Teachers and students

17 Strategies to Motivate Young Learners

Are you struggling to intrinsically motivate students to learn? If yes, then you are at the right spot!

In this article, we have discussed the common aspects of demotivation and 17 proven strategies to inspire learning motivation in students.

Reasons Why Kids are not Motivated to Learn

First and foremost, let’s take a quick glance over the basic reasons why students do not feel motivated to learn.

Excessive Impulses or Distractions

Online games, message forums, YouTube, Facebook, social networking, and other online activities are more like attention black holes for young learners. They draw all the attention of the students by showing exciting and impulsive material. It stifles motivation and creativity among the students.

Strategies to Motivate Young Learners

Least Interest in the Course Content

If students do not understand the subject, they don’t feel motivated in studying it. They feel the book/course material is too hard or complicated.

Oblivious of the benefits of learning certain piece of information

Young learners are not motivated in learning new things as they don’t have their own interests or professional goals like elder students do. They are usually not aware of the benefits they might have after mastering certain skills, as compared to postgraduates or professionals who opt for certain courses of study as it may aid in their professional growth.

Essential School Supplies!

Learning activities are not sufficiently interesting to hold student’s attention

If classroom activities are predictable and repeated, students don’t feel challenged or motivated. They lose motivation to put the effort into their work or pay attention to the lesson.

Also Read: Online Teaching Strategies: Teaching Kids

Unappealing Reward System

If your students do not look forward to getting the reward, know that your reward system is not working!  Lack of exciting rewards leads to demotivation among the students to achieve successful results. 

Unhealthy Sleeping Routine

If you see a student dozing off in the class repeatedly 3 times, it clearly means that the student doesn’t have a healthy lifestyle. Such students lack interest in any activity whether it be interesting or not.

a girl reading a book

Judgmental or negative comments conveyed by the teacher

Teacher’s personality and commitment play a vital role when it comes to teacher-student rapport. Teacher’s negative behavior will lead to demotivation among students. You may also read 13 common sayings to avoid in a classroom.

Lack of enthusiasm shown by the teacher

Someone has rightly said if you want to guess the personality of the teacher, see the students! Demotivated teachers usually yield a bunch of apathetic and unmotivated learners.

Teacher-centered style of teaching

Old-school style of teaching where only teacher is talking, and students’ involvement is limited.  

Undifferentiated lesson material

If the lesson material doesn’t cater to the specific needs of the students, under-challenged learners might end up losing interest and others might find it difficult. So undifferentiated activities can be one of the main causes of demotivation found among the students.

1. Be Inspirational

We, as adults, can recall a specific teacher who had a solid impact on our childhood. Those teachers had inspired us in a way or the other. Teachers’ success could be winning a Best-Speller award, Best Teacher Award, Public Speaking Award, Art Competition, cycling race, or cooking competition. We all have some successes to share. Share your success experiences with your students and tell them how you felt after achieving it.

Inspirational

Through our experiences and triumphs, students can imagine what success looks like and what sacrifices or choices they need to make, in order to achieve the successes, they want in their lives. It is imperative to tell them that the right choices will lead to a fruitful outcome and wrong choices may lead to a regretful failure. You may quote some of the failure examples too. It will help them to compare the two contrasting behaviors and their respective outcomes.

2. Right Choice of Words

“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” – Rumi

Be calm and use kind words while addressing to the struggling or problematic students. Rather than ‘Just leave it, you can’t do it’ use positive approach like; ‘Keep trying, you can do it!’

3. Energy and Enthusiasm

Deliver the lecture with energy and enthusiasm.  The way we deliver the lesson increases the enthusiasm and motivation in children too. Teachers can incorporate examples related to students’ interest in their lessons. Students will listen more carefully.

For Example, In Grammar lessons about Adjectives I would give examples about superheroes for boys; while in girls’ classes, Disney princesses will grab their attention. They will listen more happily if the teacher appears to be a fan of the same thing they like.

4. Know Your Students

Before the actual learning begins, we should try to know the students. You will be able to better tailor your instruction according to the students’ needs and backgrounds. Their loyalty toward you grows with your personal interest. You need to display a strong interest in students’ learning and show that you have faith in their abilities. The students will happily be involved and better understand the lesson.

