Last year, when Eurostat made public the data on early school leaving, Spain made headlines for being the country in the European Union with the highest rate: 17.9%, four-tenths more than Malta, second in the ranking.
Motivation is the main and practically the only tool to reduce these figures, according to the study School motivation and high school dropout: The mediating role of educational expectation. However, confinement is not making it easy. “Children are not in an ideal or optimal learning situation,” says Amalia Gordovil, a collaborating professor at the UOC’s Studies in Psychology and Education Sciences, who recalls that the emotional state influences the learning process, “and it is evident that we are living a situation in which fear, sadness or anger are present in the lives of many people”, points out the doctor in Psychology.
This is confirmed by studies such as the one published in The Journal of Pediatrics, in which it was concluded that the three symptoms that children suffered the most during confinement in China were irritability, sadness, and depression. But in addition to the emotional state, there are other obstacles that make it difficult to set up a school at home. Gordóvil recalls that virtual study requires planning and self-discipline, and not all children, nor children of all ages, can implement these skills at the same pace. And that is without taking into account that distractions increase at home, “which interfere with sustained attention and the ability to concentrate, both necessary for studying,” he says. Keep reading how to tame foxes in minecraft.
How to motivate them?
Overcoming all these obstacles is difficult, but it is feasible to alleviate them. These strategies can help us:
1. Schedules with free time
During the school period, many children go to school in the morning and part of the afternoon, do physical and extracurricular activities, socialize and play with their peers and, when they get home, do their homework. Adriana Ornellas, a professor in the Studies of Psychology and Education Sciences and coordinator of the eTIC research group at the UOC, affirms that we cannot reproduce this reality 100%, but we can establish habits and routines that bring us closer to a normal situation. According to the UOC professor, it is advisable to prioritize the mornings, when children are most active and willing to participate, so that teachers establish connections with the class group and students connect to virtual environments, learn about assigned tasks, plan work and do activities. Afterward, it is important “to allocate some time of the day for walks, games and physical activity in the outdoor spaces, now that the confinement measures have been relaxed “. Afternoons are best for reading, writing, painting, listening to music, doing chores, or connecting virtually with friends and family.
2. Encourage the concentration of children with fixed spaces
Depending on the possibilities of the home and of each family, we can control some aspects that promote concentration. If we try to make them study in as isolated a space as possible, with all the necessary material, we will be helping them to reduce external stimuli. “This way we will avoid interference from other people and that they have to get up to look for material,” says Gordóvil, who is also a child and adolescent psychologist at the GRAT center.
3. Follow the five ‘C’
For Adriana Ornellas, the key to achieving children’s motivation is to promote learning activities that include the five ‘Cs’: context, creativity, curiosity, control, and collaboration. The first refers to connecting learning with previous knowledge and experiences, articulating what is learned with the reality that is being lived; creativity is achieved by stimulating creative resolution of real and significant problems; As for curiosity, it is about trying to awaken the student’s interest in what he is learning; control refers to the students being able to influence what they learn and choosing how they learn it, and regarding collaboration, the idea is to promote interaction and teamwork between students and families.
4. Set small, concrete goals
To encourage the motivation of children, we can specify goals that are not too ambitious. That way, they will be achievable “and they will see that they are achieving something. For example, today we will do the exercises on this page. Or these ten multiplications “, points out Zenaida Aguilar, collaborating professor of the university master’s degree in Child and Youth Psychology: Intervention Techniques and Strategies at the UOC, who warns that doing the opposite —that is, setting very ambitious goals— will only frustrate them. “In the current situation, the priority of our brain is to adapt and survive. You have to realize that the rhythms are going to be different and we can’t expect them to study the same as when they went to school every day, ”she says.
5. Adapt to the child
Each child’s needs, interests, and ways of learning are different, and taking this into account is an advantage when it comes to motivating them. “ Not all children have the same attention span nor do they practice it in the same way. There are children who retain more in movement, others do it by painting, for somewhat works for them is to learn from teaching their stuffed animals or “working” together with their parents. With breaks, you also have to adapt to each child, since the ability to concentrate varies ”, explains Zenaida Aguilar. That is why she believes that the important thing is that parents adapt to the needs of their children and suggest that they ask themselves.
If everyone at home knows each other’s schedules and they are respected, it will be easier to maintain an order necessary both for learning and for parents to be able to work, if they do it from home, or have their individual time slot. Otherwise, the situation can overwhelm us. “It is essential to be congruent with the agreement. At the end of the day, the best thing that this confinement leaves us is the possibility of connecting with the children and that they feel our presence, but this has to be of quality. That is why it will be good to be able to say ‘I can’t now’ or ‘this little bit is for me’ ”, says Zenaida Aguilar, who is a psychologist at the Carl Rogers Institute, as well as a collaborating professor at the UOC’s Studies in Psychology and Education Sciences.