Leah Davies

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Motivating Children

30 Tips for fostering students' desire to do well in school
by Leah Davies, M.Ed.
www.kellybear.com
Regular contributor to the Gazette
April 1, 2009

Young children develop attitudes toward learning from the significant others in their lives. If parents or other adults nurture a child's self-confidence and curiosity, and provide resources that invite exploration, they instill the message that learning is useful and fun. Children, who observe adults being enthusiastic toward education and coping positively with setbacks, will likely follow their adult role models and pursue knowledge as well as persevere when faced with failure.

Through school attendance, children develop beliefs about their abilities and acquire skills to cope with new situations. A teacher's perceptions of how children acquire information and their expectations for their students' academic success can have a profound effect upon children's motivation. Educators need to believe that their students can learn and challenge them to reach their potential.

Low-ability or disadvantaged children and students who have learning or attention disorders must work hardest to succeed. Yet, they often have the least incentive to do so, since high-ability students are the ones who receive the most positive feedback. It is important to note that when children experience many failures, their attitude toward learning often deteriorates. Although younger children are likely to make an effort to succeed, older children may view trying and not succeeding as more negative than making no effort at all.

How can educators foster motivation in children?

  1. Provide a caring, supportive environment where children are respected and feel a sense of belonging.
  2. Believe that every child has the ability to learn.
  3. Involve children in making classroom rules and consequences that are clear and understandable to all.
  4. Emphasize children's strengths; do not dwell on their weaknesses.
  5. Get to know your students' interests, talents, goals, and the way each learns best.
  6. Treat each child fairly; exhibit no favoritism.
  7. Use consistent discipline and maintain an organized, calm classroom that is conducive to student concentration.
  8. Vary your teaching methods and make the lessons interesting and enjoyable. For example, play a game like "Jeopardy" to review a unit or a form of Bingo to learn new words.
  9. Continued on next page »


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About Leah Davies...

Leah Davies received her Master's Degree from the Department of Counseling and Counseling Psychology, Auburn University. She has been dedicated to the well-being of children for 44 years as a certified teacher, counselor, prevention specialist, parent, and grandparent. Her professional experience includes teaching, counseling, consulting, instructing at Auburn University, and directing educational and prevention services at a mental health agency.

Besides the Kelly Bear materials, Leah has written articles that have appeared in The American School Counseling Association Counselor, The School Counselor, Elementary School Guidance and Counseling Journal, Early Childhood News, and National Head Start Association Journal. She has presented workshops at the following national professional meetings: American School Counselor Association; Association for Childhood Education International; National Association for the Education of Young Children; National Child Care Association; National Head Start Association; National School-Age Child Care Alliance Conference.

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