Going Back to School: 10 Tips to Motivate Kids

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Does your kid need some Back to School motivation? Little parenting tips and tricks to help get your kid excited for school may be just what he needs. A positive attitude goes a long way! Turn those end-of-summer frowns upside down with these tips for Back to School motivation.

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By Cheri Lucas

The bell of the school year will soon ring, but is your child ready for a new set of classes, essays and exams? After a long and leisurely summer, some kids need an extra boost to get amped about school. It can be done, and it can be fun! Check out these 10 tips for motivating students at the beginning of the school year.

Just Ask!

“Ask a child what will motivate them, as well as their barriers,” says education columnist Katherine Wagner. “Be prepared to spend time to really listen.” Allow your child to verbally express what features of school make him eager and curious. A fitting place to do this is in the car, Wagner says.

Hold an “Auction”

Purchase appealing school supplies like colorful pens, graphic-clad pencil cases and cartoon-themed notebooks. Invite your child’s classmates over for a playful “silent auction,” where they use fake money to bid on cool items to stash in their backpacks.

Integrate Pop Culture

Check your child’s upcoming syllabus or class curriculum, if available, for books he will read or topics he will learn about. It’s possible the books have been adapted into movies (such as Inkheart and Pride and Prejudice), or the subjects have been covered on TV shows (such as Mythbusters). Introduce this entertainment to complement his studies.

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Display a Dialogue

Use a white board or a display on your refrigerator to ask a question or offer an encouraging saying each day on the first week of school. Write, “Meet a new classmate,” or ask, “Are you excited to have new teachers?” Throughout the week, your child can write his responses to express how he feels.

Decorate the Bedroom

New imagery stimulates children—why not update your child’s bedroom? Change his jungle safari bedspread to a space-age comforter with stars and planets. Rearrange the furniture and spruce up his desk space with wall stickers, a new calendar or magazine cutouts of his favorite musicians.

Foster a Positive Attitude

Bring up the high points of the previous school year: the A he earned on a difficult math test or the ribbon he received at the science fair. Concentrate on his past accomplishments to encourage him to do the same for the new school year.

Examine the Issues

Talk to your child about the current state of the school. Is the district debating whether to discontinue serving hot food? Is there a shortage of computers? Urge him to form opinions on issues that affect him, which may inspire him to become involved at school in a non-academic way.

Create an "Achievement Tree"

Display an achievement tree that exhibits his accomplishments. Draw a tree with numerous brown branches on poster board, and create a handful of “leaves” on strips of green paper. Each time he feels he achieves something over the semester—such as a successful day at band practice or a solution to a tricky geometry problem—he can record it on a leaf and tape it to the tree. By semester’s end, he will have created a full, lush tree!

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Get Comfy on Campus

If your child is transitioning to a new school, visit the grounds a few times over the summer. Roam the playground, wander the halls and peek inside the classrooms. Becoming familiar with his new turf will help tremendously.

Keep It Simple

Dave Maskin, a parent and creative entertainer in New York, gives simple but essential advice: “Tell your kids what I have been telling mine every year on the first day of school: Learn something new every day.”

There are many ways to get your child excited about a new year of school. These tips are just the beginning!

Is it a yearly struggle to get back into the homework routine at the beginning of the year? Click here and learn how to help your kid tackle homework from day one.

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