When in school, children are rewarded for positive behaviour and for achieving and are usually punished through criticism for bad behaviour and for underachieving. The teacher is in charge of their time in the class and children are motivated through praise and the desire to receive a good report, do well in class tests and end-of-year examinations and gain qualifications.
At home, parents often cajole children into spending time in a positive way by saying, ‘When you’ve done this, we can … ‘This provides a goal and a reward once that goal has been achieved. But what happens when children are left to make their own choices? Do they carry on doing something that involves achievement and then reward themselves afterwards, or do they slouch on the sofa and watch TV or play electronic games? Very often, children are unable to motivate themselves to do something taxing, always preferring the route of least effort.
For children to feel motivated there has to be a goal – otherwise, what’s the point? And the goal has to be something that they care about. Challenge the children to find ways of motivating themselves to do things they are not keen on doing but will benefit them in some way. How can they make themselves care about them more? And what could they ask their teachers and parents to do or say that would help them?
Discuss the Following Questions With the Class:
– How do you spend your weekends? How much time do you spend on homework, exercise, hobbies, interests, socializing and playing? (The older you get, the more time you should spend on homework. The other things should be in abundance, keeping you busy, involved and stimulated.)
– Do you feel that you have the right balance in your life? Are you doing the right amount of school work, taking the right amount of exercise, spending the right amount of time with friends and spending the right amount of time playing with other people and by yourself? How will you know that you are? (You will be reaching, or nearly reaching, your personal potential in school. You will divide your free time between plenty of other activities and have friends you see regularly. You will feel happy or contented much of the time.)
– What do you think the consequences are of not having the right balance in your life? (If you are doing too much work at the expense of exercise and socializing, you will be unfit and feel unhappy and lonely. If you are doing too little work and too much of the other things, you will underachieve and might get into trouble in school and at home -and you might believe you are no good at school work so have low expectations of what you could do with your life.)
– What are goals? (Objectives: things to aim for or to focus on. For example, to improve your skills, your ability, your knowledge or your lot in life.) Why do people have them? (To give them purpose, something to aim for and to gain the reward of reaching that goal.)