Summer Learning to Build ConfidenceMay 19, 2021
ACT Dates and Registration InformationFebruary 23, 2022
The stretch between winter and spring breaks can feel years long. It’s not unusual at all for students’ motivation to dip during this time. We see this in tutoring every year, and we’ve learned how to reignite that spark! Often, it’s a combination of small, consistent actions that put kids back on track. The strategies below work best when customized to a student’s interests and strengths.
Build a Homework-Time Routine
Sometimes a lack of motivation is due to a lack of routine. Setting certain tasks to autopilot will give your child the jumpstart they need.
- Decide on an order for tackling homework assignments and follow the same routine every day. For example, always do math first, then English, then science, etc.
- Choose a good work-break cycle: work for x minutes, take a short break for x minutes, repeat. Knowing a break is coming up makes it much easier to stay on task!
- Write out your schedule and/or homework routine on paper, and keep it where you’ll see it.
- Handy places include at the front of a binder, on the inside cover of your assignment notebook, and on the wall above your desk.
Shake It Up
Switching up the same old same old can re-energize your child’s attitude toward school. No grand gestures needed! How can you inject some novelty into these humdrum days?
- Set up a new homework space.
- Take a different route to school and call out new things you notice.
- Read a school-assigned book together and leave each other post-its with your reactions.
- Make a meal together and catch teachable moments related to fractions, vocabulary, and time management.
When students feel stuck, motivation disappears. We help students recognize that and choose to find it by taking action—any action—to get started. Usually that first step leads to the next and the next, and before they know it they’re connecting the dots! You can see how this works with a writing assignment:
- Don’t dwell on a first sentence or the introduction if you’re not sure how to begin. Dive in with the piece of evidence you have for the second paragraph and build from there!
- Talk through your ideas first. Someone else can jot down notes while you talk, or you can record a voice memo.
- Write about something else entirely to get warmed up. The topic could be anything from last night’s game to what you had for lunch.
- Don’t worry about writing complete sentences at first. Instead, bullet point everything you know about the topic.
- Forget words all together, and draw pictures to get your thoughts flowing.
Take a Break
Taking a purposeful break is great for motivation, but kids aren’t taught how to do that. If your child is spinning their wheels on a math word problem, and they keep at it past the point of frustration, they’ll likely not figure out the answer; they may even give up on the rest of the assignment. However, if they take a break, their brain will keep chipping away at the problem in the background while they do something else. Then they can come back to the problem with fresh eyes and a better chance of cracking it!
- Talk about the purpose of a break and what it looks like.
- Add it to the written homework-time agenda. Jot down how much time each break will be, and set a timer to stick to it.
- Keep it active: play a song on the guitar, make a snack, do twenty jumping jacks, daydream!
Celebrate Small Victories
Some people fear that celebrating along the way to a big goal will make kids think they’re done, and they’ll lose momentum. Quite the opposite. Marking milestones increases their motivation, and it feels good to have hard work recognized! When celebrating, give specific praise so that your child connects their choices and actions to positive results.
- Bravo! Creating that detailed study guide really helped you do well on the test.
- I noticed that you checked your notes while doing your math homework today and you were able to answer all of the questions on your own!
- Ms. Harris emailed me that you met with her after school yesterday—that’s great! How was it helpful to you?
Reflecting on mistakes is just as important as celebrating the wins. Mistakes are portals into a whole new world of learning! Students who see mistakes as opportunities are self-aware learners, critical thinkers, and intellectual risk-takers. They also tend to take setbacks in stride and find joy in learning. Open-ended questions work especially well when it comes to embracing mistakes.
- What’s the challenge for you?
- Where did you go off track?
- What’s helped you in the past when you made mistakes?
- What will you do differently next time?
- What are some resources you could have used along the way?
- How do you feel? Do you need a break? What will help you re-engage?
Sometimes (all the time?!) it’s easier for students to try out these strategies with someone who’s not their parent. If that’s the case for you, give us a call! We’d love to match your child with a tutor they trust and look forward to meeting with.