How To Motivate A Child To Learn

The key to how to motivate a child to learn, or anyone including yourself, is that the given activity feels like it will be easy and fun. If your child is unmotivated, that probably means that they are not confident of doing that activity. This could be reading, writing, or even going to school. They feel anxiety, stress, and fear, and don’t want to do the activity.

The feelings of confidence and excitement about a task can explain why a child will happily do some activities, however, they will refuse to do others. As a parent, you might think these activities are similar in difficulty. You might also think that your child is being “naughty”, when in fact, they are just scared to try something and not be successful. My job as a teacher often involves trying to capture the interest of unmotivated students. This post is split into 4 sections to help give a strategy for helping your child complete a task.

    1. Why your child is unmotivated to learn
    2. The formula for motivation
    3. Strategies to making activities fun and interesting.
    4. How to talk to your child so that they are more motivated


1. Why your child is unmotivated to learn

Think of the tasks that you enjoy, do they seem easy or difficult? It could be a sport like a football or something simple like eating. Tasks you enjoy probably seem easy and fun, therefore it doesn’t require much motivation to do them.

Now think of activities that you don’t enjoy, they probably seem difficult and not too fun. For a difficult task, maybe you are not even sure where to begin, and you have a strong feeling that you will not be able to complete or do the activity. Therefore you are unmotivated.

Most of the time a child is unmotivated because they don’t believe they can do something well. If children lack belief that they can do something, then it is difficult for them to try. Think about the activity that your child is hesitant about. Does your child find that activity easy? Probably not

2. The formula for motivation

Let’s look at 2 extreme examples.

    • Go across your living room and I will give you $10.

Do you believe that you can do it? YES Is it easy? YES. Great. You believe that you can do that simple task And the outcome is $10. So your motivation will be high!

    • Take a maths test that you will fail. And when you fail, the outcome is that I and your teacher will be mad at you.

Do you believe that you can pass? NO! And how is the outcome? BAD. So your motivation will be low. When children don’t believe they can do something and the outcomes of their failure will be negative, they will not be motivated!

So always remember:

a)To help your child believe that they have the ability to do a task, and

b)That when they do they will gain a good outcome.

3. Strategies to making activities fun and interesting

  1. Firstly, use your child’s interests for a task – For reading and writing this is easy. You can focus on topics that your child loves and knows a lot about. This will increase their positive outcome – i.e. they will be learning more about what they like. This will also decrease the fear as the topic is familiar to them.
  2. Break down a task – you’ve probably heard of this concept. Break a task into bite-sized chunks.  Can you read a book? Most books are 300 pages. That seems like a lot. How about 10 pages a day though. That seems simple. If you read 10 pages a day for 30 days you just read 300 pages.

There is another special aspect to breaking down a task. Starting. People often don’t know where to start, for children this fear is stronger. So make the early steps of a task extremely simple in order to get things moving. Eg. Pick up the book and read the title. Get a piece of paper and write the date at the top.

  • Work with your child – Do a similar task with or near your child, this works well with younger children. Set regular breaks where they can ask you questions if they get stuck. For example, If your child has a book to read, get your own book and set a timer for 30 minutes and both read, you can then have a 5-minute discussion about what is in your book.

Before we move on to tell you 3 amazing and simple communication strategies. Why not check out my online course that can help your child to learn how to read! It teaches how to read and use the 12 keywords that makeup 25% of English.

Click the link to see details and chapter previews.

4. How to talk to your child so that they are more motivated

1. Be excited about the task and the positive benefits it can give. Give your child confidence that they can complete the task.

For example – Imagine when you are really good at drawing, you will be able to draw anything you like. Remember the tree you drew last week, it was really good. If you can draw that, then you can easily draw a flower.

2. Ask your child’s opinions and listen carefully to what they say. Your child will probably reveal any worries that they may have.

For example, if your child is going to a new school, you could ask if they are excited to meet new friends, new teachers and play with new toys. They might mention a worry that they have, maybe that they won’t know anyone, you can talk through that exact issue.

3. Speak to your child about an activity in a way that suits their personality and what is important to them. Does your child like to feel in control? Do they like to be with friends? Do they like adventure and excitement?

I can use my daughter as an example. She loves to be in control, so I tell her that she is in charge of laying the dinner table and no one will help her. It’s her job. She loves to arrange where everyone sits and to get all the plates, cups and cutlery and put them in the right place.

4. Remind your child of when they used a key skill. For example, if a new task is scary, remind them of when they were brave. If a new task requires concentration, remind your child when they are focused for a long time.

Remember when you were nervous about going down the slide. But when you did it, it was fun and not scary?
Well this will be the same

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