This is such a fun one for me to write about, because if you know me, than you know how much I love learning. I just turned 30 (eep!) and in the 26 years that have passed since I toddled into kindergarten at age 4, I have spent a grand total of 12 months NOT IN SCHOOL. Tell me that’s not commitment? Let’s look at some simple ways to help kids love learning that are easy to integrate into daily life.
Learning and growing in is my blood. And you’d know that if you knew my father. Really though.
And, therefore, learning and growing must also be in the blood of my son. (Points if you ALSO know my husband. Haha, this is getting a little ridiculous. But alas – we really like learning around here). Just ask my sisters.
I have to admit, I possibly grew one of the most terrible eaters the world has ever seen. Not a picky one, just a terrible one. He.hates.eating. Period. He gets bored within 5 bites. He loves something, then he hates it. He’s never hungry. I’ve learned the very hard way that there is no way to force a kid to swallow… Ever tried it? Mine will hold hummus in his mouth for 1.5 hours at a time before spitting it out… Wherever he happens to be when his cheeks start hurting…on a couch, in the car, in the bathtub, into a guitar #collectivegroan.
Just like swallowing, there is precious little we can do to force a child to love learning, yet both are of the utmost importance if he is to be healthy in body and mind. So, if we can’t force, we turn to convincing… Exciting… Delighting his senses. The question is – how can we foster an attitude of learning and growth in our children? How can we help our kids love learning?
Strategies to Help Kids Love Learning
Husband and I like to use our free time (#whatfreetimereally?!) to read books out loud together, watch educational Ted talks like this one, and go to public events and exhibits that broaden our horizons. #unashamednerds
Make everything (literally everything) a teaching opportunity
Whether we’re telling a story, playing outside, drawing, getting dressed, doing chores or eating lunch, you’ll rarely find us sitting in silence. I ask him questions about everything. How many ____ are there? What color is? What sound does ___ make? Which one is bigger? Where does ___ come from? What letter is that?
Watch things that inspire and teach
Then talk about them to reinforce learning and perceptions afterwards
Have so many great books
…in your home that they can never say “I’m bored.” Really? Well sweetie… Have you ready St. Augustine’s Summa?
Learn tactile skills as a family
My plan once we buy a house… sometime in the fairly distant future (we really like being mobile) – is that we’ll tailor it to suit our family. I plan to hire contractors to come in and teach us to help them get the work done. I also expect my kids to learn things like how to cut (boys) hair, set up a website, install lights, to cook etc…
There is so much research out there, and right here, that has found that listening to, and playing, music is like weight-training for the brain. If kids are good at learning, there is a good chance they will like it more and take up the cause by their own initiative.
Play games that are educational
Who can make the best fake stock-market trades? Make up crosswords and word-search puzzles for each other?
Build on their strengths
Take interest in the things that they show interest in, and help them to really dig deep into those things that make their eyes light up.
Master small skills first
There’s nothing quite like the sense of accomplishment to encourage further effort. Yesterday I was trying to help my little dude learn how to do up buttons… I had no idea how complicated they can be to little hands. He kept failing and saying “but I can’t!” – so I put it halfway through and let him pull it on the other side #smallwin #bigexcitement. Then the race was on… He was convinced he could do it, frustration be gone! The whole time he played with my shirt I encouraged his effort, praising how hard he was trying – and try he did #stillfailedthough (this kind of praise is so important for developing resilience in our children)
Make learning fun
Be enthusiastic about new skills, help them to see how useful skills and information can be. Apply new learning in ways that touch their hearts and light up their senses.
Whether we think we can, or think we cannot – we are right. I want my kids to know that their brain is a muscle with infinite potential for growth. There is so much to know – and what we learn with pleasure we rarely forget!
At the end of the day, as parents we open doors, but our kids must enter by themselves. Here’s hoping for big gusty winds that blow open doors everywhere they look! We, for our part, will do our best to help them choose to walk through.