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How To Get Your Child To Study

I have read with interest the problems and frustrations faced by parents with ‘lazy’ kids who refused to do homework and addicted to computer games. From my experience, most of the kids are plainly not motivated and disciplined to do well in school. In most cases, it’s not their choice to behave so but are conditioned by their environment.

Many parents lament that their children need lots of pushing and cajoling to prepare for their PSLE. I have found that it is a misconception of many parents that preparing for the PSLE starts in P6. I normally advocate that my students start preparing for their PSLE while they are in P5 and start planning with their parents after their P4 final exams. It’s my way of conditioning them to the idea of sitting for that all important exams. In fact, if your child picks up good studying habits when they starts school and are consistent in their work, they will not be stressed when they are in upper primary.

Sorry for the digression but my intention is to show the relationship between the children’s undesirable and desirable attitude which will affect their preparations for the PSLE in the long run.

Let’s nip the problem in the bud. Parents can avoid lots of frustrations if they start on the right foot and half the battle will be won.

Don’t wait for the formal or even the preschool years to get your children started in their education. Start them off as young as possible. The best way to get started is to read to them while they are infants regardless whether they understand what you read. Establish a reading time and encourage them to cultivate the reading habit. Children who love to read are more independent learners than their peers. They are also motivated learners.

Children learn by playing and this is where parents can guide and help them to make full use of play time. Subconsciously introduce various topics such as language and maths during play time. A 3 year old can count cars or buses while sitting in a moving vehicle. Once the child can recognize the numerals, he can read out the number plates. As the child grows old, parents can make the game more complicated. I train my child in his mental calculations by getting him to add all the numbers on the number plate of a passing vehicle. Of course when he’s competing with his mum does the game gets more fun and exciting.

  1. When they are in preschool, wean them slowly away from play-based activities to more desk activities. Many children will have problem adjusting and this period is very crucial cos I’ve students who perform well during their preschool years only to hate school when they went to primary schools. Their main grouse is that learning is no longer fun and is gruesome. We shouldn’t stop them from playing altogether. To get the child to learn spelling, try not to drill him immediately. Let him read and understand the words first. Think of various ways to have fun with the words like using the words to tell a story. If the word is an adjective, use the word to describe a person or thing but don’t be rigid. It’s fine if the child uses ‘green’ to describe the moon. You can in fact play along and say something like “the green rain fell on the green moon and makes the grass green. oh now I see why the grass is green.” That way, the child won’t feel pressured to give ‘correct’ answers all the time yet will continue to learn and soon differentiate what is make believe and what is real.
  2. Don’t confine learning to the school syllabus. Take the opportunity to make use of the spelling words whenever you can. Meanwhile, if you think your child is capable, let him trying spelling more difficult words. However, if your child is slow, take a break and try again later. If needed, go over the lesson as many times as it is needed. Revise previous lessons if he has forgotten them before making him learn the new words. This will boost his confidence. In this way, he will not view learning as a task that he has to accomplish in school but a life long process.
  3. Discipline him if he doesn’t study for his exams or put in effort to learn. Discipline comes in many forms and parents have to find the most effective method suited to the child. If a child has his computer privileges taken away before his exams, he has already paid for his laziness. If he failed his exams, don’t mete out any punishment. Instead, you may set targets for the next exams and agree on how he should try to achieve them. Never punish a child based on his school performance cos a child will feel that his parents love his results more than him. If you have promised a reward for good results, give him a bonus if he exceeds your expectations.
  4. Praise and encourage them when they get the correct answers and laugh off any mistakes they make along the way. If we made a mistake, admit it and apologize to the child immediately. Believe me, he’ll respect you for it. You are also showing by example and he’ll more inclined to learn knowing that making mistakes is part and parcel of life.
  5. Don’t underestimate your child cos this will show in the way you handle him and he’ll in turn give up trying. In their minds, children will think that adults don’t believe in them and don’t see the need to prove themselves.

Whichever methods we choose depend on the individual child but it must be accompanied with love and understanding.The most important thing is to be firm and consistent. The main complaint from my students is that their parents don’t understand them and seem more interested in their grades than their well being. Children give up cos they can’t meet their parents’ expectations.





thanks for sharing

Very useful tips. Motivation can be such a challenge at times.

Learning Starts From Young

Hi, think ‘mummy of 2’ has given me a great reminder –  I should also instil some discipline in my only child (4-yr old).  Designating 20 – 30mins daily for her to do ‘homework’ is a good start.  Otherwise, she simply wills her time away on the iphone games.  Guess I’ve been too slack towards her.  Thanks much 🙂

Joy of learning

My daughter is at an age when everything starts with ‘Why?".  I think this is the time when they truly enjoy learning new things.

