Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Tips from a Teacher on How to Motivate Kids

The topic this month in the "How We" link up is "How We Motivate Our Children" and while I can't say I have a whole lot of experience in motivating my own child since she is only 14 months old, I do have a lot of experience in motivating children as a classroom teacher. I have been a teacher for 10 years and have had plenty of practice motivating students to do things they don't want to do, so I know a thing or two! I figured I'd share my most common motivation strategy in hopes that it can help a momma or two!

These strategies aren't used for everyone in my class, usually just children who are not already intrinsically motivated to do particular tasks. The hope is that by doing these things listed below, the student develops a new positive habit (homework/sharing/keeping hands to themselves, etc) over time and this becomes something that feels like a more natural part of life for them. You won't need to reward them long term for following your rules, just long enough for the rule to become a new habit. For example, if the end goal is for your little one is to make her bed every morning before school, you use the reward chart until you don't need to remind her to do it anymore, she just does it because it has become a habit.

1. Know your child- This sounds like an obvious statement here, but in order to get real solid results, it helps if you know the child well enough to know what will motivate them LONG TERM. Motivating a child enough to do their homework for one night gets you through the night, but then you have to begin the whole ordeal all over again the following night. It helps to have something concrete to motivate the child, so make a list of things he/she really likes for a reward later. As a classroom teacher we may find out that Student A really likes computers. Maybe a reward for this particular child would be to go help the computer teacher shut down all computers on Friday afternoons, or go close out all of the apps on the iPads. Kids love to feel important and needed, and a special job might be all the "reward" they need. It does not need to be a prize.

2. Set up your rules, with a reward being offered at the end- So for example, maybe your little one really loves to go to a particular ice cream parlor. You could set up a rule that if he/she completes his/her homework/chores/etc every single night for a week without complaint, you can take a family trip to the ice cream parlor on Friday night. Make sure everyone is aware of the rules, and STICK TO THEM NO MATTER WHAT. In my experience, the first time you make an exception, the child is going to want you to make an exception every time (it's not a bad thing, it's human nature!). So make sure you establish rules you know your family will be able to stick to. 

3. Make some sort of visible, concrete chart for your child to see- Each day as your child completes their task, they should be able to complete some sort of visible, concrete chart to help them work towards their goal. There are a million free ones on Pinterest:

Free Printable Chore Charts for Kids: Three Designs | Perfect to laminate and use with dry erase for a super simple chore system.

kids chore chart | BTW they are 8.5x11 size! thanks for stopping by!

Or you could even make your own in a matter of minutes on Power Point or Word. Whatever works for your family!

Charts are a great way to help kids feel a sense of accomplishment for completing their tasks. They will be proud to mark another day off of their chart and excited to see they are closer to reaching their goal.

4. When they have reached their goal, celebrate!!  This is when they've earned their reward for all of their hard work, make a big deal out of it so they look forward to reaching their goal again in the future.

As I said earlier, the end goal of all this is that eventually the child gets used to doing the assigned task every day and this becomes intrinsic. You won't need to be rewarding them until they're 18 years old because eventually this will become "the new normal". Every child is different, and this can take anywhere from 3 weeks to a month, to a few months for this to become second nature. Stick with it! 

It's also common to regress with this a little when your routine gets off (Christmas break, Spring Break, summer, etc). If you need to bring back out the chart, go for it! 

I hope I was able to help some of you! If you have any questions or want to add a suggestion, please comment below!!

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