Motivation of preschoolers to learn remains an urgent problem to this day. Over the course of several years, children get used to the same rules, but there comes a time when they have to seriously change their views and lifestyle. It is not easy to explain to a child the importance and necessity of such changes, and here the experience of specialists in the field of child psychology comes to the aid of parents.
The Value of Quality Motivation
Raising a child is a whole art. It is not enough to instill the basics of morality and behavior in society. The task of parents is to raise a worthy person, adapted to an independent life. Many years of experience show that the carrot-and-stick method in education does not give the desired and lasting results. It is useless to force a child against his will to do what he thinks is not necessary. But the right motivation can work miracles.
You can motivate children to study, sports, art, and much more. And in order to start the process, parents need to get to know more about what motivation is, what types of motivation there are and how to properly motivate a child, guided by his personal characteristics, without involving specialists.
Types of Motivation for Preschoolers
Motivation is interpreted in different ways by specialists, but in general understanding it is the ability of an individual to satisfy his needs and desires through activity. But the process of external motivation can be compared to manipulation, which can be positive and negative. According to V. Pathak, motivation is a whole system of processes that induce a person to take action.
Specialists in the field of psychology distinguish 6 types of motivation, these are:
- External. Not related to a specific process, but due to the result. For example, a child does not learn for the sake of gaining knowledge, but for the sake of high marks, praise, and other awards.
- Internal. The exact opposite of the previous type. The person is not very interested in the result, he is completely immersed in the very process of completing the task. Intrinsic motivation can include:
Cognitive Motives. They are based on an interest in acquiring knowledge and skills. Motivation is formed at an early age and depends on many conditions: the level of development of the nervous system, the nature of upbringing, the situation in the family, etc. If the innate cognitive motive is not supported, it will need to be restored in the future. Therefore, it is useful even with young children to attend exhibitions, excursions and other educational events.
Social Motives. They imply the child’s desire to be useful first in the family circle, and then in society. This also includes the desire to become literate, successful, to learn how to interact with the team and others.
The Motive for Avoiding Failure. In this case, children do everything in order to avoid bad marks and disapproving remarks in their address. With such motivation, it will depend on the grades how much the child will be drawn to learning and whether he will do it at all.
- Achievement motivation. In school years, as a rule, it is this motivation that becomes dominant. It is especially evident in children with a high level of academic performance. It is important for them to complete tasks in a quality and timely manner and receive appropriate encouragement. The goal of this motivation is to become a professional. The child can deliberately take complex tasks into work and make every effort to solve them.
- Positive. Motivation based on positive stimulation. An example of a child’s positive motivation: “If I learn my homework, I will get sweets and go to the rides.”
- Negative. Motivation coming from negative incentives, for example: “If I don’t learn my lessons, I will be punished.”
- Unstable. This type of motivation doesn’t lost long, and only stable for a certain period of time. If you are not connected with your goal emotionally it will lost faster.
You may also like to read: What are Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation?
The Nuances of Motivating Preschoolers
At the age of 6-7 years, each of the above motivations takes place, however, the predominance of any one has an impact on the formation of the character of an individual and his studies in the future. It is difficult to determine the predominant type of motivation, since children often answer the questions posed in a formulaic way.
For example, if you ask a child whether he wants to go to school, he, most likely, without hesitation, will answer in the affirmative, which is due to several reasons at once. First, children know what kind of answer adults want from them and give it. Secondly, the child does not have sufficient knowledge of what schooling means. Therefore, he cannot give an exact answer without understanding the essence of the question.
The basic needs of preschoolers are formed in early childhood, therefore, in the process of developing motives in a child, the family is of great importance. The motivational basis of schooling is based on:
- an individual’s desire to receive information from books, magazines, reference books, etc…;
- awareness of the importance of learning;
- the ability to find a balance between “want” and “need”;
- the skill to complete the started cases;
- the ability to give a competent assessment of their actions and the results obtained, to identify their own mistakes;
- adequate assessment of oneself .
The most powerful motivator for any child is the opportunity to receive an award. In order to get what they want, children can do things that are unpleasant and boring for them. An example of this can be observed in the process, when a child washes the dishes, tidies up the room, knowing that at the end of the case there will be a pleasant reward in the form of watching cartoons or playing a computer game. In this case, you can also talk about a voluntary substitution of your “want” for an adult “must”.
Building a Positive Attitude towards Learning
In general terms, there are two ways to create a positive motivation for a child to learn.
