There are only a few weeks left until the end of the fall semester and winter break is on the horizon! However, there’s a strong chance that young learners’ motivation levels may be dropping along with the temperature in anticipation of downtime and festivities ahead. Here are some ways to help your child finish 2015 strong and keep him or her engaged with what’s going on in math class—and school in general—as holiday prep heats up:
• Talk with your child. A daily check-in sends the message that school is important (and reestablishes it as a priority amid holiday hustle and bustle). It also reminds your child that you’re interested in what’s going on in class and are there to help! If your child seems less enthusiastic about math and school than usual, ask meaningful questions that provide insight into internal motivators and use those as a starting point as you provide inspiration.
• Two words: positive reinforcement. Give your child some well-deserved praise and celebrate accomplishments when warranted! Be specific—statements such as “Wow! That’s a really creative solution you came up with for that word problem!” or “I can tell you put a lot of work into this!” carry more weight and hold more meaning than a simple “Great job!”
If you find your child feeling dejected when a test or school assignment doesn’t go as planned, keep the positive vibes going! Together, have a look at your child’s work and go over questions missed. If problem areas extend beyond a bad day at school, consider seeking outside help. Tackling these types of issues as a team shows your child that he or she has a great support structure in place, and most importantly, teaches an important life lesson about handling perceived failure and setbacks with grace, levelheadedness, and renewed determination.
• Celebrate victories and reward kids for their efforts… within reason. Share success by taking the entire family out to a nice dinner after your child completes a particularly difficult project. Reward smaller-scale accomplishments with an extra hour of TV or game time on weekends. Use rewards sparingly—this strategy could easily backfire and make your child less productive (and more prone to bargaining) in the long term if invoked in excess!
• Promote healthy lifestyles and appropriate work & play balance while holding young learners accountable for completing schoolwork. If your child seems especially restless and resistant to the established study routine, get involved and switch things up a bit while making sure they still have enough time to attend to the serious stuff. Give kids a little extra time to unwind after school if they seem particularly burned out. Go easy on the pre-holiday treats and keep them fueled with healthy meals and snacks—nothing kills motivation faster than a sugar crash! Also, too much time indoors as temperatures plummet can make kids feel antsy—work in some active playtime and make sure your child gets enough exercise. Finally, mixing learning and fun never hurt anyone—play some math games together or better yet, gather your child and some friends together for a fun day at the museum!
What are your tried-and-true strategies for keeping your kids motivated?