10 Often Overlooked Ways to Motivate A Child to Study

10 minute read

Most online tips guide parents on how to improve their kid's classroom performance. But all the recommendations typically apply to "ideal" children — those who already have a knack for learning and can't wait to get back to class.

We often overlook that most kids don't like school for many reasons. And parents go above and beyond to get their children inclined to learn. But sometimes, our solutions hurt more than they help.

If you're dealing with someone who's entirely disinterested in anything "school," below are often overlooked ways to motivate a child to study!


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What parents usually do when kids refuse to study (NOT EFFECTIVE WAYS!)

A boy napping instead of doing his homework

Naturally, parents seek ways to motivate a child to do well in school. Although our involvement is crucial in encouraging children to study, we must recognize the difference between forcing and motivating.

Forcing your child to study may work for a brief period. But the damage it leaves behind only makes children resent study time. 

Here are some ineffective ways parents force their children to study that deal more harm than good in the long run:


Scolding them

A father scolding his children for not studying

Imagine this: 

You just got back from an exhausting day at work. And you still have some chores to do at home, so you can't afford any additional stress at the moment.

Upon checking your child's backpack, you saw homework due tomorrow, but they refuse to accomplish it. 

So you scold them.

It's easy to scold children when we're rattled by the sheer number of responsibilities on our plate. 

But we have to understand that kids suffer from fluctuating moods too. While some always feel enthusiastic about school, others need the extra nudge to get them studying.

Scolding might not be the best course of action. It only invalidates what children feel and hurts them. Though it may get them to study, it won't be without consequences. This may result in a natural resentment for learning. 


Engaging in a scream-fest

A mother yelling at her daughter for not studying

On more rare occasions, we might find ourselves overwhelmed with our responsibilities that we burst out. Screaming, yelling, howling at our kids to do their homework.

I've been in that same position when my once kids threw a tantrum about school. It wasn't easy. Regaining their trust and keeping my oath to be gentle was a tough challenge until I figured out the best ways to motivate my children to study and help them with homework.

Yelling won't motivate kids to learn. In extreme cases, it may even result in trauma and a negative association between school and your growly behavior. Of course, that means they'd hate school even more.


Using positive/negative reinforcement


Any form of reinforcement to try and motivate kids to study might work for a short while. But putting a positive or negative wager may create dependence on their part — a form of subordination as long as rewards or punishments are associated with the task.

I believe nobody wants their children to study simply because there's a reward waiting for them. Instead, we desire children to study out of their insatiable yearning to learn.

Through the years of parenting, I found out the 10 best solutions for this age-old parental predicament, and I'm here to reveal them to you in detail.

Here are the 10 ways to encourage a child to study:


10 Ways on How to Motivate a Child to Study

10 Often Overlooked Ways to Motivate A Child to Study Article Banner

1. Understand the root cause

A problem well-stated is half-solved. -Charles Kettering

In other words, knowing the problem is half the solution.

Understanding the main reason for your child's reluctance to study will help you develop countermeasures to keep them from studying or doing their homework.

I found out that one of my kids struggled in understanding the material that's why he didn't like to study. While my other child just wanted to play first before getting to it.

Different workarounds for different people. Here are some other reasons kids might give:

  • Material is not challenging enough 

  • Anxiety from school

  • Lacking self-confidence

  • Learning style does not conform with them

Please note any reason they give you, and try to figure out a solution together.


2. Make a change of pace and space

A clean, quiet, and wide study space for kids

I tried to restructure my son's schedule, who wanted to play first before studying/doing homework. 

He had no problem working on his assignments. However, he only wanted to play first. So I let him play for an hour to his heart's content before reminding him of study time.

Sometimes a change of pace (or space) is all it takes to motivate them.

Here are other examples:

  • Transferring them to a quiet, distraction-free space to do their homework.

  • Giving them some snacks while they review or work on their take-home assignments.

  • Providing the necessary tools they need like pencils, sharpeners, and erasers so they won't have to leave their seat throughout the session.


3. Create an effective study plan


Children love structures and certain levels of strictures. It helps them clearly understand what "to do" and what "not to do." 

A study plan works the same way by setting study parameters and schedules. Again, this makes your expectations and their efforts more tangible and measurable. 

The best way to do this is to sit down with your child to discuss the plan. Keeping them in the loop gets them more engaged in the idea.

