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How can I get my son interested in his school work?

"How can I get my son interested in his school work? He feels bored when he has more than 1/2 hour homework. He is now 15 already. Thanks. -Nancy"

Above question asked by a parent after reading the article, "Ask the Child Psychologist - Teen Parenting: When To Ask For Help":
http://www.education.com/magazine/column/entry/...
In Topics: School and Academics, Motivation and achievement at school, Helping my child with school work and home work
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Candace_Lindemann
Jul 7, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

That is wonderful that you are interested in helping your son focus more on his school work.

Without knowing your son as an individual, I can only provide some general recommendations.  Try discussing this with him to make him a full participant in his own education and also ask his teachers to get additional ideas and consider the possibilities.

1. Assess his study habits.  It is very difficult for even the most motivated student to focus on a task for an indefinite period.  Start by setting a schedule where he sits down in a comfortable, well-lit place conducive for homework at a set time each day.  Ideally, he should work for an hour and then take a 10-20 minute break.  However, he may need to work up to that pace and could start with a 30 minute study period followed by a 5-10 minute break.  He can set a timer and make his break something relaxing and enjoyable.

Check out these tips on helping your teen with homework:

http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Helping_Your_2/

2. Address motivation.  Your son is old enough to start discussing some of his goals.  At this age, his goals may not be well-defined, but even the most general goal (I want a good job, I want to have time to work after school to save money, I want to go away for college, etc.) may help him see the importance of studying.  

Education.com has an entire section on motivation and achievement:

http://www.education.com/topic/child-motivation-achievement/

3. Provide incentive. Although ideally a person learns for the sheer joy of it, you may wish to provide some age-appropriate incentive for effort.  Rather than rewarding him for grades, I suggest setting up a system where he is rewarded for putting forth effort: studying for at least a certain number of hours a day, taking thorough notes in class, etc.

4. Evaluate barriers to learning.  Sometimes children are not motivated to learn because they are struggling.  This may be hard to spot as by the teen years children have become good at hiding their difficulties behind an apathetic attitude.  Sometimes "I don't care" really means the student is afraid to fail.  This does not mean the child is not smart--there could be a learning disability unrelated to "intelligence" or even a physical disability like sight or hearing loss.  Sometimes the barriers are social, as well, and very capable children don't want to look like they are trying to do well at school.  If you suspect your child has learning challenges, discuss these with the school and request an evaluation.  If your child's friends are the issue, try to find positive role models your child will respect.

5. Get your child engaged in school and learning. Sometimes electives and extracurricular activities are the key.  If your child loves photography, music, sports, or almost anything else, you can use this as a way to get him interested in other subjects.  Check out the resource below on multiple intelligences for ideas about how address different learning styles can motivate a student to learn:

http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Multiple_Intelligences/

Also, a child who is committed to an activity may increase effort in order to continue participating!

Best of luck!

---
Candace Lindemann, Ed.M. - JustAsk Expert
Educational Consultant and Writer
http://CandaceLindemann.com
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Additional Answers (1)

ginaa
ginaa , Teacher writes:
Hi Nancy,

Another thing to consider is what kind of learner your son may be. People tend to process and retain information in one of four ways  - Visual-Spatial, Auditory, or a combination of styles. Sometimes, getting a student interested in learning may also be about assessing which type of learner they are and then leveraging their style to their advantage. So, if your son is a visual learner, then maybe encouraging him to make graphic organizers of his learning may help him remember things better and keep him engaged with the learning content.

Here are a couple of articles on the subject. Good luck!
http://www.education.com/topic/different-learning-styles/
http://www.education.com/activity/article/Quadratic_Formula_Learning_Style/
http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Teaching_Tips/
> 60 days ago

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