I recently read an article from Anderman & Leake, 2005, on motivation. Written for teachers, I found helpful, as a parent, their ABCs of motivation: “Autonomy, Belonging and Competence”.
I quickly figured out, while my kids were quite young, the benefit of nurturing their need for autonomy. Give my 3 year-old boy the freedom to choose his underwear, and he is going to get dressed in no time. But the article goes further, underlining also the need of “fitting in”. I get it, a “Mom, I don’t want to play T-ball anymore” may very well be synonym of “ I don’t have a very-big-best-friend anymore”. And the need of competence? Makes sense too. Who is, indeed, motivated to pursue a task knowing that they are going to fail? Or a task they have done, successfully, many, many times?.
Right now, Rosie, my 6 y-old daughter, seems quite excited about our math journey, but I want to make sure her motivation stays up.
So we made a list of her current interests, that I could choose from when I design activities. I interviewed her, like she says, at night, as Rosie always becomes quite loquacious right before lights are out. Favorite book, toys, characters, food, etc., I got them all. And I am glad I did, because I am not sure I would have thought about story problems involving baby seahorses on my own. We also discussed where she enjoys studying the most. “The attic. Just with you, Mom”. I can do that. When would be the best time. “Anytime, as long as I am not busy playing”. That might be an issue. And the material she likes using. “A clipboard. And your crayons”. No problem, I can share.
As I post activities over Summer, I will make sure to discuss ways to adapt them to your child’s interests and competence. Although, who knows, seahorses may motivate more than one child?
OK, enough talking about math. Next post, we will start doing math.
Reference: Anderman, L. H., & Leake, V. S. (2005). The ABCs of Motivation: An Alternative Framework for Teaching Preservice Teachers about Motivation. Clearing House: a Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 78, 5, 192.