Instilling a love of learning into your child is a critical task. You don’t only get one shot at it, but it’s crucial that you get started early. Teaching your child to enjoy learning will make so many different parts of their life easier: school, self-improvement, relationships, and more.
We live in a competitive world and your child deserves to have the best start in life possible, and that starts with you helping her to keep her love of learning.
Let’s cover 10 ways to instill the love of learning into your child.
#1) Read, Read, Read
Reading to your child is one of the best ways to stimulate his mind, to activate his imagination, to bond with him, and to solidify his love of learning. The sooner you do it, the better. Studies show that children who are read to from infancy know more words, read sooner than other children, have more brain power and score better in both math and English.
And the more words a baby is exposed to, the better.
Your baby is like a super-computer and is able to grasp a lot more than you realize. Helping her to develop a love of reading early is probably one of the most important things you can do for her.
#2) Be Enthusiastic
Children love enthusiasm, no matter what age they are. We all do, really. When your child sees you acting enthusiastic while you’re learning something new, or reading to him, he will want to mimic you and do the same.
Enthusiasm is contagious at any age. And when your child sees that you have a healthy, enthusiastic love of learning, he will too.
Who was your favorite teacher? What characteristics did your favorite teacher have? More than likely, your teacher was enthusiastic and had a love for learning. That’s the common trait for all good teachers.
#3) Be Supportive and Encouraging
It is more important that your son or daughter develop and maintain their love for learning than whether or not they learn a thing or not. This is why it’s never advisable to scold your child, or demean her for not learning something, or for not learning something fast enough.
Usually, all parents have a natural, deep love for their children. But some parents parent the way that they were parented. And if their parent was mean, harsh, and demanding, they will tend to parent the same way.
If that happened to you, break the chain of pain. Stop the generational poor-parenting habit of punishing your child for not performing well enough.
When you parent right from the very beginning, your son or daughter will far surpass any expectations you may have had. So, be supportive and always encouraging and she will excel.
Another point on this subject is that the school system is sometimes totally unrealistic as to what a child should be able to accomplish. Many children in the 2nd through the 4th grade will be expected to complete projects at home and then turn them in for a grade.
But most children are not ready to do a project like that which takes planning and a know how of how to break a project up into smaller parts. Then, if the child doesn’t get any help from their parents, they will suffer getting a bad grade. That kind of experience can have a lasting impact for the entire life of a child.
So, what do you do? Should you let your child suffer through it?
Most parents simply help their child to a great extent—even to the point where it’s the parents work, and not the child’s.
Use your best judgment, of course. But the best way to handle it is to assist your child, show her how to complete the project in steps, and get her to do as much as she can without feeling frustrated. When you see your child getting frustrated, help more. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth ruining her self-esteem over a silly, unrealistic project. And besides, most parents will do all of the work for their child, and that’s not fair to any child who is forced to do it completely on their own.
#4) Make Learning Fun
One of the best ways to make learning fun is to turn it into a game. It doesn’t have to be complicated, especially during the early years. For instance, if you’re driving home, have him locate his favorite car or truck (observation) and count how many he can find. You could ask him why he likes it (opinion) and why one vehicle is better than another (analysis).
Have him count, observe, comment, sort, compare, and analyze. Make it fun. Get creative. You could even ask him to close his eyes, and then to recall how many things around him were red, blue, brown, or green.
Family board games are also a great way to learn, spend time together, and bond. But be mindful that children usually hate to lose and may get upset. If you don’t treat it as a big deal, it won’t be to them either and eventually, they will grow out of it.
The other thing you can do is to take your child to science centers where they can learn a lot about science and physics in a fun, stimulating way. It’s a great way to spend a day.
#5) Be Inquisitive
Your child will naturally have an inquisitive disposition, and perhaps it will be even stronger than yours. But by using your imagination, you can stimulate your child’s inquisitive nature even more.
Get creative with this. Be childlike yourself. Start to look around your world and ask yourself questions like, I wonder how they make this or that? For example, how do they make computers? Cars? A Guitar? A violin? How does TV and radio work?
