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Motivating a child to learn isn’t an easy road for any parent or teacher. This is especially true when it comes to little ones that aren’t born excellent learners.

While personality and disposition can play a large part in whether a child is naturally motivated to learn, the majority of kids develop the ability to become good learners through education and schooling. All children are different, but for any child, it’s possible to become a good learner, even if the process isn’t natural at first. With proper motivation and the aptitude to learn, any child can go far.

When developing good learning in students and children, the first mistake that parents and teachers often make is limiting the ways they can learn. This is especially true outside of the classroom. While lessons are the primary way children grow academically, as well as intellectually and socially, learning shouldn’t stop when the school day is over. To motivate and encourage a child to continue learning, take those lessons out of a classroom setting and extend them beyond only school-based activities. To enhance a child’s ability and desire to learn, expanding the scope of their learning opportunities is essential.

So, how to motivate my child to learn? These tips and strategies provide the basis for improving the learning and motivation of children. By using them correctly, you can help your child to discover the joy of learning, either as a parent or as a teacher.

1. Encourage reading as a pastime

For many children, reading can be the key to success when it comes to learning. At a minimum, learning to read and continuing reading provides excellent motivation to maintain and develop further. For teachers and parents, encouraging a love for reading can go a long way for a child and develop their passion for learning. Children that struggle with reading will also struggle with learning often in the long-term.

Not only does reading help develop a child’s vocabulary, but it also provides them with better ways to communicate formally, and process difficult concepts. Through reading, children can gain skills far beyond simply increasing their language performance.

Children who focus on reading, and learn to read well, can enhance their ability to learn in all manner of subjects, including:

  • Math
  • Biology
  • History
  • Art
  • Physics

By helping children to develop reading skills, and encouraging reading as a favorite pastime, motivating them to learn is easy. To facilitate this motivation, reading to your child, as well as having them read aloud, are vital first steps. For teachers and parents, including 20 minutes of extra reading per day – either as family time or as homework – can make a huge difference. Offer a wide variety of reading materials, and children will soon learn to love reading in their own way.

Making reading fun is critical to help children develop into good readers, removing the frustration for children that don’t enjoy reading at first. By letting children pick their own reading material, and starting with subjects that interest them, motivation to learn can be achieved easily over time.

2. Give back some control

For some children, education can feel like a chore because the adults around them completely control every step of the way, whether it’s their teachers or their parents. When children feel control is taken from them, or they feel overly controlled in their learning, withdrawal from learning is a common result. According to the Alliance for Self-Directed Education, allowing children a little more freedom, while still providing guidance, is an important part of teaching them at home or in the classroom. This allows a child to take control of their learning experiences by allowing their direct input into their choices of learning. The ideal way to implement this is to offer your child different options for learning.

Some examples of this would be:

  • Allowing them to decide the subject matter for a writing project
  • Providing them with choices of books to read
  • Giving them options for relevant scientific experiments with the same results

Another way to give your child greater control and motivation is by allowing them the choice over extracurricular activities. By providing your child with that control when it comes to the way and style that they learn, their motivation increases effortlessly over time.

3. Make communication open

Open communication is vital to any relationship, especially those with children. Encouraging your student or child to express their opinion about their learning and education is an essential part of this. By providing an open, welcoming atmosphere where they feel they can share their views, children feel motivated to continue learning.

If your child feels they can turn to you if they are struggling or stuck and feel heard, then they think their opinion matters. This is a must to motivate your child and validate and support their feelings surrounding the learning process in general.

4. Focus on the interests of your child

When a child is particularly interested or engaged in a particular subject or area of learning, they are far more likely to receive a fulfilling education. Of course, this doesn’t mean only teach your child the things they like.

Instead, to help motivate your child to learn to encourage self-exploration and learning on subjects the child is interested in. For example, children who are very interested in dinosaurs or animals or any other subject should be encouraged and challenged to learn more from books and resources about their areas of interest. Learning can be made fun and easy by simply focusing on the interests of your child as a teacher or parent.

