Walk into any American classroom and you will find kids doing everything but paying attention. Many are disruptive, asleep, drawing, talking, texting, and daydreaming. It is important to keep kids motivated in school and these are some ideas to help.
Parents and school officials expect a great deal from kids. Kids are expected to function on less than eight hours of sleep, to sit quietly in uncomfortable chairs, and listen to boring lectures. What has happened in many schools across the nation is simply unacceptable. It is our responsibility to make sure kids are motivated in school.
Barriers to Learning
In general, kids want to learn and be productive in school. A student’s failure to achieve and stay motivated in school is often due to an inability to comprehend the work. If the work is too difficult, an overwhelming feeling sets in, and then the student withdraws. The withdrawal is common because the youngster may lack the emotional maturity to deal with the stress.
On the opposite spectrum are those kids who are not being challenged enough, the work is too easy, the tasks get done too quickly, and boredom evolves into disruptive behavior in the classroom. Other intervening variables affecting learning involve students that are:
- Struggling with behavioral problems
- Visually or hearing impaired
Barriers in the Classroom
Environmental issues can sharply impact a student’s learning ability and motivation. For example, a classroom that is too hot or cold will not be conducive to learning if the brain is focused on temperature regulation. Another simple modification involves the arrangement of desks and the use of seating charts. Seating arrangements work for a variety of reasons. First, it provides an opportunity to help students with hearing or vision problems. Second, disruptive students, friends, and cheaters can easily be moved to another seat.
When students have the same teacher all day and in the same classroom, transition from one subject to the next can be problematic. Therefore, activities called energizers, have been designed to reduce the chaos often associated with the process. Energizers can take many forms, common ones are the stretch and rest breaks, respectively.
When kids are encouraged to participate in an activity they are more prone to focus and learn. The issue here is finding the right activity for the right student. Not everyone learns the same way, and when students are all expected to do so problems arise. Most kids, especially those with self-esteem issues, will shutdown and become unmotivated because of three key factors (the 3 Fs):
- Fluctuations in performance (one day they do great the next day they struggle)
- Fear of failure
Therefore, parents and teachers need to work in unison to help those students at risk for the 3 Fs. This can be achieved by offering praise and encouragement, while presenting stimulating activities that foster student involvement. Stimulating activities such as:
- hands on activities (laboratory projects),
- open classroom discussions,
- putting together small skits, and
- simply asking kids what they think
Check out these fun activities!
Teachers have at their disposal, a variety of teaching strategies to help their students succeed. So why do so many of them rely on lecture?
Teaching strategies can help with motivation. These are those activities developed by the teacher to stimulate a learning environment, which encourages student participation, and retention of information. Moreover, teachers who utilize a variety of strategies find it beneficial to students of all levels and abilities.
Kids are naturally competitive and love to play games. Teachers can utilize these natural tendencies to develop fun and enjoyable activities:
- Role playing
- Team games
- Use formats in board games found in Jeopardy and Scrabble for example
- Group projects
- Have students present a topic to the class
Check out our huge list of Fine Motor Activities!
In conclusion, kids learn by participating in activities and not merely by reciting words spoken by the teacher. Kids have natural innate abilities that can be utilized in the development of teaching strategies to encourage student participation, and foster learning. These ideas will inevitably help kids motivated in school.