The importance of supporting children’s motivation

In and out

From my experience, I am aware that at the beginning young learners need to have something more than just intrinsic motivation. Usually, some kind of extrinsic tools needs to be adapted first.

Motivation is a very complex phenomenon, which only partly depends on the teacher. Generally, pupils are interested in discovering new matters. We as teachers can deepen this curiosity by supporting them and providing opportunities to combine fun and learn.

A crucial role in students’ motivation has parents. Their attitude towards learning can be easily passed onto their offspring. Also, the social and cultural background has something to do with children’s motivation.

However, it doesn’t mean that teachers cannot have any impact on a pupil. Let’s take a closer look at some positive reinforcement that can be enhanced by teachers.

Are the effects visible enough?

Young learners need to have tangible effects on their hard work. That’s, for example, the reason why you display their masterpieces on the walls and give them instant on-spot comments about their performance.

Although, your comment and compliment their effort, from time to time something else should be done to make children more aware of their progress.

The light and dark side of praising

“Praise is the act of making positive statements about a person.”

I will not stick to spoken comments only. This is how you reward your students for something they have done.

The beneficial results of complimenting your pupils are as follows:

  • Approval of their behaviour or work helps them realise that their work matters and is worth
  • Honest comments affirm the sense of progress (which can be greater than a student would expect)

Some dangers that you need to be cautious about are listed below.

  • A potentially good idea of boosting children’s self-esteem may turn them into ‘praise junkie’
  • Don’t overuse rewarding, because it may lose their true meaning and become worthless
  • Be aware of pupils who may put effort only to get a reward, not to achieve some progress
  • Not everyone likes to be put in the limelight

“If you praise anyone for anything, then the praise is meaningless.”

Remember to give praise for things that we reserved being praised for. Be sincere. Be specific about the reason why the student is rewarding.

Practical tips

  1. Make sure your lessons are attractive and engaging for your students.

Find types of exercises which are unpredictable and exciting. Of course, you don’t have to make all your lessons look like a show. Find the right balance between fun and not-so-fun activities.

  1. Balance stirrers and settlers

Two types of activities must be combined together. Stirrers excite children and let them be in the move, on the contrary, settlers can be described as ‘pen and paper’ kinds of exercises, which usually calm students down.

  1. Hear your students out

Don’t be afraid to let your students decide on something that you do during the lesson. They may give you a new perspective. Inspire them but also allow yourself to be inspired 😊

  1. Notice their effort and their smallest progress
Let your children know that you see their effort and see good decisions that they make during the lesson. They need such hints to become familiar with what is expected of them.
Does the term ‘growth mindset’ ring a bell?

  1. Use pair work, group work, individual work equally

Providing situations to improve social skills will be really beneficial.

  1. Have a reward system

Here you can take advantage of the behaviour chart printed out and displayed on the board in your classroom. Colour cards, traffic lights, smileys, etc. If you are more of a techie, you can try online reward systems as ClassDojo, School Diary or Classpartoo. Consider the options and find something useful for your classes.

  1. Prizes (stamps, stickers, pictures, whatever-can-be-taken-home)

The most popular are motivational stickers and stamps. You can agree with your students which stamp means what. This is a nice way of giving pupils clear idea that they achieve something and they fully deserve the reward.

Punch cards are a nice idea that I found in the article. In real life, we all have different punch cards to some cafes, restaurants or petrol stations. If these cards work for us, why don’t we give it a try in the classroom?

“By alternating between physical rewards and praise, you can help students understand the intrinsic pleasure that comes from making good choices.”

One more pro-tip from Nicole’s article on

Make Time to Discover their Interests

This is key to have fruitful cooperation throughout the school year!

Let me know what are your ways of motivating students.

Do you have your favourite techniques?

Useful websites:

You can find stickers here:




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Flying Tiger 

(search for seasonal stickers)


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You can find stamps here:


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Flying Tiger

(stamps with letters of  the alphabet are amazing to put words in kids notebooks)


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