All parents can agree that getting their teens to do their homework is not easy especially when they’re not motivated. Getting them to study becomes more important when you notice their grades are falling at an alarming rate.
Every parent dreams to see their child succeed, but some teens don’t appear to share that aspiration. If your teen is having trouble hitting them books, you’re not alone, and it’s not the end of the world. There’s more than one solution to this.
We’ve compiled some techniques that can make your teen put in the work, concentrate better and improve their grades.
Study Areas should be separated from Leisure Areas
Designating a study area free from distractions can have a powerful effect. The logic behind this is simple – your teen won’t be distracted if they aren't surrounded by things like Netflix, their phones, TV or videogames.
You’ll notice study areas like libraries or public cafés have a different mood that encourages reading. You’ll find several people that are either working or studying which could motivate your teen to start reading.
Another advantage of doing homework in designated study areas is that if your teen wants to leave to unwind in a leisure area, they will be motivated to finish their work so they can relax afterward.
However, the idea behind ‘schemas’ is the major reason you shouldn’t mix leisure and study areas. But what does schema mean?
In psychology, a schema is a state of mind that activates in particular situations. For example, a teen in bed thinks with a different group of thoughts than when he or she is in school.
The problem your teen may have with focusing on study is that they may be mixing the classroom schema with the unwind schema. Going to leisurely place during study time, like studying in bed, can make it difficult for teens to exhibit their classroom-like focus.
To get the best results, find the best environment that puts your teen in the mood to study. This way, their state of mind aligns perfectly with their goal. As your teen focuses on less distracting thoughts, studying becomes more efficient
Use Things They Care About
This method connects homework with something else your teen cares about to self-motivate them. Here’s how it works:
For instance, if your kid loves football, try to create a link between studying and their chances of playing with a certain team. For example, you could state that if they don’t study harder, might not earn acceptance an elite university with the best football team. If you can demonstrate that often, in these impressive schools, only the brightest students with top grades can join the team, which could spur motivation in your teen to earn better grades.
Here’s another situation you can leverage to motivate your teen to study. If your teen is feeling anxiety about school that inhibits their studying, you can use their desire to feel calm as a motivating factor. Here is how it can be done:
Let your teen know that you’ve noticed how worried they are about assignments and grades. Then, mention how much better they feel when all their work is off their plate. If you can help your teen understand this relationship, they might be more inclined to finish their work by a certain time so they can have a stress-free evening.
Another method is to play to your teen’s desire to be acknowledged by their peers, especially if they are a social butterfly or could use a confidence boost. You can tell them how impressive it will be to study harder than their peers and how cool it will be when they come out on top.
This strategy could highlight an opportunity to take control, feel confident, and compete to be the best in the class. When they think about how to achieve this (by studying) it will unlock their self-motivate to earn higher scores.
Set a Good Example
Modeling your own good study habits can rub off on your teen. Several teens don’t have the motivation to study when they feel they’re the only ones that have to grit their teeth and work on something they dislike. Especially when their peers seem to be gliding through school with ease. However, if you show your teen that you’re in the same boat as your both have to put your nose to grindstone sometimes, your teen might feel less alone and follow your example.
This is the time to say words of affirmation to your teen and remind them that everybody has to put in the work by studying hard, but it can help to have comradery. If could be helpful if you and your teen sit down and studying together.
No matter how tight your schedule is, you can probably carve out some time for a productive study session together. This way, your teen might not feel overwhelmed or stranded when it comes to homework time.
When your teen notices you working on your own projects like balancing the household expenses or finishing emails from work – they’ll understand that using the same persistence, focus, and calm that you exhibit can help them finish their studies without much stress.
Besides, if your teen notices you’re done with your work while they still haven’t finished theirs, they’ll be motivated to work harder and faster during the next family homework period.
Another way you can improve your teen’s study skills is to assist them in drafting a detailed study plan. In many cases, teens are not eager to start their work when they consider the sheer volume of tasks at hand. Together, they seem impossible to manage.
There’s a saying they should always remember which goes “the best way to eat an elephant is to take one bite at a time.” A study plan will help teens distribute their workload so school assignments don’t feel like elephant-sized bites.
Show your teen how to get things done by breaking their study sessions into multiple 30-minute segments rather than going 2 hours nonstop. Teenagers might prefer this method because of the framing effect which shows that presenting the same information in a more desirable context can greatly affect how teens make choices and approach problems. If the workload appears more desirable, you might motivate your teen to get started right away.
It Pays Off to Hit the Books
As a parent, you noticed a worrying trend with your teen and you researched ways to fix it, which is the first step in finding a working solution. Now, you can apply these techniques to see what works best to encourage your teen to study and improve their grades.
Eric M. Earle is the founder of Tutor Portland. He used to struggle with mathematics, but in his early twenties, studied math intensely and began to pass on his knowledge. Demand for his tutoring services led to the creation of Tutor Portland—which focuses on improving students’ math grades to better their college acceptance rates.