Your child’s school is now closed and all learning is online. Suddenly you have been thrust into the role of teacher helping your child engage in virtual learning. You have no experience of it and it can be frustrating. It’s a big change for them and a big one for you. It may start as fun and a something of a novelty but that is unlikely to last. You are in it for the long haul.
Do you wish your child would get on with their work without you nagging?
The good news is that there’s plenty we can do to encourage our children to stay motivated without having to nag them constantly or micromanage their schoolwork.
1. Play up the importance of effort. We feel greater satisfaction when we’ve achieved something than difficult than when we’ve done something easy. Remind your child how good it feels to strive and achieve, and celebrate their success when they’ve put in the effort.
2. Feed their curiosity. If your child has a passion for something – whether that’s maths, music or My Little Pony – they’ll naturally be motivated to do it, and that can help instil good habits. Be child-led and let them explore their curiosity, even if it seems a bit odd to you.
3. Be curious yourself. If we want our children to be motivated to achieve, we need to demonstrate that behaviour ourselves. Children’s chances of success in a particular area are massively enhanced if their parents have a passion for it.For example, if you want your child to learn the piano, don’t just send them to lessons: be involved with their practice, and let them see you playing the piano yourself.
4. Build their self-esteem. ‘Rather than saying, “Don’t worry, I know you’re not very good at spelling,” which compounds a lack of self-belief, build your child’s self-esteem by saying, “I understand you’re finding this difficult, but if we keep working at it, we’ll get there.”
5. Focus on the future. If your child is older, especially if they’ve started secondary school, you can challenge their lack of motivation by highlighting the importance of working hard. They need reminding that the work they’re doing now is preparing them for future success and that it’s worth putting in the effort now to have more choices later in life. This can be more effective in building motivation than pointing out short-term gains, such as a good mark in a test.
6. Know when to step back.It’s natural to feel frustrated if your child isn’t trying their hardest, but try not to slip into nagging and remonstrating. Sometimes children and teenagers feel highly charged and emotional at these times, they’re not in the mood for a rational conversation, so save it until they’re in a better frame of mind.
7. Support, but don’t take over. Metaphorically holding your child’s hand through every piece of work might make them get it done, but it won’t increase their self-motivation, so aim to guide and support without taking over. Success comes as a result of practice, and children are most likely to succeed if they choose to practise for themselves.
8. Celebrate effort rather than achievement. If your child struggles to motivate themselves, it can be tempting to offer incentives: for example, linking pocket money to good marks. ‘The problem with bribery is that it creates a mentality where children are just looking for what they have to do to “win the game”. ‘It’s better to reward the effort than achievement, whether that’s with praise and kind words or something concrete.
9. Ask the right questions.You can engender a love of learning in your child by showing genuine interest in what they’re doing in their learning. Make time to talk, and instead of asking what your child did, ask them what they learnt and what was interesting. This starts a dialogue, rather than simply getting your child to list what they’ve been doing.
10. Don’t crowd out fun.Yes, schoolwork matters, but it’s vital to balance it with time for your child to do what they enjoy. We have to exercise common sense: having fun doesn’t mean your child won’t have future success, so make sure they still get to go out with their friends and take part in things they enjoy.
Your child’s school is now closed and all learning is online. Suddenly you have been thrust into the role of a teacher helping your child engage in virtual learning. You have no experience of it and it can be frustrating. It’s a big change for them and a big one for you. It may start as fun and a something of a novelty but that is unlikely to last. You are in it for the long haul.How do you and your partner stay sane?
1. Make it clear from the start that they won’t have to work as long as they do in school. We feel better if we know what is expected and in the case of home learning, it is hard to sustain a full day of engagement. Remind yourself and your child that learning comes in many forms and that just talking and playing games is a form of learning. So maybe just the morning doing formal schoolwork and more informal activities after lunch.
2. Keep a routine for getting up, breakfast and starting work. Most children learn best in the mornings so make the most of that productive time. Keep to the routine you had when they were in school and instead of heading out to school start work at home. It’s tempting to go for an extra lie-in but avoid it. We are all more productive if we have a routine and stick to it.
