In life, we are always learning. Whether it’s learning to walk, learning our times tables, learning to accept failure or learning how to do our jobs, our brains are naturally hungry for more knowledge.
While it’s our job as parents to teach our children the many things that they need to know (not an easy feat!), it’s also important to encourage them to learn things for themselves. It’s key that we show them that we love learning things for ourselves too.
Where is the (Learning) Love?
Babies and toddlers have an innate curiosity about the world around them, soaking up new information like sponges. They love to investigate their surroundings and develop their abilities.
However, somewhere along the way, this natural love for learning is often lost. This tends to happen during their school years when learning starts to feel like a job or a chore. There are books to read, tests to complete and skillsets to master, which can leave kids feeling overwhelmed and often dreading the thought of learning.
Well, parents, it’s time to bring back the fun in learning and instil this innocent love of learning that our babies and toddlers knew so well.
Here are a few ways to do this:
1. Model a Love of Learning
We are our children’s foremost teacher. Sure, they go to school, but the majority of learning happens at home, with us. If they see you furthering your learning, they may want to do it too.
On the rare occasion when I actually sit down to read a book, my kids will often grab their own books and join me. I know my kids won’t do this forever – one day they will be teens and I won’t be ‘cool’ to hang out with anymore. But, for now, if I’m keen to try something new and expand my skillset, then the kids are usually on board too. Talk about things you are learning, and show them that you are always wanting to learn new things, whether that be trying a new recipe, researching a destination for your next holiday, or simply helping them with their science project. Show them that you love learning new things, and that you are inquisitive. Inquisitive minds love learning.
2. Be Aware of How Children Learn
Children and teens learn in five main ways: by seeing, hearing, exploring, experimenting and asking questions. Give them opportunities to do all five at home.
3. Teach them to be Active Learners
There are always opportunities to learn more. If your kids have a question and you don’t know the answer, look it up (Captain Google to the rescue). Your kids will soon want to do this themselves. Allowing them to seek out answers rather than just accepting that they don’t know is a great way to encourage your children to love learning.
4. Think Outside the Book
Get creative at home by looking for ways to help further their skills in fun, exciting ways. I make treasure hunts in the backyard for my kids. With every clue, I’ll use maths equations that they need to solve in order to find the next clue. My kids absolutely love doing them and I love that they have to do maths (and work together) to uncover the prize.
5. Discover their Interests
Help your child discover what they love doing, reading, writing and watching, and build on that. If your child is learning about a certain piece of history, take them to the museum. If they’re learning about ecosystems and native animals, take them to the zoo. If your child loves watching kids on YouTube, help them learn how to make their own videos (or at least teach them how to use the video function on the iPad without posting it to YouTube).
Or, enrol them in PakMag’s new online course for kids that teaches children how to master video recording. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
6. Learn through Experiences
We learn new things by doing them, so get them out to explore. You don’t have to be constantly teaching them, asking them questions or grilling them about what they are learning. Let them explore, play and come to you with questions. This takes the pressure off and helps instil their sense of wanting to learn.
7. Support their Schooling
Some kids love school. Others do not. But, regardless of how they feel about it, they have to go. School teaches them so much more than just basic numeracy and literacy skills and, although it can be a bit tricky and tedious at times, it’s part of being a kid. Make the schooling experience positive by asking them about it, keeping up to date on what they are doing and, if you can, volunteering when they need parent helpers.
8. Encourage Relaxation Time Too
If your kids are getting burnt out, give them a break. We all need time to just chill out, give our minds a break and absorb everything.
I will give my kids a ‘mental health day’ once or twice a year where they can stay home with me for the day, but only if they promise not to fight and to do something creative together. They always do and they always return to school the next day feeling a little more refreshed and ready to learn.
9. Nurture their Curious Natures
The best way to bring back that innocent love of learning that our babies and toddlers possessed is to let our kids be kids.
Let them explore and experiment, even if it means a big mess to clean up. Encourage them to ask questions, even if you need to pull out the computer to find the answer (hey, at least it’s not an Encyclopedia). Let them do things for themselves, even if it takes FOREVER to get it done.
Support their interests, no matter how quirky they are. Reassure them that it’s important to explore what we don’t know. Most importantly, remind them that you are always right there, ready to offer a helping hand if they get stuck. And don’t forget, monkey see, monkey do; role model a love of learning and your children will likely follow suit.