This material is also available in a PDF format: Motivation: Suggestions for families and staff [3MB]
Children's motivation levels can vary for a range of reasons. Like adults, they can be motivated to do some activities more than others. Sometimes children can be less motivated because they feel tired or unwell. Some children are less or more motivated because of their temperament or personal style. This tells us that motivation is complex and can be influenced by many factors. Whilst many factors are not in the control of parents and carers, there are a number of things you can do to support children to become curious, confident and motivated learners.
What are some things that you could do to increase children’s motivation?
What might you do to encourage a child who may not be motivated to do a particular type of activity?
How might you further extend a child who is already highly motivated?
How can families and early childhood staff guide children’s motivation in the early years?
There are many ways parents, carers and staff can support children's developing motivation. Providing an interesting environment that can be explored in the presence of a warm, caring and trusted adult is essential for supporting children's curiosity and motivation. Supporting children's learning and gradually reducing your involvement over time helps children to learn how to complete similar activities in the future. Asking children questions, talking them through activities and praising their efforts can all help children become engaged in their learning. Parents and carers can further extend children's developing motivation by providing experiences that are appropriate for their child's age group; some examples are listed below.
Infants: Birth to 18 months
Toddlers: 18 months to three years
Preschoolers: three to five years
Children can motivate each other
Children's motivation doesn't always need to be facilitated by adults. Children can be very good at motivating each other. Providing group activities where children can work together supports learning and developing motivation. Other ideas for getting children to motivate each other include:
- Encourage children to work together on a group project (e.g., building a cardboard cubby house, making a collage) where everyone has a specific role.
- Reward children for helping others during a group activity.
- Ask groups of children to volunteer for a particular job and make it as attractive as possible (e.g., children who volunteer to look after the library section may get to wear special hats).
- Involve children in making up rules for how to behave during specific times or in particular areas (e.g., meal times, story time, the quiet area, and the outdoor area).
Refer to the section on Play for more information on these suggestions.