How to Motivate a Middle Schooler
Parents, along with teachers, definitely play an extremely important role in motivating children to learn. The teacher is in charge of the classroom climate, and when it is a caring, supportive environment where students are valued and assignments are challenging — but achievable — students can flourish. If a middle-school student is totally unmotivated in school, and his report card grades definitely reflect his lack of effort, it’s time to schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher. Include your child in the meeting so he can hear directly what the teacher thinks are his strengths and weaknesses, and any reasons for his lack of achievement.
Not doing well in school is not always a case of a child being unmotivated. Study skills or lack of effort can be the culprit. Many students can rely on their natural brightness to do well in school until the material becomes more challenging and requires concentrated effort for success. Ask your child how much time he is putting into his schoolwork. Find out how he thinks he might be able to do better in school. Also, put on the table the possibility of a learning disability.
At the conclusion of the meeting, make sure that there is a plan in place to help turn things around for the middle-school student who is struggling. Discuss with the teacher and the child, how the child approaches studying. One thing that could help is using a homework contract, which ensures that he will do one hour of schoolwork each day in your presence, and consider using the help of a tutor. Also, be sure to schedule another meeting within a month to six weeks to check on whether progress is being made.
Marge Eberts and Peggy Gisler are experienced teachers who together have more than 60 educational publications to their credit.