Three Simple Ideas for Bettering Pupil Effort and Motivation
Just as great athletes require regular practice, students with ADHD need to train their learning skills. Recent studies have shown that the human brain is more like every other muscle in the body than we previously thought; and just like any other muscle, the brain has muscle memory. And, as with any skill, you can improve student performance and motivation through practice.
This means that effective learning ability, motivation, effort and goal setting in fact, all of them play a crucial role in a child’s academic success. In many ways, they play a bigger role than intelligence.
Here are our top 3 tips for coaching your student to academic gold:
Tip 1: focus on the process, not the product.
Just as athletes need to exercise on a daily basis, students with ADHD need daily reinforcement to develop good learning skills. Don’t focus on the grades you get, focus on them process Invest sufficient time and effective systems in homework and study.
For younger students: Break an assignment down into steps. Schedule it and praise every step your student takes. A fun strategy for younger kids is to take a large Tootsie roll and cut them into equal sections that correspond to the steps required to complete the long-term task (book reviews, science projects, etc.). When your child has made a step, reward them with a piece of Tootsie Roll. This helps the child visualize the task in front of them and rewards them for that process plan ahead.
For older students: Pick one evening a week to help your child plan (Sunday evenings are often good). Help your child break long-term tasks into manageable parts. These incremental steps should be written on your child’s exercise book or on their phone’s calendar. If your student is reluctant to your input but needs help with long-term planning and day-to-day time management, consider a tutor who specializes in organization and motivation. Work with your child to find an appropriate reward for completing this planning process.
Tip 2: Remove “smart” from your vocabulary.
This may seem like an odd tip for an educator. Of course, we all want our children to be intelligent and successful. However, studies have shown that when students pay for their effortInstead of their intelligence, their academic skills increase and their grades, content knowledge and understanding improve significantly.
Try not to focus on your child’s grades with comments like:
“Wow, you have an A! You’re so smart!”
Instead, say something like that
“Wow, you worked really hard on this project. I noticed all the time you put into it. I bet you are really proud of the results! “
This increases the learning skills and effort, not the end result.
Tip 3: Take 30 minutes to read and learn as a family.
Consider blocking out 30 minutes each evening when the whole family turns off all electronics (e-readers not included!) And spends the time reading or studying. When your children are younger, read a story with them. When they’re older, take family trips to the library or encourage them to download a book to their iPad or Kindle. This time will allow everyone to relax, read, and study without the constant buzz and beeping of technology.
Improve student performance
All students have the skills to be all-star students. By placing the emphasis on the grades (the product) and the effort (the process), the students’ motivation and learning are increased.