The REAL reason Why Parents are not allowed in Motivational Camps

The REAL reason Why Parents are not allowed in Motivational Camps


Have you ever wondered why parents are not allowed in the camps until the last day after the children are hyped up? You know what I mean. It would be the time where children are yelling how much they love to study and swearing they will not be motivated from then forth. This is when parents will smile proudly to themselves and go “I’m glad I send them to this course.” – only to find them reverting to what they were before the camp.

It is not uncommon to hear motivational and study skills camps not allowing parents to be with their child – even after the parents are the ones who invested all that money. The most common reasons given would be:

Parents are a distraction.

The children would not be themselves if parents are around.

But do you know, your presence may increase the success rate of your child’s motivation level by 200x?


Wait! I thought you said no one can motivate others…

When we talk about motivating others, people always have the impression that we should be saying motivating words to our children and harping on successes in the future. This behaviour, unfortunately, is the set behaviour that everyone seems to adopt to motivate others. Many parents simply adopt this behaviour to adopt their children and find that it simply backfires.

You may have come across stories where once-defiant children seem to change under the hands of a teacher. Many believe that they use motivational words or harp on success. This is not true. It is the constant attitude of care and concern displayed by the teacher towards the students that cause these changes. The children feel it and wanted to change themselves. In short, they were motivated to change. 


RELATED: Motivation, study habits – not IQ – determine growth in Math Achievement



The First Vital Step all Motivational Camps Take

During the camp, motivational camps would usually start off by questioning the children of their self-worth and identity. This is the first step where children are supposed to release the emotions and anger they have suppressed over the years of being reduced to an academic pawn for high-stakes national exams. Once all these tension is released within the first day, the child should now feel “free of emotional baggages” and will be able to absorb the study skills that comes. Yet, after all the so-called ’emotional release’, the children are back to square one with their parents – who have no idea of all existing their emotional baggages!

Some parents may gasp here. “Academic pawn? How dare you! I will never subject my child to that! I’m doing all these of their future!” Sure...Tell that to all the children who shared heart-breaking stories with me of the words parents have used on them ‘for their future’.

Parents, you have no idea how important you are in the eyes of your child.

What is interesting to me here is that these camps should be aware of the massive effect parents have on their parents. Which begets this question –

why are motivational camps keeping parents out of their child’s motivational transformational change?



The Top Secret Study Skills

When study skills accompany motivational camps, these skills are secret. They can help to accelerate learning for any subject when used appropriately. However, when most children are left to these ‘secrets’, they do not end up applying them – even when they know it should work!

Why is this so?

Children who are generally motivated will be the ones who will apply some of these secret formulas. How about those who are not as motivated? Many times, not-so-motivated children are unsure how to apply these skills. Some may be easily overwhelmed. Many forget after not trying. Many just don’t know how to as they need lots of practises with ones close to them to help them apply these skills to their learning.

They need their parents to help them out!

They need their parents to practise with them!

Their parents need to learn these accelerated learning skills themselves!

Yet common sense tells us this is where the problem lies. No study skills company is going to teach the parents with their children how to study better!

RELATED: Smartify Study Tip #4 – Study Orientation

Why Children-Parent Bonding + Study Skills Classes are Necessary

When I first started teaching study skills to children without their parents, their responses perturbed me. One parent remarked to the child (after she demonstrated memorisation a challenging 30-items sequence), “Oh, so you are actually smart after all.” For some reason, that remark didn’t sit well with me. Was the parent trying to goad her child? Or did she not simply understand how her words can hurt her daughter so easily?

That’s when I toyed with the idea of including parents in the workshops. When I first started asked for feedback among educators of the idea of conducting student-parent bonding + study skills classes with some educators, many laughed.

“The parents are only dying to outsource their child’s learning to others! That’s why the tuition industry is making so much money!” 

Undaunted, I gathered a few parents and proceeded to conduct a 2-days course with them. By the first half of the day, the parents were watching their children in a different light.

One parent was shocked to find out his daughter entertained thoughts of suicide at the age of 11. 

One parent didn’t realised the word ‘OK’ towards her daughter’s good results was hurtful (I’m serious!).

One parent didn’t realised that she had stopped praising her elder child but was favouring the younger one a lot more.

By watching how much their children struggled with their self-esteem, they realised that their children generally put up a strong front but were struggling deep inside. Their thoughts, fears, emotional baggages  and words were deeply ingrained in their children far deeper they thought. When the children connected with their parents, that was when they really felt an emotional release of suppressed baggages and were all ready to learn.

Many parents were hit with a realisation that they themselves required an overhaul of attitude towards their children. As they learnt to learn once more with the study skills, they realised that ..perhaps to motivate someone is not just all talk and yelling but just by being there.

Disclaimer: Not all parents and children will change for the better. As it usually takes 2 hands to clap, it is very dependent on the effort made by both child and parent.

