Children are born with an innate curiosity about the world around them. As they grow up, the constant pressure to perform well in schools may cause many to lose their passion for learning. Cultivating a love of learning is the most important thing you can teach your child in the early years.
Here are 5 ways to keep your children’s love of learning alive:
1. Help children discover their passion
Nurture a child’s love of learning by expanding on his or her own innate curiosity from a young age - help them to discover topics that interest them.
Exposing the child to different experiences is a great way to inspire learning. Talking to your child about what he or she is exploring, reading, watching and learning also helps them to discover their interest and passions. Extend learning by checking out books relating to the topics that they are interested in. When you follow a child’s interest, the learning becomes meaningful to them.
Example: Visits to nature parks, museums, zoos, and even a walk around your neighbourhood provide tons of opportunities to discover things and wonder at what they see.
2. Provide hands-on learning
Research has shown that hands-on learning is the most effective for children. When they move, touch, and experience using all five senses, it helps the brain to create pathways that make it easier and quicker to retain information.
Not only does hands-on learning help children process information, it is also a more enjoyable way to learn.
Example: Compared to reading about the body parts of an ant, the child will learn better by manipulating the different body parts and arranging each part correctly. If you would like to try this hands-on activity, download the free printable here.
3. Be a Role Model in Learning
Be a role model for your child by exploring your own interests. By showing enthusiasm in learning, you will instil the same passion in your child.
Example: Take courses in your area of interests such as cooking, photography, dancing and share with your child what you are learning, the excitement you experienced, the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.
4. Start a discussion, instead of being the expert
Too often, learning is about having the "right" answer, and adults are the keepers of knowledge. Instead of always being the expert, be an explorer with your kid and let them teach you along the way.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, discovering the answer together can also be a fun and memorable experience. Even if you know the answer, refrain from answering their questions.
Ask “What do you think? Why do you think that happens?" to find out what they already know and where they want to go next. Begin your questions with, “Why,” “How,” or, “What would happen if….?” These questions can move children to higher levels of critical thinking and problem solving.
Example: Try to solve problems together - be it trying a new recipe, researching on a new pet or fixing a broken toy.
5. Be supportive during the learning process
Have reasonable expectations for your child, and be supportive and encouraging when your child struggles or fails. It is important to let your child try, fail and try a few more times. Help them learn from these experiences, and do not put excessive pressure on getting straight A’s.
Children who view challenges as learning opportunities are more likely to persist, strategize, and keep working until they find a solution.
When your child understands that learning is about just that - learning, and not all about achievement or perfection, he will be able to relax and enjoy the learning process much more.
Praise their efforts and not their outcomes - when learning is only about the outcomes, it is no longer fun. Make learning more about the process and the effort that your child puts into his work.
It’s never too late to start encouraging your children to be lifelong learners! Start on your adventure of learning today!