Returning to School During COVID – Boosting Kids’ Motivation to Learn

A kid learning from home and raising her hand

For most parents, the biggest back to school task involved making sure kids had the right supplies and materials. Getting everything organized and the kids awake in time for the bus were the main first-day-of-school pressures. But that’s no longer the case. Returning to school during COVID has taken on an entirely new meaning. School supplies now include finding a face mask to your child will wear. And first-day-of-school requires making sure they know social distancing rules. And for parents choosing online schooling, several other new responsibilities exist.

Without question, returning to school during COVID is tough for kids, parents as well as teachers. But for kids, these changes can undermine their enthusiasm and motivation to learn. Many used to enjoy seeing friends in-person, going to different classrooms, and playing together at recess. Without these things to which they can look forward, they may view school with even more drudgery than before. This is especially true for kids learning from home using Zoom and other related technologies. For all of these reasons, it’s important to plan some strategies to boost your kid’s motivation to learn.

A kids learning from home with her cat as a teacher
Motivation to learn may be waning for kids stuck at home, but nevertheless, education remains imperative.

Create an Environment that Promotes Learning

Believe it or not, educators spend a tremendous amount of time designing their classrooms at school. Bright colors are used to stimulate a child’s mind, and seating is arranged to help accomplish specific learning tasks. It therefore shouldn’t be surprising that planning your home learning environment can also increase your child’s motivation to learn. With this in mind, parents should create a dedicated space for learning that is isolated from other home activities. Visual distractions and COVID clutter should be minimized to help them maintain focus. The key is to establish spatial boundaries between home and learning environments. In doing so, kids will better acclimate to their new situation and be more likely to engage. Both are important components when considering a person’s motivation to learn. This is especially important for kids who will be returning to school during COVID virtually.

Have (and Stick to) a School Schedule

An environment with lots of distractions can certainly impact a kid’s motivation to learn. But so can an erratic schedule. During the initial lockdowns, many parents cut their kids a little slack in their daily schedules. Some were allowed to sleep in a little later. Others got to take television or video game breaks. But that was then, and this is now. Returning to school during COVID with a full academic year ahead demands a scheduled routine. By providing kids such a routine, they enjoy a structured approach to learning. This too improves their ability to focus and their motivation to learn. Also, by including them when you create a schedule, you invite their participation. This and the use of lesson and study timers provide additional strategies that will help them stick with a routine. It’s readily apparent that the pandemic has created a several life disruptions for everyone. A learning schedule is thus one way to provide kids a little more structure when returning to school during COVID.

Adopt a Positive Perspective

It’s easy to be a bit down given the year that 2020 has turned out to be. The pandemic has resulted in significant losses for all of us, including kids. As a result, they can be experiencing a type of grieving that has been described as the quarantine blues. Naturally, this is not good when we’re talking about a child’s motivation to learn. Therefore, it’s important that parents embrace a positive perspective for them when returning to school during COVID. For example, virtual learning can offer a chance to try new apps and platforms. The coronavirus can be used to stimulate motivation to learn about other organisms and healthcare. By adopting a positive perspective, kids will see this time as an opportunity rather than a setback. In turn, they will become more resilient in life and not fear uncertainty and change. While returning to school during COVID has its negatives, it can also be seen as having some benefits as well.

Be a Support System for Learning

Learning new subjects can be tough for kids even during normal times. Therefore, the motivation to learn when returning to school during COVID may be even tougher. For this reason, parents can enhance their child’s learning by offering encouragement and support. This means parents must appreciate the new challenges their children will be facing. Some will find virtual platforms less than ideal. Others will find new learning approaches and changes in social etiquette difficult. In this regard, parents can support their children by guiding them with effective learning strategies. Creating small goals for kids to achieve can boost both confidence and motivation to learn. Offering small rewards for the progress they make can do the same. And praise and constructive advice energizes kids to excel. Each of these can help reduce the pressures kids fell when returning to school during COVID.

Above All, Be Your Child’s Advocate

Even with all of the above strategies, parents may still find their child lacks a strong motivation to learn. In these instances, it’s important to find out if specific issues exist that might be making things more difficult. For example, some children may be self-conscious being on video or hearing themselves on audio. Students with some learning styles may find learning challenging in new school environments limited by social distancing rules. There are many things that might arise when returning to school during COVID not previously appreciated. Therefore, communicating with your child about the things he or she dislikes is essential. By taking this approach, parents will be better able to problem-solve and overcome potential obstacles. And if clear solutions aren’t readily apparent, parents should seek out educators for help. By advocating for your child’s best interests, collaborative solutions can be found. And in combination with the other above strategies, your child’s motivation to learn can be greatly enhanced.


COVID-19 has certainly proved to be a challenge for the world. To read more about overcoming challenges, check out Ed Kopko’s PROJECT BOLD LIFE: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success.

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Through timely and thoughtful articles, the book Project Bold Life: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success, and other media, we deliver engaging content that educates, motivates and inspires you to live a Bold Life.
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