6 ways to build motivation to do your schoolwork now that you’re forced to learn online at home
Assistant Professor of University Studies, Middle Tennessee State University
Ryan Korstange does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
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Even in normal circumstances, it can be hard to get motivated to do your schoolwork . But these are not normal circumstances.
The switch to remote instruction caused by COVID-19 has been unsettling. Patterns have changed. Habits have been disrupted . Remote classes are simply different from classes that involve face-to-face instruction.
As a researcher who looks at what it takes to get through college , I have a few tips that could maximize your motivation and productivity when you’re at home going to school online.
1. Guard your time
You do not need large amounts of time to be productive. Instead, be intentional and focused in short blocks where you can work without interruption. Protect these open times by setting up your workspace to minimize distraction – including silencing notifications on your cellphone or laptop. Communicate your boundaries to friends and family and make sure to identify times when work and socialization can happen.
2. Determine how much work is needed
Write down the work you need to accomplish, because there is a limit to how much information you can recall and process at one time. Examine the remaining projects, including research and written assignments, and estimate the amount and type of effort that each requires. Identify any tests and quizzes that are scheduled and determine what preparation is necessary.
3. Break large projects into smaller ones
Breaking big projects into smaller and more manageable tasks allows you to achieve maximum efficiency and effectiveness .
Your assigned tasks should follow a logical sequence. Some tasks are basic, like locating articles in the online library for a research paper. Others, like proofreading, are best left to do later in the process. Work steadily, and record your progress as you do, because you get more done when you can actually see the progress you’re making.
4. Set goals
When you set specific and difficult goals for your work and make them public in some way , it can boost your performance and enhance your motivation .
Setting generic, vague or easy goals is less helpful. Set goals related to effort. For example, plan to spend three hours one day studying for a certain class. Also, set goals related to the completion of specific tasks or products. For instance, give yourself a deadline to read and take notes on a specific article for a certain paper you must write.
Further, make time in your plan to deal with any interruptions and challenges that may occur. For example, when my 7-year-old gets bored or needs some attention and interrupts me in my work, I plan to spend 20-30 minutes doing something with her. We take a walk or a bike ride, or create some art. Then I can return to work. I even set a timer to keep myself honest.
5. Identify the rewards
It pays to clarify the rewards at stake this semester – whether those rewards are internal, such as the feeling of accomplishment that comes from understanding a difficult concept well, or external, such as getting a good grade.
Many universities are adopting pass/fail grading systems in the short term, so the external reward course grades provide will likely be different. Learning is what matters now. Focus on the course learning outcomes and make sure that you’re meeting them, because these skills will be the ones required of you as you progress toward your degree.
6. Be flexible and go easy on yourself
This is an unprecedented crisis, and we are all scrambling to make it work. You didn’t expect to spend these months at home, learning online. Some days won’t go as planed - and that’s alright. Forgive yourself when you don’t do your best, then move forward and overcome the setbacks .
When the pandemic passes
Eventually, this pandemic will be over. Face-to-face classes will start again, and this semester will be but a memory. The good habits you build and the strategies follow now to manage to learn and work independently will bear dividends in the future.
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Motivating Teens to Do School Work
Motivation is busted by disinterest, boredom, and expectation of failure..
Posted September 21, 2022 | Reviewed by Davia Sills
- What Is Motivation?
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- Teenagers often struggle with motivation when trying to achieve their goals.
- Parents can help their teens sustain effort by making learning personally relevant, meaningful, and enjoyable.
- When teens can recognize they're making progress and connect effort with success, they are more likely to persevere.
“What can I do to get my teenagers to put in the effort needed for success in school?
How can teens build their skills, persevere through setbacks, become independent learners, and learn from mistakes? These are the most frequent questions posed to me by parents when I present at conferences or schools.
Build your teen’s sustained motivation.
Sustaining your teen’s motivation , effort, and perseverance through setbacks is especially challenging during the teen years. Motivation can be busted by disinterest, boredom , an expectation of failure, or suffering frequent setbacks.
Teen brains are actively building the neural networks ( executive functions ) needed to sustain effort. During their high school years, you can influence these developing brain networks to expand their self-motivating capabilities.
From neuroscience research, we’ve learned that the brain expends greater effort when anticipating positive learning experiences or potential success. Strategies for these include helping teenagers recognize how subject topics are personally relevant and guiding them to appreciate the progress they make while working towards their goals. When teens are connected through personal relevance, recognizing their strengths, and seeing evidence of their ongoing progress, their ability to sustain motivation and work for success expands.
Why should they care?
Sustained effort can build when your teens find the learning personally relevant and interest-related, know they will do something interesting with that learning, and believe that their effort can result in success.
Relevance is a powerful tool to ignite and sustain both engagement and effort. If your teens know from the start that part of their learning of a topic will include doing something (in class or with you/friends) that interests them, relevance and motivation increase. As a unit progresses, sustain teens’ motivation by having them write about the usefulness of the material to their lives, future careers, or the careers of professionals they admire. Notably, increased understanding and long-term memory retention of the information arise as a side benefit of their applying learning to interests.
- Math: studying conversions between the metric and standard measurements system. A relevant opportunity occurs by inviting them to select a recipe from a cookbook from England using metric measurements. Have them choose a desirable one they can make at home. To follow the recipe, they will want to know how to make the “translations” between metric to imperial to use your standard kitchen measurement devices.
- History: Promote description or discussion of how the school topic relates to their interests, family life, community, or current events.
- Reading/literature: Invite your teens to select goals for the unit or assignment that they consider possible and valuable. These will be used as they keep progress records that show them they are achieving challenges. Examples of goals to note and record: number of pages read a week, progression to the next level of the multiplication tables, fewer spelling or grammar errors on essays.
They need to know they are making progress.
When learners recognize they are progressing toward a goal, a pleasurable achievement response is experienced. This positive experience activates the brain’s desire to acquire further skills to evoke that positive pleasure response. Awareness of making progress is a powerful cue that activates the brain’s perseverance even after setbacks, failures, and extraordinary challenges.
Frequent recognition of their progress en route to their goals will help them sustain their effort. This progress awareness builds their abilities to recognize that their effort is correlated to their progress—their perseverance and motivated effort are boosted.
Employ systems for helping teens recognize positive goal progress.
Remind them of their previous goal progress—such as learning to ride a bike, use the keyboard, play an instrument, or build skills in a sport. Have them recall that even before they reached their goal, they were aware they were making progress and that sustained their effort despite setbacks or mistakes. Invite (and explain) how they could use those successes to boost motivation and positive expectations for new challenges as they achieve their goals.
Ask your teens how they will recognize progress on the personal goals they defined for the unit or assignment. Guide them to evaluate if their goals are reasonable and manageable and how they will assess their progress.
- If the goal is to read a 200-page book in a month, they can write down, on a calendar or chart, which ten pages they will read on each of 20 days during the month. They will recognize progress by marking off each segment of reading as they complete it.
- If the goal is memorizing 30 geometry theorems (or names of rivers, mountain ranges, causes of war, or formulas for math or physics), they can create a bar graph, like a thermometer. In this visual model, they then break down the task into segments. In the example of 30 items to memorize, they can have segments of five. They fill in sections of the bar every time they add five successful memorizations on the way to 30. As they reach each progressive mark (and color in the achieved segments), they give their brains the positive pleasure reward response to their evidence of progress.
- Encourage them to write sub-goals they will need to achieve on the way and to periodically assess and modify their plans or actions accordingly.
- Converse with them about how they can obtain help when blocked: e.g., using resources like classmates, a teacher, or a librarian.
- Self-corrected practice tests are opportunities for teens to judge their level of understanding and revise or reinforce their knowledge as needed.
- Effort-to-progress graphs: A variety of effort-to-progress graphs can be downloaded from the Internet. When these are filled in by your teens, and they record evidence of their incremental goal progress, they see the impact of their effort on their progress.
The opportunities you provide to guide teens to build their motivation, effort, and perseverance can help build their capacity as independent learners. Enhancing their interest, curiosity, positive expectations, and awareness of goal-achieving progress will help sustain their motivated effort during the school years and future ongoing opportunities awaiting them.
Unlock Teen Brainpower : 20 Keys to Boosting Attention, Memory, and Efficiency. Judy Willis, M.D. November 2019. Rowman & Littlefield Publishing: Lanham, MD. 2019
Judy Willis , M.D., is a board-certified neurologist and middle school teacher, specializing in classroom strategies derived from brain research.
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Here’s How to Get Motivated to Do School Work
Treat studying like a profession, and thrive!
For better or for worse, it’s never too early to start thinking about the future. Your happy, comfortable retirement will most likely be dependent on success in your professional life, as it will earn you some degree of financial stability. And your professional life is very often predicated upon success in school.
Even though the idea of retiring is a long way off, it’s important to understand that staying motivated and doing well in school now will have consequences that reverberate long into the future. So if you require academic assistance, you need to spend time thinking about that now, rather than later and begin working smarter as soon as you can.
Do You Require Academic Assistance?
If you start taking your education seriously, you can create the pathways for a successful life early on. And a huge part of taking your education seriously is doing your homework, and doing it properly.
After all, your future boss will be sort of like a teacher. They will expect your input at meetings, and after them. They will need to know that you are reliable, and will expect you to finish the tasks you are assigned, with only yourself as your motivator. If you need to create a powerpoint deck and present them later, then your work “homework” will likely involve editing slides and making sure everything is prepared so you don’t look silly and unprepared in front of your colleagues later on.
You can start that now by holding yourself responsible for your academics. So stop procrastinating! Today is the time to study for tests, spend the time on papers and projects, memorize the materials needed, and do all your homework. Once you’re done, then you can enjoy some fresh air outside!
A Few Reasons Students Fail to Complete Homework
Students that find they are having trouble finding the motivation needed to do their homework, shouldn’t be too hard on themselves. Instead, they should be ready to first identify the issues preventing them from staying on task with school work. Later you can figure out ways to stay on task with your studies.
Here are a few reasons you may be off task with your homework.
1 – Time Management Problems
Often students find themselves in charge of their own schedules for the first time in their lives, and that can make it hard to plan when exactly to schedule in homework time.
Planning your days is indeed a skill that takes practice and that does not come naturally to all people. To plan home tasks effectively, meaning slotting in time for homework along with all the other non-scheduled parts of your life, is something to devote real time and thought to. One key here is knowing that proper management of your study time also involves taking breaks and taking care of physical needs like eating healthily, exercising, and resting.
Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by how long the homework will take, instead make a plan that makes it work – more on that below.
2 – The Teacher Doesn’t Check the Homework
If your professor does not check to confirm that you and your fellow students are completing homework assignments, you may start to see each assignment as optional. This is the exact wrong approach, though.
In fact, when your teacher is not checking homework completion, he or she is trusting you and the other students to hold yourselves accountable. That means your homework assignments provide two chances for learning in one: a chance to learn a school lesson as well as a life lesson.
No good teacher assigns homework without feeling it has importance and validity, so don’t skip it just because you can get away with doing so – you’ll only hurt yourself in the long run.
3 – You Feel You Just Don’t Need the Homework
Maybe you are taking a class where things just come easily to you. You have an innate grasp for the material, you do well on tests and papers, and all the homework seems to do is take time, not hone your skills or add knowledge, eh? That’s no reason not to just get it done.
Even homework that’s easier for you will still serve to reinforce the material, help you avoid easy mistakes, and keep you sharp. Remember, even the most naturally skilled athletes still practice, the best musicians still rehearse, and accomplished writers churn out drafts and edit them time and again.
A Few Tips to Help You Stay on Top of Homework Assignments
So you are committed to getting your homework done, but you’re not quite sure how to change things up so you can stay on task and keep consistently completing it on time? Here are a few homework tips to mull over.
1 – Set Aside a Specific Time for Homework
You’re good about going to each class on your schedule, right? Not to mention showing up for the doctor’s appointment, lunch with a friend, or other event on your calendar, right? Treat homework just the same way: schedule a time, be it daily or a few times a week, that you can set aside to study, write, edit and proofread, and whatever else your assignments entail.
By making a specific homework time, it will seem less like an added burden and more like a routine part of life which, while you’re a student, it is. And remember, breaks from homework matter.
2 – Treat Homework the Same as Other Academic Tasks
You would never simply not show up for a test or not turn in a paper, but when it comes to homework, it can be a slippery slope if you allow it to be. But when you treat homework as simply one part of your larger school responsibilities, it’s easier to see it as a must do, not a should do.
3 – Take Advantage of Academic Assistance
Homework is the time you can afford to get it wrong, so to speak. Tests and papers and labs get grades that can impact your academic life overall, but when it comes to homework, making mistakes or not fully understanding concepts can be a great thing, not a problem.
That’s because you can learn where you need some additional support and instruction and you can use the resources your teacher or school offers in that regard. Don’t feel embarrassed to get help, feel empowered, because with help, you will develop into an ever more successful student.
4 – Find Like-Minded Students
Sometimes homework assignments are best completed alone with all your attention and focus on the work; at other times, working with other students is a great way for you to stay motivated and interested in the work. Forming a study group can help make homework more motivating and enjoyable, and your peers can offer knowledge and insight that helps you master material that’s a challenge for you, just as at times you can likely help others better grasp various academic concepts as well.
5 – Don’t Do Homework at Home
There are a myriad of reasons why doing homework literally at home can be a bad idea. If you live in a dorm or apartment with friends, the home space can be loud and filled with distractions. Even if your home space is quiet and calm, everything from chores to that Netflix account to your comfy bed can be an all-too-easy distraction from homework.
Find a place that sets you up for focus and success. That can be a school library or dedicated study hall space, a coffee shop or diner, your parent’s house, a park bench, or whatever works for you.
Set Goals for Your Academic Career to Keep Your Studies on Course
Motivation can be hard to come by when you think of it in terms like that: come by. Or find. And so on. Getting motivated is not something that just happens, it’s a choice you make. You don’t find motivation, you create it.
And the first step toward creating motivation is the creation of goals that will help inform your academic practices. Goals are not hopes or dreams or aspirations, they are specific, logical targets you set yourself up to accomplish through diligence, focus, and, of course, motivation.
Setting goals sets you up for success – this is as true in your academic life as it is for working professionals, for athletes, for artists, and so on. A businessman may set a target goal for the amount of increased revenue he hopes to generate for his company in a given quarter and then dive deep into the data that will help him plan how to do it. An athlete may plan to shave an entire second off her 400-meter dash within a three-month timeframe and will make a training plan that will work incrementally toward her speed goal. An author may commit to writing at least 5,000 words of fiction daily in order to complete a draft of a novel in a six-week timeframe.
All of these goals may sound lofty when glimpsed without an appreciation for the focus and the logical process each of these individuals can use, but with planning and motivation, more earnings, faster speeds, and finished novels are not lofty aspirations but smart goals.
