A lack of motivation for learning in children is one of the most common teacher and parent complaints that I hear. But what is it that we are really talking about and looking for in our children when it comes to motivation?
When your child asks you a question (or a seemingly unending series of questions) what do you normally do?
Once you have begun to tell your young child that she may have just one candy, you have launched her on her math journey. Eventually, you will introduce her to bigger numbers by asking her to place three or four spoons on the dinner table, to use five colored pencils for her drawing, or to invite ten friends to her birthday party.
There is a noticeable trend among today's parents to keep their children of all ages busy with structured activities at all times. Sports, crafts, clubs, after-school classes, tutors...all of these follow each other in an endless hamster wheel of activity. Then, hours of school homework leave neither place nor time for leisure, genuine curiosity, or...boredom.
Every teacher knows that one girl or boy in her classroom who just won't do "it," whatever "it" is: a math problem, essay writing, or jumping rope. A teacher's gentle encouragement of these students tends to fall on deaf ears because they have an unfortunate condition I like to call "learned helplessness."