Little Nancy has started on a new learning product. At first, Nancy seems to love it; she shows her usual boundless vigour and enthusiasm at every turn. Mama and Dada Nancy are delighted; at last they seem to have chosen the right resource for their beloved child, one that is both educational and engaging. Then, a few weeks in, Nancy’s motivation seems to drop. Before long it seems a chore for Mama and Dada just to get Nancy to sit down and focus on an activity. ‘Nancy loved this stuff not long ago!’ they think. Mama and Dada are left wondering what went wrong.
Chances are, you’ve found yourself in Mama and Dada’s shoes. We see it occasionally with Math-Whizz; an initial burst of activity followed by a lull. The challenge with learning anything is that for it to stick, we need to be consistent, week on week. That is easier said than done for the child whose motivation has sagged.
Sticking with a learning product that you believe in is well worth the effort because in the long-run the impact on your child’s learning and confidence will be profound. Here, then, are five ways to keep your child motivated with home learning.
1. Stick to a weekly schedule
There’s no better way to make learning a habit than to schedule in time for it each week. The mere act of writing a schedule forces your child to commit to a goal. If you are able to print off our weekly planner, then stick it on your refrigerator to make it public. Many parents tell us that this single act makes their child more likely to pursue their goals each week.
2. Reward them for consistency
Math-Whizz will reward your child for consistency over a long period – they can become a superstar by achieving their weekly goals for eight successive weeks. Then comes the most rewarding bit of all – holding on to that hard-earned status by continuing to make progress. Because no-one wants to give up their streak!
3. Create healthy competition
Learning is a social activity. Many children will work that little bit harder if it means getting one up over their friends (the same is true of adults, of course!). Competition can be a healthy motivator but the extent to which you use it will depend on what makes your child tick.
4. Paint a vision of the future
We’re being metaphorical here, but there is something powerful about thinking several months ahead. All of that progress, built up one week at a time, can amount to transformational outcomes – the promise of Math-Whizz is that it will accelerate your child’s learning and get them ahead of their peers. That’s a vision every child can buy into, and it can keep them going when they’re in a bit of a rut.
5. Use intrinsic and extrinsic rewards
When we do something for its own sake, we are intrinsically motivated. When we do it for some external reward (say, money or food) then we are extrinsically motivated. Children and adults alike need both kinds of motivation. It’s great to foster a love of learning (intrinsic) but, you know, sometimes you might just need to dangle a bit of extra pocket money or chocolate to keep your child going. There are no right or wrong ways here, as long as you maintain some balance.
6. Help them through the struggle
Learning is hard – math especially so. That’s okay; just remind your child that every mathematician gets stuck. It’s how we get ourselves out of the struggle that matters! One way is to talk through what they are finding difficult. Math-Whizz automatically pinpoints your child’s areas of struggle so that you can discuss them with your child.
7. Get your school involved
We have found that the best results from Math-Whizz come when parents and teachers work together with their children in what we like to call a ‘triangle of success’. You should inform your child’s teacher that you are using Math-Whizz, and share the learning insights that your dashboard makes available to you. Your child’s teacher will thank you for it! If you are able to get the school on board with using Math-Whizz, then it will no longer be seen by your child as optional, but core to their learning. Their math lessons will also prove to be so much more fun when they are full of animated, interactive exercises!
There are certain moments in our children’s learning that prove decisive. When your child’s motivation starts to tail off, you should embrace it as a make-or-break moment. If you can get them through the lull – whether it’s a loss of enthusiasm or a struggle – then amazing results await you on the other side.