Imagine your child comes home from a long day at school, tossing their bag aside in frustration after tanking a difficult math exam. You try to talk them through their annoyance, but they are simply defeated. Math has suddenly become too hard, and they are no longer motivated to try to succeed.
This is a scenario all too common among young people, and why many students become resigned to the fact that they are just not “math people”. But here’s the secret they don’t know: people who are naturally gifted at math, science, or any other subject, for that matter, are a myth. The reality is that successful students have put in the time and intense effort to overcome obstacles and excel in these subjects. Students often face a turning point when a subject becomes more challenging, and as parents and educators, we can train young people to use these moments as motivation to push ahead.
Here are three, research-based recommendations for boosting your child’s motivation to overcome obstacles and achieve:
The idea of a Growth Mindset suggests that the brain is constantly changing and can develop new connections throughout a lifetime. This reinforces that innate ability or talent is secondary to effort—any student can learn to become a celebrated mathematician if they work hard to learn and achieve.
As parents and educators, the best way to encourage a Growth Mindset is by commending effort. We have often been trained to reinforce a students’ successes with a simple “good job”. Instead, qualify the role of effort in success by saying something like, “I can tell you put a lot of time into studying—your grade reflects great effort!” With statements like these, students will begin to associate success with effort, which can motivate them to continue working hard.
Success is not the only factor of achievement. Failure is a crucial component of building a student’s motivation, if celebrated as a learning opportunity. Oprah Winfrey, for example, was fired from her first position as a talk show host. What did she do with that failure? She learned from it and built a talk show empire that is known globally to this day. When students fail, parents and educators can focus on ensuring they “fail forward”—push them to use this as an opportunity to learn from any mistakes and course-correct. A student who fails a difficult math exam will then be pushed to reevaluate their study habits and perhaps seek extra help at school or in their after school classes for the next test.
Success and achievement are rarely achieved alone. Students who maintain a Growth Mindset and treat failure as a growth opportunity are much more likely to ask for help when they need it. Explain to students that it is in their best interests to ask the right people for support whenever necessary, as this will allow them to grow and learn from experts in the field.
At A+, we ensure our teachers are trained in methods that promote a Growth Mindset and emphasize the importance of effort in success. Through this, we have been able to push thousands of students to new levels of achievement that result in long term achievement! Reach out to us today to learn more about our upcoming April and Summer enrichment programs and learn how we can work with you to help build your child’s motivation.