Helping Your Child To Love Learning The Easy Way
What do you see your main job as a parent as? Instilling discipline? Being a best friend? Keeping your children safe? Sometimes as parents we get extremely caught up in the day-to-day aspects of our duties. Making sure the kids are eating their vegetables, doing their homework, brushing their teeth and going to bed on time. These things can be extremely time consuming and they are important cornerstones of a daily routine. However, sometimes this means that the bigger picture ends up getting overlooked. There is a place within parenting for inspiring young minds, passing on values and giving them a lifelong love of learning. Opening up your child’s intellect to the abstract world of ideas and concepts can be a source of deep joy for a parent, as well as an incredible gift for a young mind.
Encouraging them to do well at school is one thing. But there’s no reason to limit their learning to the four walls of a classroom – in fact, some of the best and most fulfilling educational experiences they can have will be out in the world, with you. Intellectual and social growth are just as crucial as traditional book learning and will actually help your child to prepare for higher education, as that learning environment is much less about book learning and far more about learning to question. Giving your children and yourself a joy in discovering new things and discussing ideas is hugely rewarding. So take steps to create the right atmosphere for them to embrace learning, and you’ll be reaping the rewards for many years to come…
Encourage Reading All The Time
As adults we know the pleasure of getting completely lost in a great book. The way a story can transport us, give us escape, make us think about things from a new angle and expand our minds is a timeless joy. Learning to love reading is a bridge to many other areas of knowledge. It has far-ranging benefits to your child, from expanding their vocabulary to introducing new concepts. Encourage it by filling your house with interesting reading material – from the weekend papers to historical novels. Let your children see your own love of reading by talking about your favorite books and why you like them. Make sure younger children are read to regularly and with elder children, you could try introducing a family reading time where everyone gets a chapter or two of their latest book done.
Foster Independent Thinking
An inquiring mind knows no boundaries, so as parents if we can encourage our children to think for themselves, we are setting them up for a bright future. Encourage your children to have and express their own opinions, talk openly about how events and situations make them feel and make their own choices within a reasonable framework. Set up safe boundaries but allow them free rein to explore within those boundaries. Learning to speak to children about feelings is an important skill for parents to learn too! Start off with simple things such as letting them choose something for the family meal at dinner, or a hobby they’d like to start outside of school time. Children are a part of a family too and as such should be consulted on some of the decisions. It makes them feel connected and also gives them agency and a stake in events, which often has a positive effect on behavior as well.
Encourage Their Own Interests
There will be topics which naturally trigger your child’s curiosity, so when these arise make the most of them. From how a combustion engine works to animal care to baking a cake, each topic is a chance to explore different areas of knowledge from simple science and mathematics to thinking creatively and problem-solving even through to discussing morals and ethics. If you approach it through the filter of whatever topic has caught their attention, they will be more receptive to discussing it with you. Show enthusiasm for topics they respond to and encourage them to learn independently about it – from hunting through the encyclopedia for facts about insects to making up adventures for a favorite pet. A child’s imagination is pretty limitless, so it’s just a question of aiding and abetting. These early interests can be helped to grow into a lifelong passion for a subject. They could go from building bridges and roadways with Lego to wanting to study online ms civil engineering before you know it!
Find Their Learning Style
Everyone has a different learning style that suits them best, and it can be really helpful to find the one or several which your child responds best to. If this style is not one that is usually engaged in a school setting, make sure that you are providing plenty of outside stimulation in that area. A learning style refers to the most natural way in which a student absorbs, processes and retains information. Your child may be a visual learner who responds best to diagrams and videos, or they may prefer reading and writing about a topic. They may be logical and like to use reasoning and systems. Some are social learners who process information best through discussion with others, while some children learn the best on their own or take longer to absorb a new topic. There is no right or wrong way to learn, although the school system favors certain ways. By working out what comes across best for your child you can supplement the type of learning they are doing during the day with activities they can do at home which may be a better fit for them. Furthermore, researchers using brain imaging technology have even been able to demonstrate that these different learning styles use different parts of the brain. If our education includes more of these separate areas, the more thorough our comprehension of the topic and the better we can process what we are learning. Unstructured play time is important to help your child take in new information in their own way.
Talk About What They’re Learning
Formal education is littered with measuring sticks – grades, test scores, rankings. And as parents, we can become a little too focused on these markers rather than on the holistic learning experience. Making your interest in your child’s learning solely focused on their test scores is a huge mistake to make. Instead, ask them about what they are learning, not what they scored on the latest paper. Not only does this remove some of the pressure and anxiety that can turn even the keenest student off, but it also gives them a chance to digest what they have absorbed – and through telling you about it, they also become more likely to take in and recall the information themselves. Make a little ritual of going to get a drink on the way home from school or using the drive back to encourage them to talk about their learning experience and the topics they are currently studying.
Celebrate Their Achievements (Even The Small Ones)
In adult life, one thing that we seem to forget to do is mark our little victories, and the same approach can often then extend to our children. Make the learning experience more fun and engagement by being sure to celebrate their educational milestones. This doesn’t have to be about exams. Set them a reading challenge and reward them with Amazon Gift Codes when they complete it. Take them for ice cream when they do a great job on a book report. Allow them time on the iPad playing games when they have completed some work. Positive reinforcement goes a long way to making learning a good experience for them.