Setting SMART Goals is a Pretty Smart Thing to Do
And when you work toward smart goals , as many successful people do, your chances of achieving academic success are much greater. Just remember that a “smart goal” is not to say an intelligent or clever one, but a “S.M.A.R.T.” goal, with SMART serving as an acronym for the words Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Think on each of those terms a bit as you formulate a plan for prepping for that final exam, plotting out that term paper, or ensuring you break down study of a large, dense topic into a manageable form and the final results will almost assuredly be good grades and better mastery of the material, and that’s indeed called academic success.
Looking at the Big Picture Can Help You Stay Motivated
When you are in the middle of the school year, it can seem never-ending and exhausting. And that’s to say nothing of being in the middle of the school career. Maybe you start with a year of preschool, so that’s 14 years of education just to get you to high school graduation.
Add in a four-year college degree and that’s 18 years in school. A two-year master’s program? Three years of law school, maybe four in a medical program? You may be facing some 22 years of education, and with those years comes a lot of homework.
But your school years will end. And provided you remain in good health you will spend a good three times more years of your life without homework as a part of your days. The hard work you do while in school will have a direct impact on the whole of your life, a life that’s largely to be spent beyond the bounds of academic responsibilities.
So stick with it, stay motivated and on task, and one day you’ll find yourself enjoying the benefits of your efforts instead of bemoaning the tasks.
Steven John is a writer based near New York City (after 12 years in LA, four in Boston, and the first 18 just outside DC). When not writing or spending time with his wife, son, and daughter, he frequently jogs and bikes, sometimes gets in a kayak, and occasionally climbs mountains. He writes for several major outlets, and his novels can be found on his website stevenjohnbooks.com
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How to Motivate Students: 12 Classroom Tips & Examples
Inspire. Instill drive. Incite excitement. Stimulate curiosity.
These are all common goals for many educators. However, what can you do if your students lack motivation? How do you light that fire and keep it from burning out?
This article will explain and provide examples of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in the classroom. Further, we will provide actionable methods to use right now in your classroom to motivate the difficult to motivate. Let’s get started!
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your students create actionable goals and master techniques to create lasting behavior change.
This Article Contains:
The science of motivation explained, how to motivate students in the classroom, 9 ways teachers can motivate students, encouraging students to ask questions: 3 tips, motivating students in online classes, helpful resources from positivepsychology.com, a take-home message.
Goal-directed activities are started and sustained by motivation. “Motivational processes are personal/internal influences that lead to outcomes such as choice, effort, persistence, achievement, and environmental regulation” (Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2020). There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic motivation is internal to a person.
For example, you may be motivated to achieve satisfactory grades in a foreign language course because you genuinely want to become fluent in the language. Students like this are motivated by their interest, enjoyment, or satisfaction from learning the material.
Not surprisingly, intrinsic motivation is congruous with higher performance and predicts student performance and higher achievement (Ryan & Deci, 2020).
Extrinsic motivation is derived from a more external source and involves a contingent reward (Benabou & Tirole, 2003).
For example, a student may be motivated to achieve satisfactory grades in a foreign language course because they receive a tangible reward or compliments for good grades. Their motivation is fueled by earning external rewards or avoiding punishments. Rewards may even include approval from others, such as parents or teachers.
Self-determination theory addresses the why of behavior and asserts that there are various motivation types that lie on a continuum, including external motivation, internal motivation, and amotivation (Sheehan et al., 2018).
Student autonomy is the ownership they take of their learning or initiative.
Generate students’ autonomy by involving them in decision-making. Try blended learning, which combines whole class lessons with independent learning. Teach accountability by holding students accountable and modeling and thinking aloud your own accountability.
In addressing competence, students must feel that they can succeed and grow. Assisting students in developing their self-esteem is critical. Help students see their strengths and refer to their strengths often. Promote a kid’s growth mindset .
Relatedness refers to the students’ sense of belonging and connection. Build this by establishing relationships. Facilitate peer connections by using team-building exercises and encouraging collaborative learning. Develop your own relationship with each student. Explore student interests to develop common ground.
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Motivating students while teaching a subject and providing classroom management is definitely a juggling act. Try introducing a few of the suggestions below and see what happens.
First and foremost, it is critical to develop relationships with your students. When students begin formal schooling, they need to develop quality relationships, as interpersonal relationships in the school setting influence children’s development and positively impact student outcomes, which includes their motivation to learn, behavior, and cognitive skills (McFarland et al., 2016).
Try administering interest inventories at the beginning of the school year. Make a point to get to know each student and demonstrate your interest by asking them about their weekend, sports game, or other activities they may participate in.
Physical learning environment
Modify the physical learning environment. Who says students need to sit in single-file rows all facing the front of the room or even as desks for that matter?
Flexible seating is something you may want to try. Students who are comfortable in a learning space are better engaged, which leads to more meaningful, impactful learning experiences (Cole et al., 2021). You may try to implement pillows, couches, stools, rocking chairs, rolling chairs, bouncing chairs, or even no chairs at all.
Involve parents and solicit their aid to help encourage students. Parents are a key factor in students’ motivation (Tóth-Király et al., 2022).
It is important to develop your relationship with these crucial allies. Try making positive phone calls home prior to the negative phone calls to help build an effective relationship. Involve parents by sending home a weekly newsletter or by inviting them into your classroom for special events. Inform them that you are a team and have the same goals for their child.
The relevance of the material is critical for instilling motivation. Demonstrating why the material is useful or tying the material directly to students’ lives is necessary for obtaining student interest.
It would come as no surprise that if a foreign language learner is not using relevant material, it will take longer for that student to acquire the language and achieve their goals (Shatz, 2014). If students do not understand the importance or real-world application for what they are learning, they may not be motivated to learn.
Student-centered learning approaches have been proven to be more effective than teacher-centered teaching approaches (Peled et al., 2022).
A student-centered approach engages students in the learning process, whereas a teacher-centered approach involves the teacher delivering the majority of the information. This type of teaching requires students to construct meaning from new information and prior experience.
Give students autonomy and ownership of what they learn. Try enlisting students as the directors of their own learning and assign project-based learning activities.
Find additional ways to integrate technology. Talk less and encourage the students to talk more. Involving students in decision-making and providing them opportunities to lead are conducive to a student-centered learning environment.
Collaborative learning is definitely a strategy to implement in the classroom. There are both cognitive and motivational benefits to collaborative learning (Järvelä et al., 2010), and social learning theory is a critical lens with which to examine motivation in the classroom.
You may try assigning group or partner work where students work together on a common task. This is also known as cooperative learning. You may want to offer opportunities for both partner and small group work. Allowing students to choose their partners or groups and assigning partners or groups should also be considered.
Have you ever had a difficult time getting students to answer your questions? Who says students need to answer verbally? Try using alternative answering methods, such as individual whiteboards, personal response systems such as “clickers,” or student response games such as Kahoot!
Quizlet is also an effective method for obtaining students’ answers (Setiawan & Wiedarti, 2020). Using these tools allows every student to participate, even the timid students, and allows the teacher to perform a class-wide formative assessment on all students.
New teaching methods
Vary your teaching methods. If you have become bored with the lessons you are delivering, it’s likely that students have also become bored.
Try new teaching activities, such as inviting a guest speaker to your classroom or by implementing debates and role-play into your lessons. Teacher and student enjoyment in the classroom are positively linked, and teachers’ displayed enthusiasm affects teacher and student enjoyment (Frenzel et al., 2009).
Perhaps check out our article on teacher burnout to reignite your spark in the classroom. If you are not enjoying yourself, your students aren’t likely to either.
Aside from encouraging students to answer teacher questions, prompting students to ask their own questions can also be a challenge.
When students ask questions, they demonstrate they are thinking about their learning and are engaged. Further, they are actively filling the gaps in their knowledge. Doğan and Yücel-Toy (2020, p. 2237) posit:
“The process of asking questions helps students understand the new topic, realize others’ ideas, evaluate their own progress, monitor learning processes, and increase their motivation and interest on the topic by arousing curiosity.”
Student-created questions are critical to an effective learning environment. Below are a few tips to help motivate students to ask questions.
Instill confidence and a safe environment
Students need to feel safe in their classrooms. A teacher can foster this environment by setting clear expectations of respect between students. Involve students in creating a classroom contract or norms.
Refer to your classroom’s posted contract or norms periodically to review student expectations. Address any deviation from these agreements and praise students often. Acknowledge all students’ responses, no matter how wild or off-topic they may be.
Provide students with graphic organizers such as a KWL chart. The KWL chart helps students organize what they already Know , what they Want to learn, and what they Learned .
Tools such as these will allow students to process their thinking and grant them time to generate constructive questions. Referring to this chart will allow more timid students to share their questions.
Although intrinsic motivation is preferred (Ryan & Deci, 2020), incentives should also be used when appropriate. Token systems, where students can exchange points for items, are an effective method for improving learning and positively affecting student behavior (Homer et al., 2018).
Tangible and intangible incentives may be used to motivate students if they have not developed intrinsic motivation. Intangible items may include lunch with the teacher, a coupon to only complete half of an assignment, or a show-and-tell session. Of course, a good old-fashioned treasure box may help as well.
If students are unwilling to ask questions in front of the class, try implementing a large poster paper where students are encouraged to use sticky notes to write down their questions. Teachers may refer to the questions and answer them at a separate time. This practice is called a “parking lot.” Also, consider allowing students to share questions in small groups or with partners.
Student motivation: how to motivate students to learn
Just as in the face-to-face setting, relationships are crucial for online student motivation as well. Build relationships by getting to know your students’ interests. Determining student interests will also be key in the virtual environment.
Try incorporating a show-and-tell opportunity where students can display and talk about objects from around their home that are important to them. Peer-to-peer relationships should also be encouraged, and accomplishing this feat in an online class can be difficult. Here is a resource you can use to help plan team-building activities to bring your students together.
Game-based response systems such as Kahoot! may increase motivation. These tools use gamification to encourage motivation and engagement.
Incentives may also be used in the computer-based setting. Many schools have opted to use Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Rewards . This curriculum nurtures a positive school culture and aims to improve student behavior. Points are earned by students meeting expectations and can be exchanged for items in an online store.
To further develop strong relationships with students and parents, remark on the relevancy of the materials and instill a student-centered learning approach that addresses autonomy. You may also wish to include alternative means of answering questions, vary your teaching methods, and implement collaborative learning.
We have many useful articles and worksheets you can use with your students. To get an excellent start on the foundations of motivation, we recommend our article What Is Motivation? A Psychologist Explains .
If you’re curious about intrinsic motivation, you may be interested in What Is Intrinsic Motivation? 10 Examples and Factors Explained . And if you wish to learn more about extrinsic motivation, What Is Extrinsic Motivation? 9 Everyday Examples and Activities may be of interest to you.
Perhaps using kids’ reward coupons such as these may help increase motivation. Teachers could modify the coupons to fit their classroom or share these exact coupons with parents at parent–teacher conferences to reinforce children’s efforts at school .
For some students, coloring is an enjoyable and creative outlet. Try using a coloring sheet such as this Decorating Cookies worksheet for when students complete their work or as a reward for good behavior.
These 17 Motivation and Goal Achievement Exercises were designed for professionals to help others turn their dreams into reality by applying the latest science-based behavioral change techniques. You can consider these exercises to better understand your own motivation or tweak some activities for younger learners.
“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”
C. S. Lewis
While we know how challenging it is to motivate students while teaching our specific subjects and attending to classroom management, we also understand the importance of motivation.
You will have some students enter your classroom with unequivocally developed intrinsic motivation, and you will have students enter your classroom with absolutely no motivation.
Teachers have to be able to teach everyone who walks into their classroom and incite motivation in those who have no motivation at all. Motivating the difficult to motivate is challenging; however, it can be done.
As Plutarch asserted, it is better to think of education as “a fire to be kindled” as opposed to “a vessel to be filled.” In addressing the needs of students with little to no motivation, it will take more time, patience, and understanding; however, implementing a few of these strategies will put you on the fast track to lighting that fire.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free .
- Benabou, R., & Tirole, J. (2003). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The Review of Economic Studies , 70 (3), 489–495
- Cole, K., Schroeder, K., Bataineh, M., & Al-Bataineh, A. (2021). Flexible seating impact on classroom environment. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology-TOJET , 20 (2), 62–74.
- Doğan, F., & Yücel-Toy, B. (2020). Development of an attitude scale towards asking questions for elementary education students. Ilkogretim Online, 19 (4), 2237–2248.
- Frenzel, A. C., Goetz, T., Lüdtke, O., Pekrun, R., & Sutton, R. E. (2009). Emotional transmission in the classroom: Exploring the relationship between teacher and student enjoyment. Journal of Educational Psychology , 101 (3), 705–716.
- Homer, R., Hew, K. F., & Tan, C. Y. (2018). Comparing digital badges-and-points with classroom token systems: Effects on elementary school ESL students’ classroom behavior and English learning. Journal of Educational Technology & Society , 21 (1), 137–151.
- Järvelä, S., Volet, S., & Järvenoja, H. (2010). Research on motivation in collaborative learning: Moving beyond the cognitive–situative divide and combining individual and social processes. Educational Psychologist , 45 (1), 15–27.
- Kippers, W. B., Wolterinck, C. H., Schildkamp, K., Poortman, C. L., & Visscher, A. J. (2018). Teachers’ views on the use of assessment for learning and data-based decision making in classroom practice. Teaching and Teacher Education , 75 , 199–213.
- McFarland, L., Murray, E., & Phillipson, S. (2016). Student–teacher relationships and student self-concept: Relations with teacher and student gender. Australian Journal of Education , 60 (1), 5–25.
- Peled, Y., Blau, I., & Grinberg, R. (2022). Crosschecking teachers’ perspectives on learning in a one-to-one environment with their actual classroom behavior: A longitudinal study. Education and Information Technologies , 1–24.
- Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2020). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation from a self-determination theory perspective: Definitions, theory, practices, and future directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology , 61 , 101860.
- Schunk, D. H., & DiBenedetto, M. K. (2020). Motivation and social cognitive theory. Contemporary Educational Psychology , 60 , 101832.
- Setiawan, M. R., & Wiedarti, P. (2020). The effectiveness of Quizlet application towards students’ motivation in learning vocabulary. Studies in English Language and Education , 7 (1), 83–95.
- Shatz, I. (2014). Parameters for assessing the effectiveness of language learning strategies. Journal of Language and Cultural Education , 2 (3), 96–103.
- Sheehan, R. B., Herring, M. P., & Campbell, M. J. (2018). Associations between motivation and mental health in sport: A test of the hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Frontiers in Psychology , 9 , 707.
- Tóth-Király, I., Morin, A. J., Litalien, D., Valuch, M., Bőthe, B., Orosz, G., & Rigó, A. (2022). Self-determined profiles of academic motivation. Motivation and Emotion , 1–19.
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11 Tips to Stay Motivated with Schoolwork
Posted July 25th, 2018 By Kris Powers
We all experience moments of feeling utterly unmotivated. For students, especially those juggling family, work and school obligations, staying motivated to complete schoolwork can be one of the toughest challenges when faced with so many demands for your attention. But don’t get discouraged! Here are a few simple ways to keep motivated, even on your toughest days.
