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7 Science-Backed Ways to Motivate your Child to Study

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Do you think your child is able to achieve more than what they are currently getting? Many parents feel their children’s priorities are mixed up. They fear that because of this, their child’s potential to become a stellar student diminishes. This results in continuous arguments, punishments, disappointments and frustration in the home atmosphere. Have you found it hard to motivate your child to study?

You may find usual motivational phrases like “I know you have much more potential than this”, or “You can do it…” are not working anymore. What can you do in this situation? What if you give your child transformational experience using of some simple, but planned strategies?

1. It is easier to motivate your child to study if they know how learning works.

Our brain continues to change over the course of our lives. For every new information, our nerve cells (neurons) in the brain form new connections with other cells or strengthen the existing connection. The more we learn, the neurons make more connections and that results in us becoming more intelligent. According to researchers, your task to motivate your child to study gets better response once your child gets to know this.

Your child needs to understand that their intelligence is not fixed at birth. Brain is similar to muscles in our body. The more we work it out, the stronger it gets. That means your child has the potential to go up from where they are. When they understand it, they are more likely to understand the importance of efforts and determination. They are more likely to take responsibility for their academic progress. With this growth mindset, they gain greater confidence in themselves. Based on the research by Stanford University psychology professor and writer Carol Dweck, even low achieving students started scoring better in exams after they got to know how learning works.

2. Homework ≠ Learning

When you ask, “Did you finish studying?” does your child say, “Yes. I finished my homework”? Studying and doing homework are entirely separate tasks. Homework is a task designed to enforce the concepts introduced at school. Learning is following certain strategies to ensure that the child internalizes the information and will be able to remember and make use of it.

There are several studies with contradicting conclusions on the effectiveness of homework. Irrespective of that, your child anyway has to do their homework, if they get it.  In order for your child to internalize what they learned, follow a planned approach to learning.

3. Encourage them to RECALL the learning

When we read something, we feel we have understood and remember everything. How often has it happened that you checked the time many times and still you do not know what time it is? Similarly, when a person reads something, although they may feel they picked up everything, there will still be some information that just does not stick. Let your child take intervals in between their reading and recollect what they learned.

According to the book Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, the retrieving process during the recalling, helps to build stronger connections in the brain. These connections will lock information into memory.

4. CONNECT the learning to something your child already knows

Learning is all about making connections. Teach them to relate the new things they learned to something they already know. For example, if they are learning how to write a story, let them analyse the structure of their favorite story. If you say photosynthesis is like baking when they are learning about photosynthesis, they will try to associate every step of photosynthesis with steps of baking. Connecting new information with something they already know will help them in sticking the information and retrieving it later. When your child gets this technique, it will be easier for them to give a personal angle to every new information they learn.

5. Start the habit of WRITING the achievements of the day

As part a study by Harvard Business School, the researchers observed that individuals who were given time to reflect on a task improved their performance more than those who were given the same amount of time to practice with the same task.

Here is another study that highlights the benefits of writing life experiences in the physical, psychological and academic life of a child.

Your child will make efforts to make big improvements when they start noticing the small improvements they make on a daily basis.

6. Low achievers need to know they are NOT stupid.

Your child needs to understand that it is okay to have setbacks. Setbacks are not failures. They need to identify themselves as learners, not score-seekers. A low score just means they need to work harder on the subject. You can help your child to figure out the tricks that will work better for them.

7. Discuss, set and enforce rules.

As a parent, your interest is to see your child performing better. It is important for the parent to understand that both you and your child are in this together. The lesser the power struggle here, the more will be the likelihood of a better outcome.

Discuss and establish the basic rules of their learning process with your child. This will involve the duration of study, sticking to study timings, how you will assess the progress of their study, what is the new course of action, what will be the action if things do not go as planned and so on. Once your child gets involved in this, they are more likely to take the ownership to make it work.

When you motivate your child to study, please keep in mind that you should be giving your child more than motivational words. Give your child the “How to…” strategies when it comes to studying. They will be more open to incorporate that in their learning.

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