A common topic of conversation at the school gates between parents is how their children love to or hate to learn. Some children appear to be destined for the academic stars with their thirst for knowledge and dedication to their schoolbooks. Others would rather play video games and avoid their homework at all costs.
When preparing for a big school exam, such as the 11 plus exam, this can be a concern for parents of the latter group. If your child refuses to sit down and put in the effort, it doesn’t hold much hope for them to get into the Grammar School you had hoped for.
But why are children so different? Why is one child determined to learn and another dreaming of playing Minecraft all day? In this post, we will look into the psychology between children and learning, as well as point worried parents in the right direction.
The Psychology Around Child Learning
What parents need to remember is that we are all different and enjoy doing different things and the same goes for our kids. Some children find enjoyment from reading books and doing maths, while others find enjoyment from playing sports. This is based on ‘intrinsic motivation’ because we do it for inner rewards – the enjoyment.
The opposite is ‘extrinsic motivation’ and means that a task is completed for an external reward such as a trophy or even a place at a grammar school. Not every child will have a natural love for learning but that doesn’t mean that they cannot all be successful in school. For example, many people hated studying statistics but they did it because it was a stepping stone to their dream career as an engineer.
If your child has a natural enjoyment for learning, solving equations and reading books, they have an advantage over other children because studying will be viewed as an enjoyable process for the most part. Extrinsically motivated children can do just as well as long as they can make themselves study, but what about the children who are not motivated to learn at all?
Some children show no desire to learn and are not intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to study. Sometimes this is because the child does not have an understanding about the importance of school and exams. Other times, it may be the cause of anxiety or fear of failure.
So, What Can You Do About It?
For parents, it can be frustrating when we see our kids refuse to take on our wisdom and our mini lectures. We sit and hope for that eureka moment to happen and they suddenly jump into study mode – but it never comes.
The reason it never comes is because research has already proven that lecturing children to go and study will not work. Any type of nagging or scolding in the hope that it will make them study does not work because nobody enjoys hearing a spiel of what they did wrong and what they should do instead.
Children usually respond by feeling resentful and put up their defence. Overall, it actually further demotivates them from learning. What parents should be doing is asking reflective questions that encourage the child to assess the situation themselves. Here are three good examples:
- What do you need to do to be ready for the test?
- How will you remember to study tomorrow?
- How can I help you to study better?
Don’t overload your child with questions as it again may feel like an attack and they could switch off. Choose the most applicable questions and have a real conversation with your child to get results. They may not enjoy studying any more than before but they may be more willing to put the effort in once they have a guided realisation of what is required.
But What if Studying Still Worries Them?
As mentioned, some children may not like to study because they see it as an opportunity to fail and they worry about the repercussions of failing. One way to combat this anxiety is to let your child know that as long as they try their best, the end result does not matter. This will help them to reduce their fear of failure and improve their ability to concentrate on studying – rather than use energy worrying about it.
The next step would be to create a study schedule together, including the times they will study and for how long. Including fun mindfulness techniques within their schedule may also be beneficial to overly anxious or worried children.
Some of the ownership is also on the parents if studying for the Grammar School Entrance Exam also known as the 11 plus exam. This exam includes very specific questions that must be prepared for in the right way. No generic study plans are likely to leverage success and the parents must help the children source the best study materials for the specific 11 plus assessment.
How to Prepare for the 11 Plus Exam?
Preparing for the 11 plus exam can be tricky, especially because the questions are not like those found in other primary school exams. Some choose to do their own research thoroughly but this can be time-consuming for busy parents. Another option is to hire a tutor who has prepared other students for the 11 plus exam – but this can be pricey.
The latest trend for parents is to choose an online 11 plus preparation course. These courses can be affordable and convenient because the child can study on their terms.
11 Plus Success offers a stellar 11 plus course to help children grow their confidence and prepare in the most effective way. Talk to our team today to learn more about our course.
Or why not try a practice paper for free!