How to Increase Motivation in Elementary School

What kind of motivation is there? How to use playful teaching techniques about simplify pemdas and make the feedback from children more effective? How to increase the subjective and objective importance of the child in the learning process? These are the questions teachers and psychologists are looking for answers to.

Reason and/or feeling
“Today, learning is treated on the basis of the rational psychology of the late 19th century,” said Yuri Gatanov, a specialist in the development of creative thinking, abilities and learning motivation of children and teenagers, author of popular St. Petersburg arithmetic Olympiads, which were among the best educational initiatives in 2019, candidate of psychological sciences, at his public lecture at the Institute of Practical Psychology “Imaton”. – In this approach, a person is equated with consciousness. It is believed that if an adult or child is told how to behave correctly, and he understands and realizes it, then that is how he will act.”

But in reality things tend to be different. Humans, adults and children in particular, are emotional creatures. Everyone knows how to behave: in the morning get up briskly and do exercises, eat a healthy breakfast, not to get into bad habits, and so on. Such statements do not cause anyone any doubts. But how many people behave in this way? Of course not. After all, in reality, we are usually guided not by reason but by emotions.

“At one time, both behavioral psychologists and psychoanalysts came to the conclusion that we exaggerate the role of consciousness,” says Yuri Gatanov. – But the rational psychology of the late 19th century, where the human being is equated with consciousness, turned out to be dominant. Today, if we want to successfully interact with children, we should change our beliefs.

Now, not later.
Teachers and parents believe that all children should want to learn what’s a compound sentence example. This is what it sounds like, but in reality the child is not eager to do their homework, but wants to take a walk, play on the computer, watch cartoons, or just lie around. This shows that planning for the long term (to study now in order to become smart later) is not inherent in children. They need short-term motivation.

If children are asked, “Why do you need to study?”, they will answer in our own words, “You need to study to become smart, to go to university, to get a good profession,” and so on. This kind of answer is socially desirable. Children respond as they have been taught because they know that the phrase “I don’t want to study!” – is a bad answer.

A child cannot make long-range plans because it is an adult-type thinking skill. It may not become available to a teenager until after age 14. But short-term motivation is understandable to a child. Its benefits are well known to parents. The methods “until you learn, you don’t go for a walk” and “if you do your homework, then we’ll see” are used by adults quite often.

“Practice shows that 90% of people are more likely to do what they need to do here and now. It’s the same with children: they do what they’re interested in at the moment.”
What do kids do when they have free time? They play and enjoy their play. In those moments, the child feels satisfaction and strong emotions. “And when a person is emotionally involved in an activity, his memory, attention and in general all mental processes work at the maximum level,” says the psychologist. Using play in the learning process can make it much easier.

Learning in the game
But games are different. In order for a game to be used for learning what are past participles, it must meet certain principles.

1. a good game has clear goals and a variety of ways to achieve them. This means that each child can choose his or her own strategy. In the classroom, the student is usually deprived of this: he was taught some ways to achieve the goal, and he uses only them. Moreover, the initiative to find unconventional solutions in most cases is not encouraged.

2. A game in which growth and advancement of participants, their successful actions are not restricted but encouraged is useful. In traditional teaching, the teacher is forced to limit the activity of the leaders. If a student gets an “A” for an answer, the teacher will not ask him further. This situation reduces the activity of the child. As a result, his performance also falls. The child begins to think that he will not be asked anyway, he stops learning. Children get angry with each other because one is asked and the other is not, and so there is not a good atmosphere in the classroom.

“It turns out that if your child has great aptitude in math, those are the classes he’s not having any luck with. Because it’s precisely in his favorite math class that he’s being discouraged from being active. This is paradoxical, but a fact. It happens because with the current traditional system of teaching, the teacher has no other choice.

3. the game has clear and understandable rules. These rules cannot be changed, and all participants must obey them. As a rule, it is easier for an excellent student to get an “A” than for a “C” student. An A student may say a few words, but a C student will have to work hard to get a high grade.

4. The game gives you the right to take a risk or the right to make a mistake. If a student applies a risky solution in a quiz and makes a mistake, he will get a bad grade. No matter how you demonstrate your knowledge in school, if you come up with the wrong solution, you will get a bad grade. If the task is set in a playful way, the child will feel freer.

Gender differences
Girls tend to do better in elementary school. As it turned out, it is not the gender of the pupil, but the rules of teaching and gaming techniques used to learn. Girls’ games were highly structured, with strict sequencing of actions, consistent rules governing all procedures, small numbers of players, and fewer creative strategies. The game is risk-free, and everything moves according to plan.

In the games for boys all the action happens at once, not in turn, a large number of players involved, the rules are also there, but they are not as strictly regulated, and to see their violation is more difficult than for girls. In games for boys is rewarded initiative, improvisation, creativity, ability to cope with unforeseen situations. A typical game is soccer.

“In elementary school, all the teachers are mostly women. And whether they want it or not, they will play the games they played themselves, with female rules,” reminds Yuri Gatanov. – What will the lesson be more like – a game of classics or soccer? Of course, the classics. And that means: “Don’t shout from your seat, raise your hand.

There are other qualities valued in boys. But when boys come to elementary school, they get into the women’s game. “Everything that is considered good in normal boys’ life – the faster the better, the louder the better, the more active the better – becomes bad here, in girls’ play,” explains the psychologist. – And it turns out that the boys are playing some other game, not peculiar to them, where others win simply because of the rules.

In addition, psychologists link academic success to the toys that children play as children. Playing dolls or with a teddy bear develops communication, teaches communication. If a child only has a gun and a tank, then these toys will not be able to talk. Manly toys – a ball, a construction set – are also good, but they lay a completely different foundation. Consequently, learning games should be arranged using different rules, so that they can adapt to both girls and boys.

What else is important
A great value in learning is the feedback. When a child is learning something, they need to get as much feedback as possible from an adult about their activities. It’s not just a matter of praise, it’s important to let your child know if he’s doing it right or wrong and to explain in as much detail as possible. It is necessary to discuss not only the result, but all the stages of the solution. According to the expert, more frequent and immediate feedback promotes faster learning.

You should not compare one child to another. Children who are constantly compared to each other are not able to team up and cannot work as a team. There are three negatives to being compared to others.

The person becomes dependent on the group. He works well if the group is strong, but if the group is weak, he will not need to put in the effort to work well.
A bad emotional state. Even if the child is very smart, there will always be someone who is smarter. Awareness of this fact will make the child unhappy.
Difficulties in communication. Leaders of the group, as a rule, start to demonstrate their superiority over the others. In this way they raise their self-esteem.
If to compare the child with himself or herself, the results reached by him or her with his or her former successes, instead of with other children, such negative factors do not arise.

Of course, parents cannot always influence the school process of learning, but it is quite possible to apply all of the above principles for successful learning in lessons with children at home.