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What Can I Say so that the Initiative is Theirs?

Kimberly and student giving initiative

It sure would be amazing if our children and our students would take initiative for their own learning.  Stand up and take responsibility for the times when they don’t understand well enough.  Ask questions.  Come for extra help.  Really try to solve the math problem instead of just sitting there.  Really completing their homework.  Writing neatly.  Really going the extra mile instead of just sitting there.

This doesn’t have to be a pie-in-the-sky wish. 

What can we say to encourage initiative in our children and in our students?  Try some of these starter phrases to help you to speak life and potential into your students. 

I suggest that you try it.  Wouldn’t you at least like to know if you….”

You are going to want to get really good at…..  How will getting really good at this help you every day at school?”

Memorizing this….Learning this.…Practicing this….will make your life so much easier (better).  Wouldn’t you like your life to be easier?  How will you work to memorize this?”

There you have it.  Now you know how to…. How do you feel about being able to do…?”

From what you have done in class, how do you feel about it?  On a scale of 1-10, 1 being ‘Don’t know it at all’ to 10 being ‘Yeah!  I’ve got this!’ (5 is not an option).  They can hold up their hands with their number or they can write it on their own personal mini white board for you to walk around and see.  “Now, how can you take that score of 3 or 4 and get it up to a 7 or an 8What could you do today and tonight when you go home…before you play video games or have dinner?” 

student with initiative

After each one, you need to ask a question to get their commitment.  You put the ownership back in their hands.  Have them tell how they will take initiative. What specifically will they do?

Take it a step further and have them write down or draw in their planner how they are going to take initiative.  Then you can write a note of encouragement.  The parents can see what they committed to do and support them.  If a few days or a week later, you aren’t seeing real improvement, say, “You made a commitment to ___retell how they said that they would take initiative___.  How’s that going?  Are you keeping the promise to yourself to practice this?” 

There are five suggestions here of what to say to encourage more initiative in your students.  Just focus on saying one for a few days.  You don’t have to remember them all at once.  By focusing on saying one over and over again, your students will hear it several times and start to see the trend.  If you stay consistent and keep asking for commitment from them, they will catch on and begin to think how they can have initiative even before you ask.  “Initiative” can even be your word for the month or the year.

Share with us which of these phrases help you to spur on better initiative in your students.

Leave a comment below and let me know.  Remember, share as much detail as possible in your reply.  So many amazing educators, moms, dads, and grandparents come here for insight and motivation, and your story may help someone else have a meaningful breakthrough.

Important:   Share your thoughts and ideas directly in the comments.  Keep your comments positive, as no bad attitudes are allowed here.  Nor is judgment or criticism allowed.  We are here to cheer each other on.  Links to other posts, videos, etc. will be removed.

If you have a specific question regarding a student in your class and would like more help in how you can encourage more initiative in them, feel free to email

With enormous love,


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