It always starts with a bang— new classes, new friends, new possibilities. But then, as the school year progresses, your child begins to lose steam and struggle to stay motivated.
It’s a cycle many parents know only too well.
Proactive parents are always on the lookout to find ways to help their child keep their energetic drive and motivation throughout the year. It’s not just good common-sense parenting; its importance was validated by a recent 2023 study by Cambridge University. Demotivated students displayed lower levels of critical core thinking skills, which in turn leads to underperformance in school. So if your child seems to get frustrated by working through wordy homework questions or gets confused when there are multiple components to assessments, then doing a quick pulse check on their motivation levels is one of the best things you can do for them.
Thing is, society often talks talk about motivation as an emotion or a feeling and whether we ‘feel like doing something’ (or not) … If you want to be at the whim of your emotions, that’s completely fine.
But let’s be realistic. Relying solely on feeling motivated is like trying to power a light bulb with a disposable AA battery. It might work for a while, but it won’t last. And if it can’t be recharged, then you’ve got no choice but to throw it out.
Unless you switch to a more sustainable form of energy that isn’t run on the subjectivity of teenage emotions, hormones, or the latest plot twist of some Netflix show your child has been binging. One that allows your child to build motivation as a repeatable system of processes that allow them to cultivate strong drive and protect from deterioration so they can finish the year stronger than when they started.
With school just starting, now is the strategic time to look at your child’s momentum and motivation in a completely different way. What if instead of waiting for an emotion to kick in, you could build motivation as a process — a working system at the beginning of the year, so that your child never runs out of steam and their motivation levels never cause them to be distracted or unproductive?
Anatomy of a Motivated Student
You’ll often hear the concept of a ‘motivated’ student or person thrown around in conversations in or around schoolwork. But what do we really mean? What is it that makes a ‘motivated student’? What do they look like… or is it all just some unreachable pedestal that we’ve put up on a pedestal?
It’s important to understand the actualisation of a motivated student because it enables you to address their needs and support them toward realisation. Defining the specific elements that distinguish a motivated student from one that’s just ‘so-so’ is the first step to pinpointing the areas they need support in the most. It can also be a great way to help your whole family better understand and support each other in cultivating lifelong skills in motivation.
What does a motivated student do?
A strongly-motivated student displays a specific set of behaviours and actions. “Where would I find a motivated student, and what would they do?”
Motivated students find it easy to plan and manage their time because their priorities are clear, so their steps and timings are naturally dictated for them in a natural cadence. There’s no need to ‘stay focused’ because they’re seldom distracted.
On the flip side, you would hardly find students driven to get higher marks on an exam, spending hours on Snapchat or TikTok, or arguing their way out of schoolwork. Students who are motivated to achieve their academic best prepare, revise, and practice, and they’re happy to do it all over again because their actions align with their goals.
What’s important for a motivated student?
Another indicator to look at is values — not as a person, but as a motivated student. What is their purpose or importance in terms of their school identity? What are their values?
Motivated students value reaching their set goals, whether that’s a 99 ATAR or knowing they’ve handed in their best work. It’s important to them that they’ve given it a red-hot go, put in their best and that their results reflect this.
They’ll also understand and more importantly, accept the necessity of consistency and putting in the necessary ‘rep’ to achieve progress.
If your child is struggling to put in the consistency across subjects or necessary ‘repetitions’ to refine their skills, having a chat about what they think a motivated student would care about is a great way to open up the conversation about their work ethic in a non-judgmental way because it enables self-reflection. Through this process, you can openly explore what a motivated student is and help them self-actualise.
What are the beliefs of a motivated student?
Motivated students have a very specific set of beliefs. They’re also not held back by limiting beliefs. It’s this specific combination that creates the foundation for their powerhouse.
So ask yourself—for every action they take (or don’t take)—what’s the underlying belief driving that behaviour?
Beliefs are what drive our actions and our behaviours; that much is immutable, but it’s especially true of developing teens. Quite often, this can be a good time to also look at not just what is a belief in their mind but also how it’s reflected in their actions and behaviours, whether it’s conscious or subconscious.
So the next time they’ve ‘left something to the last minute’ (…again), try a new approach by speaking to them about the underlying beliefs that drove their actions or omissions.
Building Motivation with Kalibrate-Ed
We build motivation as a process, and it’s an integral part of our methodology. We don’t leave it up to chance, emotions or hormones. We teach them to be proactive about cultivating and maintaining motivation as a lifelong skill, rather than react when things have run well past the ‘redline’ of depletion.
Where parents have cornered themselves with a reactive lens, it’s usually because they haven’t had the opportunity to plan for their child’s motivation system proactively. But once they formulate a more systematic approach, they easily reverse this polarity by proactively helping their child control and master their motivation levels — a skill not only relevant in high school or university but also in lifelong learning.
So, how can you help your child become self-driven and motivated about school? Well, the first step starts with understanding the actualisation behind the concept of a ‘motivated student’ so they can self-evaluate themselves without criticism. From there, it’s about helping them through the ‘realisation’ of that identity through a systematic approach that rewards effort with tangible positive results. That sense of ownership, being able to choose which aspects they want to work on, is crucial for their consistent results throughout the year.
If you need a starting point in planning for your child’s sustained self-drive this year or ideas to make sure they are motivated and focused throughout the year, our education strategists can help you redesign their study systems.
Click below to book your free individual planning session. Help your child become confident, self-motivated and focused on putting in the effort to achieve great results this year.