Motivating your preschooler.

Motivation is a hard thing to get a grip on. We want kids to respond to positive motivators (praise, rewards, etc) because it is more fun to be positive than negative. However, a lot of kids respond to negative consequences (time outs, punishments, etc) better – or at least more rapidly – than they do to positive rewards.

So how do you motivate your preschooler/pre-K student to do their work without associating school work and practice with negative things?

Part of it is finding the right time to do schoolwork. At our house, if we don’t get writing practice and practice math in the morning, then it won’t get done. He also has to have had breakfast. While we might get other work done during the day – like learning words, reading, science, and stuff – he won’t sit and do letter practices late in the day.

It’s also important to realize what kind of rewards motivate a child. My son likes small positive rewards with each effort. I’ve found that the best way to get him to do his work is to (1) let him pick out what pencil he wants to use and (2) give him stars for each thing well done, on the paper.

There are still times when I have to be an enforcer (i.e. – do your work or go on time out). But by remembering to use the things he likes and doing work , it makes doing school work and practice writing a lot more fun for both of us.

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