It’s almost that time of year again. Back to learning. Back to homework. Back to fun? Yes. Back to learning, homework, discovery, exploration, and even fun. A positive spin is just what some of my favorite teachers recommend. In my experience, positivity goes a long way especially when related to various elements of learning. So I pose this question: how can parents instill intrinsic motivation, teach positive actions, and make learning relevant all the while maintaining a positive vibe?
I will start out by relaying that in over 15 years of working with children, I have never met two children that are the same. What works brilliantly for one child may not work at all for another. Intrinsic motivation is one of the single greatest attributes I could hope for any child to possess. While fostering intrinsic motivation, I often encourage children to have a clearly defined thought. I then encourage them to monitor their actions to ensure that such actions are in line with their thought. Finally, children are guided to reflect upon their actions and implement any pertinent changes. I maintain a philosophy that not succeeding initially is a part of life and means that effort was put forth, which is, in my opinion, a very good lesson to learn and concept to learn and accept early on. Not trying is not an option.
Teaching positive actions is a cornerstone in life. Encouraging a child to understand that the importance of positive actions is to feel good about oneself extends far beyond learning. Positive actions relating to learning may include, but are not limited to the following: thinking, problem solving, deductive reasoning, and overall decision-making. Positive actions relating to getting along with peers may include, but are not limited to the following: fairness, kindness, trust, and respect. Positive actions relating to self-improvement may include, but are not limited to the following: short and long-term goal setting, accepting responsibility, and admitting mistakes.
Making learning relevant is key in adopting and maintaining interest, instilling motivation, and encouraging the generalization of concepts and ideas. Children become more engaged in learning and retain knowledge better when they are able to see that it is relevant and vital to their own success and happiness. As parents, by understanding your child’s talents, learning style, and interests, you can adjust methodology, strategy, as well as any necessary support.