each child, and put them on the fridge or at a work area. Also, refer to them throughout then discuss them at the end of the year to see where the kids end up. You can give a little celebration if they meet their goals. I like to give at least some of the goals numbers so the student has something specific to work toward.
For example, I will improve my reading level from 4.5 to 5.2. Find out what measurements they use at school and write out tangible goals. If your child is uncertain or shy, a goal could be to volunteer at least once a day to answer a question or help out. Or, a goal could be to do at least 5 kind things for others at school. Those could be like inviting another student to eat lunch with you, helping someone out with their math, cleaning up the classroom for the teacher, or playing with someone new at recess. Be creative! You know your child better than anyone and can work together to set the best goals for your student.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Education and learning are so important to our kids. Everyone needs education in order to succeed in life, develop a work ethic, learn how to respect and get along with others, and so much more. School motivation is a huge part of loving learning in any setting. We want our kids to be curious and put forth a positive effort in school. At the same time, let’s instill the determination and positivity of the “growth mindset”, the idea they haven’t failed but just haven’t yet accomplished their goal. They must keep trying and work hard until they achieve it. So with fall upon us, try out some of these ideas in your schedules and daily lives. There are so many personalities and situations, but in utilizing some of these techniques, school motivation may naturally develop or at least turn in the right direction.