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Tips and Strategies for Motivating Students

Updated on November 3, 2012

My fifth grader and I have been working really hard on his grades this year. After a little over one quarter in school, my son has all A's, the lowest being a 95%. We have kept those A's by spending time on his homework and studying every day. Here is our plan of action:

A parent must check all homework

My son sits down and does his homework by himself. Only when he specifically asks for help do I help him. I always hope he doesn't need help because if he does, I will inevitably have to go find a YouTube video to tell me how to do it. I have recently learned that I am not smarter than a fifth grader. Once his homework is finish, I check all of it and circle any problems that are not correct. I give it back to him and ask that he review those problems again. 9 times out of 10, he sees what he did wrong and fixes it without me having to tell him how to fix it. The other 1 time out of 10 he tells me I was wrong and why his answer was right in the first place. This is always embarrassing.

Math Facts

Math Facts seems to be an area that my son struggles with. So, in addition to regular homework and preparing for tests, we have a math facts quiz every night. I will write down times tables for him to complete. For instance, I might write down multiplication questions for 8's from 8x1 to 8x12 but not in order. It might be 8x2 and then 8x9 and then 8x6. He needs to fill all of these out and we will go over any errors before homework is complete.

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Spend some time studying for tests each night

Usually my son has a vocabulary and spelling test every Friday. So, Monday afternoon, we start studying for these tests. For the spelling tests, I will quiz him once every day on the spelling words for that week and let him know any time a word is spelled wrong. Sometimes the quiz is oral, meaning that I say the word and he spells it back for me. Sometimes the quiz is written, meaning I say the word and he writes them down. We mix this up based on what he feels like doing that day. He has to do the quiz but he can choose the format. For the vocabulary quiz he has flash cards. I will say the word and he has to give me the definition. Occasionally, we will switch this around and I will give him the definition and he has to give me the word. I think this is the easier so I prefer that he gives me the definition. One Thursday night we were taking my son and his friend to a skating party so we didn't have time to do the vocabulary quiz at home. Luckily both boys were working on the same words so we made a game of it in the car. I said the definition and they raced each other to see who could give me the vocabulary word first. They had a good time seeing if they could beat each other.
A Social Studies test is coming up on Tuesday so we began quizzing for it on Friday Night. 4 evenings of quizzing seems to be plenty to ace the test. Usually the quizzing only takes 10 - 20 minutes each evening and he has the facts down.

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Weekend Reading

His teacher requires at least 300 minutes of reading a month. We don't spend a lot of time on homework on the weekends unless there is a test coming up but he is required to read 30 minutes a day each weekend day reading so that he can fulfill his reading requirement. He also takes it upon him self to read for a little while right before bed every evening so the 300 minute requirement is no problem.

Check book

The fifth grade teachers have an awesome program to teach the students financial skills. Each child has a checkbook with pretend money, of course. When they turn in their work, provide a great answer, or get a good grade, they get money to deposit in their checkbook. If they are bad in class or do not complete an assignment they have to write a check to the teacher. At the end of each quarter they have an auction in their classroom. They can spend the money that they have earned that quarter on things at the auction. Auction items could be a 6 pack of soda (that they get to drink in class) , candy, school supplies, an itunes gift card, etc. The kids get really excited for the auction and do everything they can to earn money instead of loose it. This has an excellent tool for my son to encourage him to do better in school.

While these strategies seem like a lot of work, it is really only about an hour every school day including the time it takes for my fifth grader to do his homework and complete the practice quizzes.

Now, I know that it will not always be like this. I certainly won't be able to go to college with my son to check his help him study. Once good study habits have been ingrained in him I will slowly let go. I will stop checking his work and helping him prepare for tests, unless he asks me to, of course. Eventually, he will have to learn to do this on his own.

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    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Both of my children did very good in school. My wife and I were very involve. As a soccer coach my players also did better in school. I attribute this to encouraging parents to stay and get involved with the team's development.

    • Kimberly Vaughn profile image
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      Kimberly Vaughn 4 years ago from Midwest

      I agree Mhatter99. I had expected my son to do it more on his own but that didn't work for him. As a student, I was totally responsible for maintaining my grades and making sure my homework got done, and that worked okay for me. I expected my son to do the same but he seems to require me to be more involved.

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