How To Motivate Your Reluctant Child To Learn

Ndidi Adekunle

Whether it’s a child with mood swings or one who would do anything all the time to opt out of a learning situation, we all have come across children who at one point or the other, have shown reluctance to learn. Perhaps, it’s a class or lesson teacher breathing down your neck about how your child won’t sit still to learn or you feel flustered trying all day to help your son with his Numeracy homework without making any headway.

Here are a few tried and tested tips to help you along. Learn them and teach your child’s caregivers to help you all manage your child better, especially this new school year…

1. Learning Style

There are so many variations of learning styles. We’ll be sticking, however, to the most elementary of them, one that has to do with the 5 senses of hearing, sight, touch (manipulation, movement), smell (perception), and taste. Find out what your child responds most to. Does he respond more to reading or print, being spoken to, pictures, sightseeing, movies, music and sound? Does he learn better when there’s physical activity involved in the learning experience, for instance, learning a rhyme with demonstrations or learning how a plant grows by planting one and nurturing its growth, does he have to perceive the learning environment as pleasant before he can be motivated to learn? Does he like his teacher? Does the teacher have a pleasant voice or personality?

Incidentally, some children aren’t so fussy, they make up for what’s lacking and just keep learning. Others will stall, and even clam up altogether, until a certain factor that isn’t going down well with them is taken away. This can be frustrating for parents, but if you do want to make a headway with your child’s learning, then, it’s worth the effort.

2. Entry Behaviour

Do not go straight to the chase for a reluctant learner. First draw his attention in, using something you know he loves: games, some 5-10 minutes of fun physical exercise, a nice story, whatever you perceive he’ll be interested in. You just have to show some creativity here. You can learn a thing or two from Julia Roberts in Mary Poppins or Sound Of Music (I’m sure you get the idea). Show his interests some respect, then, subtly bring his attention to the topic at hand. What makes a great teacher, majorly, is creativity and tact. Children ought to associate learning with fun. Only then, will they be more responsive to the teacher.

READ ALSO: 7 Tips To Improve Your Child’s Grades

3. Prior Psycho Analysis

There just may be something bothering the child. Eliminate any possibilities at home, at school, or elsewhere. Has mummy just had a new baby? Are mummy and daddy fighting? Is the teacher playing favouritism at school and ignoring the child, is he being bullied, is abuse of any sort in view? Once these are eliminated, other efforts at getting a child to learn effectively are likely to be more productive.

4. Play Way Learning

It’s important that you employ the play-way method in teaching your child. Audio-visuals, toys, visits, hands-on practical learning, et al, are all very necessary in motivating a child to learn. We decry the ancient lecture method; it’s totally not an option for children if you’re desperate for positive results.

READ ALSO: 4 Ways You May Be Stopping Your Child From Doing Well At School

5. Reward System

By all means, use praise and lots of praise, high fives, you name it. You can fashion out your own system of reward using your child’s latest interests, and please do not delay rewards as this can water down their impact. We discourage punishment so that the child does not associate learning with anything negative. However, you can reward a sibling for instance, for a good deed, instead of Junior, just to get his attention.

6. Striking A Pleasant Chord

A teacher who looks, smells or sounds like mummy is sure to strike a pleasant chord already with a child. It may just be that the teacher is pretty, friendly, has a good sense of humour or wears a nice cologne. It could also be that the teacher brings back a certain nice memory to the child. Whatever strikes such a chord will be effective towards motivating a reluctant learner.

7. Environmental Factors

Always ensure that the learning environment is child friendly. It mustn’t be plain and devoid of colour and warmth. Sometimes, it pays to let the child bring in some favourite, familiar objects to make the environment less ‘cold’ and appealing to the learner.

In all, make ‘patience’ and ‘creativity’ your watchwords on this worthwhile path to motivating your reluctant learner. As your child grows and begins to enjoy learning for the sake of it, his dependence on these factors will start to dwindle as he becomes more independent as a learner. Then again, he may also have learnt for himself, what it is that motivates him, and begin to make provision for them by himself. However it turns out, it will be for the better, you’ll see.

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