5. Incorporate Real-life Examples

Many students want to know the reason why a lesson or concept is important before they want to study it further. Relate the lesson objectives to real life and explain how it is going to be useful in their future endeavors. Give examples of how this lesson is going to help them in real life.

6. Everyone is a Winner

You can keep different competitions to motivate and encourage learners to work hard. Set different levels and the rules should be clear too. Keep small rewards for everyone. This encourages the learners to work harder.

7. Plan Student-oriented Teaching Activities

Teachers should design interesting colorful activities and games to engage the students. Especially the lower grade levels where the learners are young and want to play all the time. Design your activities keeping their interest levels in your mind. If activities are engaging the students will feel motivated to learn new things in a fun way.

8. Set Realistic Performance Goals

Performance goals should be achievable i.e., age, time & aptitude appropriate. If performance goals are realistic, students will be ready to put effort which will subsequently fuel their sense of achievement. 

Ideally, teachers should discuss and include the students while setting performance goals. If the set goals are not achievable, students will not be motivated and assume it as unattainable.  

Some students get dishearten and quit shortly because they are not able to perform well in a short time span and they don’t want to look dumb.  We may take examples of drawing, handwriting or speaking other languages.

Students should be reminded time and again that performance goals can’t be achieved in a day (unlike some of the learning goals), it needs practice and persistent effort.  

9. Appropriate Testing and Grading system

Assessments should be a means of showing what learners have mastered rather than focusing on what they have not. Give everyone equal opportunity to learn and achieve the highest grades. The teacher should not divide the sheep from the goats based on their test results. Every child bears a different caliber.

10. Give Feedback, Not Criticism

Negative comments should be to certain performances, not the performer. When a teacher offers non-judgmental feedback, students respect and love the teacher. Teachers should stress the opportunities to improve rather than labeling certain objectionable performances.

11. Students’ Control over Learning

Give students control over their own learning as much as possible. As teachers, we are always controlling the students’ activities, but in some situations,  we can give the liberty to the students to decide a few things for themselves. We can be flexible with their homework and let them decide what they would like to do as homework.  Let students select project topics that interest them by giving them choices.

Let’s say, for writing projects you may give them two topics to write. They may write on ‘How to save the environment? ‘or ‘The 3 R’s (Recycle, Reduce, Reuse)’. Both topics are related to the same theme and have the same learning goals; when the student opts the title by himself, he feels more related, responsible, and motivated to complete the given task. You may apply it to every class.

12. Praises and Prizes

Teachers should praise the students based on learning goal achievement. Instead of a generalized compliment, ‘ You’re a good boy/girl!’, address the specific effort of the student. Like ‘I can see you have wonderful handwriting!’ or ‘All the answers are accurate!’ or ‘ Wow! loved the ending of this story.’

In this way, other students will also take inspiration, and everyone will be motivated. Keep achievable prizes and reward systems to encourage the learners.

13. Different Ways of Assessments

Students’ performance can be assessed in a variety of ways (quizzes, continuous assessments, projects, test papers, presentations, etc.) Allow students to decide how they’d like to show their understanding/learning. Some students love to appear as a little teacher, others might want to solve a worksheet to show their understanding. Let it be their choice. Don’t force them into something which may cause demotivation or stress among the students.

14. Peer’s Feedback

As a closure of a lesson, you may ask the students to read their partner’s work and give their positive feedback. There will be two benefits of this activity. Firstly, the students will feel responsible and motivated, and secondly the concept will be reinforced. Students will feel appreciated to hear good things about their work from someone other than the teacher.

16. Differentiated Instructions

Students feel interested if classroom activities are appropriate. Teachers must prepare differentiated activities to cater different needs of the students. It will not only motivate the students but also enhance relevance and relatedness among the learners which will subsequently help them achieve desired results.

17. Be Positive

Don’t give up on students and encourage the students to have a growth mindset.

What might be some other strategies we can use to stimulate motivation in students? Please add your valuable suggestions in the comment box.