3. Clear a space before starting work. If we want our children to be motivated to achieve, we need to demonstrate that they are entering the ‘school’ space and that their attitude and behaviour – and yours - is going to reflect that. If you have a space that can become the ‘schoolroom’ then that is ideal but more likely this will be the kitchen table. With older children, it may be their bedroom.
4. Help them get started. ‘Rather than helping them download the material from schools and then saying, “OK off you go, I will be back in an hour to check on you”, instead take five minutes to make sure they understand the lesson or task and can get started. Of course, you may have work to do of your own but you will get fewer interruptions if they know what they are doing.
5. Make sure they have everything they are going to need.When teachers are trying to make activities interesting and engaging they often ask children to do practical tasks. This may involve drawing or cutting out and glueing.So it helps to have paper, pencils, felt tips, safe scissors etc. Basing the craft materials you might have at home already. There is nothing more annoying than a constant stream of requests for materials.
6. Build-in time for breaks. If your child is older, especially if they’ve started secondary school, you can challenge their lack of motivation by highlighting the importance of working hard. They need reminding that the work they’re doing now is preparing them for future success and that it’s worth putting in the effort now to have more choices later in life. This can be more effective in building motivation than pointing out short-term gains, such as a good mark in a test.
7. Show an interest in what they are doing. Children are not used to working alone or online and it’s natural that they will get bored or feel frustrated. You will need to judge when they simply cannot do more but you can extend the point at which that occurs by showing an interest in what they are doing. If you have helped them get started then when to drop in to check how it’s going you can ask and maybe make suggestions etc.
8. Celebrate effort rather than achievement.This is always better for the child. If your child struggles to motivate themselves, it can be tempting to offer incentives. The problem with bribery is that it creates a mentality where children are just looking for what they have to do to “win the game”. ‘It’s better to reward the effort than achievement, whether that’s with praise and kind words or something concrete.’
9. Build-in rewards but keep down the sugar.We all like to have a reward when we have done our work and stayed on task. Little rewards can make a big difference but do avoid too many rewards that involve sugar, for example, sweets and biscuits. Otherwise, they will be ‘bouncing off the walls’
10. Share the burden with your partner if you can. It is likely that both you and your partner will be working from home. Rather than both of you being half available, better to decide who is supervising the children over a given period of time and take it in turns. Employers know they need to be flexible in these extraordinary circumstances.
Finally, show them some love.At the end of the ‘school’ day and also during it keep showing that you love them. It’s a tough time for everyone and tempers may fray. It’s understandable but in the end, a child needs to have the reassurance of knowing that they are loved so – show some love.
This blog has been written by Dr Rebecca Glass. Dr Glass holds a PhD in genetics and has a particular interest in its influence on student performance.
To download a PDF version of this article click the button below.
In some of the top performing British International schools in the world, we see significant numbers of staffi who do not believe that high performance is attainable for the vast majorityii of their students.Indeed, in a recent survey, nearly 60% of staff felt that there are students in their classrooms who are not capable of high performance (Figure 1), despite the overall school performance being consistently good, achieving over 60% A*-A grades at IGCSE. This doubt in students’ ability is likely to cause these schools to plateau; they will not further improve on these scores if staff believe they are already doing the best possible.
Unfortunately, this belief around student ability is a common but misguided one. It stems from amistaken view that intelligence is partly inherited so, whatever teachers do, some students are destined to fail. Our research found that over70% of staff believe student intelligence is partly inherited. Not only that, this figure does not alter with the length of a teacher’s career, suggesting that they will begin and leave their career with the same misconception. Teachers’ classroom expectations around what is possible are shaped by these beliefs.
We know from a growing body of research that this belief is outdated and incorrect; intelligence is one of the least inheritable traits as it has no obvious genetic linkiii. Throughout a child’s lifetime, as a result of their experiences, changes to DNA occur and it is these that determine a child’s skill development and intelligencelevels.Other myths such as the incorrect assumption that you cannot achieve in a subject because your parents werenot very good at it, is also damaging. It is these views, held by teachers and parents, that contribute to the self-doubt that holds many students back.
