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Going Back to School: 10 Tips to Motivate Kids

Going Back to School: 10 Tips to Motivate Kids

The bell of the school year will soon ring, but is your child ready for a brand-new semester of classes, essays, and exams? After a long and leisurely summer, some kids need an extra boost to get amped about school.

Parents, getting your child excited about going back to school can be done, and it can be fun, too! Here are 10 tips and ideas for motivating students at the beginning of the school year:

  1. Just Ask! “Ask a child what will motivate them, as well as their barriers,” says Katherine Wagner, an education columnist for School Watch. “Be prepared to spend time to really listen.” Allow your child to verbally express what features of school make her eager and curious. A fitting place to do this is in the car, says Wagner.

 

Going Back to School: 10 Tips to Motivate Kids

by Cheri Lucas

The bell of the school year will soon ring, but is your child ready for a brand-new semester of classes, essays, and exams? After a long and leisurely summer, some kids need an extra boost to get amped about school.

Parents, getting your child excited about going back to school can be done, and it can be fun, too! Here are 10 tips and ideas for motivating students at the beginning of the school year:

  1. Just Ask! “Ask a child what will motivate them, as well as their barriers,” says Katherine Wagner, an education columnist for School Watch. “Be prepared to spend time to really listen.” Allow your child to verbally express what features of school make her eager and curious. A fitting place to do this is in the car, says Wagner.
  2. Hold an “Auction.” Purchase inexpensive school supplies like colorful pens, graphic-glad pencil cases, and cartoon-themed notebooks. Invite your child’s classmates over for a playful “silent auction,” where they use fake money to bid on cool items to stash in their backpacks.
  3. Get Comfy on Campus. If your child is transitioning from grade to middle or middle to high school, visit his new school numerous times over the summer: roam the playground, wander the halls, and peek inside the classrooms. Becoming familiar with his new turf will help tremendously.
  4. Integrate Pop Culture. Check your child’s summer reading and fall semester syllabi, if available, for books he will read or topics he will learn about. It’s possible his books have been adapted into movies (such as Inkheart and Pride and Prejudice), or his subjects have been covered on TV shows (such as Mythbusters). Introduce this entertainment to complement his studies.
  5. Display a Dialogue. Many fridges have surfaces on which you can doodle with a dry-erase marker. Write a different question or saying of encouragement each day on the first week of school. Write, “Take the time to meet a new classmate.” Or ask, “Are you excited to have new teachers?” Throughout the week, your child can respond with different-colored markers and express how he feels.
  6. Decorate the Bedroom. New imagery stimulates children – why not update your child’s bedroom? His jungle safari bedspread can be changed to a space-age comforter with stars and planets, for instance. Or, focus on his desk space: add wall stickers, a new calendar, or magazine cutouts of favorite musicians. Rearranging the furniture may also help.
  7. Foster Encouragement. Bring up the high points of the previous school year: the “A” she earned on a difficult math test, or the second-place ribbon she received at the science fair. Concentrate on her past accomplishments to encourage her to do the same for the new school year.
  8. Inspire with Issues. Talk to your child about the current state of her school: Is the district debating on whether to discontinue serving hot food? Is there a shortage of computers? Urge her to form opinions on issues that affect her, which may inspire her to become involved at school in a non-academic way.
  9. Create an “Achievement Tree.” Display an achievement tree that exhibits his accomplishments. Draw a tree with numerous brown branches on poster board, and create a handful of “leaves” on strips of green paper. Each time he feels he achieves something over the semester – such as a successful day at band practice or a solution to a tricky geometry problem – he can record it on a leaf and tape it to the tree. By semester’s end, he will have created a full, lush tree!
  10. Keep It Simple. Dave Maskin, a parent and creative entertainer in New York, suggests simple but essential advice: “Tell your kids what I have been telling mine every year on the first day of school: learn something new every day.”

There are many ways to get your child excited about a new year of school. These tips are just the beginning!

Cheri Lucas, a journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area, is a writing aide at Corte Madera Middle School in Portola Valley, California. Holding a BA in Screenwriting and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction, she is interested in finding ways to blur the line between education and entertainment for kids. She has two young nephews, Lucas and Maverick.

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