Keeping Students Engaged in Learning

Question: “My 7th grade student always seems to want to end our sessions early, after we have completed homework. I try to work on additional material with my student but she doesn’t seem interested or understand why I have brought extra work.”

Whenever I motivate my students to do extra activities, they always need a convincing reason for completing the assignment or else they’ll perceive it as extra homework. If I plan an extra activity for them, I always explain how the skill would be useful in solving real-world problems. Since your student is in 7th grade, an extra activity she could do is learn how to make a budget so that she can manage money more efficiently. This would help her learn how to save up money to buy something useful. And even though she are learning budgeting skills, she is also learning foundational math skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Now that she can see the benefit in learning how to budget, she should be more open to learning math skills.

Another approach is to take into consideration your student’s interests. For example, if you want her to improve her reading and writing skills and her favorite video game is Minecraft, you can have her write a paragraph about who created Minecraft and why they developed the game. This will help build her essay writing and sentence structure skills, and she will be more motivated to learn because she is writing about her favorite game. If you have a computer available, you can also have her watch a video of something she finds interesting and then have her write down what she liked about the video.

Essentially, to make any activity more appealing to complete, I always show my students how the activity will help them succeed when they get into high school, college, and beyond. Also, I try to incorporate things into the activity that are interesting to them.