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 them keep their natural curiosity and openness to experience alive.
To that end, let’s cover 10 ways to do just this.
#1) Read, Read, Read
Reading to your child is one of the best ways to stimulate their mind, activate their imagination, and to solidify his love of learning. Not to mention how much doing this will bond the two of you. The sooner you do it, the better. Studies show that children who are read too from infancy know more words, read sooner than other children, 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 them develop a love of reading early on so they can take full advantage of this will probably be one of the most important things you do for them.
#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 them, they 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’s more important that your son or daughter develop and maintain their love for learning than whether or not they learn anything. This is why it’s never advisable to scold or demean them for not learning something.
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 they will excel.
Another point on this subject is that the school system is sometimes totally unrealistic with regards 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 rest of your child’s life.
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 them how to complete the project in steps, and get them to do as much as they can without feeling frustrated. When you see your child getting frustrated, help more. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth ruining their self-esteem over a silly, unrealistic project. And besides, most parents will do all of the work for their child, and that’s it’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 them locate their favorite car or truck (observation) and count how many they can find. You could ask them why they like it (opinion) and why one vehicle is better than another (analysis).
Have them count, observe, comment, sort, compare, and analyze. Make it fun. Get creative. You could even ask them to close their eyes, and then to recall how many things around them were red, blue, brown, or green in order to work on their memory.
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 and they will stop being afraid of failure; a valuable skill if they are to be successful later in life.
The other thing you can do is to take your child to science centers where they can learn about science and physics in a fun, stimulating way. Not, in the boring equation-ridden aspect of it at school. It’s also a fun way to spend the day for the both of you.
#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 their opinion also shows them a lot of respect. And when you listen to their opinion, and make a choice based upon that opinion, they will feel that you love, respect and value them. And if the action you take doesn’t work out, they will learn from their 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. Don’t be afraid to admit 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 them how to find the answers to their 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.
You can also take them to the library and let them check out as many books as they want on the topic of their choice. This also teaches them responsibility and accountability because they’ll have to take care of, read, and return the books by a certain date.
The point is that by teaching them how to find answers, they 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 their colonies, 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 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 you give them the opportunity to learn what they want to learn, you’ll be blown away at how quickly they can become the expert on the subject. And when they start teaching you, it will bean even more empowering moment for the both of you. Their self-confidence will sky-rocket.
If your child wants to learn how to fish, then let them fish. If they want to learn to cook, let them cook. No matter what it is, within reason, of course, let them lead the way.
But what do you do if your child just wants play video games all day long?
You can restrict them to the types of games that stimulate thought and strategy and steer them away from the nonsensical, violent games.
It’s more the process of discovery, exploration and learning that matter 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 them excited about it is to involve them in the process. And when they gets older, you can give them more and more agency with regards to your next travel destination.
But also, you can visit museums, zoos, aquariums, meet new people, and have other adventurous experiences that would expand your child’s understanding of the world right where you live.
Art and culture are also very important to your child’s development. And helping your child learn to draw or play a musical instrument will be very soothing to them in the long run because of the creative outlet.
When you make life an adventure, learning will be exciting and interesting.
Your child was born with a natural love for learning. It is society that is usually to blame for slowly making children lose their inherent curiosity about the world.
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.