Pick your most productive time
According to New Republic , studies have found that the two hours right after you wake up are the most productive. If possible, set aside this morning time to tackle your schoolwork. If you are more of a night owl; plan on completing an hour or so of work every night; either right when you get home or when the kids go to bed.
Set up each study session for success
When you start your study time, don’t log into email or social media sites. If you are serious about your studying, then be serious about the time that you are dedicating to it. Create blocks of time where you turn everything off. This includes shutting down your smartphone, Internet, and anything else that can interrupt you. Closely guard this time to completing school work and you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done! For me, the temptation to check email and Facebook is too great for me to resist. Better to just keep them turned off/logged out of until my work is done.
Take small bites out of your workload
On days when motivation is lagging; set a small goal for yourself to study for 15 minutes. Complete one assignment. Take a practice test. We recently wrote about the Pomodoro Technique . Give it a try - we can all do anything for 15-minutes! Every small goal you successfully complete will keep you motivated to do more and more.
Set goals with milestones
When you sit down to draw up your weekly to-do list, be sure to ask yourself: "What one task should I complete to make me feel like this week was a success?" These milestones act as important markers on our way to reaching our goals. If your goal is to write a term paper by such-and-such a date; set the milestones for outline, first draft and so on along the way. You will feel a sense of accomplishment upon completing each milestone, and motivated to reach the next milestone on your plan to reaching that goal!
Don’t allow negative self-talk
When things get tough, it’s easy to say, “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t do this”. This inner voice can seriously get in the way of our motivation . Taking breaks, practicing meditation, and getting fresh air can help to quiet that inner voice.
Change your location
Sometimes a change in location is just what we need to stay motivated! Pick up your materials and go elsewhere. A local coffee shop, library or the park can all be great places to reignite our enthusiasm for studying.
We’ve written before about the benefits of living a more grateful life . What are you grateful for? Making a list of things you are grateful for can have an amazing effect on your state-of-mind and your motivation to succeed.
Find your inspiration
Pictures, poems, quotes – these can all provide a much needed pick-me-up when our motivation is lagging. What inspires you? Perhaps it’s a card from a friend congratulating you on taking this step, or a drawing from your child. Inspiration can be found in many things. Find what works for you and keep it close by!
Create a vision board
Creating a vision board is a great way to keep motivated. What are your goals and your dreams? Use the inspiration pieces from the step above and find more to represent your hopes for the future. This focal point can serve as a source of inspiration every day!
Celebrate your accomplishments
Take a moment at the end of every week and look at all that you’ve completed. Even if there are more things left to do (and there usually will be), take this time to acknowledge and celebrate what has been done. The sense of accomplishment and pride that you feel can help you stay motivated for the weeks to come.
Eat right, get enough sleep, do some form of physical activity every day. Taking care of your body and spirit will make you feel more energized to face your day!
Being a student is hard at any age. There will be days when you feel that this is impossible, and you aren’t sure that you can keep plugging along. Before you give up, think about the consequences. How would quitting make you feel? How would it affect your dreams for the future? Conversely, what will life be like when you achieve your goals? How will furthering your education benefit your future and your family?
Once you start to think about the effects, we hope you’ll remember why you started this process and envision the pride that you’ll feel once you reach your goal. Igniting the passion behind the process will motivate you to get back to work!
Ed4Career makes it easy to pursue your personal learning and career training goals. We have valuable resources built into our programs and curriculum to help ensure student success. We also have skilled Educational Consultants on staff, and we offer an Online Student Center as well as Career Coaching. Visit us today to learn more about the Ed4Career difference!
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How to Stay Motivated in School
Last Updated: October 2, 2023 Approved
This article was co-authored by Sean Alexander, MS . Sean Alexander is an Academic Tutor specializing in teaching mathematics and physics. Sean is the Owner of Alexander Tutoring, an academic tutoring business that provides personalized studying sessions focused on mathematics and physics. With over 15 years of experience, Sean has worked as a physics and math instructor and tutor for Stanford University, San Francisco State University, and Stanbridge Academy. He holds a BS in Physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MS in Theoretical Physics from San Francisco State University. There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 15 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 288,840 times.
Do you have those days where you say to yourself, "I don't need school," or those days when you just don't feel like rolling out of bed? You're not alone, but doing well in school will set you up to have the life you want down the road. There are many things you can do to keep yourself motivated in school.
Setting Yourself Up for Success
- Keep your desk neat and clean so you don’t get frustrated by how sloppy it is.
- Keep your tools (pencils, highlighters, staplers) neatly organized so you can find them easily.
- Make sure the space is well-lit. Dim lighting can give you a headache, which definitely won’t help you stay motivated.
- Figure out if you work best with silence or with a little background noise. Some people are distracted by noise, while others can’t work without a little music playing in the background.
- Study groups should have no more than 3-4 members so they don't get unruly.
- Meet at least once a week on a regular schedule. You can meet at school during a free period, or after school at somebody's house.
- Volunteer to be the group leader/coordinator. You will determine what classes and projects the group will focus on in a given week so that everyone's working together and helping each other instead of randomly working on their projects.
- Prepare for each session. Don't just show up and expect to do work in your study group. Come prepared with insight on the task you've been working on all week.
- Remember to give the group short breaks from time to time to relax and recharge.
- Set a patterned routine. Successful people often stick to regular routines to help them stay on task and achieve their goals.  X Research source
- There might be some variation throughout the week — for example, you might have a club or practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but not the other days. Make sure that every week, you know what to expect from each day.
- Give yourself a break from time to time. Studies have shown that taking a break to recharge when you feel like you’re going to burn out help improve your productivity.  X Research source
- Remember to write reminders about long-term projects in the days leading up to the due date, so you don’t forget about it until the last second.
- You can also use a calendar app on your cell phone to keep track of your obligations. Most apps can be programmed to remind you of deadlines.
Working Toward Your Goals
- List all the different steps you must complete to finish the project.
- Make a schedule that forces you to finish one small piece of the project per day.
- For a paper, you might read and summarize one source on day one; another source on day two, a third source on day three; synthesize their arguments on day four; outline your argument on day five; integrate quotations from your sources into your outline on day six; write your paper on days seven and eight; rest on day nine; and revise on day ten.
- Remember that nobody can work all the time. Give yourself a little time off when you deserve it.
- If you don't meet your goals, keep yourself to your promise. If you goof off on social media for half of the two hours you were supposed to be studying, don't let yourself watch your favorite TV show!
- If you work your best and still fail to meet those goals, don't be discouraged. Redouble your efforts. With hard work and time, you'll meet your goals.
Practicing Focus and Concentration
- Find a quiet environment.
- Sit cross-legged on the ground in a comfortable position, supporting your back against a wall if you need to.
- Close your eyes and focus on the darkness.
- Think about nothing but the darkness that you see. Don't let yourself think about anything else.
- When fifteen minutes have passed, get to work!
- Create a simple but distinct action that sends a clear message to yourself
- It should be something you don't do regularly — wiggling your toes, for example.
- Every time you feel your mind drifting away, wiggle your toes to snap yourself back into focus.
- Try jumping rope, doing jumping jacks, running in place, or any other simple activity you can do easily in your room.
Making Lifestyle Changes to Stay Motivated
- Make yourself get in bed at a reasonable hour, even if you’re not tired yet.
- Don’t watch TV or use your computer for at least an hour before you go to bed.  X Research source
- Don’t take naps during the day, so you’ll be more tired at night.
- Fish with omega-3 and whole grains improve memory function.
- Dark fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants that improve memory and cognition.  X Research source
- Foods rich in Vitamin B, including spinach, broccoli, and beans, are good for memory and alertness.
Learning to Value School
- Traveling the world
- Supporting a family
- Driving a good car
- Buying season tickets for your favorite sports team
- Having extra money to see concerts, eat out in fancy restaurants, see plays, etc.
- Make a list of all the jobs you can see yourself being happy in.
- For each job, list the skills you’ll need to do that job well.
- Match up those skills with the classes and clubs at school that will prepare you for your dream job.
- Work extra hard in those classes. Join those clubs. Know that working hard in school will ensure a fulfilling career later in life.
- Make good use of your downtime at school. Lunchtime and the time between classes is a great time to recharge your energy before your next class by having a good laugh with a friend.
- Join after-school clubs and teams to find people who share your interests.
- Don't think about things you do wrong; instead, think about things you're doing right. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
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- ↑ Sean Alexander, MS. Academic Tutor. Expert Interview. 14 May 2020.
- ↑ http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifercohen/2013/10/02/5-things-super-successful-people-do-before-8-am/
- ↑ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/jobs/take-breaks-regularly-to-stay-on-schedule-workstation.html?_r=0
- ↑ http://www.successconsciousness.com/overcoming-laziness.htm
- ↑ http://www.the1thing.com/blog/multi-tasking/four-exercises-to-increase-focus/
- ↑ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/28/how-to-focus_n_3795523.html
- ↑ http://operationmeditation.com/discover/7-easy-no-nonsense-concentration-exercises/
- ↑ https://www.boston.com/uncategorized/noprimarytagmatch/2013/03/07/4-ways-to-use-exercise-to-boost-brain-power
- ↑ http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/school-start-time-and-sleep
- ↑ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/23/shut-off-brain-cant-sleep_n_5161774.html
- ↑ http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/healthy-foods-eat-brain-power?page=2
- ↑ http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2012/10/24-exercise-productivity-pozen
- ↑ http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx
- ↑ https://krex.k-state.edu/dspace/handle/2097/13131
About This Article
If you want to stay motivated in school, start by creating a scheduled routine for your study time to keep you on task. Then, find a quiet, well-lit place to study and keep it neat and tidy so you won’t be distracted by messes. If you have a big goal or project, break it into smaller tasks so that they’re more manageable and you don’t get overwhelmed. Finally, record all due dates on your phone and set reminders for when deadlines are approaching so you won’t forget. For tips on creating a successful study group that will keep you motivated, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Tips for Staying Motivated Ahead of College
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How to Stay Motivated in High School
1. prioritize assignments.
The key to success in school is staying focused on your coursework. Make a list to get an overall picture of your workload before you start to tackle any of it. Then, make a plan.
It's best to prioritize your more challenging and time-consuming assignments. Although it’s tempting to work on the simplest tasks first, you'll be able to manage your schedule better if you start with the ones that take more time and effort to accomplish.
To determine what your priorities are, rank your assignments in order of importance. Then, rearrange your time and devote more energy toward those assignments that have the greatest impact on your overall coursework and your grades. For more involved projects, you'll need to plot out work time over several weeks.
For example, even though all homework assignments are important, studying for a midterm exam takes priority over writing a paragraph for English class. As you complete each task, think of it as another step on your way to success in college.
However, don't let a task fall through the cracks just because it seems "less important." Remember that all assignments must be completed regardless of the impact on your grades.
By tackling your more difficult and time-consuming studies first, you’ll find yourself feeling more motivated to complete the easier assignments that lie ahead. Think of it as descending from the peak of a mountain rather than struggling to scale one.
2. Set Attainable Goals in Smaller Chunks
If you're having trouble writing a 25-page paper for class because it seems like such a big task, stop focusing on that final page count. Break the paper down into its subsections, and focus on each one individually.
It’s much easier to stay motivated and stop procrastinating by setting goals in smaller, more attainable chunks. It’s also a lot easier on your mental health.
3. Create New Challenges
Changing your approach can help you stay interested in what you’re doing. Some high school assignments tend to feel formulaic after a while, and you may end up feeling like you’re just going through the motions. This can cause you to feel demotivated and drained. Change things up to challenge yourself.
For example, if last semester you wrote a narrative piece in your creative writing class, maybe try writing a poem this time. If you wrote a book report on a biography last time around, try picking another subject you haven’t tackled, such as history.
If your eyes are hurting from staring at your math textbook all night, go online and try to find videos from lively instructors who take another approach to solving math problems.
4. Find a Social Support Network
You are surrounded by people who want to see you succeed, so don’t be afraid to ask for help! Mentors can be teachers, family friends, or even your school counselors. They are there to help you reach your goals and can help you create a study plan that works for you.
Try reaching out to your friends and peers in school as well, and see if you can all bring together a focused study group. Sometimes, it can even be healthy to vent your frustrations to others as a way of clearing your head.
5. Acknowledge Your Accomplishments
Praising yourself for the things you’ve accomplished is a great way to spark motivation. Give yourself a quick reward when you complete an assignment or task. Perhaps you can turn your phone off and only turn it back on once you’ve completed your work. Or reward yourself by taking a walk or getting a snack—whatever works for you. Then move on to the next project.
How can I make studying fun?
There are many ways to make studying fun. For one, you can reward yourself every time you attain a study goal. Did you memorize all of your biology notecards? Time for a slice of pizza. Did you finally hammer down that complicated math equation? Call your friend to talk about it and celebrate.
Probably the most fun way to study is by forming a study group with your friends and classmates. You can bounce ideas off each other and help each other better understand concepts. But be warned: This can be a double-edged sword. If your group doesn’t create a focused and concrete plan for the study session beforehand, you may end up procrastinating more than studying.
How can I stay motivated to complete homework?
Break down your study goals into smaller, more attainable chunks. Instead of panicking over the final page count for a long essay, take on each subtopic in the essay individually, and overcome them one by one.
Another way to stay motivated to complete your homework is to tie a carrot to the end of the stick, so to speak. For example, you can tell yourself, “Once I finish this assignment, and only when I’ve finished this assignment, I can hang out with my friends or play video games.”
Of course, you can also motivate yourself to complete your homework by thinking about how your accomplishment will positively benefit your future. You can think along the lines of, “If I stop procrastinating on this homework assignment and finish it now, I’ll get a better grade in class. If I get a better grade in class, my overall GPA will be higher, and I will look better on my college applications!”
Why do students lose interest in high school?
Students tend to lose interest and motivation in high school for many reasons, including feeling that they're not in a supportive environment, feeling that they’re just going through the motions, or simply feeling burnt out from everything they're doing in their busy lives.
The best way to combat all these negative emotions is to re-spark your love of learning and your motivation to do well. Refer to our five tips for staying motivated in high school when you need help fighting back against discouraging feelings.
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How to Do School When Motivation Has Gone Missing
Here’s what teenagers can do to equip themselves to move forward during this difficult and frustrating time.
By Lisa Damour
The school year is still young, yet parents and students alike may have noticed that academic motivation is already low. No surprise there. Whether school is remote, in-person or hybrid, many students have come to feel that, if this year were a meal, it would be all vegetables and no dessert . Gone, or hamstrung by screens, masks and plexiglass, are the encouraging company of classmates and teachers, the camaraderie of tackling tedious work alongside friends and the school day boost of exchanging a few words with one’s crush. Still here is the steady stream of assignments, assessments and lectures.
With the bulk of the academic year yet to come, here’s what teenagers can do to equip themselves to continue to move forward during this difficult and frustrating time.
