Ask the Teacher: Maintaining Academic Motivation

Can you tell me how to help my son stay motivated through a mid-fall slump? He starts out the school year so excited and ready to work but by mid-October, he has lost his drive.




The excitement of a new school year, a new teacher and new classmates brings a special kind of enthusiasm that is hard to maintain. Once students are comfortable in their situation and the work-load shifts from review to new material, it is tough to keep from feeling a little tired and even a bit overwhelmed.

Make sure that you are maintaining interest and enthusiasm in his studies! Take a deeper look at what your son is learning and let him see that your interest is piqued. Ask questions about what he is studying. Help him see how what he is focusing on now will help him later, making specific connections. For example, you could say that you didn’t really understand how important the three branches of government were until you started voting and could see how necessary a balance of power in government is. You might also talk about how learning to write well is important across all types of communication – even when using email.

Do not be tempted to “bond” with him over a shared hatred of a subject. It is perfectly reasonable to tell him that algebra was tough for you, but follow up with a comment saying you were glad you had mastered it by the time college entrance tests came around. If you focus on how much you dislike a subject or how worthless you thought something was, he will see that as your endorsement for little effort on his part.

Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four who holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Deb has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at [email protected]

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