It’s wonderful when you’re teaching a child who is motivated to learn; it’s almost as if they are teaching themselves. It’s like they have an inner motor that is switched on, driving them forward in their desire to learn.
How can that motor be switched on? Engaging teaching can have a powerful influence on inner motivation. When children are able to actively participate and have fun they enjoy learning; nurturing their curiosity gives them a desire to know more; providing opportunities for success gives them a satisfying feeling of competency; tolerance of mistakes emboldens them to try and enables them to learn from mistakes; activities that provide the right amount of challenge enhance motivation; and positive feedback builds confidence and a sense that they are gaining a valuable skill.
I received a letter recently from a grandmother telling me of her delight when her young granddaughter’s motivation to learn was ‘switched on’. Without realising it, she was using engaging teaching techniques, and the results were outstanding!
Grandma Kathy’s story
“I am a retired grandmother, and now that I have the time I’ve decided to learn to play the piano as it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. Last year I saw your magnetic stave set so I bought one to help me learn how to read music, and I also thought that it might be something I could use to help my grandchildren as well.
Recently I had my granddaughter, who is 4 years old, stay with me for two weeks and I decided that her time with Granny was going to be of educational value! I can’t give her piano lessons as I’m only learning myself, but I decided I could use Easy Notes to give her a head-start in learning the notes. So every day I spent some time telling her the stories in the Easy Notes books and getting her to put the magnets on the keys of the piano and on the magnetic board. I also got her to do one theory page a day, and we practised the notes with the flashcards.
Well, my granddaughter loved it! Each morning at about 6.30 I’d wake up to a little voice in my ear saying, “Grandma, can we have our piano lesson now?” And not only did she love it, but I couldn’t believe how easily and how well she was learning the notes!
Towards the end of my granddaughter’s stay, I asked my piano teacher to come around and I said to her, “What do you think of this?” Then I got my granddaughter to show her the notes she had learned, and I showed her the work she had done in the Easy Notes theory books. Then I asked my music teacher to test her, and it was amazing – my granddaughter’s accuracy was 100%! My piano teacher couldn’t believe that a little 4-year old could learn the notes like that! She said that she always thought you had to wait until children could read before you could teach them to read music.
Now I’ve bought two more of the Easy Notes sets. One is for my granddaughter to use at home – we’re going to continue learning the notes on Skype! And the other set? It’s for my music teacher!
Well done on creating such an easy-to-use system that really works! It’s brilliant! And if I can use it with such great results, then anyone can!”
I love this story! Without realising it, Kathy was using engaging teaching techniques which helped to switch on the inner motivation of her granddaughter. The little girl loved the stories because they were fun, and they were unlocking the ‘secret code’ of what the notes are on the piano and on the stave; this was exciting and stirred up her curiosity to know more. It was fun to put the magnets on the piano and on the magnetic stave because she could actively participate in it, and because she was able to do it easily it gave her a sense of competency. The progression was gradual, so at each step she was able to achieve success as her skill kept developing. It didn’t matter if she made a mistake, and learning from the mistake helped her to get it right the next time. She liked the challenge of trying to get the notes right and showing that she could do it quickly. When she got them right Grandma would praise her, which made her feel she was developing an important skill, and made her feel good about herself.
When teaching is engaging it’s so powerful and as teachers we really reap the reward! That inner motivation in the learner is so exciting to see. It makes our job so rewarding, and helps to drive them forward in the learning process.
If you have any thoughts to add on motivation to learn, please feel free to post them as a comment below.
In my next post I want to discuss more aspects of motivation.