It’s an all too common occurrence – at some point, a child may be reluctant to go to school. Many factors can bring on this unwillingness to go to school, from bullying to being absorbed in other activities. There are lots of good parenting resources out there, which is great – particularly because there are so many potential distractions for our little ones, like the internet, video games, and a vibrant music industry. It’s important to address any unease or unhappiness your child may have towards education, as what begins as a mild dislike towards homework can, in some cases, grow into a larger loathing or dread towards education in general. As parents, we also have to be aware of how we go about fixing this negative relationship with school without tainting our own relationships with our children.
First, we need to identify exactly what is causing a lack of motivation for your child. This might be difficult! What many parents pass off as laziness or teenage angst is still a valid problem to consider. A lack of confidence affects all of us when we should be motivated, so it will definitely effect your child’s inclination to get on with schoolwork! There can be many reasons for your child’s lack of enthusiasm. If it is not clear what is causing this, then it can be worthwhile sitting your child down and calmly asking them if everything’s ok at school. However, if there doesn’t seem to be anything specific, how can we go on to turn things around?
Many of us will have had the experience of their parents shouting instructions at them – simple instructions that seem unfair and frustrating! Things like, “Just do it!”, “Stop being lazy and get on”, “What do you mean you haven’t finished your homework?”, and “You won’t get to see your friends if you don’t get that done”. Like everything, these statements and views must have their place, but they can also make your child feel more helpless and trapped. It’s important to encourage your child and stay positive and motivating.
Remaining positive can be rather demanding, as it is often difficult to remember what it felt like to not know something. As parents, we need to make sure that we tell our children that it is ok not to know something and to ask questions or ask for help – then we can help them find the answers and understand the issue.
Although everyone knows the importance of constructive criticism and being able to handle criticism, constant criticism or negativity towards your child’s work can be harmful to their motivation in the long run. Many educational establishments are introducing systems to try and help with this issue, such as ‘traffic lighting’, where children give feedback on their classes using coloured cups and also where teachers give feedback on work noting what the pupil has done very well, what they have done adequately, and where they need to improve. Keeping this in mind will mean that you present your child with a well balanced impression of their abilities rather than a wholly negative or positive one.
Using these sorts of techniques will strengthen rather than damage your relationship with your child. Negativity towards their work or their attitude can isolate children further, as they can come to see you as yet another figure who is different, condescending, or unfamiliar to them.
Most children assume their parents know everything – they do not realise that everyone has to go through this learning process. Therefore, by encouraging and communicating with your child, you are highlighting the fact that it is natural to be unsure or to not understand. Listening to your child’s questions not only makes you aware of any problems they face, but also lets your child feel respected and cared for by you. This positive attention at home can gradually build into a greater confidence and motivation throughout their learning career. By keeping the lines of communication open, you can avoid future negativity towards education.