Every parent has their own life lessons they want to teach their children. For some, it is about taking responsibility for their decisions. For others, it’s about building resilience to achieve their dreams. The list is endless and unique to every family.
For me, among many experiences I’d like to share with my children, the value of education, or self-learning, is the one that tops the list. As a mother of two primary school children, I believe helping kids fall in love with learning is one of the best things parents can do.
With information overdose and wide access to non-reliable sources of information, we must educate our children to not only analyze but build their knowledge based on original data, and not bloggers’ or influencers’ interpretations. We must create the need for education so kids pursue self-learning as a lifestyle, just like they pursue regular sports activities.
As a teacher, I can relate to the challenges of modern education and admire the work of teachers, particularly through the pandemic years. However, I must admit today’s school curricula are behind the needs of modern children.
While many schools adopt interdisciplinary approaches and practical learning, there is still a long way to catch up with the realities and expectations of parents and students. Particularly, when it comes to information acquisition.
It’s no wonder why the issue of disengaged students is so topical across many schools. Instead of debating teaching approaches or curricula, why don’t we look at how parents can build the urge to learn in their children?
Here are 5 ways to instill a love of learning in your kids:
1. Create a big ‘why’ behind the study routine
Whether your child is in elementary, middle, or high school, knowing how that single day at school can help them become what they want to be in the future is gold. Tap into their dreams or interests and explain how school knowledge will move them a step closer.
My daughter, an aspiring baker, has had issues with spelling and improved dramatically after she realized that correct spelling, as well as neat handwriting, will benefit her in writing menus and describing desserts for her future patisserie customers. It was amazing to see the difference and a spark in her eyes to learn how to write correctly because those spelling rules became seen as accelerators to her dream.
2. Set an example
Share your thoughts on how education helped you (or people your child looks up to) achieve your goals. Be the example of the habit you want to see in your child. For instance, if you want them to read, they should see you reading and not just flicking through the pages. Truly enjoy and, even better, share with kids what you learn.
I’ll be forever thankful to my grandmother who grew up during the Second World War and had to start work at the age of 16, to make living for her family. After getting married at 18, she soon welcomed her first child. Juggling motherhood and work, she came out of poverty so her family was never in need again. However, for the rest of her life, she regretted not having an education.
You don’t need to be perfect, but by honestly sharing your thoughts on how learning benefited you or other people you know, your child is likely to connect the value of education to their own life.
3. Know your child’s learning style
In addition to creating inner motivation, it is important to know how your child likes to learn. Are they productive in the morning or at night? This can be of great help to structure homework time or bed routine to get maximum results during their top productivity spans. It’s of little value to force learning when the child does not feel like it.
Instead, let them make the choice when they want homework to be done. You may be surprised that your child schedules it to get out of the way early in the day, or leave it until later. As long as it’s done in their comfortable time (and done well), the timing does not matter.
It is beneficial in the same way to know if your child prefers learning through seeing (visual), listening (audio), or doing (kinetic), and teaching them to use their natural strengths to acquire information. For instance, making infographics or listening to the lesson instead of reading it.
4. Stay informed about what your child studies in school
Have a chat with your child or request a copy of the curriculum from the teacher or the school office. Most often, you don’t need any special knowledge to help your child practice certain aspects they learn at school.
I find that car trips are of huge help when it comes to practicing multiplication, division, synonyms, or antonyms. There are so many maths or language games you can play when kids have nothing else to do during those trips. Not only it gives you an idea of how they do at school, but it also helps to identify any gaps in their knowledge.
5. Identify concerns
If a child has fallen behind and they miss one piece of the chain of knowledge, it may be hard for them to understand new information. In this case, after you identify those gaps, you can help your child either yourself or through a tutor. The sooner you work on the lack of knowledge of a certain area, the sooner your child will bounce back. More importantly, their confidence will rise.
Another thing to check is their social well-being. Do they have friends at school? Do they have any problems with other children or any bullying? Your child may be a star academically, but if they have social issues, especially when they are older, this may affect their curiosity to learn or attend school.
Motivation to learn in students is like a seed that, if planted correctly, will flourish for the rest of their life. So parents should carefully nurture this precious skill.
It is not about learning to pass the exams and enter a university or get a good job. It is about cultivating the unstoppable desire in children to understand the hows and why’s of life, so that self-learning becomes a life-long habit, like brushing their teeth or saying thank you.
This article was submitted to Love What Matters by Julie Medeiros. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.
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