In a world full of selfies and 15 minutes of fame, how do we raise children who are motivated to succeed without rewards and recognition? How do we instill in them the importance of hard work and the value of feeling happy with a job well done?
From an early age, many children begin to expect gifts or monetary rewards for accomplishing goals. This practice takes away the lesson of teaching children how to become intrinsically motivated. We want our now elementary students to one day work hard in college because they feel proud of turning in a great research paper, not simply do the minimum work required to pass the class.
So, how do we raise children who have this intrinsic motivation? Here are 5 simple ways you can begin to teach your child that hard work is sometimes a reward in and of itself.
Intrinsic motivation is a key attribute of highly successful people. Creating a household where motivation is driven by the joy of hard work instead of rewards will help your child develop the skills he or she needs to be a successful adult.
Your child’s path to reading begins before he can even walk. Listening to your voice and responding to your words are your child’s first steps on the path to becoming a good reader. Talking is also an important skill that your child must accomplish before starting to read. Before you know it, your child will be picking up books and testing her new reading skills. As a parent, there are many things you can do to encourage your child’s love of reading and help him establish the foundation of a lifetime of reading.
Long summer days are full of fun and play. Swimming, riding bikes, summer camps, and sleepovers fill the weeks from May to August. During this time, research has shown that your child can lose up to 3 months worth of learning. Children can enter class in August with less knowledge than they had on the last day of school in May. Fortunately, parents can combat this so-called summer “brain drain” with a little effort and some planning.
Turn vacations into learning opportunities. Read books about the beach before heading to the shore. Watch online videos about the Battle of Gettysburg before making the trip to Pennsylvania. Research different types of rocks and wildlife as you plan your trip to the Grand Canyon. Make learning fun and relatable for your child.
Follow a book list. Check the local library for a reading list or a summer book club. Many libraries reward children for reading a set list of books during the summer. The website www.Scholastic.com has a summer reading challenge called Power Up and Read. It is free and will keep your child excited about books all summer long.
Build a treehouse. Combine outdoor fun with construction by building a treehouse, a table, a bench, or anything else that requires the discussion of measurements, safety, creativity, planning and budgeting. This hands-on learning activity can be very beneficial for children.
Write postcards. While on vacation, have your child write postcards to family and friends. This helps with handwriting practice and helps the child recall experiences from the trip. The small space is not overwhelming for children, yet is enough of a task to activate their brain.
Have kids cook dinner. Once a child is 10 or 11, have him be fully responsible for dinner one night. This involves planning the shopping list, setting the table, preparing the meal, deciding on the dinner conversation topic, and cleaning up afterward. This will challenge the child’s math, organization, and life skills.
Turn screen time into academic time. You child can learn how to build many things such as a zipline or a Nerf gun on the Make Magazine website, www.Makezine.com/kids. The Khan Academy website gives children the opportunity to earn badges and points as they watch videos on a variety of academic subjects.
Keep in mind that children need a break from rigorous academics. Allow them to be kids in the summer. We’re not talking about daily flashcard sessions or quizzes after vacations. The key is to keep children thinking, problem solving, and being creative throughout the summer months. Your child will benefit from it and teachers everywhere will thank you for it!
With the summer months ahead, our children will have lots of free time during the day. As parents, we have a choice about how our children spend these free hours on long days. Is the television a priority during the summer? Are we allowing lots of screen time on tablets, computers, and iPods? It can be difficult to pull our children away from the electronics, but it is important to try.
Research shows that the average American child spends less than 30 minutes of unstructured time outside each day, and as many as 7 hours in front of an electronic screen. We need to reverse this trend. Our children can benefit greatly from time outside in the fresh air. Give your children these benefits by turning off the TV and opening the back door.
“The first five years have so much to do with how the next 80 turn out.”
Ms. Elizabeth is our director and fully believes in providing each child an individualized education that allows freedom for creativity and imagination while still acquiring the necessary skills to be successful in the world.