The first is to form positive emotions in the preschooler in relation to the very process in which the child is involved. This can happen in several ways at once:
- approval from the teacher;
- parents’ faith in their child;
- encouragement even for the smallest achievements;
- support and interest of adults in what the child is doing.
In this case, it is worth avoiding criticism of the preschooler, focusing on what he is doing well, and not on where the child failed.
The second path involves the process of creating positive motivation of preschoolers for learning by realizing the importance of learning. The preschooler is explained in detail and over a relatively long period the benefits of learning, what exactly the child will receive from learning. He must understand that he needs education (for example, to achieve the desired result in the future), and not his parents or teacher. However, this motivation of preschoolers cannot be called sustainable. As soon as the child loses the desire for what he was initially set up for, the motivation will come to naught.
Important Conditions for The Formation of Motivation in Preschoolers
The main conditions that are necessary for the successful motivation of preschoolers include:
- The need to generate in the child an interest in activities, using his innate curiosity.
- Let the child know that adults believe in him. Encouragement and faith should come not only from parents, but also from the teacher. It is important to teach the child not only to appreciate the achieved result, but also to realize the importance and value of the very process of achieving it. It is necessary to highlight the characteristics of each child, emphasizing his individuality, and not to evaluate everyone according to one criterion.
- Teach a preschooler to set a goal for himself, outline ways to achieve it and plan his activities. This item also includes the skill of predicting the result, i.e. “If I do … it will work out …, but if I do … it will lead to …”.
- Deliberately set for the child such tasks, in the process of solving which new ones will arise in front of him.
- Teach you to explain your successes and failures.
- It is important to focus not on the personal qualities of the individual, but on his actions. It is not the child who should be praised or criticized, but his actions or results.
- To maximally support the curiosity and activity of the preschooler, his initiative. Help embody children’s ideas, cope with mistakes and difficulties.
- To provide full conditions for effective motivation, you need to create a favorable psychological climate. It is very difficult for a child to concentrate if conflicts constantly occur in the house. This causes fear and other negative emotions in him.
Examples of Motivating Preschoolers
When motivation develops in preschool age, parental actions need not be directed towards learning itself. For example, you can develop perseverance in a preschooler with the help of games, and he will apply the acquired skill in his studies.
A few examples of how parents can influence a child and stimulate activities that he initially dislikes.
Probably every parent will agree how hard it is to introduce a child to cleanliness and order, and especially to the cleaning process itself. But everything can change if you switch to the game. For example, toys can be helped to get to their houses (arrange on shelves or put them in a drawer). You can connect a child to real cleaning by means of a personal example and by setting simple tasks for him in which he will act as an assistant.
Few children will be able to refuse the “adult” act – to wipe the dust or wash a small area of the floor. The parent’s task is to thank, praise the child and make it clear that without him it would be more difficult to cope with the task. It is important to refrain from criticizing the child if he did something wrong – this will forever discourage him from the desire to clean up.
Children still do not understand the benefits of products, so they only want to eat delicious. Feeding a child, for example, with porridge, often becomes a daunting task for parents. But even here motivation will come to the rescue. And there are many options here – from the interesting design of the dish itself to the use of fascinating stories and fairy tales in the process of eating. You need to show imagination and serve the child a dish that will be decorated in an unusual and attractive way. This will make the child want to eat whatever is offered.
Another way to feed your child what he doesn’t like is to use his imagination. You can imagine the dish to him not as food, but as an army of useful soldiers who want to protect his health, strength (for boys) and beauty (for girls). But they can get inside and get to work only if the baby himself helps them, i.e. eat. The more colorful and interesting the process is presented, the more effective this method is.
Two Common Mistakes Parents Make
The first mistake most parents make is that they do not support the child’s desire to learn new things. After a working day, adults get tired, and they do not have the strength to answer the child’s questions. Not every parent wants to make an effort to explain something incomprehensible to a child, because it is much easier to say the stereotyped “grow up – you will learn” or “stop asking all sorts of nonsense”.
If a preschooler regularly receives such an answer, his curiosity simply fades away, as does his motivation. In no case should the child be repelled in such situations. You need to try to explain everything simply and accessible to him. If the right words do not come to mind, you can always turn to children’s encyclopedias, educational programs and cartoons. Even if the parent does not know the answer to the child’s question,
The second common parental mistake is to assign the task of forming the preschooler’s motivation to third-party institutions: first to kindergarten, and then to school. The same category of mistakes can be attributed to the belated reaction of adults, who believe that at 2-3 years old the child is still too young for motivation, and even at 5 years old he still does not understand anything.
