Helping Kids With Homework Joy
12 Strategies to Motivate Your Child to Learnby Becton Loveless
Most good students aren't born good learners. Yes, individual personality plays a big part in a child's willingness to learn and their overall disposition when it comes to schooling and education, but most children who are good learners at some point had to become good learners. More importantly, any student, who possesses the basic aptitude and receives the right motivation, can become a good learner.
One of the biggest mistakes teachers and parents can make when to comes to developing students and children who are good learners is to limit learning to the classroom. While the classroom will likely be the primary source of instruction, intellectual, social and academic growth should extend outside the walls of the classroom – if you want to really enhance a child's desire and ability to learn.
The following are proven tips and strategies that will motivate your child to learn. Apply them correctly, and you'll see your child or student discover the joy of learning.
1. Develop an atmosphere of readingSome people would argue that reading it the key to success in life. We would most certainly argue that at minimum reading is a key to success in learning. Children who develop a love of reading, develop a love for learning. Children who struggle with reading, struggle with learning.
Reading not only helps children develop a much richer vocabulary, it helps their brain learn how to process concepts and formal communication. And the skills gained from reading extend far beyond increased performance in language art classes. Students who read well experience an enhanced ability to learn in all subjects – including technical subjects such as math and science.
Help your child develop reading skills and a love for reading by filling his world with reading. Read to your child frequently. Have your child real aloud. Create a family reading time where everyone focuses on reading for 20 minutes a day. Through your own example of reading and by filling your classroom and/or home with reading materials (novels, posters, newspapers, magazines, etc.) you'll create an atmosphere of reading that will demonstrate to your child (or students) just how important reading is.
A key to developing good readers, it to make reading fun – not frustrating. If a child decides that reading is boring or frustrating, they won't want to read and their ability to learn will be diminished. Let children pick their own books to read, help them read, and create activities for them that make reading fun.
2. Put your child in the driver's seat as much as possibleWhen it comes to education, all some kids experience is control, control, control. When a child feels controlled, or out of control when it comes to their education, they often withdraw from learning. It's important to guide children through the learning process, but it's just as important to allow children to have control of their own learning experience. Whether at home, or in the classroom, provide children the ability to have direct input into their learning choices. A good way to do this is to provide children options. For example, when assigning a writing project, allow children to choose their topic to write about.
We also recommend allowing children to choose their own extracurricular activities. The more control and input you're able to provide a child, with respect to their learning environment, activities, and style, the more engaged and motivated a child will become to learn.
3. Encourage open and sincere communicationEncourage your child or student to express his opinion about what's going on with his education. Create an open atmosphere where he feels comfortable expressing his likes, dislikes or concerns. When he shares his opinion, make sure to validate his feelings – even if you disagree. When children feel like their opinion doesn't matter, or they're stuck, they're likely to disengage from the learning process. Good learners know their opinion matters and feel reassured that they can be open about their educational experience without being judged, put down, discouraged or ignored.
4. Focus on your child's interestsWhen learning engages children in areas and subjects of interest, learning becomes fun and children engage in learning. If you really want to help your child to become a good learner, encourage him to explore topics and subjects that fascinate him. If he likes dinosaurs, help him find engaging and interesting books and stories about dinosaurs. Then challenge him to identify his five favorite dinosaurs and explain why he chose each one.
5. Introduce and encourage different types of learning stylesEvery child has learning preferences and styles that are best suited to their way of learning. Some children have a dominant learning style, while others prefer to learn using a mix of learning styles. There isn't necessarily one right or wrong learning style, or mix of learning styles. However, by helping your child discover his preferred learning styles, you can use techniques that will improve his rate and quality learning.
There are seven fundamental learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Verbal, Physical, Logical (mathematical), Social and Solitary. For example, children who are visual learners learn best by seeing how things work. Conversely, children who are auditory learners learn best by listening to things being explained. For young children, it's beneficial to explore and employ different types of learnings styles.
6. Share your enthusiasm for learningEnthusiasm rubs off, especially when it comes to learning new things. If your child or student sees that you're sincerely enthusiastic about learning, they're likely to become enthusiastic about learning. Whether it's history, science, reading, writing or even math, help him see that learning is a journey of exciting new discoveries. Take every opportunity – without being overwhelming or overbearing – to discover new information with him. As your child sees the joy and excitement learning brings to your life, he'll begin to share your enthusiasm for learning new things as well.
