Whether you’re a professional teacher, a homeschooling parent, or simply an everyday parent wanting better for your children than “getting by,” there’s the question: How do I impress on my kids that learning is more than following instructions and memorizing facts?
It’s really not hard: children are born with the passion for discovery. Here are my Top Ten ways to help keep that passion alive.
Too many people equate “learning” with the traditional schoolroom image of being trapped for hours in a stuffy room with hard seats, listening to a teacher drone on. Make a point of using the word in more enjoyable contexts—and avoid the “it’s good for you” approach, which doesn’t work any better here than with overcooked vegetables.
Stock interesting books at child’s-eye-level. Hang colorful, age-appropriate infographics and motivational posters. Arrange things so the kids see, everywhere they turn, fascinating opportunities to pick up new ideas.
It’s a fact of life: everyone is drawn to certain topics, and your kids’ natural passions may not match what you think is important. Of course there are essential basics of knowledge, but make sure everyone also has access to books, multimedia, and project ideas they’ll use simply because they want to.
YMCAs, community centers, museums, and libraries always have classes and special programs on a wide variety of topics. Help your child find and sign up for something that fits their passions.
Speaking of libraries, there’s no better source for a near-endless source of media on thousands of topics. With modern online options, you don’t even have to leave home to access a pile of items three states away!
Don’t waste all your family’s television/video time on shallow news programs, mindless cartoons, or clichéd fiction. There are plenty of options—documentaries, dramatized classics, even some game shows—that are entertaining and informative.
Some children learn effectively by reading and some by listening, but everyone needs hands-on activities to really contribute. Include regular creative projects (design, problem-solving, assembling) in curricula and/or family fun.
Even if your community is on health-quarantine lockdown, you can take the kids to a park, or walk around the block, to practice learning through observation. As a bonus, the exercise and change of scenery will help them stay in good physical condition—which also increases brainpower for effective learning.
Ask why they think leaves are green or what would be the best way to organize the closet. (Sometimes, children’s ideas are better than ours!) As they get older, encourage them to share what their peers are talking about and what’s new in pop culture or computers.
Adults as well as children should be lifelong learners. It’ll not only inspire the kids to stay on that track for life; it’ll keep your mind open and your skills sharp so you can be a better parent or teacher!