Maintaining Motivation in a Virtual School Environment
When your child attends school at home, it can sometimes be difficult to keep him or her motivated. Like traditional students, virtual school students can get tired, distracted, or stressed out. If this happens, it’s your responsibility as a Learning Coach to step in and help your child get back on track.
Getting motivated isn’t always a challenge, but every child struggles sometimes. When your child works toward a goal, the key to success is keeping him or her motivated. If he or she starts a new task, motivation comes easily, making him or her feel confident and enthusiastic. Once the feeling wears off, however, and your child slows down, it’s time to take action. Take a look at the tips below and add them to your motivation toolbox.
Master basic study skills.
To stay motivated, children need a solid foundation of study skills. Kids in middle school and high school won’t stay motivated if they aren’t able to study effectively. Once your child has mastered the five key skills for virtual school, such as managing time and navigating a computer, he or she is ready to develop independent study skills. Becoming an independent learner boosts your child’s growth and helps him or her become self-motivated.
Use a rewards system.
Rewards systems can help if your child struggles with motivation. Remember, however, to think of rewards as a first step rather than a long-term solution. If students rely on rewards too much, they might refuse to do something unless they get a reward. Once a rewards system is successful, start offering rewards less often. Give your child things to look forward to rather than a reward for completing an action. Eventually, your child should become self-motivated, and you can reward him or her when he or she deserves it—but doesn’t expect it.
The best way to maintain focus during lessons is to take frequent breaks. This gives your child’s brain time to rest between periods of serious concentration. Eat a snack, play a game, or stimulate your child’s senses when you and your child need a break. Let your child stare into space, because, surprisingly, daydreaming is an essential part of learning. Even playtime is learning time, as it allows your child to explore his or her curiosity.
Having a positive attitude helps children stay focused on a task or lesson. If your child needs encouragement, inspire him or her with positive quotes or make positive fridge magnets together. These simple reminders can draw your child’s focus back to his or her goals. Also ask your child to choose a positive adult role model, whether it’s a family member, coach, teacher, or family friend. A role model who sets a good example motivates kids to be successful.
Check in with your child.
Having frequent conversations about your child’s progress helps you both. Set aside times for these talks, and encourage your child to ask questions and voice concerns during this time. This will give you a chance to evaluate your child’s focus.
Know that teachers care.
Having supportive student–teacher relationships is important to effective learning. When teachers show that they care and offer encouragement, students are more motivated to succeed. Remind your child that his or her teacher is always available to help. Both of you can turn to teachers when you need assistance.
Take one step at a time.
The 9-step motivation model is a great technique for getting your child motivated and staying that way. The model breaks down a child’s goal into a series of manageable steps. One of the steps encourages you to discover which sources of motivation your child chooses for him- or herself. These motivators are typically the most effective. You can also help your child set deadlines to remind him or her take each step toward the goal.
Motivation wanes when kids struggle academically or personally. Giving praise will boost your child’s self-esteem. Also, praise teaches your child to be motivated by success. Reserve criticism for times when you can be constructive and specific to help your child learn from his or her mistakes.
“Self-smarts” is another term for self-awareness. Children with self-smarts understand who they are, what they like, and what they want. Those who are older and more self-sufficient can use self-smarts to understand what they’re motivated by. If your child wants to be more independent, he or she should know how to self-motivate in order to be successful.
To keep these ideas handy the next time your child loses motivation, write them down. If you use a journal or notepad for Learning Coach tasks, take notes each week on the motivation tactics that work for your child. By trying different things and figuring out what works, you and your child will eventually learn to implement solutions naturally.
Do you have any other tips for keeping kids motivated? Share your ideas and stories to help other parents and kids!