Learning Center Helps: Inspiring Achievement

“I am continually with thee; thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel. Psalm 73: 23, 24

Romans 5:3, 4 states, .tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.” The mature response to tough situations is to affirm, by faith, that God has a purpose in all He does and allows. Hardship gives us a story to encourage others: life’s problems are real, but God is more real. Our strength in ministry comes not by freedom from challenges in the Learning Center but from trials and frustrations: it comes from the sufficiency of Christ and the joy of serving Him. Reluctant and/or discouraged students provide additional opportunities for the supervisor to inspire achievement.

A student who believes that others, especially his parents and supervisors, believe in him-his worth, his capability, his efforts, and his ability to achieve–will be motivated in his work and play. The supervisor utilizes motivation to inspire achievement. Consistency, love, encouragement, support, and interest build the student’s self- image and confidence, inspiring him to greater achievements for God’s glory.

  1. How do we keep students on track and progressing?
  2. Love your students. First and foremost, love them. Love is the most powerful emotion and the primary motivator. Students need a balance between direction and correction. Students respond with interest and motivation to supervisors who appear to be human and caring. Ask about their concerns and goals. And appropriately share your humanness with them. Children should understand that adults are not perfect and errors are common to everyone. It helps them relax.
  3. Be clear in your expectations. Make sure they understand what is being asked of them in the PACEs and behaviorally (PM I p. 96). When you tell a child to “stop acting like that,” he may not understand what “that” is. You wonder why he continues to do what you asked him not to do. Sometimes it is a lack of communication. Clarity directions he does not understand. Students who are uncertain about what to do will seldom perform well.
  4. Reward good behavior and good work. students who do not yet have a powertul intrinsic or built-in motivation to achieve can be helped by the use of rewards. Children Will be encouraged to repeat behavior thatis rewarded. The rewards can be small- such as “Good job!” stickers. Everyone likes the feeling of accomplishment and recognition.
  5. Involve your students. Ask their opinions about field trips, fundraisers, etc. Have them take responsibility for the library, cleaning, and reading to and quizzing younger students. The more involved they are, the more they will take “ownership” of their learning. Students love to be needed. Whenever a child’s self-confidence is boosted, his motivation is increased. Use every opportunity to have students help you and others.
  6. Inspire and encourage. Stimulate their desire to succeed by giving them assistance and approval. The word encouragement literally means “to call beside.” We should be helping them pursue their dreams by tying their work to their life goals. Point out their God-given gifts and strengths without the word “BUT.” (“I think you will make a great!”) And always recognize good intentions.
  7. Be energetic! Remember that energy sells! Think about how good and evil are portrayed in our culture. Evil is high energy, creative, and proactive, while good is passive and boring. Is that true? Absolutely not! Show them! We must present our heroes and truths with energy. Portray Jesus as dynamic and exciting–things happened when Jesus came to town! Also make a point of showing evil as lazy, predatory, and the same old temptations (nothing new under the sun!). It’s EXCITING to serve God!

2. Why are some students reluctant to learn?

Some students somehow, somewhere, lose momentum and stall out. They become unwilling to try and uneager to work, striving against your efforts to motivate them. Why? Look for these symptoms.

A. Immaturity. If they move too quickly through the lower levels, they may hit a “wall.” If they are not mature enough to handle the work (e.g., abstract thought), they become discouraged. Students who move quickly may also need expanded curriculum in interest areas.

B. Unrecognized limitations. For instance, if they need glasses or have dyslexia, they will struggle with reading. Some can successfully hide this for years, through memorizing or “guessing” at answers until the work becomes too complex.

C. Easily distracted. A pencil tapping in the office next door, a change in room temperature, or any commotion in the Learning Center may break their concentration and keep them from completing their goals.

D. Apathy. On occasion we will face a student who says, “I just don’t care.” Most of the time this is not really true, but we must discover the root of the apathy. A lack of encouragement at home or in school can cause a child to lose interest in his PACE work.

E. Inordinately social. The social butterfly has a tough time making work a priority. He is afraid he will miss something. A “good time” is always the priority and work usually takes a distant backseat.

F. Perfectionism and insecurity. A child who is a perfectionist can have difficulty completing his goals. As he obsesses over each jot and tittle, the clock ticks on! Before he knows it, the day is over, and he has only produced one “perfect” goal. You will also have shy and insecure children in your Learning Center. These children are afraid to ask questions or to appear “dumb.” They often believe they truly can’t succeed, and therefore, don’t want to try and risk failing. Tell them, “It’s my job to help you; it’s your job to try”.

G. Overly imaginative. They get “caught up” in creating and don’t have any time left for work. They read their literature and then start to imagine themselves in the plot. They are actively involved, just not with finishing their goals. They are your daydreamers-looking out to sea, imagining great adventures.

H. Rebellion. They can become stubborn about doing their work. They dig in their heels and refuse to comply. “You can’t make me!” may be their battle cry. And the truth is-you can’t.

I. Disarray. Have you ever had a student in your Learning Center who brings chaos in his wake? Thirty seconds after he sits down, his office looks like it exploded, and he can’t find anything. He digs through the heap to find his math, but by that time, he’s lost his pencil. Then you show up to check his goals, and he looks at you with wide eyes and says, “What?” as you shake your head and smile in disbelief.

J. Negativism. Have you ever heard the phrase, “We have found the enemy and he is us?” For some children this is true- they are their own worst enemy. They are constantly thinking and speaking negatively about themselves. At times they are simply repeating what has been said to them, but other times it is a cry for love.

K. Emotional deprivation. You will also experience children who are attention- deprived or lacking authentic affirmation. They may have been criticized, neglected, abused, or emotionally rejected at some time in life. They may come from a large family and feel lost in the crowd. Perhaps mom and dad both work long hours and lack energy for their children. They may have experienced divorce or desertion in their family. Whatever the cause, these children will need extra loving care.