By Lisa Smalls

Maintaining productivity throughout a school year can be a challenge for most students, parents, and teachers. But a child who lacks motivation halfway through the year isn’t being lazy as much as partaking in human nature. For anyone, the longer we do something, the more likely we will lack motivation. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t find ways to keep your student motivated. From breaking up the day to providing incentives and challenges, students can become re-motivated to last the entire school year.

 Here are five ways to help keep your student productive through the entire school year.

 Set achievable goals

It’s natural for people to set goals and that’s a good thing. However, especially younger people, set lofty goals and often unsustainable ones. For parents and teachers, setting goals according to your child’s strengths or needs is more sustainable than setting goals compared to other children’s strengths. For example, if your child struggles to hand in assignments, a goal of completing and handing in 100% of assignments is attainable. Once that goal can be met, move the goal post to getting 90% or higher on all assignments. The important part of setting goals is making sure they are attainable, have room to move upward, and provide a fun challenge.

Plan ahead

Planning your day ahead of time is a great way to stay motivated. For a teacher perhaps starting your student’s day with a collaborative morning meeting and for parents picking out clothes, preparing breakfast, and packing a schoolbag the night before eases the morning ritual and starts a child off on the right foot. Not only does this start each day and class on a positive note, but the practice will develop important social and organizational habits your student will carry to school and elsewhere.


Your student should get anywhere from eight to ten hours of sleep each night, but it’s not surprising if you read this and think, “Yeah, right!” Sleep is our body’s way of repairing itself as well as organizing our thoughts, memories, and keeping our bodies functioning properly. Without sleep we lack focus, motivation, have mood swings, are fatigued and will likely suffer from insomnia. So, it’s important for parents to set sleep goals such as no devices or TV, and a bedtime routine and schedule.

Take a break

Breaks are shown to improve focus and performance. In fact, a recent study shows that “prolonged attention to a single task hinders performance.” In addition, breaks help to prevent decision fatigue, increases creativity, and can help to consolidate memories to improving learning.

Limit distractions

 Distractions are everywhere and research funded by the Institute of Education Sciences has shown that the longer the school year and the longer the learning lesson, the more likely your student is to become distracted. When at home distractions range from friends to smartphones, television, and tablets. As a teacher it can help to manage distraction with shorter or broken up lessons, and for a parent setting aside no-device periods can help your child complete their work faster and at a higher level.

Keeping your student or child motivated throughout the entire school year can come with its challenges. However, understanding the importance of preparation and breaking up the day into manageable pieces is a good start to keeping your student engaged.


Lisa is a former elementary school teacher turned freelance writer from NC that has a passion for writing and teaching about education. When she isn't writing, she is normally deep into a novel or rearranging the furniture in her house.