So to encourage learning, we must spare that precious little time of ours to try answer as much of these ‘whys’ to the best of our knowledge as possible.

Gaining knowledge should be the best motivation as oppose to rewards, as expectation increases with the latter. So does disappointment when the rewards are deem inadequate. And when the rewards dries up, so does the motivation.

Never judge them by the results but by the effort they put in. Its tough not to be frustrated when they cannot understand or remember, but remember its just as frustrating for them too so the last thing they need is for you to reprimand them as well.

Its rewarding for me just to see my daughter try to form a word or tell time, even if the end result isn’t correct. I just give her a smile and help correct her mistake.  Chances are she won’t get it right the next time but as Iong as I’m around, I’ll correct her again and again and again.


I think the most important

I think the most important is to find what motivate the child to study?
Is it a grade, reward gift, teacher’s favour, meet parents expectation, etc…

How To Get Your Child To Study

hi, i totally agreed with the writer. I will make a good use of the examples as i’m having a little more or less problem with my only child. My hubby always said that i pamper our son too much which sometime i agreed with him. This will make me more worried as he will be in P1 in 2 months time. Thanks alot!

Teach them from young? It's passed me by!

I read with GREAT dismay the article about learning from young.  

My kids’ younger days were filled with night feeds, teething problems, many changes in maids, husband with frequet flyer miles, doctors appointments, balloting for schools, writing letters of excuses eg the dog ate his homework (really).

I think the whole learning from young idealism is -erm, great and all, I take my nappy soiled hands and tanished parent hat off to you  BUT I barely survived potty training…

So now that this learning from young has passed me by, what does one do?!



Giving up free time

Yes, totally agreed. In order to set a good example to my kids, I don’t watch TV while they are awake. Only watch my fav HK drama serial after they fall asleep or during their naps on Sat and Sun.

Hi, I agree totally with

Hi, I agree totally with you. But on the other hand, it also takes alot of commitment and sarcrifice on the part of the parents. We have to set a good example for them to follow suit. So we will have to give up doing things which will distract them.

Setting realistic expectations

I agree that children always strive for parents’ approval and acceptance. I also believe that every child has different ability and beyond a certain point, you will not see any results from pushing them. All I’m trying to do is to get DS1 to be disciplined, so that he does not under-perform. And for him to learn the importance of doing things which are boring/hard, but necessary. It is important to know your child well so that you know if he can do more, but at the same time be realistic. Difficult to strike that balance but I’m trying to.


"Children give up cos they can't meet their parents' expectation

Indeed … children’s inherent need is to always seek for parents’ approval. I remembered such feelings long ago … very powerful drive. Be careful not to apply the wrong pressure though – may drive the wrong shift to rebellious gear.

Learning starts from young

Totally agree with you that learning starts from young. If parents wait till kids are in P6 before getting them to prepare for PSLE, it will be an uphill task, not to mention stressful for all.

I read somewhere that children will do better in school if their parents are involved. I think involvement doesn’t just extend to sending them for tuition, when their results are not good enough. Sometimes it’s not the child’s ability to learn that causes the unsatisfactory results. It could be the child’s motivation, or a mis-match between the teaching style and learning style. As a parent, we can provide one-to-one attention and guidance, which a teacher is unable to provide. Also we know our child better than outsiders, so we are in a better position to motivate and find out how to coach them effectively. The suport and attention we give them by being personally involved will show how much we value them (instead of their results), and how important it is to do their best, regardless of outcome. I think this is more important than getting them to achieve good results through cramming.

Having said that, there are some things we can do by instilling certain good habits from a young age. I have been asking DS1 (age 4) to set aside 20-30 minutes every night to do homweork. I will guide him in doing this after dinner. The purpose is to learn to be disciplined in doing tasks that he may not enjoy but needs to be completed. he knows that he can spend 20 minutes playing computer games/watching kids’ VCD only after he completes his work. I hope this will also help him build up his concentration and attention span. Honestly there are some nights when I wish I could give myself a break by just letting him play, especially when he’s so distracted that I have to scold him, and he spends five minutes doing wht he can complete in one. But then I ask myself what trait am I modeling for him if I don’t even have the discipline to coach him in doing his work?

I am not aiming for him to become the top scholar in furure (although I would be more than happy if he does become the top scholar). All I’m doing is trying to taech him that in life you don’t always get to do only that you enjoy doing. There are some things that you may find a chore, but you still need to do them. If he can learn that, I think he will do well in life, regardless of his exam results.

Just my personal opinion.

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