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Motivation

When reading is a struggle, the hardest thing can be getting your child to practice! They may be exhausted, embarrassed, or just uninterested. If you can find ways to make reading fun, kids won't be as likely to avoid books.

Click below for answers to the following motivation questions:

Question 1: How can I get my child with LD motivated to read more?
Question 2: How can I prevent my child with LD from developing low self-esteem?
Question 3: My child is struggling in school. As a result, she has very low self-esteem. How can I help to build up her confidence?
Question 4: My daughter is reading below grade level. What can I do to help her become a good reader and get to a point where she enjoys reading?
Question 5: As a parent, I feel like I know my child's strengths and weaknesses better than her teacher. For example, my child is a very visual learner, yet her teacher rarely teaches to my daughter's visual strength. What can I do to encourage my daughter's teacher
Question 6: Our reports cards require that we give students a grade for achievement and effort in each subject area. I like this configuration because some of my kids work hard, and I can reward them through their effort grade. But some of my colleagues are arguing f
Question 7: What words would you use to describe a really effective elementary teacher?

Question:

How can I get my child with LD motivated to read more?

Answer:

Any reading struggles that your child is experiencing may help explain why she chooses not to read. From a child’s perspective, it is less painful to give up than it is to try and fail. These articles may help you and your child work through some of these issues of motivation:


Question:

How can I prevent my child with LD from developing low self-esteem?

Answer:

Self-esteem is dramatically impacted by academic struggles. Children’s sense of self-worth is tied to how successful and accepted they feel at school. It is important to nurture your child’s perception of herself as a learner. The following articles address issues of self-esteem:

The support and encouragement you provide your child will give her tremendous comfort. Assure her that she is not alone in her academic struggles – that many other children have difficulty learning in school, and that you are there to support her.


Question:

My child is struggling in school. As a result, she has very low self-esteem. How can I help to build up her confidence?

Answer:

It is common for struggling children to have feelings of low self-esteem. These feelings often accompany learning disabilities, but can also affect people who are not learning disabled. It may be a good idea to see a psychologist who could address these feelings that make learning, and even living, difficult.

LD OnLine has an entire section devoted to self-esteem issues with LD students. The following link provides information about ways to build self-esteem.


Question:

My daughter is reading below grade level. What can I do to help her become a good reader and get to a point where she enjoys reading?

Answer:

Beginning readers need lots of practice reading – it takes time, practice, time, and more practice! Work with your daughter's teacher to learn exactly at what level she is reading. Then, go to the library and load up on books written at that level and below. Provide her with time each day to read and reread those below reading level books. You'll want to build up her confidence and fluency with those books. Then, support her reading by reading her the books at her instructional level. Prompt her to sound out words that can be sounded out (and just tell her the ones that can't or are too tricky). Praise her efforts and reread each book multiple times over the course of a week or two. Finally, get some terrific children's literature written above her reading level. Model lots of good expression and let her hear what good, fluent reading sounds like. Check Reading Rockets' Books & Authors section for some great titles!

Do everything you can to provide a fun climate for reading. If a book is too hard, put it away. Reinforce her efforts and continue to work closely with your school and teachers. If she continues to struggle, talk with them about additional testing and some one-on-one supervised tutoring.


Question:

As a parent, I feel like I know my child's strengths and weaknesses better than her teacher. For example, my child is a very visual learner, yet her teacher rarely teaches to my daughter's visual strength. What can I do to encourage my daughter's teacher

Answer:

Talking to a teacher about his or her practice is a tricky issue indeed. The teacher may have more or less opportunity to tune teaching to individual students, depending on the number of kids in the class, whether there is a mandated set of lesson plans, and other issues. You haven't mentioned your daughter's age, but that is also an important factor. A first grade teacher is more likely to think that she should change her teaching style to accommodate your daughter, whereas a high school teacher may feel that your daughter is old enough to start learning to adjust to her teachers. So, what should you say? If a teacher senses that a parent is trying to tell him or her how to teach, the conversation seldom goes well. Keep the focus on your daughter, and keep it specific. Describe what you see as aspects of the class with which your daughter is struggling. Invite the teacher's opinion; that is, make it a two way conversation. Also, be open to ways that you can solve the problem with manageable changes your daughter might make. For example, if you think that the teacher talks too much and ought to write things on the board, could your daughter jot down instructions as she hears them? A final thought. I would be open to the possibility that teachers may know things about our sons and daughters that we don't, for the simple reason that children may act differently at school and at home. And while we, of course, know our children intimately, the teacher has had experience with scores or hundreds of children at that age.

Question:

Our reports cards require that we give students a grade for achievement and effort in each subject area. I like this configuration because some of my kids work hard, and I can reward them through their effort grade. But some of my colleagues are arguing f

Answer:

I would retain the effort grade, for two reasons. First, it's useful feedback for the child and for parents. There is good evidence that determination, and perseverance are hugely important to many school outcomes that most people care about. And as described in the book, there is also evidence that students' beliefs about effort are important. When students believe that effort leads to achievement, they are more likely to work hard, and not to get discouraged by failure, because they believe that, with more effort, they might succeed. If, in contrast, they believe effort doesn't matter much and what really counts is ability, then failure is very discouraging because it indicates that they lack ability, and there is nothing that they can do about it. A second reason to retain the effort grade is that it can provide useful feedback for teachers. If the two grades for a given child are very dissimilar, that seems important to me. The child who is getting high grades in achievement and low grades in effort would seem to need more challenging work. The child showing the opposite pattern needs less challenging work. I'd like to know why your colleagues want the effort grade eliminated. My hunch is that they don't want kids to get the message that achievement doesn't matter much and all that matters is trying hard. I'm sympathetic to that. Perhaps there is a way that effort can be acknowledged and praised, without diminishing the importance of reaching goals. The relative importance of grades should be explicit and can also be signaled visually on a report card by the size and positioning of the grades.

Question:

What words would you use to describe a really effective elementary teacher?

Answer:

I think that there are lots of ways of being a good teacher, so I'm reluctant to try to come up with labels. The only characteristic that I think is indispensible is that he or she understands kids. I've never taught an elementary classroom so I can't really know what it's like, but from my observations what impresses me most is the rapidity with which decisions must be made. Decisions about how the lesson is going, whether to change course, whether and how to discipline, and so on. The wisdom of almost all of those decisions rests heavily on the teacher's knowledge of children. The teacher must judge who understands and who is confused. The teacher must judge when the class as a whole is too tired to think anymore. When a child is hit on the playground and tells the teacher "I'm okay," the teacher must judge whether he's really okay. The list could be never-ending.
"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb