As an educator, I see it all the time… Kids with wonderful potential, who simply won’t do the work assigned. While you might think it is because of lack of encouragement at home, this simply isn’t true in all cases. In fact, some kids who get lots of encouragement at home, still don’t want to put the effort forth at school. Blame the video game age, blame today’s gimme gimme society, but the truth is that there is an entire generation that feels they aren’t really accountable to turn in required work. There seems to be an attitude that they’ll be given another chance, and another, and another. While that might be the case in grammar and even high school, that won’t be the case in the work world. Here are some tips to get your reluctant worker to focus on what’s important.
- Make homework a priority, even if he or she doesn’t. It’s never too late to make homework a priority. How do you do this, especially with older kids or teens? One rule is to set aside at least an hour every day after school that is to be used for homework. You really cannot bend on this issue. If the student does not have homework, then this time should be spent reading or studying for exams. For teens who have a work schedule or sports, you can be a bit flexible on when this hour each day occurs, but you must commit to them putting in the full hour.
- Ask to see papers and grades on a weekly basis. If the student is doing poorly, you will be able to find this out sooner rather than later and figure out how to get your child up to speed in any areas he or she may be lacking.
- Don’t be afraid to communicate with your child’s teacher or teachers. Even high school teachers may have ideas for getting your child motivated.
- Set firm guidelines and don’t back down. Your guidelines should be based on effort, however. Some children simply aren’t capable of straight A’s and the last thing you want to do is to damage your child’s self-esteem. However, it is quite fair to set a standard of all homework being turned in on time and tests being studied for a minimum number of hours per week. School is often the only job your child has and he or she should try his absolute best. This will set the stage for later work in his or her career.
- Rewards are fine, bribes aren’t. Many parents grow confused over the difference between bribes and rewards. A reward is a gift for a job well done. It is a motivator to work harder. At work, you often receive bonuses for a job well done. This is the same thing. A bribe is something you give to a child not doing a good job to try to convince him or her to do a good job. “I’ll buy you the latest Halo if you promise to get an A.” Bribes often leave you both unhappy, because the child is actually rewarded for not doing a good job and he or she will rarely follow through on their promise to get the A. The reward has already been given to him, so what is the motivation? There is a really fine line between bribes and rewards, so use your best judgement here.
- Praise! Praise! Praise! When your child tries hard, gets in his or her homework and puts forth effort, recognize that with your words. The ultimate goal is to get your child to self-reward with a sense of accomplishment for a job well done. This will make him or her want to do his best simply for that sense of self-satisfaction.