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Success for an Eight-Grader
Q: My eighth-grader is very bright but lacks the motivation to do her best. She could make all Bs or better with very little effort. How do you motivate kids?
A: Parents frequently offer rewards, limit privileges, nag, or talk about the advantages of doing well in school in order to motivate their children. For some, these approaches do work, and in time the children may even get in the habit of trying to do their best at school.
Nevertheless, the very best motivation is that which comes from within, when a child tries to do well in school because it meets some personal need. It could be as simple as making the honor roll, pleasing a favorite teacher, preparing for college or a career, or doing as well as good friends.
Because your daughter is bright, visits to college campuses that include official tours and an explanation of admission requirements could motivate her to try harder at school. Also, learning more about what is needed for certain careers could be motivational.
There is also the possibility that your child needs more of a challenge. She should be taking a demanding curriculum.
Another excellent way to motivate children to do their best is by modeling this behavior. If your daughter sees that you try to do your best, she may try to follow your lead.
When children are underachieving, it is always wise to investigate whether any academic weaknesses are responsible for the problem. Even the brightest children can have certain problems that limit how well they do in school.
For many children, entering high school can be the magic experience that inspires them to do well in school. Hopefully, your daughter will soon have a change in attitude.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.