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How to Motivate your Child to Learn

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Good motivation is essential for learning success. These tips will help you increase your child's motivation.
At the beginning of their school career, most children are still highly motivated and very inquisitive. Over time, this changes for many children, and so it's important to nudge kids' own drive in a timely manner.
Research shows how important good motivation is for success in school, often more crucial than intelligence. Kids who are genuinely motivated and want to grasp what they are learning do much better in school![1]

Now, how can you as a parent help your child be motivated?

Fun learning content instead of a focus on assessment

Everything we learn with pleasure remains better anchored in memory, which is why children should have fun and enjoy learning. The resulting drive is also called "intrinsic motivation" by experts. The opposite is the so-called "extrinsic motivation", where kids only learn to please adults or to get good grades. Experts say that in principle both forms of motivation can have their effect at the same time, but their ratio is relevant: If the pleasurable motivation, resulting from a thirst for knowledge and fun, predominates, performance is better. If extrinsic motivation (usually from the third grade on) gains the upper hand, learning success goes downhill again.[2] To support positive motivation, you as a parent can emphasize learning content more than performance assessment. An example would be to ask about the content of a performance review first instead of the result.

Encourage curiosity in the younger ones

When children are allowed to act out original or whimsical ideas (such as a baking powder volcano, insect as a "pet",...), they are thirsty for knowledge all by themselves. In doing so, they experience how exciting it is to explore and try new things. If your child's new creative suggestions seem unusual or unimportant to you, support them anyway, unless there is "danger ahead". With your support, they will get to know their own interests and limits better.

Show the purpose of learning

It is not uncommon for kids not to know why this or that subject matter will be of use to them later in life. However, motivation requires goals, so give your child a nudge in the right direction: those who learn to read understand the world better, those who master writing can compose a text message, and those who master English can converse with most people in the world. Good math skills make it easier to manage money. Kids who have goals tend to be more engaged with more complex content!

Motivated parents

Researchers found that the parents' attitude also influences the child's motivation. Adults who lovingly helped children learn out of joy and their own interest created a positive feeling and more "intrinsic motivation" in the kids than those who acted out of a pure sense of duty.[3]

No hasty help

Before you intervene to help, let your child try out a task solution on his own first. And if he or she can only manage parts of the task, praise him or her for the parts of the task that he or she has managed. Because even successfully mastered hurdles, fill the child with pride. If you intervene too vigorously in the learning process right from the start, this can promote lack of independence and lower self-confidence.

Support extracurricular hobbies

Hobbies are a wonderful way to learn that perseverance and constant practice are important keys to success. Whether it's a sport, dancing, or learning a musical instrument, regular practice helps children celebrate success. And those who know from their hobbies how to overcome dry spells are also better able to master less interesting learning periods.

Patience is rewarded

Just like all of us, even the most inquisitive child has bad days from time to time, and that should not be a problem. Please tolerate regressions and mistakes! The learning speed is sometimes faster and sometimes less fast, and goals are also reached via detours. Please note that too much pressure to perform leads to excessive demands and sinks motivation into the basement. Instead, emphasize positively what has already been achieved. And if the child approaches a goal, the prospect of a small reward will further accelerate the mastery of a sub-area!

Proper praise

It is better to honor specific actions or accomplishments rather than attributes. For example, instead of saying, "You're a great painter," you could say, "You put a lot of effort into the plants, I like all the details."
Children perceive characteristics as unchangeable, and the fear of not being able to confirm them increases. If your praise is about results that the child can change through effort, this promotes motivation.

Please use your praise selectively and not too often, so your child realizes that you have actually dealt with the achievement. And only pay homage to achievements where you can assume that they are also perceived as praiseworthy by the child himself. But even the path to unmet goals can/should receive positive attention if the child has made an effort: "You really tried hard, I think that's great!"

Comparisons with others are counterproductive when praising. Measurements with others do not necessarily raise self-confidence, they rather promote competition and this can create unnecessary pressure.

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