Understand the Two Basic Types of Motivation
Educational psychologists recognize two main kinds of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic . Intrinsic motivation takes over when we have a deep and genuine interest in a task or topic and derive satisfaction from the work or learning itself. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, gets us to work by putting the outcome — like a paycheck or a good grade — in mind. When what we’re doing feels fascinating, such as reading a book we can’t put down, we’re propelled by intrinsic motivation; when we pay attention in a class or meeting by promising ourselves 10 minutes of online shopping for seeing it through, we’re summoning extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is the one that tends to be prized in educational circles, and with good reason. It is linked to higher levels of academic achievement and greater psychological well-being . That said, intrinsic motivation can’t always be summoned or sustained. Young people may find themselves intrinsically motivated on Mondays, but not Fridays, or at the start of an evening study session but not as the night wears on.
It’s also true that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation aren’t mutually exclusive. It happens all the time that students both take an inherent interest in their academic work and care about their grades.
Rather than privileging one form of motivation above the other, it’s better to treat them as different gears, each of which helps young people down the academic road. In my experience, the students who are most adept at tackling their schoolwork know how to work both gears, shifting back and forth between them as needed.
Stack the Deck for Intrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation is extremely useful, giving even serious work a sense of effortlessness . But it’s not a piece of cake to conjure up, and conditions matter. It is most likely to flourish in situations where students feel autonomous, supported and competent, but often fails to take hold when they feel controlled, pressured or unsure.
In practice, this means that young people should be given as much say over their learning as possible, such as giving them options for how to solve problems, approach unfamiliar topics or practice new skills. This can also involve, whenever possible, letting tweens and teenagers decide the order in which they tackle their assignments, how they want to prepare for tests or where they feel they study most effectively, even if that means that their papers carpet their bedroom floors.
Should adults be cheerleaders for our teenagers? Opinion is split. Some researchers contend that praise helps to cultivate intrinsic motivation , while others say that it undermines it by introducing an extrinsic reward. There is, however, an area of consensus: the utility of praise depends on how it’s done. Specifically, praise fosters intrinsic motivation when it’s sincere, celebrates effort rather than talent (“you worked really hard,” vs. “you’re so smart”) and communicates encouragement, not pressure (“you’re doing really well,” vs. “you’re doing really well, as I hoped you would”).
This is such a hard year. So long as we do it right, there’s no reason for adults to be stingy with praise.
Finally, intrinsic motivation is all but impossible to muster for material that feels out of reach. Teachers and parents should keep a close eye for students who are checking out because they feel lost and work to recalibrate the material or the expectations.
Know When to Use Extrinsic Motivation
Let’s be honest: Hard-working, conscientious adults often rely on extrinsic motivators — even when they love their work. Engaging work might be its own reward much of the time, but sometimes we keep our noses to the grindstone only by holding out the incentive of a cup of coffee, some chocolate, a vanquished to-do list, or all of the above. Adults often have refined strategies for getting through our work and, as a first step, we should talk openly with teenagers about the tactics we employ when intrinsic motivation isn’t happening.
Also, teens and parents can think together about strategies to help face down a long list of assignments. Would it help to have a parent work quietly nearby in silent solidarity? Would the teenager like to study in 25-minute intervals followed by five-minute breaks to stretch, snack or check social media? Might the promise of getting to pick the weekend family movie make that last bit of work more bearable?
Adults should be ready to stand back and admire the fantastic solutions that young people land upon themselves. Some adolescents buckle down with the help of a YouTube study buddy , others hold out the carrot of a video game or run once the work is done.
I recently learned of a 10th-grader who makes time-lapse videos of herself while she does her homework. Knowing that she’s on camera keeps her focused, and having a record of her efforts (and the amusing faces she makes while concentrating) turns out to be a powerful reward. While intrinsic motivation has its upsides, there should be no shame in the external motivation game. It’s about getting the work done.
This year, even more than usual, adults are asking so much of adolescents. One way to help is by talking openly about strategies that help muster motivation. These conversations will help teenagers now, and also long after the virus is gone.
Lisa Damour is a psychologist and the author of the New York Times best sellers “Untangled” and “Under Pressure.” Dr. Damour also co-hosts the podcast “Ask Lisa: The Psychology of Parenting.” More about Lisa Damour
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What to Do When You Have No Motivation
Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk, "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.
Verywell / Laura Porter
Whether you can’t get motivated to clean your house or you just aren’t feeling motivated to lose weight, a lack of motivation can be the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals.
When you have no motivation to complete a task (or even start one), consider the possible reasons why you’re struggling. Then, develop a plan to help motivate yourself to get going.
Keep in mind that not every strategy works for everyone—or in every situation. Perform some behavioral experiments to see which strategies best help you reach your goals.
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Act as If You Feel Motivated
You may be able to trick yourself into feeling motivated by changing your behavior. Act as if you felt motivated, and your actions may change your emotions.
For example, rather than sit on the couch in your pajamas all day waiting for motivation to strike, get dressed and get moving. You might find that taking action will increase your motivation, which makes it easier to keep going.
So ask yourself, “What would I be doing right now if I felt motivated?” Consider what you’d be wearing, how you’d be thinking, and what actions you’d be taking. Then, do these things, and see if your motivation level increases.
Everything You Need to Know About Motivation
Argue the opposite.
When you’re struggling with motivation, you’ll likely come up with a long list of reasons why you shouldn’t take any action. You might think, “It’ll be too hard,” or, “I’ll never get it done anyway.” These types of thoughts will keep you stuck.
Try arguing the opposite. When you think you’re going to fail, argue all the reasons why you might succeed. Or when you think you can’t finish a job, list all the evidence that shows you’ll be able to complete the task.
Arguing the opposite can help you see both ends of the spectrum. It can also remind you that an overly pessimistic outcome isn’t completely accurate.
There’s a chance that things might work out better than you expect. And you might find that developing a more balanced outlook will help you feel more motivated to try.
You might think being hard on yourself is the key to getting motivated. But harsh self-criticism doesn’t work.
Research shows that self-compassion is actually much more motivating, especially when you are struggling with adversity.
A 2011 study conducted by researchers at the University of California found that self-compassion increases the motivation to recover from failure. After failing a test, students spent more time studying when they spoke to themselves kindly. Additionally, they reported greater motivation to change their weaknesses when they practiced self-acceptance (a key component of self-compassion).
Self-compassion may also improve mental health (which can increase motivation). A 2012 study published in Clinical Psychology Review discovered that self-compassion decreases psychological distress, reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduces the harmful effects of stress.
So rather than beat yourself up for mistakes or call yourself names, create a kinder inner dialogue. This doesn’t mean you need to repeat exaggeratedly positive affirmations like, “I’m the best person in the world,” however.
Instead, healthy self-compassion balances self-acceptance with self-improvement. Acknowledge your flaws, mistakes, and failures with honesty. But don’t indulge in a pity party.
Speak to yourself like a trusted friend. Ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend who had this problem?” You’d likely be much kinder to someone else than you are toward yourself. So start treating yourself like a good friend.
Additionally, coach yourself in a helpful manner. Practice using self-talk that encourages you and helps you recover from setbacks.
Use the 10-Minute Rule
When you dread doing something—like walking on the treadmill for three miles—you’ll lack motivation to do it. You can reduce your feelings of dread, however, by proving to yourself that the task isn’t as bad as you think or that you have the strength to tolerate it better than you envision.
The 10-minute rule can help you get started. Give yourself permission to quit a task after 10 minutes. When you reach the 10-minute mark, ask yourself if you want to keep going or quit. You’ll likely find that you have enough motivation to keep going.
So whether you lack motivation to start working on a boring report, or you can’t seem to get yourself off the couch to start a to-do list, use the 10-minute rule to motivate yourself to take action.
Getting started on a task is usually the hardest part. Once you get going, however, it’s much easier to keep going.
Go For a Walk in Nature
Fresh air, a change of scenery, and a little exercise can do wonders for your motivation. Walking in nature—as opposed to a busy urban street—can be especially beneficial.
A 2013 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that walking half a mile through a park reduces brain fatigue. Being in nature offers a calming effect that rejuvenates the brain—which can help motivate you to tackle a tough task.
So rather than walk down a crowded street, go to the park or a botanical garden instead. Being surrounded by nature can provide the mental escape you need to return to your project feeling more motivated than before.
Pair a Dreaded Task With Something You Enjoy
Your emotions play a major role in your motivation level. If you’re sad, bored, lonely, or anxious, your desire to tackle a tough challenge or complete a tedious task will suffer.
Boost your mood by adding a little fun to something you’re not motivated to do. You’ll feel happier and you might even look forward to doing the task when it’s regularly paired with something fun.
Here are some examples:
- Listen to music while you run.
- Call a friend, and talk while you’re cleaning the house.
- Light a scented candle while you’re working on your computer.
- Rent a luxury vehicle when you travel for business.
- Invite a friend to run errands with you.
- Turn on your favorite show while you’re folding laundry.
Just make sure that your fun doesn’t impair your performance. For example, watching TV while writing a paper might distract you and slow you down even more. Or talking to a friend while you’re cleaning the house might be so distracting that you can’t pay attention to what you’re doing.
Manage Your To-Do List
It’s tough to feel motivated when your to-do list is overwhelming . If you feel like there’s no hope in getting everything done, you might not try to do anything.
Keep in mind that most people underestimate how long something will take them. And when they don’t get it done on time, they might view themselves as lazy or inefficient. This can backfire by causing them to lose motivation—which makes it even harder to get more things done.
Take a look at your to-do list, and determine if it’s too long. If so, get rid of tasks that aren’t essential .
See if other tasks can be moved to a different day. Prioritize the most important things on the list, and move those to the top.
You might find a slight change in your to-do list—or the way you view your to-do list—will help you to see your tasks as more manageable. As a result, you might feel more motivated to get to work.
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You’ll struggle with motivation as long as you aren’t caring for yourself. Sleep-deprivation, a poor diet, and lack of leisure time are just a few things that can make trudging through the day more difficult than ever.
Create a healthy self-care plan that allows you to take care of your mind and body:
- Exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Drink water, and eat a healthy diet.
- Make time for leisure and fun.
- Use healthy coping skills to deal with stress.
- Avoid unhealthy habits, like binge eating and drinking too much alcohol.
Reward Yourself for Working
Create a small reward for yourself that you can earn for your hard work. You might find focusing on the reward helps you stay motivated to reach your goals.
For example, if you have a long paper to write for class, you might tackle it in several different ways:
- Write 500 words, and then take a 10-minute break.
- Eat one piece of chocolate after 30 minutes of work.
- Write one page a day, and then remind yourself that when you’re done, you’ll have free time to do whatever you want.
- Work for 20 minutes, and then spend 5 minutes checking social media.
- When you complete the paper, allow yourself to go out with friends.
Consider whether you are likely to be more motivated by smaller, more frequent rewards or a bigger reward for a complete job. You may want to experiment with a few different strategies until you discover an approach that works best for you.
Make sure your rewards don’t sabotage your efforts, however. Rewarding your hard work at the gym with a sugary treat might be counterproductive. And counterproductive bad habits will decrease your motivation in the long term.
Seek Professional Help
If your motivation remains low for two or more weeks, seek professional help. You may also want to seek help if your lack of motivation is affecting your daily functioning. For example, if you aren’t able to go to work, your performance at work is suffering, or if you can’t get motivated to leave the house, this could be a sign of something more serious.
Schedule an appointment with your physician. Your doctor may want to rule out physical health conditions that may be affecting your energy or mood.
Your doctor may also refer you to a mental health professional to determine if your lack of motivation might be related to a mental illness, like depression. If so, treatment may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. You may also want to consider an online therapy program to address any underlying issues and tackle your lack of motivation.
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Causes of Having No Motivation
Sometimes, no motivation can be the problem. At other times, it’s merely the symptom of a bigger problem.
For example, if you’re a perfectionist , your lack of motivation may stem from the fear that you won’t complete a task flawlessly. Until you address this need to be perfect, your motivation isn’t likely to increase.
At other times, your lack of motivation may cause you to procrastinate . And the more you procrastinate, the less motivated you feel. In this case, improving your motivation to get work done can help you feel better and perform better.
So it’s important to take a few minutes to consider why you might have trouble motivating yourself. Here are some common reasons for a lack of motivation:
- Avoidance of discomfort. Whether you don’t want to feel bored when doing a mundane task, or you are trying to avoid feelings of frustration by dodging a tough challenge, sometimes a lack of motivation stems from a desire to avoid uncomfortable feelings .
- Self-doubt. When you think you can’t do something—or are convinced you can’t tolerate the distress associated with a certain task—you’ll likely struggle to get started.
- Being over-extended. When you have a lot going on in life, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed. And this feeling can zap your motivation.
- Lack of commitment to a goal. Agreeing to a task simply because you felt obligated, or declaring a resolution out of peer pressure, may mean your heart really isn’t in it. And you likely won’t take action when you aren’t committed to your goal.
- Mental health issues. A lack of motivation is a common symptom of depression . It can also be linked to other mental illnesses , like anxiety . So it’s important to consider whether your mental health may be affecting your motivation level.
These are just a few common reasons why people sometimes lack motivation. You might find that your lack of motivation stems from other issues, like the fear of what people think or a desire to please everyone. So carefully consider the underlying thoughts and feelings that are affecting your drive.
A Word From Verywell
Everyone struggles with motivation issues at one time or another. The way you respond to your lack of motivation is what matters, however. Be kind to yourself, experiment with strategies that increase your motivation, and ask for help if you need it.
Breines JG, Chen S. Self-compassion increases self-improvement motivation . Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin . 2012;38(9):1133-1143. doi:10.1177/0146167212445599
Macbeth A, Gumley A. Exploring compassion: A meta-analysis of the association between self-compassion and psychopathology . Clinical Psychology Review . 2012;32(6):545-552. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2012.06.003
Aspinall P, Mavros P, Coyne R, Roe J. The urban brain: Analysing outdoor physical activity with mobile EEG . British Journal of Sports Medicine . 2013;49(4):272-276. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2012-091877
By Amy Morin, LCSW Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk, "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.
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Home / Expert Articles / Child Behavior Problems / School & Homework
10 Ways to Motivate Your Child to Do Better in School
By debbie pincus, ms lmhc.
How do you motivate a child who doesn’t seem to want to do his school work?
As parents, we are invested in our child’s academic life because we know how important it is for their future. Unfortunately, our kids don’t always seem to share our concern about their future. We know this because they continue to prioritize watching YouTube, gaming, and hanging out with their friends over their school work.
Why aren’t our kids motivated to do well in school? After all, it’s in their self-interest to do well. Why don’t they want to succeed as much as we want them to succeed?
Here’s the problem. School is an aspect of life that requires discipline and work, and kids need to learn to buy into the value of doing well. Your child must own the importance of doing well himself. Motivation can’t be forced. And if you try to force your child to be motivated, it almost always makes things worse.
Nevertheless, there are positive steps that you can take to help your child motivate himself to do better in school. Most of these steps involve setting up a structure to enable him to have better discipline and follow-through. This structure improves your child’s chance of success, and the taste of success is often what drives motivation.
In my work with parents and kids over the years, I have found the following 10 tips to help put your child in the best position to succeed and be motivated in school.
