There’s something strange happening in schools. It’s something that, logically, should not be happening. The people who most love to learn (kids!) are losing interest in education.
Parents are often baffled about why this is. How can people who are sponges for knowledge and whose brains are so malleable be so completely miserable at school?
Here’s the short answer…
Education is often considered synonymous with learning. However, that just isn’t the case. Education is a process involving teachers, books, school and such.
Learning can be done in a totally solitary environment. Learning can happen at any moment and anywhere. Learning happens even when people are actively attempting to resist it. It is not something that can really be avoided. Education, on the other hand, can be (and often is) avoided. There’s a big difference.
In order for a kid to love to learn he or she needs to have been raised in an environment where learning is valued. That may sound simple enough but parents often miss the point when it comes to the issue of raising kids who love to learn.
It’s not about practicing sight words or doing math problems each night. (Those things are important, of course!) It’s about instilling a genuine interest and enthusiasm toward learning. If that sounds vague, here are some concrete ways that help get your children addicted to learning:
Read to your child but don’t just read.
Allow them to choose books that interest them, talk to them about the books that they read and be sure to value their thoughts and opinions. Ask them what they think, feel or want to know about their books. Encourage them to ask questions.
Make reading an experience so enjoyable that they don’t even think of it as educational. In addition, when they find a topic that fascinates them show them how the magic of books can bring that to life for them.
Purposely play with your children.
Children learn through play. They learn through imagination and creativity and looking at things from every angle. If they love to play with blocks, sit with them and build a castle, a fort or a bridge. Talk to them about that castle and the king and queen who might live there. Take the fort apart and put it back together. Again and again. Put their newly built bridge in the tub and let a “river” run under it.
This may seem like mindless play but this type of learning is essential to early childhood development and will serve them well into the future. Imaginative children are creative, flexible in their thinking and tend to become leaders later in life.
Bring them outdoors.
Encourage play that involves the natural world and investigations that involve biology, physics and so on. When they bounce a ball, talk about what the ball is doing. When they find a new plant, look it up to find out what it is called. In this way, you can teach them the value of research and encourage an early interest in science.
Talk to them every day about their learning.
Ask them questions about what they might have discovered while playing in the sandbox. Read the books that you know that they are reading in school. Show a genuine interest, each day, in what is happening at school and be specific!
Asking your kids “what they learned at school today” often results in the dreaded response “Nothing” or “I don’t know”, simply because it is too vague of a question. However, if you ask what they did in math or in science you may get a totally different answer.
Value their educators
Become communicative with their teachers and show gratitude towards their education so that they will too. Explain to them the honor and privilege it is to be able to attend school. In short, make it clear how much YOU value school.
Make learning a personal experience.
Never attempt to force your child to enjoy or be interested in things simply to suit you. Don’t push your child too hard toward anything. Allow them to develop their own interests and then use those interests to guide them toward education.
For example, if they love animals, encourage them to read about animals, allow them to explore animal science or biology, discuss what types of jobs an animal lover might like. If, for example, they are interested in being a veterinarian (as many children are) explain to them that veterinarians must have extensive science education, that they must be good at math and reading, that they are expected to have strong social and emotional skills in order to deal with their patients’ owners.
These types of conversations will give them a “good reason” to take school seriously. OR if they want to be a musician, hate their teacher and think school is pointless then YOU, as mom or dad, need to help them to understand that school is still important for them. The best musicians can problem solve (math!) and are creative thinkers (reading and writing!). They are also driven, intelligent and business minded.
Be supportive and interested
If a kid hates school and doesn’t want to learn then they have a fundamental issue with their attitude toward education. They are missing the point and, more than likely, their parents are too.
If you want your kids to love to learn then you need to encourage ALL kinds of learning. You also need to spend the time guiding them toward goals and ambitions that will further bolster their desire to educate themselves.
Kids who love school have parents who are supportive and interested but also encourage them to think for themselves and pursue their passions. On the other hand, kids who hate school feel forced to learn, don’t understand why they need to know what they are being taught and are rarely encouraged to explore what matters to them.