With increasing access to information and learning online, and the rise in home educated learners, children are able to take charge of their own education more than ever before.

But how do we motivate them to do this, when so many are used to a more commonly spoon-fed type of learning experience, and when perhaps we as facilitators are too?

Here are six tips which help us facilitate that process:

  • Children respond far better to positive encouragement than to negative threats. For example by making statements like; ‘when this is done we can go out’, rather than; ‘if you don’t do your work we won’t go out’. They also need encouraging past challenges or failures and to produce good work for their own satisfaction. The best opportunity for encouragement comes from discussion.
  • Talking about their education, the activities that are required of them and why they’re beneficial, helps to make the children feel they have some choice and control over what they’re doing.
  • Compromise. Giving them some choice and control will require compromise. We do need to compromise sometimes on what they do and how they do it, listening to their ideas. For example, they can learn from watching a YouTube clip as well as reading about a subject. We need to exercise trust and allow alternative approaches to contribute to their learning experiences.
  • So it requires us to trust that some of the activities they want to do may be quite different to what we traditionally see as educational, yet will still be so, particularly if they’ve been involved with the decision making around those activities.
  • Involvement with decision making. This helps keep their education relevant to them, for to be involved you must be talking about it. It can also be a strong motivational factor as when they see exactly how their learning relates to them personally and life-wise it motivates them to do it more readily.
  • Experiences. Facilitating stimulating practical experiences throughout their education keeps them interested, keeps it meaningful and pertinent, and also provides excellent opportunities for discussion. Stimulating experiences motivate and educate more powerfully than any other approach.

Whatever approach our learners are taking to education we can help them best by keeping our minds and communication open about those approaches, and to allow the learners to be involved as much as possible in the process. This will contribute to keeping them motivated.



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Laura is a Francophile with a passion for literature and linguistics. She also loves skiing, cooking and painting.