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Motivating Children to Learn: Practical Tips for (Parents’) Everyday Life

Children are memory geniuses. However, frequently, parents have to motivate their protégés. Learn how to motivating children to learn. Unfortunately, school is not always fun and is often demotivating. Probably because calculating math formulas, reading a boring book and then learning grammar rules for some children is not much fun. However, it is so simple to learn easier and enjoy the process. Try our tricks and tips.

Are you continually preaching to your child to do their homework, study in time for the next test and look after their school material? Do you have as little success as most parents? We have put together the best tips that will bring a breath of fresh air into every day (learning) life.


1. Place of Learning

Children need a specific area where they learn and work regularly. Ideally, this place should only be for school work. Because if you eat, play and do crafts at this table, there’s a great temptation to postpone learning until tomorrow. The learning place should also be as bright and friendly as possible and – most importantly – tidy. Our thoughts need space. We must be inspired but not distracted. We should feel motivated.

Our motivation tips:

Get learning accessories (learning boards, pens, storage) in your child’s favourite colour.

Keep important books and reference works within reach.

Use comfortable and “healthy” desk chairs.


2. Rituals

Our brains must be able to adapt to learning and working. That way, we get going faster and push other thoughts aside. For example, drinking a glass of water, cleaning up the desk, writing a to-do list – recurring rituals sound petty at first. Still, these preparations initiate the learning process mentally and help your child focus and study effectively.

Our motivation tips:

  Let your child listen to a favourite song before they sit down at the desk. This action lifts the mood and motivates enormously. It’s best to dance to it and sing loudly!

  After every 10 minutes, do a few stretching exercises. (Why 10 minutes? You can find out under point 4)

  Arrange fixed learning times. Essential: Let your child have a say in this to avert a rebellion against your rule.


3. Learning Plan

Create a study plan together with your child by writing down what should be learnt and when. By doing so, your child has a clear timetable and can begin studying in good time before the exam.

Our motivation tips:

  Together with your child, write the study plan on a blackboard or a large sheet of paper. Have your child design the plan, paint it, decorate it with stickers, etc. Hang it above the study area.

  Leave room to tick off. As soon as a task is complete, your child can tick it off the to-do, and gets a “+” or a new sticker.

  Learning is more effective when it’s divided into small units. For example, do homework every day at 2 pm for half an hour and repeat the day’s material for another 20 minutes in the evening, say at 6 pm. It is best to change the learning activity every 10 minutes. Why’s that? You’ll find out in our next tip.


4. Short Learning Sessions

Our brain continues to learn passively for 7 minutes after each processing phase, although we have been concentrating on something else for a long time. It, therefore, makes sense to divide the learning sessions into learning units of approx. 10 minutes. This process accelerates the learning speed and shortens the time until you reach the learning goal.

Our motivation tips:

Your child’s lesson could look like this:
– Do 10 minutes of homework.
– Repeat 10 minutes of the day’s learning material.
– Do 10 minutes of homework.
– Repeat 10 minutes.

Another good option could look like this:
– 10 minutes of French homework.
– Then 10 minutes of mathematics exercise.
– 10 minutes of geography study.
– Have a 10-minute break.
– 10 minutes of French homework.
– Then 10 minutes of mathematics exercise.
– Followed by 10 minutes of geography study.

Split (initially) the learning time into 10-minute units together with your child. Allowing your child to decide whether to start with the homework and change school subjects after 10 minutes or spend time playing or resting between the learning units gives them a sense of control and responsibility.

Many times, we have the feeling that we aren’t making progress. Your child has these experiences too. Show understanding, but also make it clear that in this situation, such obstacles occur frequently and are an important part of the learning process. Your brain stores what you have already learned in your long-term memory. But it is important now to integrate short learning units so that the learning process continues, and our brain notices that “more is yet to come.”


5. Preliminary Work and Discover

Those who want to initiate diverse learning processes in children must offer a stimulating environment and allow them to experience the world with all their senses. Children learn by playing, and the more leisure and joy they feel, the better. For many subjects, your child can learn in advance. This way, the material itself is discovered, and the lesson used as a “training unit.” The experience is, therefore, stored correctly in the brain, and they learn stress-free, much faster, and it’s more fun.

Our motivation tips:

Attention: pre-learning only works if your child has an excellent command of the current subject. However, if your child needs to catch up, the current learning material must be first reviewed.

Ask the teaching staff what will be in the next lesson. A simple google search for the new topic can prepare your child for the new material. Just 10 minutes of preparation and diving into the topic are enough to be able to participate more actively in the school lessons afterwards.

The preparation for foreign languages works particularly well. The textbook is usually worked through from lesson to lesson, making it easy to predict what will be in the next lesson. We recommend the “de-coding method” for the development of new content and vocabulary. De-coding is a word-for-word translation of a foreign-language text (at least one sentence). By gradually “de-coding” the foreign language, your child not only learns new vocabulary in a sentence context, but also the grammar intuitively and brain-friendly. Find out more about de-coding for pupils and how your child can use the Birkenbihl method to prepare optimally for language lessons here: The Best Language Learning Tips for Students.


6. Media Inspires

Digital media is the greatest cultural asset of our time, and it has many advantages. We can use digital media to illustrate connections better than any book will ever be able to. Computers, smartphones and videos can help motivate children to learn. It also makes learning more varied and exciting. It’s guaranteed to have “ah-ha!” effects. A short film or a learning game on the Internet can present the subject differently. Interactive applications are the most motivating.

Our motivation tips:

  Search for explanation videos that fit the current subject in school. A “different point of view” on the material is constructive, especially before exams.

  Let your child search for matching videos or infographics. Searching on a smartphone or computer is fun, and they also learn how Internet research works. Soon you can learn from your child ;-).

  There are many Apps on the market. Important: Choose carefully. A vocabulary trainer makes the most sense as a review tool, but should not be used to learn new vocabulary. Why? Learning isolated word pairs is not brain-friendly. An alternative is de-coding. Find out more here

Content Manager and blogger Katharina Rucker has devoted herself to the Birkenbihl Approach for language learning since 2011. Since 2014, she has been working as a freelancer in the field of online marketing: www.rucker-marketing.at

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