1. Stay Positive
Keep a relationship with your child that is open, respectful, and positive. Remind yourself that you and your child are on the same team. This will allow you to be influential, which is your most important parenting tool.
Punishing, preaching, and threatening will get you nowhere and will be detrimental to your relationship and their motivation. Your feelings of anxiety, frustration, and fear are normal and understandable. But reacting to your kids out of these emotions is ineffective and makes things worse.
Remember, your child is not behaving this way on purpose to make your life miserable. When you feel yourself getting worked up, try saying to yourself, “My child is just not there yet.”
And remind yourself that your job is to help him learn how to be responsible. If you get negative and make this a moral issue, then your child might become defiant, reacting to you instead of thinking through things himself.
2. Incorporate the “When You” Rule
One of life’s lessons is that we get paid after we do the work. So start saying things like:
“When you finish studying, you are welcome to go to your friend’s house.”
“When your homework is completed, we can discuss watching that movie you wanted to see on Netflix.”
Enforce this rule and stick to it. If your child does not yet have the necessary discipline, this will help to create it.
Indeed, by enforcing the “when you” rule, you are helping her learn how to do what her brain is not yet equipped to do, which is to be disciplined and to delay gratification.
3. Create Structure for Your Child
If your child is not studying and his grades are dropping, you have a right to get involved, whether he wants you there or not. Again, you’re not there to do the work for him. Instead, you are there to help set up the structure that he cannot create for himself.
The structure might include scheduled study times, having the computer out in a public place in your home, and saying, “No video games or electronics until after your homework is done.”
You might decide that he must devote a certain amount of hours to study time. During this time, no electronics or other distractions are allowed. You might make the rule that even if he finishes all his homework, he must complete study time by reviewing, reading, or editing.
Some kids do better listening to music while they study, and that’s okay. But keep in mind that this can be tricky because their music is usually integrated with their phones. This means YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, and instant messaging will all be at their fingertips.
If you can’t effectively keep them off those apps, then no phone and no music until their work is done. Just say:
“You can listen to music when you finish your homework.”
Think of it this way: schools don’t allow phones in class, and neither should you.
Understand that this structure is not a punishment. Rather, it is a way to help him to develop a good work ethic and to focus on his school subjects.
4. Meet With the Teacher
If your child’s grades and work habits are not up to par, you can set up a plan by sitting down with him and his teachers.
Have your child check with his teacher each day before coming home to ensure that he has all his homework assignments.
Also, you can ask him each morning to ensure that he brings his homework back to school. For me, nothing was more frustrating than my son doing his homework but then forgetting to bring it to school.
Once your child gets better at managing his time, completing his work, and getting organized, then it’s time for you to back off. Let him do it on his own. Only step in if he is consistently having a problem.
5. Identify a Study Spot
Your child may need a quiet location away from brothers and sisters to study. Or she may do better in a room near others. You can help her experiment, but once you find what works best, keep her in that location.
To keep your child focused, you may need to sit with her while she does her homework. You can read a book or newspaper while she works. At a minimum, be nearby to help ensure that she stays on track.
It’s okay to help her with her homework if she is stuck, but don’t do her work for her. For example, it’s okay to review her work and ask her if a certain paragraph makes sense to her. But it’s not okay to write every sentence or work on every math problem with her. Give just enough help to get her over the hump. Remember, learning how to struggle through difficult material is one of the skills your child needs to learn.
6. Break Assignments Into Manageable Pieces
Decide together whether you need to help him break down his assignments into smaller pieces and organize on a calendar what he should get done each day.
You can get him a big wall calendar or a whiteboard. It could be electronic if that is preferable, but I prefer written tools because electronics can be distracting.
7. Be Firm and Consistent with Homework Rules
You want to be positive and helpful to your child. At the same time, though, you have to be firm. You have to consistently enforce the rules you establish.
Being firm and consistent sends the message to your child that you know he can succeed.
Being firm also means that you enforce the rules with effective consequences. If he doesn’t follow the rules you set up, apply the consequences. And don’t try to shield him from the natural consequences of not doing his work, even if that means bad or failing grades.
In being firm, stay positive. For every negative interaction with your child, try to create ten positive ones. Try to put the focus on supporting and encouraging him instead of worrying and nagging.
And don’t take his performance personally. When you start to believe his grades are a reflection of you or your parenting, then you will be on his case, and it will make things worse.
8. Be Aware of His Anxiety Level
Recognize that much of your child’s lack of motivation (or what looks like irresponsibility) might be his anxiety or shame about academics and schoolwork. Kids may not be able to explain all of this to you because it’s not always on a conscious level for them.
Anxiety can be misinterpreted as a lousy attitude, lack of motivation, and irresponsibility. Often, the cover-up for these vulnerable emotions can take the form of acting out, shutting down, avoidance, or defiance.
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 may be your child’s anxiety at play rather than his laziness. Calmly help to give him a better structure to get his work done, and it will help reduce his anxiety.
And remember that what is happening now may look very different as your child matures and develops.
9. Don’t Over-Function For Your Child
It’s nerve-wracking and frustrating to see your child struggle and not meet his potential. You may feel that your child’s lack of motivation is a poor reflection on your parenting. In response, you react and shift into overdrive to get your child to succeed so that your feelings of shame, embarrassment, failure, or fear go away.
In the process, you may be tempted to over-function by helping to complete his work for him. But don’t do it. Resist the temptation. The more you over-function for your child, the more he will react to your anxiety, which causes things to go further and further downhill. Just set up the structure to help him succeed, but let him do the work and bear the consequences, good or bad.
Be your child’s coach. Set the strategy and give direction, but stay on the sidelines and let your child play the game—Root for him to win and praise him when he does. But don’t be afraid to let him fail. It’s all part of growing up and learning to take responsibility.
10. Don’t Obsess About the Future
When your child seems to have no interest in his life, it’s easy to start fast-forwarding into the future. When he acts like he doesn’t care about anything except video games and his friends, you worry that he won’t be successful or even function on his own. This heightens your anxiety and fear.
But none of us have a crystal ball or can see into the future. Focusing on the negative things your child is doing will only bring the spotlight on them and may set you both up for a power struggle. Instead, focus on your child’s positive traits and help him work on those in the present.
Is he outgoing? Helpful? A good cook? Good with cars or electronics? Focus on all the things that go into a developed, successful person, not just academics and grades. Help your child develop in social, creative, and emotional ways. Remember to always keep the big picture in mind.
For all of these tips, start from where your child is. What I mean is that, in many cases, your child may have a long way to go, and you don’t want to overwhelm him by trying to work on too many issues at once.
Expect that your child won’t like the structure at first, but he will get used to it. Be patient. Don’t expect improvement overnight, but don’t underestimate your child either. Be confident that he will come around and will improve with the structures you have put in place.
Related content: Sinking Fast at School: How to Help Your Child Stay Afloat “My Child Refuses to Do Homework” — How to Stop the Nightly Struggle Over School Work
About Debbie Pincus, MS LMHC
For more than 25 years, Debbie has offered compassionate and effective therapy and coaching, helping individuals, couples and parents to heal themselves and their relationships. Debbie is the creator of the Calm Parent AM & PM™ program and is also the author of numerous books for young people on interpersonal relations.
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Mom of Senior Although these comments are great, currently all homework is online for my highschool senior. during the pandemic, all of his school was online, and now, he's in a brick and mortor school for the first time since 9th grade. i think encouraging kids to seek friends at this point is More helpful, but it has to be on his terms. i haven't heard of many other parents with kids in this situation, but i do believe we aren't the only ones at a new school for senior year. the other situation is how much my senior dislikes school. he hates the entire structure of the school day, and feels there's no opportunity to truly learn when forced to cram everything into a 45 minute class period. we struggle often, with all of this.
BW RC I agree with you.
Parents most definitely need to stay involved in making sure their kids are on track academically. Here are some tips, parent to parent, from someone who has raised kids who have had success in school:
(1) Understand each of your child's capabilities and set expectations at home. Keep in mind that every child is different and outcomes will vary. The one commonality is that every child needs to achieve to the best of his/her own ability. Establishing work ethic is key in the early academic years.
(2) Help your child with organizational tools. Many kids struggle early on because they miss due dates or don't know how to manage their time because of poor organization. Buy them agendas to write down assignments and talk to them at the beginning of each week about upcoming tests and projects.
(3) Create a quiet, stress-free environment at home where kids can focus without distraction.
(4) Self esteem and confidence are extremely important. Always try to focus on positive reinforcement rather than taking a punitive approach. Verbally acknowledge improvements, even if the grade isn't where you would like it to be. If a child scores a low C on a test one week, and brings it up to a mid C the next, focus on the improvement, not on the disappointment that the grade isn't an A.
(5) Teach your child to communicate directly with his/her teachers and take advantage of study halls and other opportunities to seek instruction. Only get involved directly if all other avenues have been exhausted.
RC These suggestions are great for those with children, who have little defiance and will react to consequences, by changing their behavior. But, for our kid, nothing seems to work, either positive or negative. Unfortunately, I find this information much too basic and general. We’ve tried all of this and nothing More has stuck. The only suggestion I can see as potentially beneficial is number nine. Focus on what the kid is good at and hope for the best. But, until kids can stop lying to everyone, especially themselves, it’s all for nothing...
Responses to questions posted on EmpoweringParents.com are not intended to replace qualified medical or mental health assessments. We cannot diagnose disorders or offer recommendations on which treatment plan is best for your family. Please seek the support of local resources as needed. If you need immediate assistance, or if you and your family are in crisis, please contact a qualified mental health provider in your area, or contact your statewide crisis hotline.
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- 01 Feb, 2021
15 Ways To Get Motivated To Do School Work
To get motivated to do school work one should set SMART goals, work in a motivating environment, break large projects into smaller tasks, use a priority matrix, schedule time in calendar to do school work, challenge oneself to work for 5 minutes, think about the end reward, make a 30 day study challenge, form a study group with classmates, use a homework tracker, work in short focused bursts, find what is interesting in the work, use the Pomodoro study technique, exercise before doing school work or try out a new study method!
1. Set SMART Goals
Goal setting makes you think about how you are going to achieve something and thus makes you very motivated to do so. What most people don’t realise is that a goal doesn’t have to be a cliche fitness goal, it can be as small as a goal to finish some school work!
The SMART goal acronym stands for:
S – specific M – measurable A – achievable R – realistic T – time bound
SMART goals are a fantastic framework to use for setting any type of goal. This is because it takes you through a range of questions that in the end highly increase your chances of actually achieving the goal. (There is a great template in my digital student planner which guides you through all the questions to make a SMART goal)
This is a screenshot of the goal planner in my digital student planner for iPad:
2. Work In A Motivating Environment
Everyone has different levels of motivation in different environments. Some people work really well alone in a quite space at home while others thrive off other people being around and prefer to work in a library.
Figure out what environment is most motivating for you so you can complete your school work more easily!
3. Break Large Projects Into Smaller Tasks
Sometimes we don’t feel motivated to do school work because there is so much to do! If you have a really big project or assignment that you have to do, you should break it down into smaller more manageable tasks that are less overwhelming.
Read Also: 10 Tips To Make Studying A Habit
4. Use A Priority Matrix
If you are not motivated to do school work because you are feeling overwhelmed, you should use a priority matrix to organise your tasks into categories of importance.
A priority matrix is simply a table where you can organise tasks by urgency and importance. By organising according to this, the matrix will tell you to either complete the task now, schedule a time to do it later, delegate the task to someone else or eliminate the task if it is not important at all.
Check out my printable priority matrix in the student time management printable pack here !
5. Schedule Time In Your Calendar To Do School Work
It is much easier to be motivated to do school work when you have a time allocated to it. It gives you a reason to start doing school work without much thought otherwise it will run into your next activity.
As Parkinson’s law states “ work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion .” If you don’t schedule times in your calendar or diary to do school work you will not be productive and spend too much time thinking about doing it and not actually doing it!
I like to schedule times to do my school work in my digital student planner:
6. Challenge Yourself To Do School Work For 5 Minutes
Most people don’t feel motivated to do school work because they have not built up ay momentum. Starting is definitely the hardest part!
To overcome this problem you can simply challenge yourself to do school work for just 5 minutes. It is not a very long time so you have nothing to lose. This tactic works really well because it tricks you into starting your school work. The five minutes will go very fast and then you won’t want to stop.
7. Think About The End Reward
One thing that really motivates me to get my school work done is to think about the end reward. Your reward could be anything from treating yourself to your favourite food, watching a movie or something simpler like having free time as you have no more school work to worry about.
8. Make A 30 Day Study Challenge
If you consistently struggle to do your school work you should consider committing to a 30 day challenge where you challenge yourself to do some school work every single day!
You should consider using a 30 day challenge printable tracker as it will help guide you to make an achievable 30 day goal. The one below lets you define a challenge, write a start and end date, make a reward, write down reasons why you want to complete the challenge and also make an action plan. The 30 days are marked out in boxes and each day you complete the challenge you can cross one off. This will keep yourself accountable and also motivate you to do it!
9. Form Small Study Groups With Classmates
Being in a setting where other people are doing work can be very motivating. That is why forming a small study group with classmates is a great idea to keep each other accountable for staying up to date with school work. Study groups are also great for when you need help with some school work that you might not understand. They are also a really good idea for trying out the study technique where you teach other people the content that you have just learned to test your knowledge and understanding of it.
10. Use A Homework Tracker
If the school work that you are not motivated to do is homework you should consider using a printable homework tracker ! A homework tracker is very motivating as you can print it out and place it at the front of your binder. On it you can create a full list of everything that is due with due dates, estimated time that it will take and also tick it off once it’s completed.
11. Work Productively In Short, Focused Study Sessions
Working for extended periods of time is not effective at all as you will easily lose your focus. Often study breaks are overlooked as important as it seems like a waste of time. But in reality taking a short pause to relax in between study sessions is a necessity as it will give your brain time to recover and rest and thus will lead to boosts in your productivity and happiness for the next load of work you have to tackle.
12. Find What Is Interesting In The Work
Another reason why you might be feeling unmotivated is because you find the school work boring. Sometimes this is inevitable but if you want to be more motivated try to look for the more interesting side in your work.
13. Use The Pomodoro Study Technique
The Pomodoro technique is a time management focused method of studying that uses a timer to break down tasks into smaller chunks (usually 25 minutes in length but there can be variation).
Between each 25 minute study session there is a study break of 3 to 5 minutes and after completing four ‘poms’ (terminology for a pomodoro session) you can have a longer break of 20 to 25 minutes.
Read Also: The Ultimate Guide To The Pomodoro Study Technique
14. Exercise Before Doing School Work
Exercising before starting school work is extremely motivating as it increases the amount of endorphins released into your bloodstream. It will make you feel much happier , positive and also put you in a good mindset to complete your school work. Best yet, doing exercise will also increase your ability to learn as your concentration will drastically improve !
You don’t need to do super vigorous exercise either! Some ideas for exercising include: following a yoga video on YouTube, trying out a new workout from an exercise app or taking a walk around the block.