7. Make learning fun through game-based learningGame-based learning is not a new concept. It's been around for a long time. Game-based learning can be very advantageous for many reasons. Using games as an education tool not only provides opportunities for deeper learning and development of non-cognitive skills, it helps motivate children to want to learn. When a child is actively engaged with a game, their mind experiences the pleasure of learning a new system. This is true regardless of whether the game is considered "entertainment" (e.g., video game) or "serious" (e.g., military simulator). Games that are entertaining provide the added benefit of motivating children to want to engage in the learning process and want to learn more.
Game-based learning is also an effective motivation for team-based learning – which can be particularly beneficial for children in a classroom setting. Students typically try harder at games than they do in courses. Games are more engaging. There is also the competitive aspect to playing games. Students are trying to compete or win, on behalf of themselves or their team. They may strive to perform at a higher level in an effort to earn more points for their team or because they want the opportunity to play.
Game-based learning is a great way for parents and teachers to introduce new ideas, grammar, concepts, and knowledge in a way that motivates children to learn.
8. Focus on what he's learning, not his performanceInstead of asking your child how he did on his math test as soon as he gets home from school, have him teach you what he learned in math today. Focus on what your child is learning, as opposed to how he is performing. While performance is important, focusing on his learning experience will (1) communicate to your child that actual learning is more important than test grades, (2) results are not the most important thing, (3) you're more concerned about him than you are about his performance and (4) by focusing on his learning experience that day you'll provide him the opportunity to put into his own words his lesson and solidify what he's learned.
9. Help your child stay organizedHelping your child organize his papers, books and assignments will go a long way to helping him feel motivated to learn. Disorganization is typical among young school age children, but it can also lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed. Overwhelmed children spend more time and effort being frustrated and worried than they do learning. Be patient, but consistent, in helping your child organize his school supplies and assignments. This will help him feel in control, less overwhelmed and more motivated to learn.
10. Recognize and celebrate achievementsNo matter how small they may be, it's important to recognize and celebrate your child's achievements. This is especially important for elementary age school children who require constant positive reinforcement to keep them motivated to learn and challenge themselves to do better. We're not suggesting that you praise mediocrity, but that you offer recognition and celebrate your child's achievements. Finishing a difficult project deserves a special treat; doing well on a math test could call for a trip to get ice cream. Always use positive reinforcement as your tool to motivate learning with your child.
11. Focus on strengthsFocusing on strengths can be difficult when there is so much your child struggles academically. Notwithstanding, focusing on your child's strengths is vital to healthy emotional and academic development and progress. Focusing on your child's strengths is another form of positive reinforcement that will motivate him to keep learning. Conversely, focusing on your child's weaknesses does nothing but cause discouragement, distress and a lack of desire to learn. Did Johny fail his math test? Well then, in addition to getting him a little extra help with his math, make sure to congratulate him for how well he's doing in science class.
12. Make every day a learning dayTurning every day into a learning day may sound like a bit much, but it really isn't, if you go about it the right way. Whenever possible, encourage your child to explore the world around him, ask questions and make connections. Help him categorize, classify and thinking critically of what he sees and experiences. Turning every day into a learning day will help your child develop the internal motivation to learn in the classroom, at home or wherever he may be.
As parents, we wish many things for our children. Things like love, safety, good health, and happiness. And joy. I want my children to have lives full of joy. You might wonder if joy is different than happiness. I think that it is. Happiness is a momentary feeling that may disappear when the moment passes. Often it is dependent on outside factors and influences. Joy comes from something much deeper. It comes from being at peace with who you are and your place in the world. It requires acceptance of your life and what you can and can’t control. Joy is finding contentment in your life and the peacefulness that comes with it. I want to teach my children to have joy in their lives and in themselves. And I’m sure you do as well. Here are some ways you can teach kids joy.
How to Teach Kids Joy
1. Find Joy in Your Own Life
Teaching a new skill to kids usually starts with mastering the skill for yourself. If you want to teach kids joy than your own life needs to show them what it is. If your life and attitude reflect negativity, stress, and unhappiness it’s going to be next to impossible to teach your kids joy. They will have no idea what it looks like.