You may find that you don’t even know because you never questioned certain things before. In a way, that’s even better because you two can learn together.
The point is that by developing and nurturing an inquisitive nature, your son or daughter will become more inquisitive too, gain knowledge, and further maintain their love of learning.
#6) Ask Their Opinion and Never Judge
You instantly empower your child when you ask for their opinion. But don’t ever do it in order to set them up to tell them that their opinion is wrong, or doesn’t matter.
If you know they’re wrong, simply ask questions and let them figure it out. But don’t ever judge them harshly, or else they’ll never want to give you their opinion again.
Asking her opinion also shows her a lot of respect. And when you listen to her opinion, and make a choice based upon that opinion, she will feel that you love, respect and value her. And if the action you take doesn’t work out, she will learn from her mistakes.
It’s really a win/win situation, either way.
#7) Research Together
Let’s say that you get inquisitive about a topic and so does your child, but you don’t know the answer to a question your child asks you. Feel free to admit it when you don’t know the answer to a question. Your child will totally understand, and won’t look at you in a bad way if you don’t make it a big deal.
The next step is to do the research together. This is a very valuable skill to teach your child.
You can teach him how to find the answers to question from reputable sources through the Internet, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo or other search engines. What they teach in schools is to mainly get their information from “.gov” sites. But you can expand upon that with him, based upon what you believe is reliable.
The point is that by teaching him how to find answers, he will feel very empowered and it will help to instill that love of learning.
#8) Get into Nature
The outdoors and nature is full of opportunities to explore and learn about the world. There are 8.7 million species to learn about, and much can be learned about life from mother nature. You can point out all of the different kinds of trees, birds, plants, insects, geological formations, and more. You can even explain to your child how when a spider’s web is destroyed, it doesn’t fret for one moment, but instead, goes right back to rebuilding it. There are countless lessons to be learned from nature.
Or, you can look at the lowly ant and talk about colony, how they all work together, and how they communicate. If your child asks you a question you don’t know, determine to research it together later.
Nature has much to teach us. And getting outdoors is a very healthy thing to do for both of you.
#9) Let Your Child Choose
Do you like it when someone forces you to learn something that you have absolutely no interest in? Of course not. But a lot of parents and mainly the school system want to force children to learn many things that they don’t want to learn or have little to no interest in.
The result is that children develop a dislike of learning and that is totally counterproductive.
Sure, there may be things that a child needs to learn even when they don’t want to learn it, but the topic here is how to cultivate a love of learning and how to keep it going.
The way to do it right, is to let the child choose.
When they choose, they will usually dive in deeper and faster than you can imagine. When they get to learn what they want to learn, you may be blown away at how quickly they can become the expert on the subject. And when they start teaching you, it will be such an empowering moment for them. Their self-confidence will sky-rocket.
If your child wants to learn how to fish, then let him fish. If he wants to learn to cook, let him cook. No matter what it is, within reason, of course, let him lead the way.
But what do you do if your child wants to just play video games all day long?
You can restrict him to the types of games that stimulate thought and strategy and steer him away from the nonsensical, violent games.
It’s more about the process of discovery, exploration and learning that matters most.
#10) Make Learning an Adventure
Obviously, when you make learning an adventure, your child’s natural love for learning will be enhanced. But how can you do it?
One way is to plan vacations to adventurous destinations. And the way to get her excited about it is to involve her in the process. And when she gets older, you can give her more and more responsibility as to where to travel next.
But also, you can visit cities with different cultures, visit museums, zoos, aquariums, meet new people, and have other adventurous experiences that would expand your child’s understanding of the world.
Art and culture are also very important to your child’s development. And doing arts and crafts with your children will also enhance their love of learning.
When you make life an adventure, learning will be exciting and interesting.
Your child was born a genius and also born with a natural love for learning. It is society, the public school system and some parents who are usually the ones to blame for children losing their love of learning.
But with the right attitude, attention and effort, you can embrace and enhance your child’s love for learning. The best way to do that is to be the example. Be excited about learning. Let it be known that learning is enjoyable, and that it is a life-long practice that is as much a part of life as breathing.
When you love learning, your child will follow in your foot-steps.