When was the first time you truly felt motivated to do something? Do you remember your exact feelings, what caused it and were you able to pursue that something?
From gaining the motivation to succeed simply because one was told they couldn’t, to something as straightforward as – for the fame and fortune. We have all heard of different stories.
Some would be proud say they experienced this feeling for the first time when they decided what they wanted to do as a life-long career and the excitement of knowing they will be spending their days doing the things they love was their extreme motivation.
You and I have our own stories, but what about the young kids that have much to explore in life and seem to want to do something different everyday? How can we light a spark in an individual that doesn’t have a care in the world or about the future, to help them hold onto something and keep them motivated?
Many parents would have pondered these questions before – How can I motivate the kids to get work done on their own, to continue learning what they’ve learnt in school at home or even to learn new things they might never learn in school?
To provide some guidance on this, be it for parents, educators or just an older figure, here are 6 ways to motivate children to keep moving themselves forward.
1. Ask questions
Often we say things like kids “can’t,” “won’t,” or “don’t,” but have we ever thought what we say or think might not actually be the case? Right or not, the best way to find out would then be, to ask.
Ask them what they find fun doing, what they enjoy learning and how they like to learn. We’d be surprised to find that we might have not always hit the spot, less be completely off the mark.
Of course, allowing these young individuals to have full reign over how spend their time might not be too wise, but hearing what they have to say never caused any harm. Ask them what they want to learn about today and ask again tomorrow. You might learn something new about them yourself.
2. Learning through their interests
Another simple idea yet one that does not come to mind often. For example, if a child that loves playing games is needed to learn the multiplication table, there are many educational games online that he or she can play that connects fun with learning.
There are many ways we can go about incorporating fun and interesting elements to learning and it doesn’t always have to mean we need to spend to do so. A little imagination and creativity can go a long way.
3. Let their curiosities out
Curious as a cat? Or curious as a kid?
At some point after kids learn to talk comes the rain of questions pouring in just when you thought you found some quiet time. Any answer is never satisfactory and trying to divert the conversation to something else will only rein in a different set of questions.
“If we can’t avoid it, then enjoy it.”
Though more specifically, use this specialty of theirs to your advantage. Put something new in front of them and see how they react. If they ask a question, say you don’t know. Of course, it will only make them question more, but keep the questions coming out. By allowing their curiosities to fuel the questions, this can in turn fuel their motivation as well.
4. Apply gamification
Gamification is the application of game-playing elements such as competition with others, rules of play, scoring and reward systems. It is a tool that works effectively for all ages and has the potential to become a built-in motivation system in kids.
Other than an activity being boring for kids, they might not be motivated because they just can’t see why they need to do it or what good it can bring. A gamification system essentially introduces the ‘game play’ and puts the reward for ‘winning’ on display. Once kids are able to make a connection between progress and attainment, they would then be motivated to engage.
5. Attempt various learning methods
Education, or learning in general, doesn’t only happen in a classroom any more. Education today comes in many different forms and continues to evolve.
If kids are not motivated to learn through their everyday schooling, there are other options to look at. Online tutoring, self-paced online learning, study groups and more.
Besides academic-focused learning, kids can pick up practical and life skills through places such as school clubs, coding programs and summer camps.
6. Provide feedback
Actions have consequences and kids should be made aware of them. Good behaviors should be encouraged and bad behaviors be shamed. Praises can motivate kids to continue repeating the good actions.
When kids’ behaviors have become unacceptable, letting them know starts to build accountability. From this comes the motivation to want to please and to show they can do things that are asked of them.
Every kid is different
Every kid has different needs and learns at a different pace. Some methods will work and some will not. What’s certain is that no change will come if no change is done.
As parents or as educators, we can only continue to try and do what is best for these young individuals that are not ready to stand on their own two feet just yet. This will take time and patience, with possibly many trial and errors, but we can be sure it will be worth it.