What Motivates a Child to Learn? A Guide for Parents

August 24, 2023
5 min read

It’s normal for your children to lose their enthusiasm to learn, but if you want to know how to reignite their interest, read on!

A sign on a table saying "you got this"

The mantra that we can do anything we set our minds to is commonly used to inspire children to reach for the stars so they can achieve greatness. But, for children, finding the motivation to push themselves and work towards their goals can be challenging. 

If you’re wondering how to motivate your child to learn to help them soar, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’ll cover what motivates a child to learn and give you 10 simple tips to increase your child’s enthusiasm to learn!

How to Motivate Your Child to Learn

There are several effective strategies you can try to motivate your child to learn. Here are our top 10:

1. Focus on the Journey Rather Than the Destination 

It can be easy to focus on your child’s grades and tangible results. However, focusing purely on the result of their hard work can devalue the process toward these marks!

Performance pressure can increase children’s anxiety and create a negative outlook toward learning, which can cause them to resent the entire process. Praise your child for their effort as much as their success! 

2. Destigmatize Falling Short

This second tip is as much for your child as it is for you! It’s important to have a positive outlook towards shortcomings. While it can be frustrating when your child does not meet your expectations, it’s important for both you and them to understand that falling short is simply an opportunity to learn and improve! 

Rather than reprimanding your child for receiving a lower grade, sit down with them and reflect on where they can do better. Ask them what they believe they can do to improve their score and what resources they might need, and set some realistic goals with them. 

3. Set a Schedule

A person writing in a notebook

If you notice your child is struggling to find enough time to complete their homework during the day, help them set a schedule that they can follow consistently for a long period of time. 

For instance, set a two-hour block every weeknight for homework. Stay near your child and complete work of your own, whether it be chores, reading a book, or even paying bills! If possible, create a study space that is free of distractions for them to work in. 

4. Provide Organization Tools

With deadlines to meet and homework to complete, it can be overwhelming for students to prioritize their academics. They may be inclined to spend their time on other, more entertaining and less stressful activities such as playing video games or watching TV.

If this is the case, help your child stay organized. Try different tools and apps such as digital or physical planners, checklists, calendars, and reminder apps.

Ensure you also aid them in their time management by teaching them how to prioritize their tasks. Assist them with breaking large tasks into smaller ones, so they appear less daunting! Procrastination gets the best of us, but increasing your child’s organization and time management skills can limit their procrastination.

5. Show An Interest In Their Interests

Show an interest in your child’s passions outside of just their academics. Your child should not feel like you are only interested in their grades, as this will not only make them less likely to have open communication with you but also less likely to stay motivated to learn.

Comprehensive learning involves hobbies, extracurriculars, and other passions. Get your child involved in activities outside of their academics so they have a stimulating way to escape the pressures of school. Doing so will ensure they are refreshed and recharged to succeed in their academics.

6. Avoid Unnecessary Rewards

You may think that what motivates a child to learn is an incentive—they ace their math exam, and you let them go camping with their friends. However, this can cause them to associate academics with rewards, which will decrease their desire to learn when there is no incentive involved.

You want your child to be motivated to learn freely, so only offer rewards when you feel it is absolutely appropriate. Try to tap into your child’s inquisitiveness to learn rather than their desire to be rewarded. 

7. Focus On Their Agency

As an adult, it can be easy to sit in the driver’s seat and delegate what your child should do and how they should approach their learning. However, children require a level of control to be interested in anything. Give them a sense of autonomy and independence so that they are self-motivated to learn. 

While it’s important for your child to know you are there to support them and provide advice along the way, if you notice your child is not receptive to your guidance, don’t push it! Let them figure out the best study techniques for themselves and learn and grow from their mistakes. 

8. Encourage Different Learning Styles

As we discuss how to motivate your child to learn, it’s important to realize your learning methods aren’t necessarily the best techniques for your child! Experiment to figure out what works for them and understand there is no wrong way to learn. 

The main learning styles fall into the following categories:

  • Visual learning: rely on graphic aids and seeing to learn
  • Auditory learning: rely on speaking and hearing to learn
  • Kinesthetic learning: rely on hands-on learning and doing 
  • Reading/writing learning: learn best when there are words involved, whether it be reading them or writing them
  • Logical learners: depend on their analytical and problem-solving skills to learn
  • Social learners: learn best with their peers or when participating in groups
  • Solitary learners: prefer independent study
  • Nature learners: learn best when in contact with nature

Children should be exposed to all of these learning styles so that they can figure out which ones are best suited for them. 

For instance, students that may be visual learners can benefit from charts, illustrations, and graphs, whereas social learners may benefit from talking through problems with you or their friends in study groups. Some students may require a mix of these styles to learn best. 

Knowing what works for your child will help them understand the material they are taught better, ultimately making them more enthusiastic to keep learning! 

A study group

9. Encourage Exploration

Encouraging curiosity and exploration every day helps your child understand the importance of pursuing knowledge. 

Try to engage them in stimulating activities outside of their academics, depending on their age, such as playing challenging board games, taking them to museums, or turning everyday experiences into learning experiences.

Empower your child to ask questions and help them think critically about what they see in their everyday lives. This curiosity will continue in their academics, and they will be more motivated to learn and explore their curiosities. 

10. Ask for Help

If you still feel unsure about motivating your child to learn and have tried all the methods at your disposal, don’t be afraid to seek external help! There are experts out there that can provide customized support to help your child succeed! 

For instance, Learner’s Collective offers innovative academic coaching to help students navigate new challenges and feel empowered to learn!

A teacher and student video chatting

FAQs: How to Motivate Your Kid to Learn

For any remaining questions about what motivates a child to learn, read on to find your answers.

1. What Motivates a Child to Learn?

Typically, children are motivated when they are interested in what they’re learning, understand the material, have a sense of autonomy, and have a positive and supportive learning environment.

2. How Do You Motivate a Child That Doesn’t Want to Learn?

While there are countless ways to motivate your child to learn, the main suggestions are to:

  • Focus on the journey rather than the destination: praise your child for their effort rather than just their success
  • Destigmatize falling short: your child should not be afraid to fail, as failing is a necessary part of the learning process
  • Set a schedule: block out an appropriate amount of time for homework every day so your child can work undisturbed 
  • Provide organization tools: help your child stay organized and manage their time better with tools such as planners, checklists, calendars, and apps
  • Show an interest in their interests: encouraging your child to pursue their interests outside of their academics will provide them with an outlet to destress so they are more likely to do well in school
  • Avoid unnecessary rewards: rewarding your child for their accomplishments will cause them to have unrealistic learning expectations and misguided motivations to learn
  • Focus on their agency: give your child control over their learning 
  • Encourage different learning styles: help your child find the learning styles that work best for them so they feel more connected to their learning 
  • Encourage exploration: encourage everyday exploration outside of their academics
  • Ask for help: know there are experts out there to help your child reach their goals and feel empowered along the way

Following these tips will ensure your child remains motivated to learn and enjoys it!

3. What Causes Lack of Motivation in Children?

Performance pressure from parents, lack of support and encouragement, not understanding the subject material, distractions, and anxiety are all common factors that contribute to a lack of motivation in children. 

Final Thoughts

What motivates a child to learn is a multifaceted process that requires an understanding of their individual needs, interests, and learning styles. 

By encouraging their curiosity, providing support and autonomy, and creating engaging and interactive learning environments, you can motivate your child to learn and increase their enthusiasm toward exploration and education!

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