Saturday, February 2, 2008

How to Encourage Your Child to Love Learning

Ultimately, we want our kids to love to learn. A passion for learning is quite different from just studying to earn a grade or to please parents or teachers. Those who develop a love of learning at an early age continue the process throughout their lives and are generally more successful, interesting, and happier than those who don't.


*Talk with your child about the things you read and hear, especially the things you find interesting.

*Ask your kids how they feel about various issues (current events, relationships, values). Allow them to have opinions without passing judgment. Ask your children to help you understand why they feel the way they do.

*Pursue your own hobbies and interests. Share these with your child, but do not require that he or she follow your pursuits.

*Encourage your kids to have interests of their own. If they show curiosity about a hobby, area of study, sport, or instrument, encourage and support them in any way your finances allow.

*Read books. Read on your own, which sets a good example. Read to your kids, to get them hooked on books.

*Expose your child to a wide variety of experiences including music, plays, sports, museums, travel, reading, dance, games, food, puzzles, ethnic activities, etc. One never knows how what exposure may influence future life choices.

*Play "thinking games" with your kids. These are games where there is not just one answer. Scrabble and chess are examples. Emphasize the value of thoughtful moves rather than the importance of winning.

*Remember that you are your child's best teacher. School, educational games and television, and a shelf full of books all can't accomplish what you can in the education of your child. It doesn't take much effort to inspire a child's brain in the everyday world - the place where they need it the most. Here are a few simple things you can do to engage your child: count the number of houses, black cars, bicycles, etc. that you pass as you drive; search for letters, numbers, or colors on the restaurant menu; when you are going to use a gum-ball machine, hold out a handful of coins and explain the differences, and that the machine will only take the quarter (then let your child pick out a quarter and put it in the machine - they love this!).

*Start sooner, rather than later. Fostering independence in your child is very important for their brain development and how they feel about learning. Sometimes, activities seem too difficult for your child only because you haven't encouraged them to do it yet. For example, things like peeling their own banana, picking out which shirt to wear, and feeding the family cat, are all things that a young toddler can do. Letting your child do things like this makes them feel more in control of their world, which in turn inspires them toward bigger and better exploits. When the world is in your hands, you want to do something with it, don't you?


If you demonstrate excitement about learning and are open to your children pursuing their own interest areas, it will be hard for them to resist the opportunities.
Explain to your child why he or she is learning, and how it will be worthwhile (e.g. learning multiplication tables)


Try not to go overboard about grades. If your child makes a low grade, don't scream and yell, but instead show them what they did wrong and help them understand. For good grades, don't buy big, expensive things to celebrate (at least not all the time). Your child will feel pressured/persuaded to do well and will dread low grades. Giving too many rewards also encourages bad habits and manners, such as bragging, and can lead to complexes (such as fear of failure). Understand that not all children will get A's and B's and that C's are OKAY and considered good, as C's are average.

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