Phil Schlecty (1994), says students who are engaged exhibit three characteristics:
- They are attracted to their work,
- They persist in their work despite challenges and obstacles,
- They take visible delight in accomplishing their work.
For a parent, this means less stress, a happier child-one who is getting much more out of his or her education.
Students’ engagement falls in to two categories: Short-term and Long-term engagement
Short-term engagement comes from the child’s immediate interest in what they are learning, or the teacher or the classroom, and so on. This will obviously change once the situation does.
Long term engagement comes from a vision and an understanding of how what is being learned will affect his or her future, the significance of education and what is being taught, and so on.
Why is Engagement Important?
Several studies have proven that engaged students show a marked improvement in their academics, take up challenges, do not give up on tasks and get better marks. Students who are not engaged avoid learning, are disruptive, and show average or weak academic performance.
Does Motivation Impact Engagement?
The answer is, “yes!” Albert Einstein famously said, “It’s not that I’m so smart. It’s just that I stay with problems longer.” He credited motivation and persistence rather than intellect.
Children who lack motivation are likely to choose easy tasks, leave them unfinished, put in minimal effort, appear apathetic about school and their studies, and give up as soon as things get challenging.
It’s obvious then, that motivation is the secret ingredient to keep your child engaged and interested in his or her learning. Here’s where you come in.
How can parents contribute to engagement?
Parental involvement has been proven to have a direct correlation with student success. Motivating your child is probably the biggest contribution you can make to his or her success in school. Some ways in which you can do this are:
Set clear expectations
Be explicit about what you want your child to achieve. And make sure to keep revisiting and resetting these every few months or so. This keeps you both engaged and keeps your child feeling like there is some guidance from home.
Decide on a measurable goal. Not just “do better”, but actual numbers. Write them down and together make a plan to achieve it: “will study two hours every day”.
Stand for discipline
Respect the school and its rules. Show your child why you chose the school you did and how you agree with its principles. Have a relationship with your child’s teacher, support their programs like projects etc. and above all, stay positive and complimentary about the school.
Figure out how your child likes to learn
Some people are visual, others are auditory and still others are kinesthetic. Presenting study material in a format that fits in with their style might help them remember more and enjoy what they are learning. Our article on learning styles might help you do this.
Make sure your child knows that you see the effort put it. The fact that you notice every improvement is a great motivator for your child. Children are intrinsically parent-pleasers and your approval means everything to them, whether they show it or not. Some good ways to show appreciation are: “I can see that all the effort you put in is really paying off. Good job!” “You put in some good work and it’s showing in your project. You must be feeling really good.”
As for your own effort, you’ll begin to see results in your own relationship with your child, as well as in the marks they bring home.