Journey of Hearts: Erin's Approach to Academic Motivation and Achievement

Discover how Erin, a foster carer with Origins Foster Care, uses innovative reward systems to inspire academic motivation and achievement in children.

In this instalment of our Journey of Hearts series, we explore Erin’s creative strategies for encouraging academic achievement in children who may initially show little interest in school. Erin has found that through dedication and the use of innovative systems that reward desired behaviours like reading, she was able to completely transform children’s attitudes towards learning and their own abilities, leading to substantial improvements and newfound motivation.

Overcoming Initial Challenges

Erin faced significant challenges when she first started supporting the children in her care through their academic journeys. "When they came, they had very little academic ability whatsoever," Erin explains. The initial process was slow and difficult, not just in teaching them skills but also in sparking their interest and motivation for learning.

When they realised that they were actually getting it right, then the motivation came in itself and they started to believe that they could do it.

Implementing Reward Systems

To tackle the motivational challenges, Erin introduced a reward system using tablet time, social media time, phone access, and monetary incentives. This approach helped the children see the real-world value in their academic efforts, turning learning into a rewarding experience. "I started using reward systems, their tablets and social media and phones as, you know, getting extra time with them and money rewards for learning," Erin notes.

Building Confidence and Skills

As the children began to succeed in small tasks, their confidence grew. "They then realised that they started getting the answers right, or that they were able to read a full sentence and then a paragraph," Erin says. This progress led to them choosing of their own free will to read full books and willingly participating in academic activities. The shift from reluctance to eagerness is a testament to Erin’s effective use of positive reinforcement.

The Long-Term Impact

The journey was not easy, but the long-term rewards have been substantial. Erin highlights the importance of consistent encouragement and the transformative power it holds. "It's very hard to motivate a child who's done nothing but have a sense of failure about education all the way through," she reflects. Now, the children look forward to their reading sessions, eager for Erin's feedback and proud of their progress.

Erin’s story demonstrates the significant impact that innovative and supportive educational approaches can have on children in care. Her dedication to their academic growth has not only improved their skills but also instilled a sense of achievement and self-belief.

Inspired by Erin’s story and interested in making a difference in the lives of children through fostering? Apply online to become a foster carer or get in touch with our team of experts today to learn more about how you can become a foster carer and support children’s educational journeys.

A portrait photo of Eithne Larkin, a team member at Origins Foster Care smiling and looking at the camera.
Written by:
Eithne LarkinEithne Larkin
June 11, 2024
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