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Playful ways to bring out the best in children and get them motivated to learn

Prioritise social interaction during learning. Picture: Pexels/Magda Ehlers

Prioritise social interaction during learning. Picture: Pexels/Magda Ehlers

Published Apr 20, 2022


The ingredients of play are the ones that fuel learning: play is intrinsically motivating, it presents an opportunity for new experiences and for learning from others, it requires active engagement, and it can strengthen social bonds and reduce stress.

When life is busy or chaotic, it can be hard to find the time and space to encourage children’s play, but this is an important aspect of development. In this digital age, there are many educational, computer-based applications designed for children.

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However, even the best-designed and most effective apps cannot replace real-life social interactions with their peers. Research shows that young children can learn from digital media, such as touch-screen tablets, but social interaction during this learning experience appears to be essential.

When we praise children for their intellect or skill level – or the grade or gold medal they received – it can lead to a performance orientation. They may be motivated to achieve more rewards, but they may also learn to shy away from challenging activities that they might not excel at, for fear of negative evaluation. Performance pressure increases as children move up in school, and it is associated with depression and anxiety in addition to diminished joy of learning.

When we praise children for their effort and help them see falling short as an opportunity to learn and improve, they will be more motivated to work hard and more likely to believe that they can achieve what they put their mind to.

How do we motivate children to learn?

  • Excitement and enthusiasm

If you show excitement, children will likely feel it and imitate it

  • Relevant and extends learning

Children learn best hands-on or when they can visualise something. When the learning is brought home it makes a difference.

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  • Allow children to lead

Allow children to do their own research, and choose their own topics. This allows them to own their work and work harder.

  • Praise and compliment

Let the children know you are proud of them.


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