Motivation greatly impacts a student’s academic performance at all grade levels and impacts overall well-being. With unmotivated students, it is important to understand and support them with appropriate measures.
Before diving into remedies to improve motivation, it’s important to note that motivation can be greatly affected by learning disabilities and is a symptom of many different mental health disorders. When experiencing poor motivation, it’s important to look at the bigger picture, to rule out concerns such as Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, Depression, or various learning disabilities. Students with disabilities may have difficulty with reading, writing, or math, and may also have trouble with social interactions, communication, and self-regulation. These difficulties can greatly impact a child’s motivation, academic performance, and overall well-being. It is important to work with the school and/or external support, such as a pediatrician, therapist, or educational coach to help students with disabilities succeed in school.
When disabilities and mental health concerns are ruled out, a lack of motivation in school can be a more isolated issue, referring to a child’s lack of interest or engagement in their academic work. This can be caused by a variety of factors, such as boredom, lack of relevance, or lack of support. Students who are not motivated in school may struggle with completing their work, paying attention in class, and may not be performing to their full potential.
For parents and educators, it is essential to understand the specific needs of each student in order to provide the appropriate support and interventions. Students with disabilities may require specialized accommodations, such as extra time on tests or assistive technology, while those who lack motivation may benefit from strategies such as providing more hands-on, interactive, or project-based learning, or by increasing the child’s sense of ownership and autonomy in their education.
It is also essential to involve the student in the process of identifying and addressing their difficulties. This can help the child understand their own learning needs, and help them develop self-awareness and self-advocacy skills.
Parents and educators should work together to create a positive and inclusive learning environment that promotes engagement and motivation. This can include promoting positive relationships between the student and their teachers, as well as encouraging teamwork and collaboration among classmates. For older high school and college students, advocate for yourself and let your teachers or professors know what you need!
Navigating the complexities of motivation in school can be a challenging task, but with the right support and interventions, students can succeed and reach their full potential. It is essential for parents and educators to understand the specific needs of each student and work together to create a positive and inclusive learning environment that promotes engagement and motivation for all students.
Lisa Aguilar is a specialist in school psychology and an education consultant at Action Consulting and Therapy in Geneva, IL.