Many students go through stages where it appears they are wholly disinterested in school. They might say, “School’s boring,” and without elaborating further, parents feel powerless to help.

Closer observation or speaking to their teachers might reveal underlying factors such as low self-esteem, trouble at home, conflict with friends, physical or mental illness, learning difficulties, or that they are over- or under-challenged in the classroom. Knowing the cause is helpful, but what do you do when nagging your child to do their homework or threatening to take away privileges is has lost its effect?

Ultimately, motivation has to come from within, but parents and teachers can play a significant role in inspiring students to learn. The key thing to remember is that learning is not confined to the classroom. We are constantly gaining knowledge about history, culture, politics, people, and the environment from the news, our entertainment choices, and our discussions with others. As we reflect on our own experiences and empathise with the experiences of others, we are challenging and developing our opinions, and acquiring wisdom for future decisions.

Here are a few approaches you can try to stimulate your child’s curiosity:

  • Identify their learning style (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, introverted, extroverted, etc) and try a different approach to school work that is more appealing. For example, tackle a maths problem by drawing diagrams or study for a history test through a family discussion about the causes and effects of World War One.
  • Encourage participation in family discussions. Sometimes students disengage because they are afraid of getting the answers wrong. Informal discussions about current affairs or theorising about what will happen next in your favourite television drama allows for students to ‘take risks’ in a safe environment where they don’t feel the pressure of comparison. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge when your child has a good idea or if you decide to change your opinion. This lets them know that it’s okay to be wrong and that there is no shame in reviewing information and changing your mind.
  • Get out of the house. Go for a walk together to review content for an upcoming exam or unpack a daunting assignment. This might also create space for the student to talk about other issues or struggles which are affecting them.
  • See a movie together. Use their current film, TV and Netflix viewing to discuss plot, themes, soundtrack, and casting. Understanding the storytelling techniques of media they are interested in can spark ideas about the novels and films being studied in class.
  • Make links between the student’s interests and passions and the classroom. If they love sport but hate reading, find articles of game results or personality profiles to make reading more relevant. If they love food but hate maths, try doubling or halving a recipe together to see fractions in action.
  • Highlight progress, no matter how small. Celebrating their wins will help them to see the positives in what they are learning and develop vital self-confidence. Even if their level of improvement doesn’t correspond to your standards of achievement, recognising their accomplishments according to their standards can go a long way towards improving their self-esteem.

Still no luck? Many students find that a fresh face or a new approach can help them to reignite an interest in learning, or deal with any underlying learning problems that are causing them to disengage. At Nepean Tutoring, we boast an extensive team of experienced, enthusiastic, creative tutors. Simply Contact Us and we’ll match a tutor to suit your unique requirements.

Photo by Sébastien LAVALAYE on Unsplash