“Montessori education is designed to awaken interest and to allow children to pursue learning about issues that personally interest them. This is necessary to a system that is based on intrinsic motivation.”
Montessori the Science Behind the Genius – Angeline Stoll Lillard
Star with yourself
Intrinsic motivation is an internal call to action that is rewarded by doing the action itself, rather than an external reward. Although we discuss this as fundamental to the Montessori philosophy, it is mainly discussed in respect to the classroom and the home gets missed out. By starting to foster intrinsic motivation in your home now, you are setting your child up to be satisfied with their own personal expectations and achievement.
Before you start to look at how you can do this for your child, it is a good time to reflect on what motivates you as an adult, a parent. You are your child’s role model and being aware of your own growth and development is important.
I encourage you to explore in detail what motivates you and be honest with yourself. If you find external rewards are your motivation, consider how you could become more internally satisfied and motivated. What expectations do you have for yourself as a parent and what determines if you are a success or not, in your eyes?
Reflection is healthy.
How to foster intrinsic motivation at home
The environment you offer is key!
- Create a supportive environment. Leave judgement and opinion aside and offer trust and encouragement.
- Failure is part of life. Actually, we sometimes learn more from our failure than our successes. Allow the freedom to fail.
- Steer clear of extrinsic motivations such as rewards and punishments. Children can become dependent on them.
- Share accomplishments and struggles with one another. Recognise the efforts.
- Set clear expectations, with achievable results.
- Show your child their improvements. Recognise how far they have come.
- Offer your child as much choice as possible. This autonomy will increase their commitment and awareness of their responsibility.
- Be honest! Remember, your child will not be brilliant at everything. Give genuine and respectful feedback. Ask about their journey, rather than their result.
- Be a role model.
Your child has been born wanting to learn. They are curious and seek their own joy in what they learn.
If we get into the habit of rewarding their work with our approval, they will seek this in the future rather than seeking their own approval.
As parents, we can ask more questions. “Tell me about this picture.”, “Do you remember the last time you tried to stand, you were unable and now you can, all by yourself?”
“I noticed you never gave up.” rather than, “you’re amazing, you done it, you’re so great.”
By changing how we word things will have a positive impact on your child’s intrinsic development. This does not mean you don’t do your happy dance! Have your dance and high fives, just out of earshot and vision of your child for now.
As they get older, you are able to celebrate in a different was as the foundation has been built and your child is not just working for your approval. On one occasion, I sent flowers to my daughter at her work for an amazing accomplishment, along with a video of my happy dance! She just laughed and said I was embarrassing but she loved that I am happy for her. She is most proud of herself and recognised the hard work she had put in. The foundation was set from an early age for her to continue into her 20’s (yikes) working for her own motivation rather than mine.
Start by celebrating your own successes.
Recognise your own journey and be proud.