How to motivate your child to study

Many kids dislike the idea of school and homework. If we are honest, we didn’t always like it when we were younger, either. After all, who wants to stay stuck inside doing math when you can be outside playing tag with friends?

Depending on what your child is like, there will be a little (or a lot!) of resistance to the idea of going to school and studying. How can you help them look forward to school a little more – or at least not dread it so much? Here are some tips to help motivate your children to study and appreciate learning.

1. Uncover the roadblocks, then address them. Some kids don’t like to study because it makes them feel – inadequate, incapable, or slow. Or it could be the opposite, the work is not challenging or exciting enough for them. You’ll need to know what keeps them from wanting to study so you can address the root cause, and get it out of the way.
2. Create a study plan together. Homework and lessons will always need to get done, but how they get done sometimes makes a difference. When children have a say as to when and how they get to do their homework, they have more ownership over the task. This means you already have buy-in from the beginning and a higher level of commitment from your kids to seeing things through. Ask them which assignments they want to do first, and how long they need to finish. Then make a plan around the tasks at hand.
3. Integrate proper study breaks. No kid wants to keep sitting around for hours doing homework – they do enough sitting around in school! Make sure you insert breaks between periods of study and give your child the freedom to do what they want during those breaks. For younger kids, five- to ten-minute breaks for every 30 minutes of study is best. For older kids, provide 15-minute breaks every 45 to 60 minutes.

4. Focus on learning instead of performance. Kids need to know what’s important, and that comes through in what you pay attention to. If you keep looking at their grades, they will think that grades are all that matter. But if you ask about what they’ve learned, they’ll realize that discovery and exploration are more important. Focus conversations around the process of learning – how they were able to remember what they needed to remember, what interests them, and what learning methods they enjoy. This way, you’ll have more ideas on how to motivate your kids later!
5. Reward good habits, not just outcomes. This ties into the previous point – you don’t want to just reward the grades, but what your child has done to get there. And rewards don’t need to be fancy. One simple motivator for kids to finish homework early (but do it well) is more playtime. Who wouldn’t want that? Try to use rewards sparingly, though, as you don’t want your kids to just work for the prize. You want them to appreciate the process of learning itself.
6. Infuse some fun into the process. Gamifying learning is not new. There are a lot of educational games available, whether in digital or analog format. Shop for an educational toy together and use it to reinforce learning. If you’re extra creative, you can gamify your kids’ lessons – make a history lesson a chance to role-play in the family or turn it into an opportunity for story time.

While these are general tips, remember that each child is different and will respond differently. Be willing to experiment and try other ways to motivate your own kid to study. Maybe your child will do better with other people prompting them to study, like an aunt or a paid tutor. Or maybe they prefer to learn in groups rather than alone, so study groups might help. Be attuned to how your child is, and adopt the appropriate motivators to get them more engaged in their studies. The last thing you want is for kids to just hate school altogether!

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