Motivation and Learning

Much of the progress in learning was possible thanks to independent people or people who thought differently.

[Chris Darimont]

Learning is a challenge. It is learning something new all the time, discovering, broadening horizons. Learning is never boring, because it develops, occupies and enriches people internally. We should never talk badly about studying, learning, school. We must never show our child a negative attitude towards learning. Do not threaten them with school, and do not discourage them from it.

Instead, give them support, and help them only when they need it, or even better when they ask us to do so.

Referring to the previous blog, which is the basis for today’s topic, we discussed:

  • Three main types of motivation: external, internal (automation) and fear motivations.
  • Depending on which motivation we rely on, it translates into how much we want or don’t want something.

It is worth considering which factors influence the learning process of our children. Is it that they want to get good grades to meet parent’s or teachers’ requirements, or do they just want to learn something new?

How to encourage your child to learn so that they want to do it themselves?

Some children are motivated to act by external factors, i.e. receiving an award, a good grade, praise, or fulfilling the expectations of parents or teachers. Then it is not possible to say that children genuinely and autonomously want to learn.

You can make your child sit at the desk, look at a textbook for hours or do homework, but you can never make them learn. A kid will learn diligently only when it is fun to do so, when this need is anchored at the level of self-motivation. So how to encourage your child to learn?

We will return to the three needs discussed in the previous blog (sense of autonomy, competence and bonds), which, supported by us, stimulate the child’s internal motivation. Let’s take them into consideration today in order to activate the following attitude: `’I want to learn‘`.

So get down to work!

We can strengthen the sense of autonomy of our children if:

  • We encourage them to think for themselves, search, analyse and draw conclusions.
  • We invite them to talk to us: ‘What do you think about what you have read or seen?’? ‘How can you benefit from it?
  • We want to learn about our kids all the time: we ask what they think about the world, themselves and about everyday matters.
  • Do encourage your child to cram for tests, but support perception and logical thinking. In order for children to assimilate knowledge well, the information they receive should be relevant and meaningful to them.
  • We give them choice, because even the slightest possibility of choice strengthens their commitment. I have chosen – I want to do it.
  • We use a language that does not dictate or impose (‘You should …, You must …’), but one that is your personal (‘I would like you …, I would not …’).
  • By applying rules or time limits, we try to explain to the child why they exist and what they are for.
  • We follow the child instead of leading them.
  • We let them decide about their interests in their free time – ‘I want to..

Too often people work hard on the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.

[Caterina Fake]

We strengthen our sense of competence when:

  • We help children define their own goals and support them in achieving them.
  • We inspire curiosity about the world in our children.
  • Note (this point may seem unimaginably difficult, but it is possible to implement) – we try to pay as little attention to grades as possible. We appreciate the work and commitment put into a given activity or work.
  • If a child makes a mistake, we try not to judge or criticize. We are trying to find out what they think about it.? Do they know where they made the mistake? What can they do to fix the mistake?
  • We try to identify what has been done well instead of highlighting errors. We give positive feedback such as: what you can change and how to do it. You can show where to look for help or give help if the child needs it or asks for it.
  • We do not compare the child to siblings, colleagues, but to the child’s previous level and skills.
  • We avoid an atmosphere of tension and constant dissatisfaction, but we try to look for the strengths of our child.
  • We strengthen the child’s development by working on their character, abilities or intelligence.
  • We use a language that does not judge and assign roles, but one that describes.
  • We focus on consistency and not on results.
  • We show the child that knowledge is useful. We tell them where and how to use it.

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Engage me and I learn.

[ Benjamin Franklin ]

We should also work to strengthen our relationships and bonds through:

  • Continuous work on them [ more information in the blog – family bonds].
  • Dedicating your attention and time to children.
  • Supporting them all the time and trying not to assess them.
  • Ensuring a sense of security, especially when children make mistakes.
  • They should feel that their opinion counts.
  • Showing children trust – through this, we support their sense of responsibility for themselves.
  • Being a source of inspiration to engage in activities, when needed.
  • Faith in your children. Observation of their development and readiness to help if necessary.

If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money.

[Abigail Van Buren]

How else can we help our kids gain knowledge?

It is worthwhile to use various techniques to make it easier to remember. Notes with the use of:

  • different colours,
  • underlining,
  • funny drawings,
  • connotations,
  • making charts,
  • mind maps,
  • using cards for words and phrases from books, whiteboards, walls, desks.

All this can help the child to master the material better and more permanently.

It may also be helpful to create a good space for learning, i.e. a place free of distractors (TV, console, computers, noise) that is clean and pleasant to spend time in. For some, it is also helpful to create a map of dreams. It is a collage of inspiring words, simple drawings, photos and quotations, designed to inspire motivation and make it easier for our children to focus.

Don’t do your child’s homework. It is very important. When they ask for help, do not give them ready-made solutions, but only show the way, give them tips, clarify doubts. If necessary, explain the instruction and help them plan specific stages necessary to complete the task. Encourage your child to be as independent as possible. An independently solved task can give the child a lot of satisfaction, strengthen their belief in themselves and the feeling that they can cope with difficulties on their own. This is particularly important because every person who has faith in their strength is not discouraged by failures, and treats tasks not as burdensome duties, but as a pleasant challenge, which they are able to manage.

Cooperate with the school – not only when it comes to parents’ meetings. Remember that the teacher is an ally in the child’s education process. Sometimes you think that one of the teachers has a worse workshop than the other teachers, but you should never share this information with children. It is of no use to them.

From an early age, develop children’s natural curiosity, arousing their motivation to discover new things, to learn. It can be done through:

  • trips to a bookshop / library – let the child choose a book or magazine that they would like to read,
  •  organizing trips to museums, exhibitions, forest, landscape park, watching interesting programmes on TV with the child and talking about them,
  • solving crosswords, puzzles, logical games, etc.
  • using daily activities and events to practice different skills, e.g., counting, logical thinking, etc.
  • being an example for your children – children should see that in their free time their parents read newspapers, books, watch popular science programmes, etc.

Remember that even the best methods and the most strenuous attempts can fail if we do not set an example to the child by our own actions. It is up to us adults to ensure that the child learns systematic work and responsibility. Many children have difficulty motivating to learn because instead of going to school they would prefer to do something completely different. Parents should provide motivation and conditions for learning.

Also, pay attention to what fairy tales or stories we read to children. Most of our traditional fairy tales or stories for children are based on a lucky coincidence, i.e. the success of the character does not depend on themselves. Perhaps more valuable will be those in which, for example The princess for many years was making a rope from the spider web and finally managed to escape from the high tower instead of the Princess waited doing nothing and was anyway saved by a prince. This prince may never come in real life, and the work we invest in a particular activity will always be fruitful, even if it sometimes differs from what we expected.

Tell children about your mistakes as often as possible. And how much they helped us learn something new. And we should speak of them with positive emotions and explain that they were an opportunity to get to know ourselves better and improve our strength.

We know as much about ourselves as we have been tested.

[Wisława Szymborska]

Children who want to learn – enjoy learning more and learn better. Here the support of parents and setting an example is invaluable. Just showing interest can do a lot. Encourage your child to talk, to think,to express their own opinions. Inspire an interest in the surrounding world. Show them that learning can really be rewarding and enjoyable.


We will be very pleased if you spend your time watching the new edition of our blog next week. We will do our best to make it interesting and useful!

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