By Leslie Davis

Going back to school may mean a number of negative things to your child – no more sleeping in, spending less time with friends, having to study and having to sit in a classroom all day. It is the rare child who actually looks forward to attending school. And that means most parents need to help motivate their child to get excited about, or at least interested in, attending school and doing what needs to be done to graduate.

It is normal for kids, especially teenagers, to give you an unenthusiastic response when you ask them about school. Many times kids don’t want to share with their parents what they did during the day, especially if they feel like they have nothing good to tell them. This can be frustrating to parents, who want their children to both communicate with them and get something useful out of their day at school.

Motivating your child for school is not always an easy task, and your child may never be as enthusiastic about school as you would like, but there are some things you can do to get your child to at least show some interest in their education.

1. Ask Questions and Be Enthusiastic

Getting your teen motivated for school may be as simple as showing your interest in what they do during the day beyond what they learned in school. Asking your child questions about school, teachers, friends and activities may elicit responses that reveal enthusiasm about some aspect of going to school. Hearing you have an interest in what they have done during the day may be all the motivation your child needs.

Also ask questions to find out what your teen likes and dislikes about school. There may be something going on at school that is causing your child to be unmotivated. It may be a teacher who is giving them a hard time or a fall-out with a friend. If you are able to uncover the problem and help your unmotivated teen overcome it, your child may be more eager to go to school. Finding out your kid’s likes also goes a long way toward motivating them because you can encourage them to talk more about things they enjoy about school and get them excited in the process.

2. Get Them Involved in Activities

Kids may find school boring simply because they haven’t become involved with an activity they like. Most schools offer a variety of interesting groups and activities to get involved with. Talk to your kids to find out if they are interested in getting involved with the student newspaper, joining the lacrosse team or becoming part of a volunteer organization. Finding just one activity that gets your child excited may be all that’s needed to get them jumping out of bed and ready for school in the morning.

If there is nothing offered by the school that sparks your child’s interest, encourage them to find an outside activity. There are plenty of sports and volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood, some of which can be applied to school credit. The key is getting your child involved in something that interests them because that enthusiasm will spread to everything they do.

3. Teach Them the Benefits of Education

There is no doubt that your kids know they need to complete their education. They just may not realize why. Take time to explain to your children the benefits of getting an education and how that will affect their future. Describe the different careers that will be available to them when they are educated versus when they are not, and the different salaries they can earn. A reality check can do wonders for motivation.

If, in doing this, your children show an interest in a specific career path, encourage them to pursue it during high school. If your child is interested in becoming a nurse, they can take extra classes in biology. If it is architecture that your child wants to pursue, sign them up for more art and math classes. Not only will this get your child thinking about career options, it will get them excited about learning something new every day.

4. Celebrate Achievements

Letting your child know you are proud of what they accomplish at school can be a huge motivator. Even if it is just completing a routine paper or finishing finals, reward your child for accomplishments, big or small. Treat them to a movie or ice cream, or give them a reprieve from chores for the week. These gestures help children realize that you are proud of their efforts.

5. Set Realistic Goals for Your Child

Getting motivated can be difficult for children if the pressure on them to do well is too much. Your child will not be as interested in school if they know you expect them to get straight A’s, read extra books and be the star player on the basketball team. While it is fine to set high standards for your child, the goals should be realistic.

Finding a way to get your children motivated for school may take some time depending on how willing they are to open up to you. But it will be worth it when you see your child actually try to rush you out the door in the morning so they are not late for class.