15. Try Out A New Study Method
You might not feel motivated to do school work because your current study method is ineffective or getting boring. A great way to increase your motivation to do your school work is to mix up your study routine. One easy way to do this is to simply try out a new study method.
These Study Methods Can Get You Motivated To Do School Work:
- Cornell Note Taking (Check Out My Printable Cornell Note Template Here )
- Leitner Method
- Pomodoro Study Technique (Check Out My Printable Pomodoro Tracker Here )
- Try Teaching Others
- Mind Mapping
- The Feynman Technique
- Colour Coding
- Spaced Repetition
- The Most Powerful Way To Stop Forgetting What You Study
- Why You Always Study Last Minute & What To Do About It
- How To Learn A Language By Watching Netflix
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Equipping Students to Be Successful and Happy
How to Motivate Your Teenager to Do Better in School: 10 Tips Guaranteed to Work
Updated on March 2, 2023 By Daniel Wong 31 Comments
Do you have trouble motivating your children to study?
It’s a common problem that I see in my coaching work with pre-teens and teens .
I notice that many parents approach this problem in the wrong way.
In this article, I’m going to explain 10 principles for motivating children to do well in school.
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How NOT to motivate your teenager to do better in school
The first five items on the list below might be things you’ve done in the past, but there’s no reason to get down on yourself about them.
They’re simply common parenting habits that are born from good intentions, but ultimately are not effective motivational tools.
You can start today to become a better listener, less controlling, and more accepting. Let’s take a look at what to avoid going forward.
1. Don’t annoy your children
One of the keys to motivating your children to work hard is not to annoy them.
This may seem odd at first, as we’re used to parents getting annoyed with children, not vice versa.
If your children are continually upset with you over things you say or do, they will find it hard to listen to you.
You may have some great wisdom to offer them, but your children won’t be receptive to your advice.
Parents often engage in power struggles with their children. For some of us, these are habits we learned from our own childhoods.
But power struggles with your children consume a lot of energy. And that’s energy that could be spent on something more constructive.
Another habit to avoid is making comments that suggest your child isn’t good enough.
This may be something you’re not aware that you do.
It may be very subtle. For example, take the statement: “You’re improving, but I know you can do better.”
On the surface, it sounds like encouragement. But you’re actually telling your child that he or she isn’t good enough.
Or take a statement that begins: “When I was your age…” These kinds of statements usually involve a comparison that leaves your children feeling bad. So avoid making these types of comments.
Another trap that parents fall into is comparing their children with someone else’s. Parents often hope that these comparisons will inspire their children to do better.
Unfortunately, these comments have the opposite effect.
“I hear that John got A’s in all his subjects the last term” may seem like an innocent remark. But it’s a comparison that leaves your child feeling worse about himself or herself.
This is not the way to motivate your children.
Sometimes, parents try to motivate their children by giving them lectures. But lectures tend to make children feel powerless and resentful.
Instead of lecturing your children, discuss the issue with them and ask them what they think. This is much more effective than lecturing them.
Because it gets them involved, and makes them part of the solution.
2. Don’t use rewards, punishments, or threats
Research has shown this approach doesn’t work in the long term.
There are three reasons in particular that rewards and punishments are to be avoided.
Firstly, rewards and punishments are bad for your relationship with your children.
They teach your children that they’re loved for what they do and not for who they are. Children who grow up unsure that they’re loved for who they are tend to make poor life choices later on.
Secondly, rewards and punishments may get short-term results, but they ignore the underlying issue: Why is your child not motivated?
It’s much better to address the root cause than to use a band-aid approach of rewards and punishments.
Thirdly, rewards and punishments put your children’s focus entirely on outcomes. Your children’s level of motivation is based on the promise of the reward or the threat of the punishment.
Rewards, punishments and threats don’t teach your children how to develop intrinsic motivation. They don’t cultivate in your children a love of learning.
As mentioned earlier in this article, it’s better to focus on the process and not the outcome. This way, your children will develop self-discipline and a sense of responsibility.
So what should you do instead of using rewards and punishments?
Discuss with your children the joy (and benefits) of learning and studying.
Explain to them that most rewarding careers require an investment of time and effort.
But it’s also important to explain to your children that the process itself is rewarding, even though it will involve sacrifices.
Discuss with your children what their hopes and aspirations are.
Help them to dream big and dare to fail – and model for them how you’re doing the same in your own life.
This approach produces the kind of intrinsic motivation and self-discipline that will last a lifetime.
3. Don’t try to control all of their actions
Being motivated comes from knowing that you can shape your future through the actions you take today.
But if children feel as if their parents are in complete (or almost complete) control, they will have little motivation.
Some parents hover over their children. They micromanage every last detail of their children’s lives.
The result is that the children never develop a sense that they’re responsible for their education and their lives.
By empowering your children, they’ll develop a sense of autonomy and responsibility.
Talk to your children regularly about expectations and consequences.
As a parent, I’m sure you have expectations of your children. For example, you may expect them to keep their room tidy – and there may be consequences for not doing that.
Learning to be responsible in one area (keeping their room tidy) encourages them to be responsible in other areas of life, such as studying.
With this approach, you still need to be involved in your children’s lives. The difference is that instead of hovering and micromanaging, you create boundaries around your involvement.
For example, you can make it clear to your children that you’re available to answer homework-related questions every weeknight between 8 pm and 9 pm.
This way, your children will develop the ability to motivate themselves. They’ll know that they alone are responsible for making sure their homework gets done.
In contrast, consider children whose parents nag them every day to do their homework. Those children won’t develop the ability to motivate themselves.
4. Don’t obsess over the results; emphasise the process instead
The writer Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Life is a journey, not a destination.”
This principle applies to study skills and tips as much as it does to life in general.
When motivating your children to do well in school, focus on the process and not the results.
If your children are too focused on results, there’s a danger that when they don’t achieve the results they want, they’ll give up.
What’s more, when we focus only on results, the process becomes a “necessary evil”.
The process becomes something we go through grudgingly because we want a certain result.
But this approach doesn’t encourage a love of learning.
And that’s why it’s important to focus on the process, not the results.
Cultivate in your children a love of learning for its own sake, not just as a means to achieve a goal. At the end of the day, achieving goals is a by-product of the systems and processes that we follow.
For example, as a concert pianist, you may have a goal to play Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 15 in B-flat major without making a single mistake.
The system or process that makes it possible to reach that goal is how often you practise, how you break down and learn difficult cadenzas, and how you incorporate feedback from your music teacher.
When teaching children how to study and how to motivate themselves, it’s vital that you focus on the process and not the outcome.
5. Don’t reduce your child to a problem that needs to be solved
Pre-teens and teens are going through a lot of changes , both physically and mentally.
It’s also a time when they may start displaying problematic behaviours, such as aggression, mood swings, being argumentative , and defying established rules.
As a parent, it’s natural for these kinds of behaviours to become the centre of your attention – they’re problems that you want to solve.
But it’s actually better not to focus on these behaviours.
Instead, try to understand your children’s perspective:
- How do they feel about the situation?
- What opinions do they have?
To understand your children better, you’ll need to practise active listening.
Active listening occurs when we give our full attention to what someone is saying.
This means that you aren’t multitasking while your children are talking to you. It means that you aren’t checking your phone or writing a list of things to do.
You can show your children that you’re giving them your full attention by saying things like “go on” and “tell me more”.
Now and again, summarise your understanding of what your children have been saying.
For example, you could say: “It sounds as if there’s a ‘cool’ group of kids in your class, and that you’re feeling excluded by them.”
This indicates to your child that you’re actively listening. It’s also a way of checking that you understand what he or she is saying.
Some parents think that if only they could make their children understand some fundamental principle, the whole problem would disappear.
But often what pre-teens and teens need most is not to understand ; they need to feel understood .
When they don’t feel understood, they become defiant .
On the other hand, when they feel understood, it creates a space where they feel safe. And that, in turn, creates an environment where they’re open to looking at the problem in a new light.
How to motivate your teenager to do better in school
Now it’s time to focus on positive behaviour that helps your child feel understood, supported, and encouraged.
Use these strategies to strengthen your connection with your child and teach him or her crucial organisational and planning skills. These healthy habits will help your child in school and beyond.
6. Develop routines and structure
Having established routines in family life eliminates a majority of conflicts.
Take homework, for example.
Let’s say you have an established routine that your children do their homework every weeknight between 7 pm and 9 pm.
There won’t be conflicts related to homework, because it’s simply “the way we do things in this family”.
But in a family without routines, ensuring that your children do their homework becomes a daily battle.
Of course, even established routines sometimes need to be reinforced or modified.
For example, now and again you may need to say something like: “When you’ve completed your homework, you can go to Melissa’s house.”
To create a homework routine, it’s a good idea to set up a small part of the house as a study area.
Having a study area that’s free of distractions will help your children develop a homework routine.
It may also help your children if you also devote that period of time to doing your own “homework”. This could be paying bills online, taking an online course, or reading a book to learn about a new topic.
7. Equip your children with planning and organisational skills
As parents, we (hopefully) have planning and organisational skills that we’ve developed over the years.
But we often take these skills for granted, and forget that our children don’t yet have those skills.
Pre-teens and teens can feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and stressed because of the demands they face at school. In response, many of them give up and turn to videos and games as a form of escape.
Some pre-teens and teens might even say they hate school .
But if they have planning and organisational skills, their attitude toward school and academics will be different.
One organisational skill you can teach your children is to break down big tasks into smaller tasks.
Some people call this “chunking down”. This technique makes any task more manageable and doable.
Another skill you can teach your children is list-making. Lists are at the heart of all organisational skills, so this is a great place to start.
You could teach your children how to use a list to pack their bag for a school camp or a school outing.
Planning is another organisational skill that will reduce your children’s stress related to school and exams .
Planning involves placing lists of tasks to be completed within a certain timeframe. This way, your children will learn to complete tasks one by one instead of leaving them until it’s so late that they feel overwhelmed.
For example, if your children have exams coming up, you could teach them how to:
- Break down their revision material into a series of tasks
- Use a calendar to plan how they’re going to complete those tasks within a set timeframe
8. Create a family culture where it’s OK to make mistakes
Thomas Edison made an extraordinary number of unsuccessful attempts at inventing the electric light bulb.
When a reporter asked him how it felt to fail 1,000 times, Edison replied: “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
Unfortunately, we live in an age that places enormous emphasis on instant success.
Failure isn’t tolerated. Parents correct their children’s homework to improve their grades . They argue with teachers who try to point out areas where their children need to improve.
Yet making mistakes is an essential part of learning.
We must learn from our mistakes and correct them, much like a ship that frequently adjusts its course to stay on the correct bearing.
If you want to motivate your children to study hard and do well in school, one of the best things you can do is create a family culture where it’s OK to make mistakes.
One way to do this is to share with your children your own mistakes and what you learned from them.
For example, maybe you went to university to study one field and ended up switching to a different field when you started work. By sharing that experience with your children, you’re showing them that they don’t have to get it “right” the first time.
If you want to teach your children to love learning, one thing you should avoid at all costs is focusing too much on their failures.
Instead of criticising them for their failures, help them to identify what they’ve learned from their mistakes.
A study by Stanford University has shown that children who are praised for their effort work harder and give up less easily.
On the other hand, children who are afraid of failure are more likely to become discouraged when they make mistakes. Instead of learning from their mistakes and moving on, they’re likely to give up altogether.
9. Show an interest in all aspects of your children’s lives
If your only concern is how your children are doing in school, they may begin to feel as if they’re being treated as a project instead of as a person.
This can lead to them feeling resentful. And resentment will result in resistance to anything related to studying.
Treat your child as a whole person, not as a project or problem.
Listen to your children when they talk about their interests. Encourage them to get involved in non-school activities, like dance or drama or athletics.
How pre-teens and teens spend their time is crucial to their overall development.
An approach that focuses entirely on studying won’t help your children to develop in a balanced way.
Learning a musical instrument, playing a team sport, and taking an online course on entrepreneurship are all activities that will help your children to develop holistically.
These non-academic activities will give your children a much-needed break from their studies, and will help them to do better as they pursue their long-term academic goals .
10. Help your children to find a mentor
According to research by North Carolina State University , children who have mentors are more likely to become successful.
A mentor is an adult who acts as a role model for your children.
One of the benefits of your children having a mentor is that they will understand a perspective on life from someone who isn’t their parent.
The mentor’s values and attitudes may be similar to yours. It’s much easier to teach values to your children when they’re also modelled by someone outside the family.
One reason for this is that children inevitably become accustomed to their parents’ viewpoints and begin to tune their parents out.
A mentor can be particularly helpful when there’s an ongoing conflict between parents and children.
In this kind of situation, your children can benefit from having a neutral third party they can turn to. The mentor may help your children to see the issues from a new perspective.
So where can you find a mentor for your children?
A mentor could be:
- A sports coach, art teacher or music teacher
- A neighbour or family friend
- One of your co-workers
- Someone who runs a coaching/mentoring programme (I’m not ashamed to say that I fall into this category of people, because it’s extremely rewarding work)
These ten principles will help you to build in your child a deeper motivation to work hard.
Some of these principles, like establishing routines and structure, may take a while to implement. But other tips and principles you can put into practice right away.
For example, you can start practising active listening today.
I’m confident you’ll start seeing positive results.
(Here’s a link where you can explore more tips on how to motivate a teenager .)
Wishing you all the best on this challenging but meaningful journey!
Like this article? Please share it with your friends.
May 14, 2019 at 7:49 am
Very good article indeed.
May 14, 2019 at 8:04 am
I’m glad you like it!
May 15, 2019 at 11:13 am
Great article! I think you are doing a wonderful job with the kids and their parents. Keep up the good work!
May 15, 2019 at 11:14 am
May 15, 2019 at 1:16 pm
I needed this. Great article!
May 15, 2019 at 1:41 pm
Hope it helps!
May 18, 2019 at 12:33 pm
Hi Daniel, your article comes at the right time and reminded me to look at the process and not result when my girl did not do well in her studies. Thanks
May 18, 2019 at 1:23 pm
You’re welcome, Joanne.
May 26, 2019 at 12:38 pm
Great articles. Had shared it with my daughter-in-law as she is having problems with her son.
June 29, 2019 at 10:39 am
Hi Daniel,the article is really good.wish I had read this article when my child was in her teens.
October 6, 2019 at 6:58 pm
My daughter age 7 yrs has lack of interest in studying and in school..she is far behind from other her classmates..I am worried about her development ..
October 25, 2019 at 1:01 pm
Thanks for sharing this good article.
November 8, 2019 at 3:28 pm
What if we do all these things to a T and the child still doesn’t want to study or doesn’t seem to care about grades at all?
November 9, 2019 at 8:27 am
Then I would recommend that you check out this guide that I’ve written ( https://www.daniel-wong.com/resolving-conflicts-guide/ ), because I’m confident that it will help.
November 26, 2019 at 12:01 am
Thanks. Very useful tips.
December 4, 2019 at 1:42 am
I really needed advice!
January 22, 2020 at 3:01 pm
Amazing article. Loved it
January 22, 2020 at 7:55 pm
Parents can motivate their children to perform better academically with these tips.
