How to Keep Kids Motivated in School

One of the primary concerns for both parents and educators is a student’s lack of staying motivated. Both prior to the pandemic and during, some students have found it rather difficult to find and retain motivation in class. Children are naturally quite curious, however as they age, children can lose that interest and passion to learn. Learning is a life-long journey and it’s important for children to find it both enjoyable and rewarding to sustain that motivation.

A kids’ motivation is often intrinsic, however, it can take a sense of support and encouragement to sustain and build that motivation. It’s important for both children and teachers to understand how to best encourage and foster motivation in school and for online learning. Here are areas you can focus on to boost their motivation:


  1. Express The Importance of Education To Your Children.
    The first step to ensuring your child is present and motivated in school is to express how much you value education yourself. As a parent, your most significant
    teaching tool is your wisdom and attitude. Start by discussing school with your child each day and asking open-ended questions. While prompting this talk about school, keep an ear open for your child’s top interests. Depending on what those interests are, take the time with your child to research and learn more about the topic! Having a positive attitude about school and encouraging your child to continue learning will show them how important education and being productive is both in and outside of school.
  2. Acknowledge Achievements In A Valuable Way.
    It’s always beneficial to reward children for their achievements, but only in the most appropriate way.
    Rewards can be a controversial topic, but can promote positive behaviour in students, encourage interest and participation. They can also reinforce the content of the lessons learned in class. Praise is one of the most effective forms of reward. It verbally reinforces the efforts, improvements and successes of the student. Praise also expresses to your child that you are paying attention to their learning progress. You can also celebrate successes with an educational trip to the museum, park or a movie night! Remember to praise the behaviour or the process and not simply a blanket “you are so great” statement.
  3. Promote the Student’s Ownership
    Ownership is one of the most important gifts you can give to your child! From an early age, children can learn about freedom and responsibility to have a vibrant future. Helping your child develop a routine, from daily to weekly tasks, can help prepare them for school each day. Letting children lead and allowing them to have more control is empowering. Whether it is involving your child in designing their to-do lists or learning goals, it helps develop their love of learning.

Ownership can be implemented in little ways at first. For example, let your children have control of what bedtime stories they want to read with you. You can also allow older children to select where in the home they want to study in.


  1.  Create Structure and Implement Routine.
    Routines are important at all ages, even during a pandemic! Now more than ever, the schedules of students have been altered in some way. Many educators have transitioned to online learning which has ultimately affected school schedules.
    Create structure by scheduling time to set aside for homework and projects that need to be prioritized. You can also develop a chore schedule to keep your children on task and understand the importance of completing tasks. Ensure you schedule healthy and fun activities as well, such as playing, games and other socially- distanced activities.
  2. Boost Children’s Confidence.
    This period of time can make it especially difficult to stay engaged for children. They may lack the confidence and incentive to start, stay on track or complete tasks. When kids are encouraged and have support, they’re much more likely to work harder and complete tasks.
    Self-esteem plays a critical role in a children’s development.
    Use positive encouragement when your child performs well. You can also offer feedback on what they can improve on in a constructive and positive manner. Providing consistent care, support and love to your child will help them understand their value. Building up their self-esteem is important for their future development and combat behavioural issues. Validate their feelings and let them know you believe in them.
  3. Adjust Your Current Expectations
    The transition to online learning can be frustrating and challenging for your child. Pandemic life can affect how productively children are able to work and learn. A systematic review found that the COVID-19 pandemic may be affecting a child’s growth and development. It’s important to adjust your expectations during this time and be patient with your children. As children are unable to socialize, play and grow like they are used to, their mental health may be impacted.
    Allow both yourself and your children to have more breaks than normal to balance school, play and sleep. Mental health is important for learning and development. Ensure you’re balancing their screen time and non-screen time as well!


Whether your child is back in the classroom or continues to learn online, encourage them and keep them motivated. Remember: children never stop learning!


-Allison Bourke, RECE, M.PSYCH

Oxford Learning Waterloo
10 Fischer-Hallman Road North
(519) 725-3577

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