If you have a student that has lost their drive towards school, fear not! There are many ways to encourage students that aren't academically motivated. Here are Tutor Doctor's tips on what to do when your student is unmotivated.
Try to discover the cause of their lack of motivation. This might seem rather obvious, but finding the reason a student isn't putting in the effort can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint. You should always try communicating with your child directly, but their answer might not be clear-cut (or they themselves might not know the reason). Some students lack motivation because they don't understand the material, and have become discouraged over time due to slipping test scores. Other students simply don't see the relationship between what they are learning and how it relates to the real world, and they gradually begin to lose interest in class material. Yet another student may have no issues understanding the material, but is dealing with an underlying learning condition or disability that isn't being addressed. Each of the students in these examples would require different forms of intervention, so it's important to make sure we identify the root cause of a student's lack of motivation.
Let's use an example. A high school student has never had previous trouble with math, but their recent algebra class is proving itself to be more difficult than they anticipated. The student doesn't understand algebraic properties, and their last few test scores have been barely passing. Now having lost confidence in themselves, the student begins to give up, believing they aren't capable of learning the material.
The solution? Specific concepts and areas that the student is struggling with need to be identified and revisited. A tutor is the best option for this, as a one-to-one style of instruction allows lessons to be tailored to the individual needs of each student. Once these learning gaps are addressed and the student begins to see their grades improving, their confidence will begin to rebuild itself – and the cycle will continue. The goal is always to make sure students see a direct correlation between the effort they put in and the results they achieve.
In other cases, a student may simply not take an interest in the material. As we've mentioned before, a favorite line math teachers hear from students is, “When are we ever going to use this?” With these types of students, extracurricular learning activities are often a great way to bridge the connection between their education and how these concepts are applied in the real world. For instance – if a younger student is required to do a report on the animal kingdom but has no idea where to start, we would recommend taking them to a zoo or wildlife preserve to get inspired.
Some learning issues may have a deeper underlying cause. If a student is lacking participation in class or having behavior issues in school, there might be other factors at play. Although many causes of motivation can be solved with instruction and understanding, it's important to remember that some students require additional resources both inside and outside of school. If you notice behavior that is out of the ordinary (hyperactivity, sleeping frequently, lack of attention, anxiety issues, etc.), make sure to reach out to your child's teacher and doctor.
Praise, praise, and more praise! As we always say here at Tutor Doctor, positive praise is the number one motivator. Regardless of a student's reasons for being unmotivated, positive praise is universally recommended by teachers and educators alike. Although small rewards (gift cards, for example) can be a great incentive as well, we recommend sticking mainly to verbal accolades. We want our students to be motivated intrinsically (driven by internal rewards), not external factors.
If your student is unmotivated, Tutor Doctor can help identify the root causes and develop a solution that works for their individual learning style. Call now for a free consultation!