To add, parents should always remind their children of the fruit of hardwork. This will push them to aim higher.
Daniel, thank you for sharing this great piece
February 26, 2020 at 7:53 am
Thank you so much I’ve recently started work as a guidance counsellor in a college . and have quickly realised that counselling tools alone don’t cut it . I am looking at ways to adjust my work and came across your article . I am very appreciative that you have shared your tools and insights . and can add them in my own toolbelt . Thank you for helping me to help others . Blessings
June 18, 2020 at 6:36 pm
Powerful elements. Thank you very much.
July 30, 2020 at 3:16 pm
Parents can really use these tips to motivate their child. Great principles, thanks for sharing!
August 6, 2020 at 11:36 pm
Great artical very helpful for parents.thanks
August 9, 2020 at 6:32 pm
Thanks Daniel im going to use this in my orientation to the parents in our school… I will acknowledge you in my talk… God bless!
August 21, 2020 at 6:57 am
Good i can see things change
October 24, 2020 at 12:22 pm
Having raised 2 valedictorians both having graduated with over 600 students, these suggestions are a little weak. Better suggestions include:
1. As soon as they are old enough to understand, encourage your kids to assume ownership of their education as the result is information power & increased future opportunities. 2. Instruct the kids to expect social pressure from classmates to not excel thereby making classmates to look less capable i.e. don’t slow down. 3. The objective is subject mastery; not grades. Mastery facilitates future learning. 4. If you don’t understand something, keep asking for help from different sources until you understand the subject. 5. Ignore teachers who deemphasize rote memorization. That is terrible advice. 6. Learn to teach yourself as that will be your situation sooner or later. 7. Instruct the kids, if people think you are smart, don’t disagree because they will never understand the work you did to master a subject. Keep your mouth shut & don’t announce you test grades or class rank. 8. Ignore people who tell you a subject if difficult to master.
T. Edison once said genius is 1% inspiration & 99% perspiration. Hard work is often mistaken for being smart.
November 25, 2020 at 7:42 pm
So, everything I have done has been wrong.
January 16, 2021 at 4:22 pm
Great article, very helpful for parents. I read it at the correct time. Thank you.
June 25, 2021 at 6:16 pm
Great article I hope to apply some of the theories. I am already applying some on the article. There are more for me to learn and apply.
April 24, 2022 at 11:15 pm
Hellow Daniel Is this article similar to your 16-keys book?
April 25, 2022 at 9:52 am
Hi Nasima, there is some overlap but the details and content are significantly different.
March 17, 2023 at 4:05 pm
Delightfully nice, realistic and practical. Tnx…
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How to Keep Kids Motivated and Engaged at School
Parents and teachers can use a psychology theory to get students excited about learning.
Boosting Student Engagement
As it turns out, a lot of the things great teachers do fall into the three buckets of autonomy, competence and relatedness. (Getty Images)
“My child seemed to love school before and now they are saying, ‘This isn’t for me, I can’t do this, I’m not good at this.’” That’s what eighth grade history teacher Rachael Streitman heard from parent after parent last year.
Student motivation plummeted when schooling was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Streitman, who teaches at Mayfield Middle School in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, says many kids came back to in-person classes less confident and less invested.
Even before the pandemic, educators dealt with decreasing levels of engagement as children progressed through the grades. As students return to classrooms this fall amid an ongoing mental health crisis , finding ways to re-engage them with school will be essential, and experts say teachers have an important role to play.
“It kind of sounds weird,” says Johnmarshall Reeve, a psychology professor at Australian Catholic University and the author of "Supporting Students' Motivation: Strategies for Success," “but if you really want to help student motivation, rather than work with the students, the best thing you can do is work with their teachers.”
What Kids Need to Stay Motivated
One way of looking at student motivation is through a framework researchers call self-determination theory. Developed by psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan in the 1970s and 1980s, SDT posits that motivation is natural in children but continues only if their needs for three things are met: autonomy, competence and relatedness. In other words, kids in school need to feel like they have control over something, that they're good at (or getting better at) something and that they're connected to someone.
When schools fail to address these needs, disengagement and undesirable behavior often result. On the other hand, researchers have found that positive change in these areas increases intrinsic motivation , academic achievement , mastery goal-setting and positive emotion , while decreasing dropout rates . A 2022 study suggests that students with autonomy-supportive teachers even compare themselves to peers less .
“There are literally hundreds, probably thousands, of correlational, longitudinal and experimental studies suggesting that SDT-informed teaching enhances motivation and engagement,” says Erika A. Patall, an associate professor of education and psychology at the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education .
Her own research shows that “the effects are on the large side relative to other education interventions.” Self-determination theory isn’t new, but it’s “more relevant now because the problem is even more evident than it was prior to the pandemic,” Patall says.
Alison Wood teaches at Denfeld High School in Duluth, Minnesota. There, during distance learning, “some people just powered through it and some people just shut down.” She says when students came back to school, “the normal tricks of the trade … being entertaining, being hands-on, being creative, all the normal things weren’t cutting it.”
She and two other teachers hadn’t heard of SDT, but they recognized students' need for autonomy and competence. They built a "student tracker" to give teens flexibility in selecting activities, pacing themselves and setting deadlines – rather than leaving them overwhelmed by a long list of past-due, mandatory tasks. That also improved student-teacher relationships (what SDT researchers would call "relatedness"). “There wasn’t this tension all the time about, ‘What are you working on? You are missing this! Blah blah blah,” Wood says.
Motivational Strategies in the Classroom
As it turns out, a lot of the things great teachers do fall into the three buckets of autonomy, competence and relatedness.
In Norristown, Pennsylvania, middle school teacher Selenia Tello walks around with stickers at lunch. When a student asks for one, she knows they’re looking to connect. “And it turns into a ‘What’s up? How are you doing? How is school?’” she says.
That kind of check-in didn’t happen as often during the pandemic: “A lot of our focus went to, ‘Keep your mask on, stay safe, six feet away,’” Tello says. Like Wood, she’s big on choice: “If they don’t want to write, they can draw something. Or we can have a conversation that lets me understand you understand what the content is.”
Ralph Saint-Louis, a high school science teacher in Lowell, Massachusetts, regularly solicits feedback from students, and every quarter they give him a formal teacher report card. He acts on their responses in a visible way.
Saint-Louis, who is also a fellow for Teach Plus , a nonprofit that fosters teacher leadership, asks students to choose an “accountability partner” at the beginning of the year and then seats them nearby. He makes sure everyone has a more knowledgeable classmate seated close: “So you can get the answer without always going to the teacher.” Each of these strategies helps students feel more related to each other, to him, to school and to the idea of schooling – and more autonomous and competent, too.
Streitman, the Ohio teacher, says she uses what’s called “scaffolding” to meet students’ need to feel competent. It requires offering Goldilocks-zone projects that stretch kids just enough – and give them just enough direction – to grow without getting so frustrated they quit. Small-group activities, in which students have to rely on each other to achieve a common goal, help foster autonomy and relatedness as well.
Even though some teachers are already intuitively practicing self-determination theory, being explicit about the framework, and the psychological needs behind these practices, helps them do it more and better, Patall says.
Take giving choices, for example. That strategy is not as straightforward as it seems. “If you give your 6-year-old a choice between eating their dinner or going to bed, it doesn’t exactly make them feel autonomous,” she explains. “People can use choices in controlling ways.”
Teachers are less likely to do that if they understand the “why” behind engagement strategies. Reeve says autonomy-supportive teaching also requires acknowledging and validating students’ negative emotions, providing explanations that help them understand the importance or utility of a task that doesn’t inherently interest them, and using invitational language (like “you might consider” or “when you’re ready” rather than “you’ve got to”).
Common Barriers to Student Engagement and Motivation
If this theory and related practices work so well, why do we still have disengaged students?
For starters, Patall says, many teacher preparation programs don’t cover SDT.
Adrian Reyna, who teaches at Longfellow Middle School in San Antonio, Texas, points to a different culprit: the stress of state-mandated standards and testing, which can get in the way of relationship-building. Experts say teachers can wind up thinking a more controlling style is required to make it through the material.
They also wonder, as Wood puts it, “They’re only 10th graders, can they be in charge?”
Reeve says educators can have a fixed mindset when it comes to individual students’ motivation, too, thinking some kids are just more naturally engaged than others.
There’s a bit of truth to this. Kids who have the personality trait of conscientiousness, for example, are likely to start out more motivated to comply with classroom directives, he says. And yet, struggling students can become significantly more motivated, studies show . We can always move the needle.
That’s especially important to remember when it comes to students with disabilities, says Streitman. “Too many times people say, ‘Here’s the accommodation, and here’s how it’s going to be delivered to you.’” But even in a classroom with young, nonverbal students, there are ways to give students choices, she says.
Making Learning Relevant
Tello points to another big barrier to engagement: lack of cultural relevance. “If you go search on Pinterest or on Teachers Pay Teachers (an online marketplace where teachers can buy and sell educational materials) … the activities don’t always really correspond to the experiences our students have.”
Reyna says the standards in Texas are "very, very focused on the dominant narratives of our history.” For his students, most of whom are people of color, “it’s not just unrelatable, but it’s also alienating,” he says. So he reframes the material.
Using redlining as an example, he says, “When you take that history and provide historical context to their current situation and the reality that they are living every single day, that’s when you see the minds blown, the light bulbs go off, and everything starts to connect for them. That’s when you really start to see that engagement shoot through the roof.”
And cultural responsiveness isn’t just about race, Saint-Louis says: “It is so much more.” Educators can make required material more relevant by connecting it to any piece of a student’s identity or experience. Last year, for instance, Saint-Louis surveyed kids about their interests and then related Punnett squares (a concept in genetics) to changing norms around pronouns, used COVID-19 to teach mutations and traced each teen’s favorite food through the digestive system.
How Parents Can Help Increase Engagement
If your child is refusing to go to school , seems disengaged or is complaining about being bored in class, reach out to the teacher. Tick through the SDT list as you talk to your child and the teacher: Are there opportunities throughout the day for students to make choices, feel like they're good at something and feel close to their teachers or classmates?
“Any good teacher is going to have a growth mindset [and] be willing and wanting to engage their families and their students in a way that more authentically addresses their needs,” says Reyna.
Another reason kids become disengaged is because tasks are too easy or too hard for them. Ask your child whether the material is challenging enough, or if there's a subject that's more difficult than others. Teachers are often ready to offer additional resources on either end of this spectrum. If the teacher is unwilling or unable, reach out to the principal or other educators in the building about next steps.
You can also have conversations with your child that seek to find value in completing a task, even if it doesn't feel intrinsically interesting. Talk about a time you did something you didn't want to do because you knew it would put you closer to a goal that did matter to you.
To nudge more systemic change, ask your child's principal or your local school board about how they're supporting teachers to strengthen children's motivation and engagement. You can also ask what the PTA can do to increase opportunities for educators to share their best practices.
When it comes to teaching that is culturally relevant and needs-supportive, Reyna says, “The students want it, they crave this kind of pedagogy and it’s up to us to deliver for them.”
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Keeping it Reel
High school students: 6 ways to get motivated.
Whether you’re preparing for your final exams, the ACT, or trying to get a few college applications done, getting motivated can be incredibly difficult. With summer vacation just around the corner, every time you sit down to start your work, you end up daydreaming about swimming, camping, skating, and just hanging out in the sun.
So in the face of this sunny temptation, how do you keep up with your work? How do you finish strong? Check out these six things you can do to stay motivated.
1. Make a to-do list
The first thing you should do is make a to-do list . Just write down everything you need to get done and everything you need to do to make sure those things get done. For example, if you are trying to work up the motivation to study for an exam, your to-do list might look something likes this:
- Complete review packet
- Re-read chapters as needed
- Review past tests and quizzes
- Make notecards of important material
Putting all of these things under the larger umbrella of “studying” may lead you to being overwhelmed with all of the work you have to do. Making a list of smaller to-dos will help you digest your task more easily. Think of it this way: what’s easier to swallow, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or a Reese’s Pieces?
2. Set goals
Once you have made your to-do list, it is important to set goals . Goals remind you of what you are working towards and why. Try to set a goal for each of the following areas:
- Deeper Desire
In the case of studying for an exam, our goals might look like this:
- Preparation goal : Complete all items on my to-do list. Study for 1 hour every day during the two weeks leading up to the exam.
- Result goal : Receive a 92% or higher on the exam. Achieve an A in the class.
- Deeper desire goal : Get into every college I want to go to.
Make sense? Your preparation goal should be directly related to the task you need to get motivated for. In the instance of studying for an exam, this would be the actual studying itself. So our goal is to complete all of the to-do list items and to study for 1 hour every day leading up to the exam.
Your result goal should be related to the consequences of your efforts. In this case, we are getting motivated and studying for the exam because we want to get a 92% or higher on the exam and receive an A in the class.
Lastly, the deeper desire goal should be your number one reason for being motivated. In this case, why do we want to study, and why do we want an A? The answer could be that we want to make sure we get into all of our “top colleges.”
If you set goals on all three of these levels, you should constantly be reminded of what you need to do and why you need to do it. With your “deeper desire” at the forefront of your mind, you should have no problem pushing through periods of discouragement.
3. Set Rewards
A great way to boost your motivation is to set rewards for yourself . Tell yourself that if you study for an hour, you can watch thirty minutes of your favorite Netflix series (just don’t end up binge watching it). Or if you finish three college applications during the week, you can treat yourself to something nice on the weekend.
If you need a little help with this, see if your parents will make a deal with you. That way, they are in charge of the reward and will hold you accountable for your actions.
4. Plot Your Progress
Sometimes it isn’t the motivation to start that is the issue, but the motivation to keep going. How many times have you been midway through an assignment only to end up playing video games and having to finish it the next day?
If you want to make sure you stay motivated throughout your work, plot your progress. Being aware of how much you have done will give you a sense of accomplishment that may just be enough to push you through your work.
5. Make it fun
One of the easiest ways to get motivated is to find a way to make your work fun. I know it seems impossible to make filming out applications or studying for a test fun, but there are ways. For example, filling out college applications with friends makes the work go by a lot faster. Instead of dreading the work, you look forward to talking to your friends and getting their opinions. As for studying, instead of quizzing yourself, why not grab a few classmates and play trivia!
If you can find a way to enjoy your work, you won’t need motivation – or rather your motivation will be the enjoyment you get from doing it.
One last tip…
Take a break! Remember that sometimes you don’t need more motivation, you just need a little break! If you’ve been working for an hour or so, take twenty minutes to relax and recharge! Watch a YouTube video, get up and run around, take a weird Buzzfeed quiz, do whatever you feel like. You’ll come back to your work with a new attitude and a refreshed mind.
Speaking of quizzes…
If you need a break filler and a motivation lifter, check out our Emphases Quiz. By answering a few short questions, you can find out which Film Emphases (directing, acting, editing and visual effects, cinematography, new media, sound, producing, or writing) matches up with your personality and skill set. Just click below to get started!
