One of the most common concerns among parents revolves around student motivation, and how to get students motivated. The easy answer is offering rewards for students, whether it is money, free time, or other “bribes”. However, providing these types of incentives could result in students expecting rewards constantly and relying on incentives in order to do better in school – and this could establish a very unhealthy dependence. Thankfully, student motivation can be ignited through other means, but parents must be creative and make an effort to ensure these alternatives yield similar – or even better – results then rewards and incentives.
Understand Student Life
Due to the business of everyday life, parents and do not have regular opportunities to sit down and reflect on the progress of their students and the general state of their overall lives. Too often, parents simply ask their child how their day at school went, only to receive a brief reply of either “good”, “okay”, or another one-word remark which does not even begin to describe anything which actually occurred during the course of the school day. Parents need to show genuine interest in their student’s academic life by asking specific questions about teachers, courses, extra-curricular activities, and peers. Furthermore, parents need to understand the pressure of student life – especially for high school and post-secondary students. After all, it wasn’t too long ago when many parents were cramming for midterms, stressing about upcoming assignment deadlines, and agonizing over college applications!
All of us appreciate positive feedback and attention after a job well done, and this is not different for students. Even obtaining a single ‘A’-grade requires hard work and dedication, and parents should always remind their children that they recognize the effort the student has contributed, and appreciate the time their child dedicates for school. Remind them the work they invest now will be rewarded later as better grades results in more options for post-secondary education and career choices.
The feeling of accomplishment is always maximized when students are able to overcome an obstacle they have never been able to surpass before. Together, parents and students can establish goals which set students on a path for academic success which ensure the student reaches new levels of progress while maintaining a reasonable path towards the challenge. For example, instead of sharing feelings of mere satisfaction after receiving a progress card with a ‘B’-average, parents should challenge students to achieve a straight-‘A’ report for the next term. If parents provided rewards for simply passing classes, the student would see no reason to achieve the straight-‘A’ benchmark, but in the absence of rewards, students can truly challenge themselves without the distraction of trivial incentives.