Why Some Children Don’t Work In School (Pt 1)

parents motivate student succcess It bothers the crap out of me!

Year after year, I see children who are limited in so many ways and it’s not their own fault.  One has dislexia. The other one has a low IQ.

And of course, that’s a problem. The question is why. Answers may not be as obvious as you may think. Look closely enough and you’ll also find, even in these children, a unique talent. It may come in the form of disarming social skill they display without much effort… or the ability to see beautiful or interesting things where others see nothing out of the ordinary.

Somewhere, somehow, someone needs to see and recognize those talents. Sometimes it’s a teacher. But teachers often can’t do much. they have a list of things they have to teach, so the most they offer is patience and encouragement. I think its relatives, neighbors and parents that have the best chance to make a huge difference.

I can still see the face of one student that sticks in my mind even though she graduated more than 11 years ago.    She used to struggle with math problems and other school work long after the others had either finished or given up.

And she became the darling of all the teachers. Even though it was obvious she was an extremely slow learner, her attitude inspired all of us.

She never quit… ever.

Then there are the others. Parents hear the same story about them year after year.  “Your child has the potential, and should go far, but he just won’t do the work.”

Those are the ones that break our hearts.  Its unfortunate that sometimes teachers have to bite their tongues. It’s a sensitive issue. They can’t go too far, and have to be careful in  making it plain to parents how they feel about the fact that those same children very seldom complete their homework assignments.

And the sad part about that is that some parents don’t seem to even notice there’s an problem. So it’s business as usual and students continue to work below their true potential.

Hurts, I tell you.

Academic Motivation

Parents play a key role in the success or failure of students.  As   parent, you determine:

  • How interested and curious your children are in learning at school
  • The willingness of your children to do learning activities
  • The ability and willingness to push hard in order to learn
  • The ability and willingness to keep pushing even after problems come up

Maybe that’s why that girl never gave up.  Maybe she had parents who didn’t know the meaning of giving up.

But for sure, the role of parents is very important in getting children interested in learning.  And when the children are interested, they will focus better and will “check themselves” more.

Control & Choice

As children get older, the more we force them to do something, the less they are interested in doing it.

The more choices we give children, the more willing they will be to follow-through on one of those choices. They will also feel more capable and independent.  For example, parents can always make children choose between doing their homework in the afternoon or in the evening, as long as they also do their chores and get to bed on time.  Children who are given such a choice are more likely to start doing their homework the next day without being told, than other children who are simply told “go do it now, or else!


Children will mimic the level of interest that their parents show in education. Your child will be more likely to succeed in school if you ask him every day how was school, and what he learned.

Don’t be counted among those parents who only show up when the school asks them to come. Visit the school at other times just to see how things are going, or to build a relationship with the teachers.


Also, parents be careful not to make your children believe that they lack ability.  Many parents tell their children, for example, that they shouldn’t worry about not being able to do Math, because they themselves were not good at it either.  Such children will not be motivated to work as hard to improve their math skills.

Finally, help to get your children to be interested by helping the teachers show students that what they learn in school is going to be used in real life.  Discuss the issue with the teachers as soon as possible if you are not seeing how important a particular lesson will be for the children’s future.

That little girl from my 2005 group is now a highly competent supervisor on her job. She rose from the ranks, became the most trusted and reliable employee, and then was promoted to supervisor last year. She’s still out-working everyone else.

The interest you show, will pay off in the motivation of your own child to learn and grow.

What else do you do to help motivate your child to learn in school?



  1. […] its something we can develop in our children.  Their academic success is one thing. It’s important. But it doesn’t guarantee success in life.  Now you can […]

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