Why Do Some Children Lack Motivation In School & How Can Parents Help?
Why do some children lack motivation in school? And how can parents help? If you’ve ever noticed your child dragging their feet with a homework assignment or regularly unable to finish reading a book, you’re not alone! As students progress through school, they can sometimes struggle with the purpose or motivation behind school work. Many of us adults can understand that feeling, too! At Huntington Learning Center, we see many reasons why students lose motivation, but here are a few of the most common:
Because they’re struggling. When a student has a hard time with a subject, it can be a huge struggle to keep up with the assignments.
Because they don’t see the point. If a student doesn’t find a subject interesting, engaging, or relevant, it’s easy to mentally “check out” and decide that the work isn’t worthwhile.
Because they lack confidence. It happens often–a student begins to struggle with a subject or work that they previously might have found easy, their grades suffer, and after a while the student declares, “I’ll never be good at this,” and gives up.
What should parents do if they notice their child is struggling with motivation? Here are a few tips:
Work with your child to create AND STICK TO a routine. As working adults, most of us adhere to daily routines to help ourselves stay on track. However, it’s often tempting to forgo or skip routines when it comes to our children–and that’s the opposite of what we need to do. Routines help our children build positive, regular study habits, keep their learning on task, and give THEIR schedule a daily structure. It’s important for your child to track their routine VISUALLY–make sure they have an easy to use checklist/board (younger children) or a simple, daily planner (older children).
Let your child take charge and experience the consequences. It’s important for each child to take responsibility for their work. Depending on their age and skill set, talk to your child about reasonable expectations and what their responsibilities are. (This is also where that clear routine helps them stay on track!)
Set goals with your child. We’re big proponents of goal setting at Huntington, and for good reason! Children who set short- and long-term goals tend to be more motivated learners. It also helps them build good goal-setting habits when they’re off to college and their future careers! Goals should be realistic and measurable. Examples for goals for a younger student might be:
Short-term goal: Turn in 90% or more of all your homework assignments for this month on time.
Long-term goal: Earn at least 200 points in Reading Counts for the spring semester.
Long-term goal: Improve ELA grade from a C to a B+ or higher by the end of the semester.*
*With goals, it’s important to discuss regularly with your child what they actually need to do to work toward it. Schedule regular check-ins with your child to revisit their goals, challenges, and progress. Don’t wait until things are really bad to do something to talk to your child about it!
Role model for your child. Your child sees what you do and internalizes it. Give your words meaning by putting real actions behind them! Set up a reading challenge for yourself (read 1 book a month, every month, for 2022!) and invite your children to participate with you. Take that online class. Post a habit tracker for your exercise routine on the wall so your child can see you working on your goals day-to-day.
Remind your child that not everything is fun. There will be many times that your child lacks motivation because something simply isn’t enjoyable. Discuss with your child the purpose and value of the work itself and how your child has improved over time. Remind your child that many things in life worth doing requires effort and grit. Share examples of your own work so they can understand.
Lastly, help your child find success in school–building on success is a huge factor in building motivation. If your child is struggling, it’s understandably more difficult to maintain motivation.
If your child needs additional help, don’t hesitate to find professional support–call Huntington at (916) 585-3823! We’re experienced with helping students acquire skills, build good academic habits, and finding motivation. [Adapted from the article, “Why some children lack motivation” by Dr. Raymond J. Huntington.]
Huntington Learning Center, Elk Grove
9105 Bruceville Road, Suite 4A
Elk Grove, CA 95758