Face it. At some time or another, we’ve all felt that restless urge to skip out on whatever we’re doing and just relax. It’s not always easy to keep ourselves motivated, and as adults we’ve had years of practice. For our children, staying motivated through all the tests, sports, homework assignments, visits to grandma’s house, and after-school activities can be a bit much.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that all of these activities — even the fun ones — require your child to be motivated and willing to actively participate. Pile too many activities and assignments into your child’s weekly routine and she’s sure to get fatigued and lose motivation, but not enough stimulation and she’ll be bored and unmotivated: it’s a delicate balance.
Plus, with bright sunny days and the call of summer now vying for your child’s attention, keeping her motivated through the end of the school year can seem like a real challenge. But there are a few things you can do to help keep your child on task during the final stretch:
- Remind your child what all the schoolwork is for. Help her relate her school performance with potential future careers and explain the importance of focusing now to land a good job later. Reinforce this idea with a weekend field trip — if your child wants to be a veterinarian, take a trip to the zoo and talk about the importance of science and biology classes.
- Reinforce the structure. If your child has a normal homework routine, see that she sticks to it. If she doesn’t have a routine in place, set some daily goals, such as finishing all her homework by dinner time for the rest of the school year. If the extra structure works well, consider reinstating it for next year, too.
- Count down the days. While turning your child’s focus toward the freedom of summer may not seem like the best way to boost her focus, it can actually be a big help. It’s easier to endure a tough situation when you know it’s only for a short while. With an end in sight, your child can remind herself daily that she only has to keep it up for a little while longer. Map out a big countdown calendar so your child can cross off each day.
- Reward success. If your child was able to focus on her homework — rather than riding bikes around the neighborhood with the other kids — offer her praise for her effort and maybe extend her bedtime by an extra hour this weekend. The positive reinforcement will help her feel more confident and eager to continue on this academic path.
Still worried your child is losing motivation? Consider meeting with her teachers and guidance counselor for an end-of-the-year pow wow. Open communication with officials at your child’s school can help you identify patterns or behaviors you could miss otherwise. Ask questions and voice your concerns about your child’s lack of drive.
While your child’s lack of focus may just be the summer itch, it’s important to rule out larger issues, such as emotional concerns, dissatisfaction with her school or social environment, or distracting biological changes, such as puberty. In these cases, open communication with your child is also very important to helping her stay motivated in the long term, as well as through the rest of the school year.
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