This blog is a collaborative effort by CCA staff and administration who want to share their knowledge with the film school community and prospective students.
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Strategies For Motivating Teachers: Top 11 Strategies to Implement
April 19th, 2022
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Being a teacher in the modern educational world is an exceptionally challenging task. Beyond the daily teaching and grading routine, educators also work to manage student behaviors, family issues, teaching pressure, and many other difficult issues.
Therefore, it is the duty of every school administrator to support and motivate their teaching staff as motivated teachers create an engaging and collaborative environment for students to learn.
Ways to Motivate Teachers
Continuous improvement is essential for a school’s success, and teachers must continue to learn and grow, even in challenging times. Although a school administrator has many diverse responsibilities, one crucial task is keeping the teaching staff motivated. Inspired teachers make a more positive difference in students’ lives.
1. Offer Praise
One of the most efficient ways to motivate and inspire your teaching staff is to praise and honor them. Showing appreciation for their dedication and hard work makes them feel valued. In addition, receiving recognition from the school administration reassures teachers that they are skilled at their job, and that leadership recognizes their contributions.
Most people need praise and affirmation from time to time, regardless of how self-confident they may appear. It’s especially crucial for teachers because they often work in isolation, interact with challenging students and parents, and sometimes lack confidence in their own skills.
Although some people prefer to be praised in private, for many others, public acknowledgment has a more profound effect. This affirmation shared with peers or the public indicates that you notice and support their performance enough that you want to share their talents as an exemplar to others.
Here are some channels you can use to boost teacher motivation by providing public approval:
Messages to the district administration
2. Recognize teachers who go above and beyond expectations
Every educational institution has teachers who exceed expectations by putting forth extra effort for their students and colleagues without complaint. However, their efforts often go unnoticed and unappreciated. Identifying and recognizing these teachers provides affirmation for them and can serve as a stimulus for other staff members.
3. Be available for the teaching staff
To make your teaching staff feel comfortable and motivated, remain as approachable as possible to address teacher problems and questions. By merely acknowledging that administrators are available to provide support with their concerns, teachers will feel more relaxed and encouraged.
The best way to remain approachable for your teaching staff is to maintain an open-door policy and remain highly visible. Despite how busy administrators are, maintaining a relaxed demeanor and being present in the current conversation is critical.
Make time for the people you serve, get out in the building, and maintain focus during your interactions.
4. Create a compelling reward program for teachers
When developing reward programs for your student body, do not forget to design an equally exceptional reward program for your educators.
While a more appreciable school environment permits teachers to carry out their tasks with joyful efficiency, scooping up some fantastic rewards along the way can truly motivate your teachers. Plus, it’s fun and encourages participation!
Partnering with local businesses that can supply you with gifts and special school discounts can be mutually beneficial for both you and the businesses. Your teachers receive nice gifts, and your local businesses earn advertising and public accolades.
Frequently, local businesses are major community supporters and love collaborating with you to show appreciation for your teaching staff.
5. Listen to your teacher’s concerns
Apart from appreciating tangible accomplishments, ensure that you listen to your teacher’s feedback and concerns. Although this is always an important responsibility, it is particularly necessary when you are implementing a new initiative.
New initiatives involve demand extra effort as it often means a new way of performing work. There may be opposition or disgruntlement moving forward with something new.
Recognizing your teachers’ viewpoints is encouraging because it allows them to know their voices are heard and contributing to a collaborative and trusting work atmosphere. Acknowledge when teachers make good points and take the time to fully explain how a new initiative will improve student growth or make their own jobs easier.
6. Uplift their ideas
Create a platform for educators to share their innovative ideas and celebrate them. Teachers have enormous expertise and diverse perspectives. Providing a platform for them to share with others not only validates and supports their work, but it also provides others with learning opportunities.
While it is understandable that not all ideas will be feasible, others can prove revolutionary to both students and other instructors.
Supporting and integrating their ideas will motivate teachers to think outside of the box and improve the entire educational process.
7. Schedule fun events on the teacher's calendar
Although the school environment can be a highly social place, teachers who have large workloads or spend a lot of time preparing lessons and activities may feel isolated.
Team-building social events with your teaching staff can allow teachers to enjoy each other while ultimately creating deeper relationships and rapport with their coworkers.
Many communities have businesses that cater to group social activities, offering activities such as painting, pottery, or cooking. Leadership development (or ropes) courses, rock climbing, or a run/walk event can be fun while building health and a family atmosphere.
Even a simple holiday party provides teachers a chance to de-stress with recreation. When people like each other, their work performance and planning sessions improve.
8. Give your teachers the gift of time.
Time is often a stressor and free time is usually scarce. Find ways to provide your teachers extra time for their work or to take a well-needed break.
At the end of every semester, you could offer every educator a voucher for one morning or afternoon day off. For this, you need to arrange a substitute for teachers for their requested time.
While you may not have the autonomy and authority to provide an entire morning or afternoon off, you could instead cover the teacher’s responsibilities for an hour before or after their lunch break.
As professional development to support an initiative, provide teachers with a planning day to get in-depth with their learning and preparation for something new.
These small gestures demonstrate you care about the wellbeing of your teaching staff and help them manage their work-life balance.
9. Identify periods of key stress
There are many time periods throughout the school year that carry a larger work burden for your teaching staff. Be cognizant of those times and avoid adding unnecessary work during those situations.
For example, do not overload your teaching staff with other work during report card season! Also, it is better not to implement new initiatives at the end of the school term, major exam periods, or during student essays.
Adding unnecessary tasks or tasks that could be scheduled during reduced stress times demonstrates a lack of appreciation and awareness of what teachers are doing. Instead, look for ways you can lend a helping hand during these challenging times.
10. Empower each teacher’s strengths
Every educator has strengths and areas of opportunity. When teachers are given autonomy to utilize their teaching strengths in their classes, students become immersed and motivated in learning.
Sometimes, it is challenging for educators to identify their strengths. Administrators can motivate and support teachers by helping them make these discoveries. Observe and reflect with your teachers about any strategies that worked well and any means or methods that the teacher enjoys, such as combining music into a lesson.
A "one-size fits all” approach does not work for students, and it certainly does not work for teachers. Having overly rigid teaching requirements that limit autonomy and individual strengths can limit teacher and student success.
Empower every teacher with the ability to enjoy their subject, as their unique passions will motivate students as well.
11. Encourage collaboration
Providing time and support for your teaching staff to work collectively as a team can significantly affect and boost their motivation. Through collaboration, teachers gain recognition and support for their effective teaching strategies.
In addition, more experienced mentors can validate good strategies that beginning teachers offer, which will build self-confidence and help them see themselves as an equal participant in their departments..
As a school administrator, consider building skilled learning communities within your educational institute to create a system for collaboration and support.
In a Nutshell
Keeping your teaching staff motivated can be a challenging task. However, motivated staff is essential and in the best interests of your students and your educational institution.
Teachers who are motivated are less likely to consider their job a burden and are willing to put forth extra effort to help students achieve success. Therefore, to foster a better learning environment, make it a priority to go above and beyond for your teaching staff. After all, they’re the ones in the trenches making a direct impact on students’ lives.
If your school is interested in new ways to improve the learning experience for children, you may also be interested in automating tasks and streamlining processes so that your teachers have more time to teach. Education Advanced offers a suite of tools that may be able to help. For example, four of our most popular and effective tools are:
Cardonex, our master schedule software , helps schools save time on building master schedules. Many schools used to spend weeks using whiteboards to organize the right students, teachers, and classrooms in the right order so students could graduate on time and get their preferred classes. However, it can now be used to automate this task and, within a couple of days, deliver 90% of students' first-choice classes.
Evaluation is a solution for documenting every step of the staff evaluation process , including walk-throughs, self-evaluations, supporting evidence, reporting and performance analytics.
Pathways is a graduation tracking tool that allows administrators and counselors to create, track, and analyze graduation pathways to ensure secondary students are on track to graduate.
Testhound, our test accommodation software , helps schools coordinate thousands of students across all state and local K-12 school assessments while taking into account dozens of accommodations (reading disabilities, physical disabilities, translations, etc.) for students.
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How to help your child get motivated in school.
Strategies you can use to help kids work up to their potential
Writer: Danielle Cohen
Clinical Experts: Laura Phillips, PsyD, ABPdN , Ken Schuster, PsyD , Kristin Carothers, PhD
What You'll Learn
- Why do some kids have trouble getting motivated in school?
- How can parents help their children try harder in school?
It’s common for kids to lack motivation in school. Sometimes, this happens because the child has ADHD, anxiety, social challenges, or a learning disability. But other times, kids without a diagnosable problem still have trouble living up to their potential in school. Here are a few ways that parents can encourage kids to put in more effort at school.
Start by showing kids that you care about their schoolwork. Check in with them about how classes are going. Let them know that you’re there if they need homework help. Ask what they’re learning and what they like (and don’t like) about the assignments. With older kids, be sure to give them space, too. If they sense that you’re pressuring them, they might end up feeling resentful and less motivated.
Using positive reinforcement helps. You don’t need to give kids big rewards, but even small ones like a high five or a few extra minutes of screen time can make a difference. It’s also important to praise effort, not results. For example, praise your child for finishing a tough assignment or taking a class that might be hard. Nobody gets top grades all the time, so make sure your child knows you don’t expect perfection.
You can also bring in reinforcements if schoolwork is becoming a source of conflict for you and your child. You could hire an older student at your child’s school or a nearby college to help monitor homework and ease stress on the family. Talking to your child’s teacher can also give you insight into their behavior and help you work as a team to encourage them.
Finally, be sure to keep tabs on your own feelings. If you’re getting very frustrated or angry about your child’s school performance, a therapist or support group can help.
If you have a child who is struggling in school and doesn’t seem to be motivated to make an effort, the first thing you want to do is explore whether there is some obstacle getting in his way. Learning issues , social challenges, attention or emotional problems can all cause kids to disengage academically.
But not all kids who are underperforming in school—clearly not living up to their potential—have a diagnosable problem . And there are a number of things parents can do to help motivate kids to try harder.
As a parent, your presence in the academic life of your child is crucial to their commitment to work. Do homework with them, and let them know that you’re available to answer questions. Get in the habit of asking them about what they learned in school, and generally engage them academically. By demonstrating your interest in your child’s school life, you’re showing them school can be exciting and interesting. This is especially effective with young kids who tend to be excited about whatever you’re excited about. Teenagers can bristle if they feel you are asking too many questions, so make sure you are sharing the details of your day, too. A conversation is always better than an interrogation.
Likewise, it’s important to stay involved but give older kids a little more space. If you’re on top of your kid all the time about homework, they may develop resistance and be less motivated to work—not to mention the strain it will put on your relationship.
Many parents are nervous about rewarding kids for good work , and it’s true that tangible rewards can turn into a slippery slope. But there are ways to use extrinsic motivation that will eventually be internalized by your kid. “Kids respond really well to social reinforcers like praises, hugs, high fives, and those kinds of things,” says Laura Phillips , PsyD, a neuropsychologist at the Child Mind Institute. “Then they start to achieve because it feels good for them.”
Ken Schuster , PsyD, a neuropsychologist at the Child Mind Institute, encourages parents to use rewarding activities that would have probably occurred either way but placing them after a set amount of time doing homework. He suggests treats that are easy to provide but that your child will enjoy, such as going for ice cream or sharing a candy bar. He also recommends breaking work up into chunks and using small breaks as rewards for getting through each chunk.
Reward effort rather than outcome
The message you want to send is that your respect hard work. Praising kids for following through when things get difficult, for making a sustained effort, and for trying things they’re not sure they can do successfully can all help teach them the pleasure of pushing themselves. Praise for good grades that come easily can make kids feel they shouldn’t have to exert themselves.
Help them see the big picture
For older kids who have developed an understanding of delayed gratification, sometimes simple reminders of their long-term goals can help push them. It can help many high school seniors who slack off after getting into college to remind them that they could lose their acceptance if their grades drop too much, or they might not be prepared for college courses. “Linking school up with their long-term goals can make the work feel more personally fulfilling,” explains Dr. Phillips.
Let them make mistakes
No one can get A’s on every test or perfect score on every assignment. While kids need encouragement, and it’s healthy to push them to try their best, know that setbacks are natural . Sometimes the only way kids learn how to properly prepare for school is by finding out what happens when they’re unprepared.
Get outside help
One way to take a little tension away from your relationship with your child is to find an older student (either at their school or a nearby college) to help them out with work. Most will charge pretty low rates, and the fact that they’re closer to your kid’s age may make it more likely they’ll listen to what they say.
“Homework was a source of conflict for us,” says Elizabeth, whose son Alex has ADHD . Elizabeth hired a few Barnard students to help Alex do his homework on certain nights, she recalls. “He behaved a lot better with them, and it was money well spent for me because I wasn’t fighting, and I wasn’t stressed out.”
Make the teacher your ally
Another one of the most important things you can do for your child is to work with their teacher. The teacher might have additional insight about how to motivate your child or what they might be struggling with. Likewise, you can share any strategies or information that you have.
When her son was in lower school and only had one teacher, Elizabeth would call his teacher before the first day, introducing herself and alerting the teacher that her son had ADHD and that he found it hard to focus. She would give the teacher little tips that she had found were useful with Alex: Writing multi-step directions on the board, tapping him on the shoulder while walking past to make sure he was paying attention and other small tweaks that would be useful to any young child but are especially essential to one with ADHD.
“Make sure that both school and home are of one accord,” stresses Kristin Carothers, PhD, a clinical psychologist. Dr. Carothers often sets up a system she calls the daily report card. With this system, the child gets points from their teacher for things like completing work and following directions the first time they get them. Then they bring those points home, where their parents give them small rewards, such as extra time on the iPad or playing a game together.
Get support for yourself
It can be just as frustrating to watch your child withdraw from school as it can be difficult for the kid themself to focus. Elizabeth says that she often feels judged as a parent for having a son who struggles so much in school.
Some schools have support groups for parents of kids who are less motivated, and if your child’s school doesn’t, Elizabeth encourages setting one up. “It’s very comforting to hear that you’re not alone,” she says. “It’s also helpful to hear people who have gone ahead of you talk about how to navigate the school’s system, find a therapist, and talk to teachers.”
“If you’re feeling yourself getting really angry or frustrated with your kids, take a step back,” Dr. Carothers recommends. “Put things into context.”
It’s also important to keep your goals in perspective: Your child may not become a star student. Make sure to focus on the effort they put in and the commitment they show instead of the outcome. If you expect perfect achievement from a child who struggles in school, you’ll drive yourself crazy.
“I’m not trying to get my child to be someone he’s not,” Elizabeth says about her efforts to help her son. “I just want him to reach his potential.”
Frequently Asked Questions
You can motivate your child to do homework by letting them know you’re available to answer any questions they might have and that you see how hard they’re working. You can also reward them with small treats, like going out for ice cream, after they finish a certain amount of homework.
To motivate a child to do well in school, use positive reinforcement such as hugs and high fives, reward their effort rather than specific outcomes, and help them make the connection between current effort and achieving long-term goals such as getting into college.
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