How do the best teachers motivate their students to study?

Written by Asha Muralidharan


3 mins read

Gone are the days when we said: “Spare the rod and spoil the child”. Children of this generation bloom well when properly nourished with kind words of encouragement, soft target setting and empowerment. The latest mantra is: “The best way to a child’s brain is through their heart”.

Children have abundant energy, knowledge and the capacity to execute. When tuned up the right way , they  excel and multi task with ease.

How does our brain react to ‘Order and  Request’?

When we order a child by giving a detailed step by step procedure of what has to be done, their  brain gets into a passive mode, executes and shuts off. On the other hand, empowerment kindles the energy within the child, and the active state of execution begets other activities, like a banyan tree. The ripple effect of this positive reinforcement, in turn, creates self-motivation which is the ultimate requirement for a child.

So, the first step to motivation is ‘Positive Empowerment’.  By empowerment, we allow the children  to have freedom to think and execute and the onus is on them to perform and  excel.

I would like to share one of my classroom experiences here: Our students are made to understand and believe that they need to compete with themselves and self-correction is the first step towards self-realization. Solution sheets (Answer keys) are given to them and they check and correct it by themselves before getting back to me.  By empowering them, we boost their self-confidence which is the greatest motivator. These children understand that the corrections are for them to learn from their mistakes and not to judge them.

The second step is Appreciation.

Children who are at the borderline of transition from “Not so interested” to  “trying to get interested” definitely show remarkable improvement when they are appreciated for their effort or accuracy. I had a student who joined me when she was four years old, with the usual childlike tantrums. She would do only whatever she wished to, and could never be coaxed to complete the specific  activities as required. Then during our Annual Day, she got awarded for her attendance, workbook neatness, tab and card and since then there was no looking back. This inspired her to write a story on how she came to like Math!

The third step is Setting targets  

Setting targets is a motivator of another kind wherein, children are made to realize their potential. Success begets success. Kids and parents are sometimes laid back in not knowing their potential and not being aware of the standards set in the outside world. So target setting is the right strategy and does not amount to stress, competition or jealousy. On the other hand, target setting gives the right amount of motivation to perform, self-correct, and excel.  Without this kind of motivation, children tend to be laid back and the vicious cycle replaces the virtuous cycle. Simple target settings and rules imposition through polite statements like classroom behavior definitely induces motivation.

The fourth step is  Rewarding.

Any target set, has to be rewarded, if achieved. The reward has to vary with time and with the expectations. All rewards should be subtle and linked to self growth and self motivation.  For example, if the kids are set with a target of completing three sheets per class and when they reach the target, simple “efforts’ appreciation’’ in the class or in front of their parents or peer groups will go a long way in motivating them rather than giving expensive gifts or appreciations.  All rewards should adhere to the minimum cost standards so as to not make the kids work only for the reward system but also to make them understand that their self development is of prime importance.

The fifth step is Awareness.

While we have a range of gifts to motivate the children, from general to personalized, they should be simultaneously made aware that they reap the rewards of success and the results accrue only to them as much as the reasons for failure. When the onus and responsibility are rightly assigned as told  in Step 1, the child begins to be aware of the fruits of labor. This onus and responsibility, simultaneously teaches them self-reliance, self-respect, honesty and leadership. These children never fear or hide failure.

Adults and children are motivated by rewards,  small words of courtesy, kindness and appreciation really goes a long way in encouraging them to  achieve success .Rewards should be a mixture of goodies with huge elements of surprise, triggering the excitement to achieve more!

As these motivators help them to cross the first barrier of self-realization , the next steps of motivation should be to raise the bar every time and teach the child that goals are limitless and it’s the human capabilities which are ever expanding. In these situations, the rewards will be in giving the children more leadership roles as in helping and motivating other students to perform and excel.

Other kinds of awards should stimulate them to scale greater heights.

Comments (24)

Thank you Asha, nice article, very well presented.

Wonderful insights shared by someone who’s so passionate about Math and teaching!! ❤️

Praba Jayashankar

Brilliantly son is one of the recepient of Asha,s gentle nudging and prodding to put more effort and he adores his teacher

Great write up Asha! Congrats!!

Excellent tips. This is really true. Motivation brings children to go in a right way. Thank you Mam for giving us Good tips.

Shobana Natarajan

Very well written . Very valid observations and great advice for both teachers and parents alike .

Awesome article. Very well articulated.

MuthuLakshmi Ganesh

Superb Asha.The principles to motivate learning have been so well said . Thanks so much.No wonder you are a great teacher.

A very well written write up on on motivating children. Hearty congratulations.
Arjun Krishna

Really wonderful article.
Very well written on how to encourage kids. From the article I can see the love and care you have for your students.

I always admire your passion for mathematics.

Very well articulated article ma’am. A must read for every parent and teachers. Thank you for this wonderful writeup.

Simple, yet, very effective step by step approach to win the hearts of children and make them learn! Well done Asha!

Mahima Meenakshi R

Awesome article. What makes this more special is the fact that you are so committed to get them to love what they are doing rather than just getting them to perform.
Thanks a lot for every thing

Thanks for the comments… Please share if u found this article useful.

Super!!! Very nice article mam… Thank you for sharing with us..!!

Awesome writing. indeed I agree with all the points you have listed for encouraging a child to do better.A teacher should be an inspiration to the students and be a candle to enlighten their lives.

Very informative covering all the basic requirements of effective teaching

Very useful article, tips for motivating kids

Thanks for sharing such a good article which motivates me to join cuemath

Very nice article asha ji.. God bless you …
I will too try my level best in future .. Now only i m join cuemath.

Thank you, and it’s great to know that you want to become a part of Cuemath
Register now! On our website on becoming a Cuemath teacher.

Your article will motivate me thanks for sharing

Very impressive message Asha madam..
To boost one’s self confidence by positive empowerment, is d best point I accepted and appreciated ..
I also want to follow all of your tactics

Thank you

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