As a parent, it may feel frustrating when you know your student lacks motivation to succeed in school. When you ask them questions about their classes or what they’re working on, you may receive a very short answer or a shrug in response. When you bring up the topic of college and ask what schools they are interested in, your student may say, “I don’t know” or attempt to shy away from the conversation. When your student brings home their report card and shows you less than desirable grades, they may not care when you seem upset. Since you understand the value and importance of education, why is it that your student cannot?
Motivation is an intrinsic feeling that comes naturally to many students, however some do not experience this. You may be surprised to learn that it is often not the student’s fault when there is a lack of motivation, but rather that there are outside factors that affect this. In order to help your student become more motivated, it is important to first understand the reasons behind the source of the problem.
The material is not engaging
When your student says he is bored in the classroom, it must not be taken lightly. This could mean that he is disengaged from learning and may not understand what is being taught. However, this very well could be a result of how the teacher relays information to the students. If the teacher is unaware of his students’ interests and is unable to make the material fun and relatable, then often students are unwilling to learn and do not feel motivated.
Difficulty and pressure in the classroom
When your student feels that an assignment is beyond their capabilities, he often shuts down and does not want to try. He may be afraid of failing or of feeling inadequate, and will using avoidance and procrastination as his way of coping. If teachers do not offer support to their students or hold lower expectations, students will not trust in themselves or their abilities. According to an article written by GreatSchools, “Teachers should assign challenging, meaningful, and achievable tasks that promote motivation and link effort and success. If teachers take the stance that they are the source of all knowledge and that their students are incompetent, their students are more apt to tune out, stop trying, and fail.”
Not being challenged enough
On the flipside, your students may feel that the material being covered is too easy and it is not challenging enough. They may find it uninteresting and be unwilling to complete it because they would rather pursue other activities. This does not mean that your student isn’t bright or does not have the ability to succeed, it just means that he needs different tasks that will help stimulate his brain and more time to explore his passions and interests.
What can I do if my child is unmotivated?
Since is difficult to monitor how your child learns in the classroom or the teaching style of the instructor, it is important to ensure there is support at home. Let your child know the value of academics and that they are worthwhile; they are more likely to adopt your attitudes if you do so. Explain to them that is it okay to fail sometimes, because that is part of the learning process. This will allow them to take on more challenges and explore what they are truly interested in, which will in turn spark motivation.
If you decide to reward your student for completing academic tasks, make sure to do so sparingly. Extrinsic motivation is typically associated with short-term goals, which means progress often vanishes once the reward disappears. However, there are benefits to extrinsic rewards; they can often ignite a new interest or passion if a student is performing a task that they normally wouldn’t without a reward. This can develop long-term motivation if they develop their own goals to work towards.
Remember, with a number of students to teach in the classroom, it may be difficult for a teacher to pinpoint which students are not being challenged enough. Ask your student follow up questions if they express the material in school is too boring or easy. Which classes do they find to be too boring? Which problems are too easy? What would they rather be doing? It is important ask this in order to figure out what your student’s interests are and to help them develop goals. By realizing what their passions are, students can lead a path to academic achievement and keep their motivation consistent.