5. Utilize different styles of learning

Each child is different. As such, parents and teachers should pay attention to the learning styles and preferences that better suit each child to help them to succeed. While some children have a particular form of learning that suits them, others have a mix of styles that work best together. There is no wrong way to learn, so encouraging your child to do what feels natural can be a great way to improve the quality and rate of learning.

The seven fundamental styles of learning are as follows:

  • Auditory
  • Visual
  • Physical
  • Verbal
  • Solitary
  • Social
  • Logical

Each of these methods is equally as important to providing children with the best learning experience. Spending the time to learn, experiments and understand which method works best for them can be an excellent way to boost motivation, and help your child or student take their learning to the next level.

Whatever kind of learner a child is, there are plenty of resources out there to support visual learners, as well as those who prefer physical, verbal or social learning. It’s all about finding the right ways to teach, to motivate students and children to learn.

6. Be enthusiastic

If you’re less than enthusiastic about the learning process, then your child will be too. Being passionate about learning new and exciting things is a great way to help motivate children, allowing them to see that learning is fun for others.

By looking at learning as a discovery of new things, from science to writing, to history and math, children will soon become enthusiastic about discovery. Taking any opportunity to learn alongside your child can be an excellent tool to aid in motivation.

7. Use game-based strategies to make learning enjoyable

The concept of game-based learning is one that has been on the scene for a long time. An educational tool that provides ample opportunity for better education, children are motivated to develop skills through enjoyable tasks and fun games. By engaging children in game-type learning, they can connect the process of learning with something pleasant and entertaining. This is particularly beneficial for working in groups in a classroom setting, allowing children to compete to win and learn more.

Game-based learning is an innovative way to teach many subjects and encourages children to learn actively rather than passively – an excellent choice for children that need a little extra push to succeed.

8. Put the focus on what they are learning, instead of how they are performing

It can be all too easy for teachers and parents to focus on performance as milestones for how well a child is learning. But by focusing on what they are learning, instead of how well they are testing, it’s far easier to provide more motivation than simply looking at letters on a page.

Of course, performance is vital for education in the long run. But encouraging children to communicate their actual learning allows for better focus on deeper learning and improvement over time rather than the typical black-and-white focus on a pass or fail.

9. Improve your child’s organization

For the vast majority of children, organization doesn’t come easy. Whether it’s a messy bedroom, lost school equipment or forgotten gym kit, organization isn’t naturally present in all our little ones. As a teacher or parent, however, you can work with your child to improve their education organization, helping them feel motivated to learn without distractions.

10. Celebrate and recognize the achievements

Whether it’s something tiny or an achievement that’s a big deal, taking the time as a parent or teacher to celebrate and recognize children’s achievements can be an excellent motivator. Positive reinforcement is vital for children to be motivated, and being consistent with the praise and support you offer can make all the difference.

Finishing a challenging project, for example, deserves a special something as a reward. A parent could celebrate doing well on a science test by making their favorite dinner. The list of options is endless, but consistently applying positive reinforcement is the perfect way to bring a little more motivation to learn into your child’s life.

11. Acknowledge the good things

If your child is struggling with learning, it may seem counterproductive to focus on the strengths. But for children to have a healthy academic and emotional environment, acknowledging the good things can be vital. Another form of reinforcement that’s positive for learning, allowing children to play to their strengths and know they are doing something right can provide excellent motivation. Focusing on the negatives aspects, such as failures, will do nothing beyond shaming the child and making them want to pull further away from learning. Be constructive, and don’t focus on the bad.

12. Make learning a daily occurrence

It might sound like the stuff of children’s TV, but learning every day is easier than you might think if you take the right steps. Encouraging your child as a parent or teacher to open their eyes to the world around them, research their interests in their own time or even do things they’ve never done before can all help to promote learning. Thinking critically is a vital skill for any child, and encouraging that can help boost your child’s motivation to learn like nothing else.

However you choose to motivate your child to learn, taking the time to offer them support and care can go a long way. How do you motivate your child or students to succeed?