Skip to content

How parents can motivate their children to learn

    When learning for school, there is often a point for us parents when we ask ourselves, how can I motivate my child to learn. It is quite normal that our children are sometimes unmotivated. But the crucial point is how we react to it. Because it is much easier to further undermine our children’s motivation than to support them in a meaningful way. Here are some easy-to-implement tips you can use to motivate your child to learn.

    Let your kids have a say

    To motivate children to learn, it is advisable to let them have a say in their own learning from an early age. In elementary school, of course, this is still on a very small scale, but the older the children get, the more self-determined their learning becomes.
    One very simple way to let your children have a say in their own learning from the first grade onwards is to let them choose where they learn. Of course, this doesn’t mean learning in front of the TV. But what’s wrong if your child likes to do his homework on the floor? As long as the surface is firm so that writing can be done properly, the floor is just as good as the table.
    Incidentally, this can also be very relaxing for yourself, because letting your child have a say can avoid a lot of little power struggles. For example, I don’t want to have to argue with my two big girls every day about why homework has to be done at the table when the floor is so much nicer.

    Avoid admonishing sentences

    “But this school year you have to study really well now!” Such or similar sentences are no help to you if you want to motivate your child to learn. Rather, they create a feeling of fear in your child and at the same time build up great pressure. This is because your expectations of your child seem to have increased and his or her previous performance is no longer sufficient. He has to try harder.
    Instead of motivating your child, these kinds of statements have exactly the opposite effect.
    For example, let’s say your child got a D in math. It’s not a great performance, but of course you want it to get better. Therefore, you actually mean well and say, “But the next paper has to be better now!” But what if the next paper is a five or worse?
    In this case, your child can quickly get into a downward spiral. After all, your child knows that the next paper was supposed to be better. But it actually got worse. Maybe it even got worse because of the pressure you built up with your expectation. But why it got worse, the result means failure and demotivation for your child.
    If you keep on admonishing, in most cases it will get worse and worse. The child suffers more and more failures and the motivation sinks into the bottomless.
    Therefore, simply do not use sentences of this kind and rather say something like this: “Even a four in math is not a disaster. Let’s look at the work together and think about where the problems were.”

    Good grades belong to your child

    Equally demotivating for many children is how parents talk about good grades as well as the bad ones. That’s because it’s not uncommon for parents to say phrases like, “We got an A, good job!” when a child gets good grades.
    But this greatly diminishes the child’s performance because the parents in question identify with part of their child’s performance. But this is not so. Even if the parents helped with the learning, still completely alone the child produced this achievement. Therefore the good mark also belongs alone to the child. Something like this, by the way, also has a lot to do with experiencing autonomy and self-determination (see point one), because children understandably want to claim their good achievements for themselves and not share them with their parents.
    Instead, say something along these lines: “Great, you got an A. I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you.” Inwardly, however, you can then feel free to be proud of yourself when the effort of learning with your child has ultimately paid off. Instead of identifying with the grade, you define your pride through your own efforts.
    What’s even more exciting is that the bad grades, by the way, are not something that the corresponding parents want to share.

    Be a role model

    If you want to motivate your child to learn, be a role model. If you want your child to learn to read better, for example, you should not sit in front of the TV all the time and not pick up a book yourself. The younger your children are, the greater your role model function, so you must live up to it.


    One very important factor in how you can influence motivation to learn is affection towards your child. Elementary school students tend to easily identify with their grades. They didn’t just write a 5, no they are a 5.
    Motivation to learn then naturally fades quickly if you don’t support your child accordingly.
    It is poison to scold in this situation. It is much better to show affection right now, like this: “With the 5 in math, that’s the way it is now. Nevertheless, I love you, no matter what grades you get.”

    Why does your child learn?

    An important question for motivation is why do we do anything at all. Therefore, it is important to make it clear to your child that school has a purpose in his or her life. Because your child will find it much easier to learn if he knows what he is getting out of it in the first place. Since learning is exhausting and takes time and a lot of effort on your child’s part, this is an easy point to help your child become more motivated.
    The younger your children are, the easier it is to teach them this. For example, if your child in elementary school asks you why he should learn to read and what math is good for, explain to him that both are necessary for the simplest purchase in the supermarket. Without math, they can’t estimate how expensive the purchase is and whether the money in their wallet is enough. And without being able to read, they can’t even find the right product on the shelf.