Source: (1), (2), (3)




6 reasons Why Motivational Camps for Children do not Help – backed by Science

6 reasons Why Motivational Camps for Children do not Help – backed by Science

motivation smartification smartifyI came across this term  “Motivation Porn” recently. Though it sounds really salacious here, it really refers to people reading heaps and heaps of motivation posts  and stories to do something but just never got round to doing it. We know whatever we are attempting will be good for us in the end… then why do we not get down to it?

Heaping “Motivation Porn” on our Children

You may have heard of parents sending their children to last minute study or motivational bootcamps in a bid to spark something in their children to ‘wake up their idea’ and hopefully start studying to score As or something just in time for their exams. These courses do not some cheap as the prices range from 4K to 24K. During the courses, it will seem as our children seem to change almost instantly…it’s like as if…they are motivated!

With these, the parents usually sigh with relief as their child seems to be making progress with their motivation level.  He/She is studying! He/She says they are making effort! There is hope! My child is now self-disciplined!

Yet fast forward a few weeks later… the child seems to be back at Square 1. It’s as if they have never attended the course. What has happened to all that hype? The ‘zing’? Whatever has happened to all that cash parents have invested in these boot camps? Why is it not working??

While we have heard of success stories, we know that the number of children returning to their original state far outweighs the successful ones.


Simply because people cannot motivate other people.

RELATED: Motivation, Study Habits – not IQ – determine Growth in Math Achievement

Let’s Define Motivation

First of all, let us define this term.  Williams and Burden (1997, 120) define motivation as multidimensional in general as follows:

motivation smartify smartification


Reasons Why Motivation Camps do not Help 

Many times, most of these children who attend motivational camps were already struggling with the overwhelming amount of information in their subjects to understand and digest. During the time they attend the camps, they are kept away from the books to be hyped up and are told constantly that they can do it. After the hype dies down and they return to reality, they try to break down their subjects and digest whatever information is necessary. However, they often find themselves stuck once more as they are not able to do so efficiently. Thus, they are unable to understand the knowledge content required before as well as the upcoming topics. This leaves a feeling of helplessness as motivation decreases.


Lower Dopamine Levels

Although dopamine is often associated with pleasure, it also encourage us to act and motivate us to achieve or avoid something bad. In short, it motivates us to move hard before we claim our rewards. Studies have shown that ‘slackers’ have lower dopamine levels and was present in the anterior insula, an area of the brain that is involved in emotion and risk perception. Thus, ‘slackers’ will always take the easy way out whenever possible.  ‘Go-getters’, on the other hand,  have higher dopamine levels in the striatum and prefrontal cortex — two areas known to impact motivation and reward.


RELATED: Why Play is Extremely Important For Your Child


Willpower is a Finite Resource

We are like batteries. Our energy levels keep us going until we run out.  A child’s battery level is usually much lower than an adult. At any given day, they will have willpower to motivate themselves to do something. Yet as the day pass, the willpower gradually diminishes and they are unable to carry out what they need to do – even though they know it is the right thing to do.


Your Genes may be Affecting them

A study was conducted across sets of twins aged from nine years old to 16, and living in the UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, Russia, and the US. The twins were asked to rate their ability in a range of different school subjects, including how they think they’re performing now, and how they think they’ll perform in the future. They were asked to rate how much they enjoyed doing things like reading, writing, and spelling. Interestingly, they found that genes rather than environment contribute to family resemblance in academic motivation.


Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset

If your child has always believe that intelligence is already determined at birth, they will always believe that, deep down, they will not succeed no matter how hard they try. That’s because they have a fixed mindset instead of a growth mindset. They believe that intelligence doesn’t grow and while they are hyped up during the camp, they will slink into their mindset that they are not able to stay motivated and move on. 


Suboptimal Motivation

Does your child really know why they are studying? When your child attends motivational camps, they are generally aware it is to perk them up to be ready for the big national exams. They know that poor results will not lead them to good schools. This awareness drives fear into them instead and when children are expected to be motivated to study for such high stakes examination, sub-optimal motivation kicks in. In short, they are studying because they have to and not that they want to. Motivation generated by values and a sense of purpose – “optimal” motivation – is sustainable over a longer period and produces better results.


Do you agree with the above? Share your thoughts with me.


Sources (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7)


Smartify Study Tip #6 – Elaborative Interrogation

Smartify Study Tip #6 – Elaborative Interrogation


While it sounds like a technique that the police force may use, this technique has been rated quite favourably for learners across the globe for enhancing memory whilst learning new information. The only issue is that it is not used as often as it should by both teachers and students and thus, many have issues relating to new information or even remembering them later on. smartification smartify

7 Science-Backed Ways to Motivate your Child to Study

7 Science-Backed Ways to Motivate your Child to Study




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.

Smartify Study Tip #5 – Distributed Practice

Smartify Study Tip #5 – Distributed Practice


Most students love to cram (massed practice) last-minute for their exams just a day or two before. Many cite lack of time and other reasons for not studying something regularly. However, researchers have found ‘distributed practice’ a much more effective way of studying. Read on to find out why:

distributed practice