Parents and teachers often walk tight ropes, trying to be voices of encouragement and reassurance. This can be hard, when results aren’t necessarily forthcoming. Hopefully the holiday period has provided the opportunity for students and families to decompress, reflecting on what worked well and areas for improvement. Research has indicated that motivation is a key ingredient to student success. What is it that parents and educators can do to enhance the motivation of students (particularly if they don’t perceive they are succeeding)? Enhanced Learning and Educational Services have identified 5 key things that parents and educators can do, to help maintain motivation at critical times. As we begin a new semester full of new opportunities, I would strongly encourage parents to emphasise these with their sons:
- Encouraging Personal Best
Not every child is naturally academic; not every child will find school easy. At ATC we try hard to value the range of talents of our students – whether they be academic, service, cultural or sporting. Encouraging students to aim for their own personal best and personal improvement, helps avoid comparisons with other students or siblings. At all times, students should be encouraged to adopt a ‘growth mindset’, identifying goals for improvement.
- Focus on Strengths
All children have the potential to succeed, but sometimes we need to redefine success. Praise for effort and improvement is motivating. Look for opportunities to celebrate these types of successes along the way, no matter how small. Where possible, identify these early in a term to build the momentum of your son. Positive acknowledgment can result in greater investments of effort.
- Help Students Seek Help
Sometimes a sense of fear debilitates students. Not trying can often be perceived as better than trying and failing. If you suspect this is an issue, look for ways to provide support for your child. Consider reaching out to Homeroom Teachers, Year Level Coordinators, Heads of Department or the College Counsellors. Take the support on offer.
- Examine How You Treat Failure
One of the biggest enemies of motivation is fear of failure. Children need to see ‘failure’ as an opportunity to learn from mistakes, to grown and improve. Think about how you personally react when you fail at something or it doesn’t go as you planned. Do you model to your child that a setback is an opportunity to gain information to help you for next time? Think also about how you react when your child ‘fails’. Do you help them to learn from the experience and use it to examine ways to improve?
- Avoid Negative Talk
Statements like: “I wasn’t good at Maths either”, can give students an excuse not to try. Instead, empathise with your child by explaining the challenges you had and identifying how you worked to overcome them. This can be very helpful because it assists student understanding that struggle is a normal part of the learning experience. Without struggle or challenge there can be no learning.
Teachers across the College are very mindful of each of these strategies in their dealings with students and are working at providing each student with constructive feedback that they can use to formulate next term’s goals and strategies. Teachers will also be working with students on good learning strategies after an exam or assessment is returned. More information on this can be found by logging into the Study Skills Handbook: After Tests and Exams.
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