4 Strategies to Motivate Children to Learn

In Posts by Susana Zhang0 Comments

Motivation. It is something in our minds all the time. Whether it is wondering how to get going on one of those dark and rainy Mondays or when we kick up our legs after a long day to see our running shoes staring at us from across the room.

The ways in which we are motivated as adults does not differ drastically from how children are motivated. Below are 4 strategies to motivate children to help them learn, curated from a diverse group of expert educators and psychologists. Do you have any strategies that have worked well to motivate your kids when you just can’t get them to finish their math homework? Comment below!

Rewards are an easy and quick solution to children’s reluctance to a particular learning task.Rewards though, can easily backfire if not done correctly. According to Todd Rose, a Developmental Psychologist and Education Professor at Harvard, reward needs to be predicted, preferred, and on time. Also, a little novelty can boost motivation. For example, you promise your children to take them to their favorite ice cream place right after they finish their assigned work. When you go the ice cream place as promised, you allow them to get the extra-large size. With great surprise, your children might be even more motivated to do the assigned task next time.

2.Interest Is The Best Teacher
Your kids are internally motivated to do tasks relatable to their life, interesting to them, and combined with games. For example, children love solving real-life math problems embedded in adventure RPG. Real-life math problems in games, such as figuring out the best mode of transportation to get to the destination on time, usually trigger children’s interests.

3. Incremental Mindset

An important thing to remind our children is that intelligence is malleable: if we work harder, we can achieve more. With incremental mindset, children are motivated to learn and improve themselves. To the contrary, children might want to avoid looking unintelligent by refusing to learn and try if they have a fixed mindset about intelligence that people are born with certain intelligence.

4. Boost Confidence in an Appropriate Way
Instead of eliciting punishment, we should encourage our children during the learning process. Boosting confidence is tricky. When we just tell a child they are “smart”, this may make them reluctant to try new things in the future for fear of looking dumb if they fail at something they are “smart” at. Instead, emphasizing their diligence, persistence, and effort on a particular task is a great way to motivate them to continue to learn more without fear of looking dumb if they cannot understand more complex subjects.

Finally, we would like to offer you some extra tips for promoting children’s self-motivation: Teach Your Child to Love Learning: Keys to Kids’ Motivation.

Susana Zhang, our Content/Marketing Specialist here at Woobo authored this post. Susana’s background is in psychology, previously earning her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and more recently earning her Master’s degree in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education in Human Development and Psychology. She is also actively working with our software and hardware team to help build out Woobo’s natural language processing technology.

De Castella, K., Byrne, D., & Covington, M. (2013). Unmotivated or motivated to fail? A cross-cultural study of achievement motivation, fear of failure, and student disengagement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(3), 861.
Rose, T. (n.d.). Motivation. Lecture presented in Harvard University, Cambridge.
Schunk, D. H. (1982). Effects of effort attributional feedback on children’s perceived self-efficacy and achievement. Journal of educational psychology, 74(4), 548.
Vygotsky, L. (1987). Zone of proximal development. Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes, 5291.

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