This is a very big mistake! Just at the time when the child is just beginning to lead an active social life, takes his first steps (and this happens at about 1-1.5 years), it is already necessary to pay more attention to motivating the child. If you do not miss the moment, further study will be much easier. The child will strive for learning on his own without additional stimulation from adults.
Tips for Parents of Preschoolers
As mentioned earlier, basic motivation originates in the child’s family, so parents should be actively involved in preparing the preschooler for learning.
Child psychologists suggest using the following practical guidelines:
- In the process of motivation of preschoolers, it is important to take into account the interests of the child, his individual needs and priorities. In the beginning, the main goal is not to educate the child, but to instill a desire to learn with pleasure. For example, if a child likes poetry, then the developmental process needs to be built on this, and even the multiplication table can be taught using rhymes.
- It is very important to create a positive image of the school in the child. It sounds very simple, but in society a child can hear the opposite. The situation becomes more complicated in families where there are older children who complain about school and how hard it is to study there. Such statements form in the child a stable opinion about the educational institution as something bad and boring. You need to protect your child from such reviews.
- Create a rough idea of the school. Since the child still cannot understand what exactly is taught at school and what will have to be done there, information can be presented in a playful way. The peculiarities of preschoolers’ motivation are that everything is learned through games. For example, drawing funny and bright pictures – fine art; jumping, games – physical education; reading exciting stories and fairy tales – literature. Such a pastime will give the child positive emotions, and he will understand that school can be very interesting.
- Development of horizons. Although a preschooler is small, he already has his own opinion, accumulated experience and knowledge. It is very useful to talk with your child on intellectual topics, ask his opinion on various issues. You need to perceive a preschooler as a small adult, then he will feel that his opinion is important and interesting, which means that you need to learn more in order to communicate later.
Useful Information for Parents
In order for a child to reach for knowledge, it is useful to surround him with intellectual games from early childhood. These can be cubes, puzzles, puzzles, etc. Thus, under the guise of playing, he will develop his thinking. It is useful to choose games that involve working with small details, for example, stringing beads on a fishing line – this increases the child’s concentration and perseverance.
Children need to be given the opportunity to make decisions and do as they see fit. Of course, everything should be within reason, but it is in such situations that preschoolers learn to develop a logical chain, draw conclusions, evaluate their actions, and be responsible for the decision. This gives the child confidence, he has a feeling of “adulthood”. It builds self-confidence well by successfully completing assigned tasks. The kid needs to be given tasks that he will definitely cope with. A sense of accomplishment will do the trick.
In order not to cause a fear of failure in the child, you should help him in completing tasks, guide him. Then, over time, confidence will come to him, he will not be afraid of difficulties and will learn to cope with everything without outside help.
It is important to teach a preschooler not to be afraid to express their opinion and defend it. In family conversations, it is useful for a child to ask what he thinks about the situation and what exactly his opinion is based on. This will teach the child to justify what is said and make decisions based on logical reasoning.
You should not indulge the children’s “want” and buy toys and sweets on demand. It’s also not worth setting hard boundaries. If the purchase is not cheap, you need to explain to the kid what you need to earn on it. For example, tidy up or do your laundry. The child will understand that not everything in life is given just like that, but in order to get something, you need to work hard.
It is useful for preschoolers to read children’s books. In the process of reading, you can fantasize and imagine what is happening in the book, even better if you can reproduce the action of the book in the form of a home theater production. Toys can act as actors. The benefits of such activities are invaluable – the development of imagination, creativity, memory takes place.
In motivation of preschoolers, a special role is given to the development of curiosity. The ideal exercise for this purpose is experimentation. There are many different types of laboratory work for little chemists, which amaze not only children, but also adults. This will develop in the child the spirit of a pioneer and a thirst for knowledge.
It is very important to let the preschooler make mistakes. Personal experience is the best and most memorable lesson. No need to scold the child. On the contrary, one should support him and explain that it is normal to make mistakes, and only those who do nothing do not make mistakes. For many parents, this will be a difficult task, but it will facilitate the upbringing process in the future. When the child realizes that only he will have to answer for the deed, he will think several times before doing something.
You may also like to read: Motivation For Study: Psychologists Advise For The Parents.
The motivation of preschoolers is a laborious process, but quite real. It is impossible to give recommendations that are suitable for everyone, because every child is different. If we take into account the characteristics of the child, his needs and priorities, the effectiveness of motivation will be much higher.
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