A joyful life is a worthy goal all by itself but it becomes even more important when you want to teach kids joy and have them experience it through you. Are you joyful? Joy is deeper than happiness. It survives circumstances and life changes intact. It’s a way living that reflects looking for the good and the peaceful even when life is difficult and chaotic.
Most of us could use a tune up when it comes to living joyfully. What would make your life more joyful? When you figure out what it is that brings you joy you can bring more of it into your life. This may mean focusing on self-care, exercise or meditation. Or pursuing favorite hobbies and more spending time with friends. It’s different for every person and important to figure out for yourself and for your family.
Becoming a joyful parent adds another layer. But finding the sources of joy in your own life will help you bring more joy to parenting. And will benefit your family in any number of ways. Like many things, when you’re doing it for your children, it’s much easier to find motivation and make it a priority.
2. Create a Joyful Home and Family Life
Creating joyful habits in the home is a wonderful way to teach kids joy. Make it a point to count your blessings as a family. And teach your children about gratitude. I’ve created a bedtime ritual with my kids of asking them what was their favorite part of the day. And asking what they are thankful for. This helps us to end the day on a joyful note and I hope teaches them to reflect on things that made them happy.
Spending time together as a family is a great way to teach kids joy. Studies have shown that spending money on experiences rather than things makes children happier over the long term. Your entire family will experience more joy from time spent together than from material possessions. And the experiences don’t have to be big. Create small rituals your kids can depend on daily or weekly that involve quality family time. Game nights, movie nights, after dinner walks, and family dinners can all be a part of creating a joyful family life.
A joyful family has fun together, laughs together, and just plain enjoys being in each other’s company. I don’t know about you, but that is the kind of family I want for my kids.
3. Demonstrate Kindness
One of the greatest joys in life is caring for others. Knowing you have the power to help out another person and bring them happiness is empowering for kids. If you want to teach kids joy, teach them to give.
When you see someone helping others, it’s inspiring. And this is even more true for a child witnessing a parent’s act of kindness or giving.
There are so many ways you can teach kids the joy that comes from giving. This may mean a family day of volunteering at a school or church activity. But it can also be as simple as teaching your child to care for a pet or help out a neighbor or a sibling. The psychological rewards of giving are well documented. But it’s the soul that really benefits. Teaching your kids the joy that comes from kindness will serve them well all of their lives.
4. Point Out Joyful Things in Everyday Life
One of the simplest ways to teach kids joy is to help them look for it. My daughter and I frequently take walks around our neighborhood. Yesterday we saw a beautiful butterfly. Watching it together was a joyful moment. On another walk, my youngest daughter threw her sister’s stuffed toy out of the stroller without my noticing. A few minutes later a man rode up on a bike, stuffed animal in hand, asking if it was ours. He went out of his way to help us and I’m so grateful. What an awesome lesson that was for my daughters in kindness.
This doesn’t have to be complicated. If your child has a playdate and shares with their friend, point out how happy it made both of them. Or when they witness a kind act between friends, or even on a television show, let them know this is what joy looks like. And what it does for making lives better.
There is a world full of joy out there. Joyful things both big and small are all around us. We’re all busy, but it’s important to take the time to notice. And teach your kids to notice too.
5. Teach Your Child to Avoid Negativity
There are many hard things in life. Hard times and difficult tasks. It’s easy to get mired down in negativity when we focus on the bad things. But the reverse is also true. The good in the world and the beauty of everyday life are worth looking for. And are all around us.
It’s easy for all of us to fall into a pattern of negative thinking. Complaining, venting, whatever you want to call it, are all fairly common. But when it becomes a way of life you are setting yourself and your family up for unhappiness.
Pay attention to the people your child spends time with. It can be challenging, but important to teach them to avoid negative people. And patterns of negative thoughts. If your child seems to be developing a habit of negative thinking or spiraling worries, work with them to develop new habits and overcome negative thoughts. Here is an article with tips for overcoming negative thinking in young children. Negativity is an obstacle to joyful living. One we sometimes need help to get past.
A Life Filled with Joy
Learning to choose joy is something that will benefit your children all of their lives. Joy is the root of contentment and peace. And it helps kids develop compassion, empathy, and kindness. All things we could use more of in the world. But it doesn’t always come naturally. I hope you can use these ideas to teach kids joy and you all benefit from a life filled with the contentment that brings your family.