How to boost morale in times of educational uncertainty
Last week, when schools were closed and GCSE, AS and A-Level exams were cancelled many student's morale and motivation took a massive hit.
We are still asking many questions about how they are going to be assessed and how the powers that be will enable them to get the grades they truly deserve.
So, while we're in this vacuum, how can we motivate them and boost their morale?
How to boost morale in times of educational uncertainty
1. All is not lost
With many students due to have taken their mocks in the first two weeks of January, a huge question mark was placed over their revision when schools were closed.
Would mocks actually go ahead?
Would all that effort go to waste?
How were they going to prove what they were capable of?
Fortunately, many schools have now rescheduled mocks – some of them taking place in an open-book format at home. We're still waiting for answers to some of the other questions.
But, there's one thing I know for sure:
All that effort is not wasted.
Whether your child actually gets examined on the topics they have spent so much time learning doesn't actually matter. Instead, it's the fact that they've mastered that knowledge.
When students go on to the next stage of their studies, they will be expected to know what was taught and should have been taught at the previous stage. If they don't know it, they'll have to catch-up in one way or another.
On top of that is the belief you develop in yourself by cracking something that you found hard to begin with, and finding a way through it on your own.
And, finally, there's the fact that you're training and developing your mental ability with every minute of effort you put into your studies. This is something that no-one can ever take away from you – and is the most transformative and rewarding aspect of education. Sometimes, you can feel it happening through the sheer effort you're putting in. Other times, it's incremental and grows over months and years. But, it all makes a difference to your ability to think and operate at a higher level every day of your life.
2. Keep your eye on the prize
Many students will have lost all their motivation right now because without teachers right there in front of them to perform for, there doesn't seem to be a reason to do the work.
This is why you need to remind your child that their education (and results) are for them and no-one else.
Many young people get confused about what they're actually studying for. They think they're doing it for their teachers or their parents and have to be extrinsically motivated. Actually, they just need to be reminded that they need to put the effort in for their own future.
There is a module inside The Extraordinaires Club I (Boost Your Motivation) where I encourage students to start exploring their hopes and dreams – and what it's going to take to achieve them – which is about tapping into intrinsic motivation. I absolutely love it when I hear from young people that this module has opened their eyes to opportunity and got them working for their own sakes, rather than for others.
We all love to be told that we're doing a good job – and we also want to be seen. So, let your child know that you see that they're struggling, or what they're finding difficult. But, also praise them.
You can praise them for how hard they're trying, for how well they're coping or for what they're actually achieving. The most important thing is to praise effort over results.
It is so important, as parents, that our children know they are seen at this moment in time because all the other people that would see them and give them feedback at this time are distant: teachers, scout leaders, dance teachers etc. It's now up to you to give them that lift several times per day.
At the moment, life feels pretty devoid of treats, indulgences and luxuries (if you don't count secretly raiding the fridge to try and fill the emotional hole we're feeling).
But, special things can be found even now. Bubble baths, board games and baking are all ways to unwind and treat yourself with quality time. There are plenty of other things too. I'm going to reward myself with a new crochet project soon – it will be a real treat for me to have beautiful new yarn and the mindful rhythm of the craft to soothe me in these hard times. I will also love producing a pleasing piece of work to admire in perpetuity.
What everyday treats and luxuries would boost the morale of your family?
Finally, there's rewards. These are a bit like treats, but you get them for doing something positive. They're a form of extrinsic motivation. We all need them sometimes, but it's best to seek intrinsic sources as the main motivations.
What would incentivise your son or daughter to keep going? An Xbox session with their mates? Their favourite tea? A packet of doughnuts?
Talk to them about what would incentivise them most as a reward for their hard-work and commitment.
More support for you as we move through uncertainty
I hope this article has given you some ideas about how to boost morale and motivation. If you're looking for more support to get through this time of educational uncertainty, on Saturday 16th January 2021 I'm holding free a webinar called Achieving your academic potential in 2021: moving on from school closures and cancelled exams to build your future. In the webinar we will cover:
- A review the current educational situation for students in years 10-13
- What students should be doing right now to reach their potential and build their future
- The vital study skills that all GCSE and A-Level students need to achieve their potential (whether they've got exams this year or not)