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How to Motivate Kids to Succeed at School

Updated on January 31, 2013

My 11 year old son has straight A's now but he didn't always. I have learned some best practices that have motivated him to succeed.


The most important factor in learning is attitude. I personally have succeeded in classes that I was excited about and done, not so well, in classes that I did not like. If you child is struggling with a positive attitude toward school ask your child how he or she feels about school. You want to make sure that their is no bullying or teasing going on that is discouraging learning.

Set proper expectations

At the beginning of the year I told him my son that he already has A’s, he just has to keep them. Michelle Pfeiffer said that in the 2005 movie “Dangerous Minds” and it has stuck with me ever since. So, I passed along this little bit of movie knowledge I have as wisdom.

I also let him know that I expect him to try his best no matter what. If he tries, I will be proud of him.

Behaviors of an unmotivated child:

  • requires a lot of prompting to start work and continuous prodding throughout work time.
  • puts in minimal amount of effort
  • behaves and speaks negatively about learning and homework or just doesn't seem to care.
  • gives up as soon as work gets difficult.
  • chooses easiest assignment
  • does not complete work.

The Parent Institute

Show your child you think school is important

My son, his father and I have discussed the importance of school many times. We tell him that the grades he gets now will affect the high school that he gets into. And, the high school grades will affect when college he gets into. And the college will affect the job. It's all important.

We also show that we value education through continuing our education. We read often and take classes, and visit museums.

Behaviors of a motivated child:

  • positive attitude toward learning and school
  • completes assignments
  • chooses challenging tasks, concentrates, and makes an effort to complete those tasks.

The Parent Institute

Support your child's learning style

Does you child learn best through seeing, hearing, or hand's on activities? Support that style.

If you child is an auditory learner you can support him by giving practice quizzes orally, listening to books on CD while he reads along, encourage him to talk through problems, and use rhymes and songs to remember facts.

If your child is a visual learning you can support him by suggesting he take notes using different colored pens, post items he needs to learn in a special plan in the house, and make flashcards.

If your child is a tactile learner you can support him by looking for hands on activities that encourage learning, use objects when learning addition or subtraction and allow him to move around while learning. He may need to stand up or lie down to learn. And encourage activity during study breaks. Have him run around, play tag, or soccer.

Encourage Resilience

When your child struggles have open discussions about what's going on. Ask questions about what they will do differently in the future.

If he gets a bad grade, son't get upset. Stay calm. Tell him you know he will try hard and do better next time.

Encouragement & Praise

I use a heavy dose of praise with my son. When he does well, I make sure he knows I am proud of him. I will hang the grade up on the refrigerator, tell him "Great Job", or take him out for a special treat. I also talk him up to family and friends. I tell them how well he is doing in school so it encourages he current momentum. And, I encourage friendships with like minded kids. Kids who also try hard in school are a good influence.

Missouri History Museum
Missouri History Museum | Source

Learn everywhere

  • read together at home
  • go to the library
  • go to museums
  • go to the science center
  • make up your own science experiments at home

My son is very intelligent but in past years he did not care about school so he ended up getting A’s, B’s, and C’s. Using these methods and a heavy dose of praise when he does well has made a big difference in his academic career so far.


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    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Thank you, Kimberly, for taking the time to write this response to my questions. Congratulations, and best wishes for continued progress and success with this apprenticeship program. Aloha!

    • Kimberly Vaughn profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Vaughn 

      5 years ago from Midwest


      I applied for the apprenticeship program in June and was accepted to the October program. The program runs for 6 months so I am just finishing my second month. Each month there are lessons and videos that teach new skills related to being successful on Hubpages and writing hubs. It is not geared to correcting typos or grammar like I would have thought but more about how to use the tools provided to create the best overall hubs. Even though I read a lot in the learning center, in the forums, and others hubs prior to starting the apprenticeship program I have still learned a ton through the program. This is our opportunity to get insights right from the staff.

      Each month we have to create a minimum of 8 hubs and a maximum of 15 hubs using the tools they have taught us. Each month we need to build on those tools and keep using all of our lessons. I can already seen a difference in my hubs. I can't wait to see where we go from here.

      There is also some group participation. We are in a class of sorts so we picked a group name and have a private area for discussions. We can offer up our work for critque by our classmates. It has been fun getting to know them better.

      I am trying to do the maximum of writing 15 hubs a month and it has been a real challenge. So, that is the one thing, you have to put in the work and the time. But, it is definitely worth it. I hope you apply. I think you will enjoy it.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      As the father of three adult children, I am familiar with the stages the parent as well as the child goes through during the years of education. I am so thankful that my children, like your son, did well.

      I see that you are a Hub apprentice. I know that I could very well learn what that is all about by reading something in the learning archives, but I was wondering if I could get a more personal bit of insight from someone who actually went through the program. How long? How rigorous? Hardest thing you had to do? Easiest thing you had to do? Funniest thing, etc...Who knows, if and when you're able to provide me with a response, you might just end up with a hub.

      Thanks in advance. Should you not have the time or inclination to answer my questions, not to worry. I learn as I go, and I do appreciate all the friendly hubbers like you who are so helpful and encouraging.


    • Kimberly Vaughn profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Vaughn 

      6 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Tina!

    • profile image

      Tina Truelove 

      6 years ago

      Nice Hub! Great information and advice! Thank you!


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