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Discover Intrinsic Motivation Through A Child-Centered Learning Approach

Child-Centered Learning Supports Autonomy and Self-Determination


child centered learning

A child-centered learning approach to education ignites curiosity and fosters deep, intrinsic motivation to learn. By prioritizing student agency, individuality, and holistic growth, we equip self-driven learners with the tools to succeed in school and beyond academics.


The Decline of Student Motivation


As children progress from lower to middle and high school, they become less motivated and engaged.


Many students transition from curiosity and enthusiasm to apathy and disinterest in high school. 75% of students report feeling negatively about school. Over 60% of the students said they feel this way daily— during a phase in life when they should be engaged in the present and excited about their future.


Part of the problem stems from focusing on students’ external motivators like grades, test scores, and evaluations. While these incentives may temporarily motivate students to produce better work, they begin to see academics as a means to an end rather than learning as a lifelong journey.


Child-centered learning promotes understanding, reflection, and higher-level thinking skills— this method of education might be the antidote to student apathy. 


What is Child-Centered Learning?


Child-centered learning puts students at the heart of their educational experience. This student-driven concept values children’s unique interests, needs, and learning styles.


In a child-centered learning environment, children are active participants rather than passive recipients of information. Students collaborate, engage in hands-on exploration, and develop their understanding through guided discovery.


With personalized learning plans tailored to students’ strengths and weaknesses, children take ownership of their education. Child-centered learning harnesses students’ innate curiosity, promoting deeper engagement and understanding.


Child-Centered Learning Fosters Intrinsic Motivation


child centered learning environment

Intrinsic motivation arises from within, whereas extrinsic motivation comes from external rewards or pressures. 


When intrinsically motivated, students learn out of genuine interest and enjoyment and in alignment with their values and goals. This self-determined drive fosters greater conceptual understanding, higher achievement, and lifelong learning habits.


Intrinsic motivation thrives in supportive, child-centered learning environments where students have autonomy over their learning.


This includes: 


  • Autonomy

  • Relatedness to others

  • Experiencing stimulating challenges


Child-centered learning aligns perfectly with these principles by promoting student ownership, capitalizing on their interests, and nurturing a growth mindset.


Focusing on the Whole Child


STARS Academy supports a holistic approach to child-centered learning.


Physical: Movement breaks, sports, hands-on learning

Social: Community building, relationship skills, group work

Emotional: Counselors, mindfulness, self-awareness

Cognitive: Academics, critical thinking, personalized support


When academics are woven together with emotional intelligence, students understand themselves better and relate to the world differently.


STARS balances expectations with compassion so students feel safe to take risks, make mistakes, and learn without fear of judgment.


When education nurtures self-awareness, students are empowered to seek improvement. Learning becomes an exciting quest rather than an obligation to fulfill.


STARS Academy’s Child-Centered Difference


STARS Academy’s equitable approach to child-centered learning also boosts intrinsic motivation.


At STARS, we accomplish this through:


  • Promoting collaboration through group projects, discussions, and peer learning

  • Utilizing thematic learning to immerse students in topics connected to their interests

  • Interweaving arts, STEM, and humanities in our integrated curriculum

  • Ensuring academics align with students' innate curiosity and drive to learn

  • Making learning dynamic, hands-on, and student-driven


When learning aligns with students’ innate curiosity, passions, and interests, we transform education into a lifelong love of learning.


Developing Skills for Lifelong Success


With devoted, inspirational teachers and faculty, students view themselves as explorers seeking meaningful knowledge, not passive vessels soaking up facts. Education becomes a joyful quest of self-discovery rather than a checklist of requirements to move on in school and life.


Realize Your Child’s Potential at STARS


At STARS Academy, child-centered learning fosters empowered young individuals with self-determination who carve out their educational trajectory and pave the path of their destiny.


Are you curious about how a child-centered school might benefit your child? Request a tour of our West Hills, California campus, and see how a child-centered learning approach ignites lifelong learning in our students. 


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