Here is a sample plan:

  • Homework is a daily-must

  • 30 minutes for homework daily

  • One 5-minute break in between 

  • No TV, tablet, phones, or any distractions while at it


4. Rouse your child's curiosity

A boy fascinated with the STEMscope

Another overlooked solution on ways to motivate a child to study is rousing their curiosity. Because when children are curious, they will always seek answers. 

Instilling curiosity within them makes "learning" their body's natural response to questions. This means they won't grumble and complain if they find their homework challenging; instead, they do some reading. 

STEM toys are the best equipment to cultivate a child's curiosity. These tools help children wonder, ask questions, and hypothesize before kids seek out the truth through research.

There are plenty of STEM toys in the market, but a portable kids' microscope is the most effective I've gotten my youngsters.


5. Eliminate stress


If your child is stressed, expect that they'll struggle in doing their homework. 

And nothing beats stress than spending time with your children. A simple conversation about their thoughts or feelings can go miles. Plus, it strengthens your parent-child relationship as you bond together for a while.

Here are some things you could do to relieve kids from stress:

  • Listen to music and sing songs

  • Watch one episode of their favorite TV show

  • Play a game for a few minutes

  • Do some coloring


6. Focus on learning instead of grades


All parents want their children to succeed in life — and this desire often starts in school. But sometimes, we may fall into the trap of valuing grades over actual learning.

Instead of focusing your attention on the grades, try to celebrate your child's learning and accomplishments no matter how small they are.

For example, when your child figures out the solution to a tricky problem or when they finish their essay.

When the focus shifts to learning, your child can enjoy studying and be more motivated. Eventually, this will result in improved class performance.


7. Encourage physical activity

A girl playing ball in the park

There is a peculiar phenomenon that occurs in cats and dogs called zoomies. It's an outburst of pent-up energy through rapid, sudden, and explosive movements and is a form of stress-relief mechanism.

Sometimes, your child may also need some time for their own version of zoomies. Working on assignments is challenging, especially if they have tons of stored energy in their body. 

Letting them engage in physical activity like sports help in neutralizing their energy so they can focus more on immobile and calm activities like studying or doing homework.


8. Chunk down on tasks


Developing organizational skills occurs as people get older. But kids will benefit greatly from this skill if they learn it early on.

Try equipping your child with planning techniques and organizational tactics so that they can chunk down their tasks — that is, dividing their big responsibilities into smaller, more digestible steps that are organized from most to least priority.

For my kids, I ask them to do two things before answering their homework:

  • Divide the entirety of their assignment into smaller tasks

  • Designate an estimated timeframe needed for each item


9. Establish a healthy family culture

Parents helping their daughter with her homework

Unspeakably, one of the best ways to motivate a child to study is through your family's culture. How your family views homework, school, and studying has an immense influence on your child's learning approach.

Ask yourself: Is it okay for my child to fail and make mistakes?

Depending on the answer, there might be a need to recalibrate your expectations for your kid. We understand that we live in an era where success is gratified and failure is unacceptable.

But failure, sometimes, is necessary.

It's when we commit mistakes that we learn. The same principle applies to children. 

Understand that mistakes can and will happen, but approach their error with love and compassion. Not with contempt and disappointment.

A family culture that accepts (and gently corrects) mistakes encourages children to continue learning because they have a safe space that welcomes errors. 

Of course, talk to them about how you can avoid mistakes in the future. Then, teach them the right solutions so they won't stray from it again.


10. Show interest in their whole lives


Lastly, another key element in motivating a child to study is to show interest not only in their academics but also in their entire lives.

If they start to realize that you're more concerned with their school performance rather than themselves, they might feel like "tools" instead of "humans." 

As a result, this may lead to resentment and resistance to anything related to studying. 

Please keep in mind that school is merely a subset of their personality, not the entirety of it. 

Try to listen to be involved in their other hobbies and interests, as well. Listen to their stories and pursue other non-academic things together. This makes the learning process more holistic.


Learning is not always found in the classroom. The family and the environment can teach more things about life than the school could. 

Please encourage them to explore outside the classroom and interact with nature. That might just do the trick to inspire their knack for learning.


Looking for STEM toys to support your children's learning?

There are more things in store for your child's discovery outside than in. 

Giving your kid a STEM toy that supports their exploration and outdoor adventure helps them rediscover one of the pillar purposes for one's existence — to seek answers and understand the world.

Remember that curious people will always seek answers.

The best STEM toy to accompany your child's never-ending curiosity is the STEMscope Kids' Microscope. Nothing is more mind-boggling and thought-inducing than seeing the world up-close and personal.

Visit the STEMscope Kids microscope and our full science gadget catalog to learn more!

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