When surveying the studentsi in these top performing international schools, we found that over 40% do not themselves believe they can get good grades;a surprisingly high percentage. Furthermore, nearly 65% of students, like their teachers, do not believe everyone is capable of good grades. It is these doubts in themselves and others that hold students back from achieving high levels of performance and we urgently need to challenge misconceptions if we want more students to reach success.
High Performance Learning (HPL) accredited schools commit to believing and behaving as if all students are capable of high achievement. They signal this to students and their families and use the HPL framework to strengthen teaching and learning, intentionally and overtly building the competencies that create academic and personal success. They set themselves a level of expectation that is much more ambitious than in the past regarding the art of what is possible and the percentage of their students who could leave having demonstrated high attainment.
Schools that become accredited HPL World Class Schools by joining the HPL Award Scheme really do see this change of mindset impacting on student outcomes and they see it quickly. Results increase year on year with a greater percentage achieving the top grades every year and overall scores going up. Indeed, the percentage of students achieving top grades has increased, on average, by 8% in schools during the two-year Award Scheme, and continues to increase annually as the school deepens its engagement. These figures compare very favourably with statistics for the UK national average which has remained constant (Figure 3).
But what really excites schools leaders about HPL is not just the results, it is the positive and optimistic culture that they feel in their school and how students and staff embrace the challenges of learning without fear. This translates into schools where everyone is focused on building success in each individual student, regardless of their starting point.
Doha College, a top performing international school, is one of many of our schools to announce exceptional examination results this year.
2019 recorded the best IGCSE results in the school’s 39-year history. The Principal of Doha College, Dr Sommer, commented:
“As the first accredited HPL school, we are now looking back at the best public examination results ever achieved at the College for the third year running, not to mention the immensely positive impact on the culture of the school, the relationships among and between students, staff and parents. Now that the intrinsic features of the philosophy have pervaded all areas of the school, we are confident that generations of Doha College students will benefit in the years to come.”
The expectation that every student is capable of high performance, regardless of their background, is a vision that every school can embrace, and our accredited World Class Schools are exemplifying a future for education that is inclusive of everyone and routinely delivers high performance without pressure.
Dr. Rebecca Glass,
This blog has been written by Melanie Saunders, Director of Quality Assurance and Accreditation at High Performance Learning.
What does it mean to be an HPL Global Lead Teacher? Andy Flint, Kirsten Parker and Kate Slipper are the first to achieve this accolade which recognises the influence that a great teacher has across a whole school – and the capacity for modern media to extend that influence beyond your own school and even beyond your own country.
High Performance Learning revolutionises teaching, but more importantly, it revolutionises learning. The HPL mantra “with students not to them” is captured in a comment made by Helen from Jack Hunt School, that it makes students think about the process of their learning. Andy believes that “the impact for students, and for teachers, has been profound.” Being part of a Global network with classroom practice at its heart is great for teachers but it is, of course, great for schools as well. Regardless of the preoccupation of policymakers, great schools know that its what happens in the classroom that makes a difference. The opportunity to recognise and reward the “core business” is very appealing for school leaders who want their best teachers to enjoy their work and to maximise their impact.
Global Lead Teachers have met some exacting standards and are committed to demonstrating, through their practice, the belief that every child has the potential to be a high performer. Moreover, they model this mindset for their colleagues and enjoy leading global subject networks, showcasing their practice at HPL events and developing their HPL practice within and beyond their school. Being a Global Lead Teacher means you are plugged into the mainframe of education. Schools which aspire to become, and remain, world-class look beyond the boundaries of their own country to learn from, and lead, an international drive for excellence which expects more than “top marks” in the local inspectorial “test.”
What makes being a GLT really special, though, is the opportunity to influence and inspire teachers, and through them students, in schools across the world. The Practice of an HPL Global Lead Teacher can change the lives of students in countries where they have never set foot. Our GLTs say that HPL makes students “more energised and more autonomous,” as well as “more creative and less worried about taking risks,” – isn’t this what we all want for all of our students - to have the tools to be active partners in their own learning and the confidence to take their place as global citizens?
Hear what HPL teachers have to say here:
If you're an existing member of the High Performance Learning you access these on HPL Online: