A new term is about to begin, so it’s a good time to reflect on what motivates teenagers to work at school. Teachers can do some things, but honestly, nothing I’ve done as a classroom teacher is more effective than what parents can do from home to motivate their kids to learn.
These are the TOP 4 STRATEGIES I’ve seen my parents use that worked…
Tip #1: High expectations that are clear and communicated frequently.
My students tell me exactly what their parents expect. However, the parents who based their goals on growth, instead of grades, had students who did not give up when things became difficult.
For example, say “I expect you to work on it until you learn it because I know you can”, instead of “Earn a C in the class”.
The first phrase clarifies that learning is expected, while the second phrase communicates that you grade is more important than how it was earned.
Tip #2: Work with a Professional Tutor
Tutoring options range from basic homework help to working with a professional tutor. Parents decide what will work for their student, but working with a professional tutor is the best choice for students who have struggled with learning gaps.
- “Homework support” online may be an app that solves problems, which will increase homework completion, but it’s like copying someone else’s work. There are also people kids find through social media who charge to do homework problems, too. However, there is no learning going on here.Over time, learning gaps widen.
- Hiring an older student for homework support can be helpful, but it depends on the tutor.
- Often, “homework support” is really the older student telling the younger student what to do – which again, is great if the goal is to get work completed, but it may not teach the student how to start problems on their own. And it doesn’t build understanding or encourage different problem-solving approaches.
- This kind of tutoring can actually be a crutch and won’t address learning gaps. As a teacher, when one of my kids has a tutor, but doesn’t show growth on quizzes or won’t work in class because they are “saving it for their tutor”, I worry that parents may be wasting their money.
- Work with me! (A shameless plug, I know.) But honestly, working with a professional tutor is like having a personal trainer for math. Learning gaps are found and closed while teaching the curriculum just ahead of the classroom teacher. At school, while other students may get lost during a lecture, your child will have already been introduced to the content and will understand what the teacher is doing. Assignments become the practice they are intended to be. Your child will be taught how to analyze their errors use them to deepen their understanding.
Tip #3: Stay in the Loop & Follow Up at Home
- Students work harder when they know parents and teachers are communicating.
- Double check that your school and teachers have your email address and phone number.
- If your school uses an online gradebook, set it up so that you receive notifications.
- Ask for a copy of the class syllabus to keep at home.
- If your teacher has an active website, make sure your student is checking it frequently.
- Email teachers as needed, but not more than once a week if it can be helped. Emailing is better than calling because teachers can reply to emails when kids are in the room. (Note – if your cell phone doesn’t have a local area code, teachers may not be able to return that call from their classroom phones. Many schools require that they use a phone in the main office.)
THE MOST EFFECTIVE SHORT-TERM INTERVENTION…
Tip #4: Take the Phone
I have seen kids do some miraculous academic transformations in short periods of time just to get their phones back.
And, if that phone has become a chronic distraction in the classroom, consider replacing that smart phone with a less expensive “burner” phone. Many teachers do require that some things be done online, but because of equity of access, if they don’t have computers in the classroom available, kids have access in the library, in computer labs, or teachers will adjust due dates if access to a computer is an issue.
Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or email me.
If you’d like to learn more about my online tutoring services, visit my full website, www.OnlineGeometryTutor.com.