This month’s Developmental Asset focuses on Achievement Motivation. Doing well academically means different things to different people. It doesn’t have to mean getting straight A’s or being the valedictorian. It does mean doing their best work and caring about their performance, whether they’re creating an art portfolio or writing an essay. There are plenty of reasons to work hard in school—getting good grades, making parents happy, or earning a spot on the honor roll. But the biggest incentive for young people to do their best—in school and out—comes from within: personal pride from knowing they gave it their all. Making an effort in school and other activities now, can give young people more reasons to feel proud later on.
Here are the facts
Research shows young people who try their best in school have better grades, are more likely to finish high school, and are better at managing stress. They’re also better at setting goals and more likely to enroll in college. About 65 percent of young people, ages 11–18, say they are motivated to do well in school, according to Search Institute surveys. Help young people understand how important school is so they study hard, pay attention, and do their homework.
Today is a great time to discuss your child’s achievement motivation
We have just completed the first semester of our school year and report cards have come home with your child today. There’s no better time to have a conversation about their achievement and how their focus, goal setting and motivation directly impacts their performance. Ask you child specific questions about the grades they earned, as well as their learning behaviors. The most basic advice for parents is to ask open-ended questions instead of yes-or-no ones. Think of the report card as a conversation-starter. A way for your child to talk about how she/he’s doing in each area, what is easy or hard, and how you can help him/her to do better. Handle praise with care. If your child consistently brings home amazing report cards, it may be difficult to know what to say. “Good job” loses its meaning and has almost no affect. Consider reminding your child how she/he got those grades, and prompting him/her to find some self-satisfaction. “I am not surprised you have all these great grades on your report card. I saw you working very hard this term and it looks like it’s paid off. I bet you feel very proud!”
Proud to be your principal,
Developmental Assets® are positive factors within young people, families, communities, schools, and other settings that research has found to be important in promoting the healthy development of young people. From Instant Assets: 52 Short and Simple E-Mails for Sharing the Asset Message. Copyright © 2007 by Search Institute®, 877-240-7251; www.search-institute.org