We all understand that motivation has a multitude of factors influencing the final inner drive to achieve. One of the biggest for high-ability children is educational-match. If the assumption Maria Montessori makes is correct, children are inherently motivated to learn and to master concepts given the right conditions, a bit of guidance and freedom. This idea is reflected in the natural metaphor of a seed being put in the ground to grow and prosper. The seed has inner motivation (direction), but needs a rich soil of nutrients to build a good root system, break through the ground and flourish. As parents we provide a layer of nutrient rich soil, but there are other layers that affect the child’s ability to prosper.
A child spends his/her best and most productive hours (especially in primary school) in an environment far away from immediate family. The child’s teacher, peer group, level of independence, learning ability, goals and many other factors influence the level of motivation a child has towards high achievement in any given subject or individual lesson. A single incident and/or consistent negative influence on any of these important elements can lead to a slow degradation of inner drive, performance, low feeling of satisfaction and self-worth.
Anxiety can also be a serious threat to motivation and success in school or when doing activities at home. Here are 20 Tips that you can use to help de-escalate an episode of anxiety to get back on track to learning and open the mind. Anxiety is known to close down the prefrontal cortex where decision-making and learning takes place. It adversely affects working memory leading to spotty learning and “holes” for otherwise very high ability children. Other obstacles such as learning disabilities, lack of communication skills, impulsivity, family life and more can further affect a child’s level of motivation and learning retention.
To combat some of the negative influences, Katrina Schwartz from MindShift writes, “Teaching kids about how their brains and memory work can also be a way to help them discover intrinsic motivation to complete tasks.” In the book Being Smart About Gifted Education, by Dr. Dona Matthews and Dr. Joanne Foster, there is an entire chapter dedicated to motivation and achievement offering educators and parents insight into keeping children inspired to learn. Tying the value of an activity to expectation of success, confidence, atmosphere, the adult’s enthusiasm for the concept/idea/subject, positive reinforcement, wonder, curiosity, climate, feedback and so many other aspects can all be grouped together to create the perfect conditions for enlightened learning.
Lately, more research and exploration is coming out on the importance of curiosity and play to enhance motivation and memory. This NPR article says that curiosity releases dopamine in our brains; the hormone that helps us feel good. Psychologist Charan Ranganath continues, "… dopamine also seems to play a role in enhancing the connections between cells that are involved in learning." In the Ted Radio Hour Show, Press Play, Stuart Brown continues to talk about how play is more than having a good time. Similarly, in his book, Play, Brown states, “The ability to play is critical not only to being happy, but also to sustaining social relationships and being a creative, innovative person.” In Larry Kim’s article on Inc. titled, 10 Critical Skills for 2020, all 10 of skills require social awareness, creativity and innovation.
How does all of this information make a difference in your household? To get started think about these five questions for your child.
When those questions have been answered and exhausted, it’s time to encourage “assertiveness, independence, self-reliance and effort.” (APGTGC) How will you help the child get started? What ideas does the child have? What about other’s around him/her? Who can you get to collaborate? Then create the environment to promote access, learning and achievement; sprinkle in a bit of help where needed, establish some goals, and let the fun fly!
Are you excited about what you just read? Want to know more or want to add to our list of resources? Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do the research and write it up, because if you are wondering, someone else is, too.
The Dangerous Book for Boys (book for children)
The Daring Book for Girls (book for children)
Ted Talk: Play is More than Just Fun (video)
Ted Talk: 5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do (video)
NYTimes Magazine: Taking Play Seriously (article)
APGTGC: A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children (resource)
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (article)
Curiosity and Powerful Learning - PDF by Wayne Craig (resource)
NPR Ted Radio Hour: Press Play (podcast)
Being Smart about Gifted Education (resource)
Play, Development, and Early Education (resource)
Fun Games for Car Rides (resource)
Make Believe Games Activities for Imaginative Play (resource)
Creativity Unhinged: 120 Games for Kids to Spark Creative Thinking and Let Imaginations Run Wild (resource)
There are so many ways to inspire yourself and your children with Math. Start with Mathemagic's original Arthur Benjamin. Watch him race calculators in "A Performance of Mathemagic" then skip over to his other talk on "The Magic of Fibonnaci Numbers". Jump into the podcast on TedRadio Hour on "Solving for X." Looking for stimulating math reading at home? Check out Murderous Maths, Life of Fred, and Sir Cumference for engaging stories all incorporating maths! Looking for ways to apply strong mathematics? Look at the highly acclaimed Art of Problem Solving, Math Olympiad and the math behind cryptography. Want to incorporate more games and toys? We love Fractiles, Logic Links, 24 and Math Dice.
Where has math been in the news? Check out these articles, videos and books.
Street Fighting Mathematics from MIT (book)
Figuring Out the Cost of a Darth Vader Suit (article)
The Myth of Being Bad at Math (article)
50 Math Books for Children (resource)
Using Creativity to Boost Mathematical Thinking (article)
The 7 Most Beautiful Mathematical Equations (article)
Little Big Shots – Video on Young Mathematician (video)
Teaching Children the Abacus (video)
History and Intro Lesson on the Abacus - (Video)
Abacus Intro for Kids - (Video)
The Great Math Mystery - PBS (video)
Discalculia (a Math Learning Difficulty) (resource)
Adam Spencer’s Big Book of Numbers (book)
How to Bake Pi (book)
WE ARE LOOKING FOR SPACE: We are organizing the 1st HKGA Mathemagic Circle! We need a room with a white board and space for about 10 people. HKGA Mathemagic Circle's goal is creative problem solving where the methodology is paramount. We will explore where the Fibonacci series is found, how matrices can be used to predict the weather, laws of motion and thermodynamics, gravity, astronomical units, Pythagorean problems and so on. To participate, you must have a strong grasp of times tables. Capacity will be 4-8 students. Options for space: Wednesdays 4-7, Fridays 4-7 or Saturday afternoons. If you have a space that works, please e-mail Laura at email@example.com. Thank you!
DATE CHANGE: 19 May 2016 @ Coffee Morning
*To join become an HKGA member
22 May 2016 @ Brainchild!
EXPLORE & BUILD A LIGHT SABER!
Cost: Register and pay before the day HK$1200, Walk-ins on the day HK$1500
Age 5+ - must have parent supervision
What: Join Jim Choy at Brainchild for a Star Wars light saber make-a-thon. We must have at least 5 participants for this event to go forward.
To reserve your place, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Minimum of 6 required, max 10
29 May @ Dragon's Back Hike and Big Wave Bay
*To join become an HKGA member
Want to join our events and activities? BECOME A MEMBER! It's easy! Just send an email to email@example.com with your name, email, phone number and Facebook profile link. You will automatically be added to our e-mail service and our private Facebook group page where you get exclusive opportunities on events, discussions and more.