Learning is the main focus of school, but the school environment has a huge impact on students’ mental, social, and emotional well-being as they grow into young adults. The best way to nurture student well-being and encourage success is to improve a student’s motivation.
As a Learning Coach, you have a huge influence on your virtual school student. Your attitude, your suggestions, and even your body language can influence your student’s confidence and performance. That’s why it’s so important to create a consistently positive learning environment and do everything in your power to improve and maintain your student’s motivation.
While online teachers ensure student motivation in the virtual classroom, Learning Coaches can help create a positive online learning experience by applying some motivational principles in their own home classroom:
- Identify the purpose of learning. If your student asks, "Why do I need to learn this?", it’s important to find the right answer. Every lesson should have a purpose, whether it is to help your student understand the world better, prepare your child to apply the concept later on, or challenge your student’s critical-thinking skills. Making sure that your student understands the purpose of a lesson or assignment can help you both set and achieve long-term goals.
- Give clear, specific directions. Providing students with clear directions helps avoid confusion and frustration while allowing students to get enthusiastic about the assignment. Consider having your student write down the steps needed to complete a task so as to make the directions even easier to follow. This way, students will also uncover questions upfront and can reach out to their teacher for clarification. Learning Coaches who take some time to organize for virtual school lessons will be able to facilitate the school day more smoothly.
- Communicate your expectations. Both teachers and Learning Coaches have to establish expectations not just for assignments but also for student behavior. By showing your student that you think highly of his or her abilities and expect success, your student is much more likely to follow through. Spending time with your student and offering encouragement are great ways to show that you care, helping your student feel good about him- or herself.
- Encourage students to think critically. Students are more likely to stay on task if they’re asked to think critically about a question rather than simply recall facts. Open-ended questions also allow students to use their imaginations, building creative and reasoning skills that last for life.
- Engage your student’s curiosity. Whenever possible, connect assignments or activities to high-interest topics for your student’s age group. When students are interested in a subject and want to know more, they’re more likely to stay focused and work efficiently. For example, you can take a hot issue from the news or pop culture and use it to demonstrate a concept your student is learning.
- Make learning fun. Making learning fun for your student makes learning fun for you, too! Add variety to the school day by getting students active between lessons or by doing some fun, educational crafts or activities. Some examples of fun science activities are building a battery out of a lemon and dusting for fingerprints.
- Promote collaboration and competition. Getting students working with others builds teamwork and leadership, whether your student works with siblings or in a study group you arrange. By combining learning with socializing, students have more fun working together or competing against each other to achieve goals.
- Be positive, fair, and consistent in your treatment. Learning Coaches can get frustrated just like their students, but it’s important to lead by positive example. When you are fair and consistent as well as positive, your student will know what to expect from day to day, and you can also gain and maintain your student’s trust. Striving to be positive, fair, and consistent ultimately helps your student’s performance remain steady.
- Empower students with honest praise. Students who regularly receive positive feedback can become confident learners, and confidence is key to staying motivated. When students are confident and learn to value their successes, they’ll want to continue learning.
- Reward both effort and achievement. Part of instilling confidence in a student is offering rewards as well as praise. Remember to reward students for great effort as well as successes in order to emphasize the importance of trying hard. Reward includes intrinsic (internal) rewards and extrinsic (external) rewards. Establishing rewards can help you and your student form the habit of setting goals. Younger students will respond better to extrinsic rewards, with the goal being to eventually teach your student autonomy and a love of learning that are part of intrinsic motivation.
- Help students learn from mistakes. When you offer a balance of praise and constructive criticism, you help students learn how to handle their mistakes without getting discouraged. They’ll try new things, taking more risks, because they’re not afraid of failure.
- Assess and communicate progress. Students need to know where they stand, and frequent feedback and evaluations help them get a clear sense of their progress. Together with your student and his or her teachers, discuss strengths as well as areas that need improvement, focusing on ways your child can work on both.
Do you use any other methods to get—and keep—your student motivated? Make sure you share your thoughts below!