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While I liked and even, at times, loved school, I always, always feared and loathed math. I liked money, lol, but math, not so much. Multiplication in particular stumped me until one day my late father Phil, RIP, suggested a spirited round of ping pong. It was summer break, we were in Monterey, CA, and as we rallied a tiny ball back and forth reciting numbers ad nauseam I finally, miraculously learned my times tables. How did you learn? Did you enjoy it? 

Dr. Bronywn for Maisonette offers three lens through which to assess a child’s relationship to school: temperament, social disconnect and boredom. Does your child have tons of energy and struggle to focus or sit? Try working with the teacher to determine her best learning style. Does your child feel left out at lunchtime? Talk to them and make family mealtimes a priority, even if they’re just 10 minutes, in order to reconnect and understand what’s going on. Is your child bored and asking, “but why do we have to learn about FILL IN THE BLANK when it has nothing to do with real life?” Try to break it down, make it meaningful and apply a dreaded school topic to a favorite everyday scenario.


Lastly, she cautions against rewarding kids for completing homework or staying positive about school. “Although chocolate might motivate your child in the short-term,” she claims, “rewarding outcomes in the long-run diminishes internal motivation to learn. That’s why it’s key to help your child realize the real-world benefits of the skills in his assignments.”


Hmmmm. While this may seem easier said than done—doesn’t everyone needs a reward once in a while?— the long term payoff may matter more than the immediate fix. Check out the Dr.'s complete list of real-world methods to inspire and keep your child motivated at school.

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