Boil your cassava well
September 22, 2020
TKR – a model team of inspiration
September 22, 2020

Motivating children to learn

By Sophie Barcant, BA (Psyc), B.ED, Trainer, Facilitator, Parenting Coach/Consultant

As our children are resuming online school it is possible that they will not have as much motivation to pay attention and learn as they would have had in school with their peers.

There are so many reasons why some children are motivated, and some are not, but it’s not possible to explain that here.

Here is a tip I have used for years with my children to help motivate them. I say:

“What would you like your report card to look like?”

“How will you feel when you see lots of Cs? Or Ds? Will that feel good?”

“How about As and Bs, do you want some of those?”

Of course, they will answer ‘yes’.

Then we can ask, “So what do you need to do to get those grades?” They will most likely say that they need to study. We can then probe by asking “And what else?”.

We can ask this several times to draw the answers out of them that besides studying, they also need to listen extra attentively to the teacher, look over their work, always do homework, ask questions to clarify content and create revision habits. Offering prompts is fine.

Let’s make sure we assure them that we are available for revision ideas and tips should they need.

An easy way to inspire children is to share with them stories you have heard about other children who did exceptionally well at school and the strategies they used.

Tell them stories stating how young people found support revising with others, peers, or relatives and how they did extra reading and research. It is good to make them aware of how others achieve success.

I particularly love it when I tell my children: “It’s your life, think carefully about your choices how you want it to turn out. I made mine and I am so happy with my career. I hope you find happiness with yours too.” They always look at me stunned when I say that.

When we use this approach, they own their success and achievements fully. Were I to suddenly die or fall sick tomorrow they could still move forward.

The other advantage of this approach is that it eliminates a lot of nagging, threatening, and lecturing on how important education is and what needs to be done to succeed.

Children and teens especially, shut down when nagged and threatened. Some rebel and purposefully allow themselves to fail just to show the parent that they do not have control over them.

The above approach has proven to be successful time and again in getting children who are capable but choose to not be serious, to consider the consequences of their actions. It works.

Test it out when revising for simple weekly tests. Instead of “come on lets study, you have to pass” say “What grade do you want in your report?” and “I am available if you need help, let me know”. It is okay for them to not do well a few times before they realise what it takes… Let them choose success.

Note, this approach may not be appropriate to use with children who have learning challenges, developmental delay and need remedial support.

Contact Sophie for more on this on FB: sophies parenting support. Or e-mail