How do you teach a child that doesn't want to learn?

Any child with the essential aptitude and motivation can become a good learner.

One mistake parents make when it comes to supporting their children to be good learners is limiting their child's learning in the classroom. While the school will be a significant source of learning, a parent should extend their child's learning outside the classroom walls to develop their child's desire and ability to learn.

The following are proven strategies to motivate your child to learn. Try them … and you'll see your child develop and strengthen their motivation to learn.

1. Develop an atmosphere of reading

Reading is one key to success in learning and life. If your child loves reading, they will develop a love for learning. Children who struggle with reading will also struggle with learning. Reading will help your child develop a much richer vocabulary. It will help their brain learn how to process concepts and formal communication. Children who read well improve their abilities to learn in all subjects, including technical subjects such as science and maths.

Encourage your child to love reading and develop their reading skills by filling their days with reading. Make sure that you read to your child frequently. Get your child to read aloud. Establish a family reading time where everyone focuses on reading for a short time each day. Set an example of reading and fill your home with reading materials. Demonstrate to your child just how essential reading is. Make reading fun, not frustrating. If your child decides that reading is tedious or frustrating, they won't want to read, and their learning ability will be diminished. Let children pick their books, help them read, and create activities that make their reading enjoyable.

2. Let your child take some control when learning at home

When it comes to learning at school, children can feel too controlled when it comes to their learning and can then withdraw from learning. When at home, provide your child with the opportunity to have direct input into their learning. Provide your child with options. For example, when assigning a writing activity, ask your child to choose a topic to write about.

Allow your child to choose their extracurricular activities. The more control and input you give to your child, the more engaged and motivated they will become to learn.

3. Encourage your child to express their opinions

Encourage your child to express their opinion about their own learning. Create a relaxed atmosphere where they feel comfortable expressing their likes, dislikes or concerns. When they share their opinion, make sure you listen, even if you disagree. When children feel their opinion doesn't matter, they will likely disengage from learning. Good learners know that their opinion matters.

4. Focus on the interests of your child

When learning engages children in their interests, learning becomes fun, and they will engage in learning. If you want to help motivate your child to become a good learner, encourage them to explore further topics and subjects that fascinate them. If they like dinosaurs, help them find engaging and exciting books and stories about dinosaurs.

5. Introduce different types of learning styles

Your child will have a learning preference and style best suited to their way of learning. Some children have one dominant learning style, while others use a mixture. However, by discovering their preferred learning styles, you can use techniques to improve their learning.

More about learning styles here.

6. Share your enthusiasm for learning

When it comes to learning new things, your enthusiasm rubs off. If your child sees you're enthusiastic about learning, they're more likely to be excited about learning. Help your child to see that learning is a journey of exciting discoveries in history, science, reading, writing or maths. Make opportunities to discover new information with your child and let them see the joy and excitement that new learning brings to your life.

7. Use game-based activities to make learning fun

When your child is engaged with a game, their mind experiences the pleasure of learning something and of challenge. Games that are entertaining motivate children to want to engage in the learning process and want to learn more. There is often also a competitive aspect to playing games. Children are trying to compete or win for themselves or their team. Your child will likely strive to work at a higher level to earn more points for their team or to win a challenge. Game-based learning is an effective way for parents to introduce new ideas, grammar, concepts, and knowledge in a way that motivates their children to learn.

8. Focus on what your child is learning, not on their performance

When your child has done a test at school, instead of asking them how they did, ask them to teach you what he learned in school today. Focus on what your child is learning instead of how they performed. While their performance is important, by focusing on their learning experience, you will show your child that the learning is more important than the test score; that results are not the most important thing; that you're more concerned about your child than you are about performance and you'll provide your child with the opportunity to put into their own words their learning and strengthen their understanding of it.

9. Help your child to be organised

Helping your child organise to organise their schoolwork will go a long way to assisting them to feel motivated to learn. Most young children are disorganised, and this can lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed. If your child is overwhelmed, they will spend more time and effort being frustrated and worried than they do learning. Help your child organise their schoolwork; they feel more in control, less overwhelmed, and more motivated to learn. 

10. Celebrate any achievements

Recognising and celebrating your child's achievements is essential, no matter how small they are. This is especially important for primary-age children who need constant positive reinforcement to keep them motivated to learn. Do not praise mediocrity but celebrate any achievement. Finishing a complex piece of work deserves a special treat. Use positive reinforcement as a tool to motivate your child.

11. Focus on your child's strengths

Focusing on your child's strengths is another form of positive reinforcement that will motivate them to keep learning. Conversely, if you focus on your child's weaknesses, they will become discouraged, distressed, and have little desire to learn.

12. Ensure that every day is a learning day

Encourage your child to explore their world, ask questions, and make connections whenever possible. Help them think critically, categorise, and classify what they see and experience. Turn every day into a learning day to help your child develop internal motivation to learn, whether in their classroom, in your home, or wherever they may be.

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