Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Intrinsic Motivation



 Improving Literacy in Children *   

Motivation is the key to learning or, actually, doing anything successfully


literacy in action, self motivation by a young student
This girl does her own hair!
"Thanks, mom... I can do anything!"

 
What is motivation? It is an inner drive that causes one to act. To motivate means to “inspire hope, stimulate, propel, spur, whet…”. The child who has caught a feeling of excitement about learning a skill, who is enthusiastic about the task at hand, who takes the initiative, who doesn’t give up in spite of set backs… this is the motivated learner. 

Children are naturally curious

Human beings come into this world eager to learn, touch, explore, and discover. The question for us as parents and educators is: how can we establish and maintain high but realistic expectations that motivate our children, rather than destroy their inborn desire to learn?



Student’s motivation (or lack there of…) is a major concern of all teachers and parents alike

Motivation, in a literary program, is crucial to creating authentic learning experiences that promote positive attitudes about reading and writing, while sustaining keen interest. Even very skilled readers may not read if they are not motivated to do so.

A literacy program should be a plan for supporting children as they develop their ability to read, write, speak, listen, and think.

I recommend this literacy website, National Literacy Trust (England), to peruse for additional ideas.

                                                                                                          Motivation is multi-faceted      


young girls showing great concentration with intrinsic motivation
Intrinsic motivation at work!
There are different aspects of children’s motivation. Therefore, it is more appropriate to think of children as inspired in a variety of ways. Creating a literate atmosphere, rich in language, print, and music stimulates authentic learning, where children become intrinsically stirred, and therein self-directed learners.


Giving children ample control over their learning by providing them choices promotes a community of self-sufficiency, confidence, and enjoyment. This sense of ownership, co-mingled with social aspects, has positive efficacy—efficiently encouraging children to be intrinsically engaged in education. Extrinsic motivators are strictly for short-term rewards, and should be discouraged .



Parents of successful students are engaged with their children


The adult who is enthusiastic and positive about reading, writing and learning, and who conveys this feeling to the child, models literacy as rewarding and fulfilling, and in doing so, sets up expectations for success in all youngsters.

education is fun, reading is amazing, literacy is powerful,
"b sharp with literacy"
The love of learning can be contagious to the adults, as well as to the children. Positive communication of all sorts (lively conversations, reading aloud, singing, laughing etc.) only serves to raise the entire literate environment, increasing the joy of learning for the child. Motivation is initiating, sustaining, and directing children’s enthusiasm and perseverance in the pursuit of knowledge of the world around them. 

Children will gain positive attitudes towards learning and the entire education process if they grow up in a world where their surrounding environment lives to learn!

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* I wrote this essay originally as a parent volunteer, when Anna was 14 years old (2001). The Eden Prairie (Minnesota) elementary school board created a committee of - school board members, teachers, and parents. The thesis was to brainstorm ideas on how to improve the school’s literacy program, and as a result the student’s scores (of course).

Until next time - Live, love, laugh, and learn linguistically, Papa Green Bean