How to Help Your Child Become a Self-Motivated Student
Online and blended learning environments can accelerate students to become self-motivated, independent learners. As your child progresses through the online learning space, his or her self-reliance and independent learning skills will develop, and your role as a parent will start to shift.
You may be familiar with the 9-Step Motivation Model, but what happens as your child gets older and you need to start reinforcing self-motivation? Below, we’ll explore your shifting role as a Learning Coach as you help your child develop self-motivational skills.
Self-Motivation Basics (Grades K–5)
Building self-motivation starts with a foundation. Virtual education is a personalized experience, guided by you and your child’s teacher. When your child begins virtual school, you will work with online teachers to evaluate his or her individual needs. While you establish learning objectives together with the teachers, you can provide support by discussing and setting clear expectations. As your child’s education progresses, you will guide your child by communicating and establishing responsibilities regularly. Providing this for your child will lay the groundwork for self-motivation, because he or she will know what is expected and have an idea of what to be working toward.
Here are some additional ways to build a basis of self-motivation early:
- Help young students become less attached. Becoming an independent learner takes time, but there are a few things you can do to promote independence early.
- Set an expected pace for each assignment. This will keep your child on track and teach him or her how to avoid procrastination.
- Offer rewards and positive reinforcement regularly to demonstrate the importance of hard work and accountability. Make sure your rewards system is consistent and age-appropriate, with a measurable rule for when your child receives rewards.
- Instill confidence in your child. If your child develops confidence at a young age, then he or she will have an easier time finishing assignments because he or she believes in his or her work and abilities.
- Ask your student to honestly evaluate his or her hard work on a scale of 1 to 10, and ask for the reasoning behind the rating. Each month, you can help your student address any problems he or she may be having and help your student remember that struggling is sometimes part of the process when mastering any new skill.
- Review objectives for each assignment so that your child understands why each lesson or project is important to his or her education and overall learning goals.
- Help your child organize the learning area regularly. Make sure all distractions are removed from your child’s work area before each school day. Have your child help you get the supplies together that he or she will need for the day and to tidy up. This will instill a habit of organization early on.
Self-Motivation Reinforcements (Grades 6–12)
As your child reaches middle school and you start to notice his or her routine coming naturally, it is time to reinforce more independence. After you have mastered the basics and your part as a parent or Learning Coach shifts to a more hands-off role, you should start to help your student find his or her own motivations.
Middle school is a great time to start observing whether your child welcomes challenges independently. Start by trying some of the exercises below, watching to see how your child reacts as you start to encourage him or her to be more independent.
- Monitor your child’s progress independently. While keeping track of your child’s progress and assessments is the teacher’s responsibility, parents can monitor grades online and watch for any recurring struggles 24/7 with online tools like the grade book.
- Talk to your child regularly about future goals. Helping your child explore and identify career goals will help build self-motivation by giving him or her something to work toward. Encourage your child to shadow, take a summer job, or participate in an internship program.
- Use positive reinforcement. Let your child know when he or she has done a good job or if you have noticed him or her working exceptionally hard.
- Encourage your child to consult a teacher when he or she needs help. Rather than having him or her turn to you for help, establish your role as a supporter. Being able to ask for help from others is a vital part of establishing self-motivation and independent study skills.
- Ask your child what keeps him or her motivated. It really can be this simple. Your child knows what he or she wants and needs, and he or she is old enough to tell you. So just ask! The answer may surprise you.
As summer approaches, it’s important to keep your child’s motivation going. If your student begins to fall behind in school, talk to him or her about why this might be happening. You should also always consult his or her teacher for advice and feedback.
How do you encourage your child to be a self-motivated and independent student? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.