Young children learn from each and everything that they do. They are of course curious; they desire to explore and learn. If their explorations bring happiness or success, they would want to learn more. Throughout these early years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who get the right sort of support and encouragement all through these years will be creative, adventurous learners during their lives. Children who do not obtain this kind of support and interaction are likely to have a much different attitude about learning later in life.
Characteristics of Motivation in Young Children
Children do many things simply because they want to do them. Select a toy or a shirt to wear is the result of intrinsic motivation. The child makes her own choice and achieves satisfaction from both the work of choosing and from chance to play with the toy or wear the shirt. Because the activity is generating the motivation, it is mostly self-sustaining for so long as the child wants to continue the activity.
Children also hold in some activities because adults tell them to or in an effort to satisfy another party. These activities are called extrinsically motivated. While a child is extrinsically motivated, reward comes from outside the child, it has to be provided by someone else and must be continually given for the child to stay motivated sufficient to continue the activity. It is more difficult for a child to maintain extrinsically motivated activity as of this reliance upon some outside force.
Some behavioural characteristics are indicators of high motivation. Here are some of the significant factors and some ways to help the child develop these characteristics.
Persistence is the capability to stay with a task for a reasonably long period of time. Although very young children cannot focus on one activity for an hour, there are still measurable differences in length of time that young children will engage in an activity. A highly motivated child will stay involved for a long period of time, where an unmotivated child would give up very easily when not instantly successful. Children discover persistence when they are successful at a challenging task. The art in building persistence is in offering the task that is just challenging enough, but not overpowering.
Choice of challenge is one more characteristic of motivation. Children who experience success in meeting one challenge would become motivated. These motivated learners will select an activity that is slightly difficult for them, however provides an appropriate challenge. When they successfully complete such a task, children increase a high level of satisfaction. Unmotivated children will pick something that is very easy and ensures the instant success. With such easy success, children feel only a very low level of agreement, as they know that the task offered little challenge. The challenge for parents is helping their child find out an appropriate challenge while still allowing the choice to be children.
There are numerous strategies parents can use to help children remain more fully essentially motivated.
-Give an environment (through age appropriate toys, activities, etc.) that allows children to freely explore and to see the result of their actions.
-Allow children sufficient time when working to allow for persistence. When children are deeply involved with an activity, take care that they can finish without interruption. Refuse to accept the natural urge to help and let the child know if, for instance, we have to go to the grocery store in a few minutes.
-Respond to children's needs in a consistent, predictable manner, but allow them to be as independent as possible. This does not mean giving up all control to your child. All children need clearly defined restrictions. Playtime, but, need not be structured and planned. Let the kid be a kid.
-Give many opportunities for children and adults to discover together and interact directly. It is important for both adults and children to be working together on the activity. This lets you observe, model and support the child.
-Present the situations that give children an acceptable challenge. Activities that is somewhat difficult for the child will be more motivating and offer for stronger feelings of success when accomplished. This can take some trial and error at first.
-Give children opportunities to estimate their own accomplishments. Sooner than stating that you think they have done a good job, ask them what they think of their work. You will never go wrong by asking the question, "What do you think?"
-Do not use unnecessary rewards. They are likely to undermine children's ability to value them. Praise and rewards must be based upon children's effort and persistence, rather than on actual accomplishment.
The world through a child's eyes is an amazing place. Allow children to search and discover their world. Around every corner is an experience just waiting to blow and excite young growing minds; all they want is a small amount of direction and a large amount of freedom. It is not essential to praise and reward children for their own actions as they attempt to control their environment. The feelings of accomplishment they gain from results of those actions would be reward enough. Providing excessive praise and rewards is needless and can actually be harmful to children's motivation and wish to learn. Keep in mind, the habits and attitudes toward learning that are formed in these early years set the mood for all future learning.