Worried About Your Teen's Performance At School?
Secretary Margaret Spellings of the U.S. Department of Education said that every child has the power to succeed in school and in life. But the question is: how can we help our kids succeed if they are a bit on the slow side?
Parents become teachers the moment their kids open their eyes for the first time. In the toddler years, it is the parents' role to ensure that their kids master basic functions, such as taking a bath, and learn to follow basic instructions, such as "keep quiet."
As their kids grow into teenagers, it is still the role of parents to provide guidance in critical areas that will define their later lives, which are: choosing a career, choosing a lifelong partner and getting ready to separate from the family and raise their own. Any parent knows full well that these life achievements can be hampered by poor scholastic performance.
As a parent concerned about your teen's future success, you need to stay involved.
Motivating the Underachievers
Motivating kids to do well in school is tricky. Some kids are naturally enthusiastic about school, just like some kids are naturally enthusiastic on sports, or video games.
Some kids, although smart, are lazy and seem uninterested in achieving at school. How do you coax lazy, uninterested but bright teens that only do the bare minimum to get passing grades?
There are two forms of motivation - love and fear. People are motivated to do things either out of love or out of fear of the consequences in the event of failure. Also, there are two distinct sources for motivation - "internal motivation" wherein people make their own choice and achieve the internal satisfaction of doing so, and "external motivation", where people do things because they are told to, or in an effort to please another party. While these two aren't mutually exclusive of each other, it is the internal motivation type that is the most self-sustaining and thus, more rewarding.
In other words, teens are likely to learn more and retain that learning better when they are internally motivated, or when they believe they are doing it for their own benefit. Furthermore, kids with strong internal motivation do not need an adult to constantly watch over them and dictate with their activities. This is one reason why motivation to do well in all aspects should be taught to kids early, while they are still young.
One of the key aspects of developing internal motivation into a child is an inspiration. As parents and role models, we want our kids to see what it is to work towards a dream. It is also our goal to make sure our kids get every bit of motivation to work hard into making their dreams happen.
Find the right moments wherein you can talk to your child about his or her dreams. Let your child understand why it is important to do all these things. Help him or her see the possibilities if he or she only works hard for it and explain why getting a good education is key to the realization of any dream.
Acknowledgment, Appreciation, and Tangible Rewards
Reward offered as an incentive or for successful completion of tasks is among the most basic and effective motivators. In fact, according to Roland G. Fryer, Jr. of Harvard University in his Financial Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from Randomized Trials, incentives increase achievement among students almost by 125%, although it is to be noted that incentives given for child's inputs (or work was done) is more effective than incentives for output (or grades earned).
In other words, an incentive that is rewarded immediately is better than rewards at a distant future. The explanation for this is simple: it is easier for teens to work towards a goal knowing that they are immediately rewarded after meeting its conditions than to work persistently towards something that may not be achievable later on.
Teach Good Study Habits
Studying is not every teen's favorite pastime. For sure, your teen would rather do something else than study. They need to know that studying is essential for their scholastic success just as it is essential for parents to work and provide so that the family's dreams will succeed.
Good study habits need to grow into your kids. It will be hard at first, and most probably you need to enforce a few rules to see this happen. But in the long run, it will teach your kids intellectual independence, and it will greatly help them during college.
Here are examples of good rules that will help develop study habits.
- Establish a study zone at home. Designate an area where there is the least distraction and where you can easily keep tabs on your teen. Once your teen is in this place, he or she is expected to study. This place should hold books, dictionary, encyclopedia, and school supply your teen will need for studying.
- Establish a regular study period. For example, you can designate 1 hour before supper Monday to Friday to be your teen's regular study period. As a house rule, he or she should be on the designated study zone during the regular study period, and you are to keep tabs on your teen.
- Make consistent follow throughs. Check on every assignment, check test papers, and check projects. Monitor grades and test results. During regular study periods, your teen should present assignment, test papers, and projects if there is any. If you can, archive test papers so it is easy for you to decide whether your kid needs tutoring in some areas.
- Teach your kid organization skills. A very important aspect of good study habits is the ability to organize "to-dos" and keep notes of important stuff. You may need to teach how to keep to keep a personal planner, a di, ry and an events calendar.
- Monitor TV and video games. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of entertainment media (which include TV and video games) for kids during schooldays. If your kids habitually spend more time than this, it probably won't be easy to get them away and you may need to make gradual changes.