To learn, we need to be motivated to learn. In the early years, children’s motivation to learn is apparent in everything they do. Babies and young children are motivated to learn to walk (even though they might fall over), talk (even though they might not be understood), snap fingers (even though it’s hard to do), read letters (even though they are funny looking) and so on. Children who are motivated to learn are likely to persevere when the learning experience is a little difficult or challenging.
Unfortunately, a lack of motivation to learn seems to emerge as children get older. Some reasons for this are that they are:
- beginning to feel unsuccessful in learning
- being asked to learn that which is not necessary
- being asked to learn that which does not relate to their everyday experience.
This is especially true of learning to read and write. Children who believe that they one day will be readers; that they can learn how, in general do become readers. Those children who believe that learning to read will be difficult and possibly do not believe that they will be able to do it, are more likely to struggle.
Children need to know that reading and writing is important to their life experience, that the adults in their lives value these skills and that even though it can be a difficult skill to learn, they will (except for the very unusual situation) be able to learn to read and write.
Parents and caregivers play a huge role in helping their younger and older children keep their wonder filled motivation to learn. Children, who know that their parents and caregivers believe that they can learn to read, learn. Parents and caregivers who provide children with fun-filled and developmentally appropriate learning experiences that are linked to their children’s interests and daily life experiences give their children an optimism about learning that will last their lives.
Baker Linda, Scher Deborah, Mackler Kirsten, 1997 Home and Family Influences on Motivations for Reading Educational Psychologist, 32(2), 69-82
Southeast Position Paper