What can I Do to Help My Child Learn Better?
By Serena Morris, Contributor and Founder of Kitty Moms
As parents, one of our biggest aims in life is to raise a child who embraces learning fully. Our goal is to raise children who are motivated enough to enjoy the process of learning new things. A child is naturally inquisitive and the best way to help them continue this way is to ensure that they become eager learners for life who find fun in challenges, understand the value of efforts and are persistent enough to never give up in life. So what can we do to motivate our children?
Make Learning A Fun Activity
I personally feel that every child is always curious and the best way to engage them is to make learning a fun activity. Motivation comes automatically to children n to bakn they consider the activity they are doing is fun. Using humor, letting children explore things and being playful, all help in making a child love learning.
When my child was trying to learn to cycle, I would ensure that every time we took the cycle out, it was an adventure. We would pretend we are going hunting for chocolates in trees or searching for flowers beyond the cycling ground. She would love the pretend play and took up learning to cycle as a challenge and conquered her fear of falling. Any learning becomes easy , when there is a sense of fun attached to it.
Let Children Have a Hobby
The importance of having a hobby as a child is often underestimated by parents. Many parents believe that a child needs to do academically well, but a hobby is a waste of time. However, it has been proved many times, that having a hobby often brings a sense of focus in children. Playing a musical instrument or collecting stamps or learning to dance, all help in the overall development of the child’s brains.
Having a hobby also has long term benefits in the mental health and wellbeing of a person. Hence, let your child enjoy some time picking up something he or she loves. Any task related to the hobby is always a learning and then this sense of motivation can be applied to other tasks too.
Everyone loves stories. The best way to help children becomes learners for life is to surround them with books. Bright colored board books for babies, or picture books for toddlers or chapter books for older children – All of these help children enjoy stories.
Surround your child with books. Read to them. Read with them. Read for them. Any kind of reading always helps and creates a wonderful bond between the parents and children. Not only this, it always motivates children to learn more, wanting to understand more words and enriches their imagination.
Having Open Conversations
In today’s world of smart phones, we often forget the importance of having one on one personal conversations. It is very important to have open ended conversations with children to give them the confidence of voicing their opinions and concerns.
Talk about taking on personal challenges and what can be done to achieve them. Talk about what happens if one cannot complete the challenges but how the time, effort and learning spent on the challenge is equally important. Most important, listen to them without distractions.
Search For Answers Together
My child came up to me and asked me what fossil fuels were. I could have easily answered the question in two lines and told her to get back to her work. But I did not. I decided to take her to the library and we searched through books to find out what exactly fossil fuels were. We went on the internet to get information on them and how they were formed.
We did a small project in a scrap book sticking pictures of things we thought were made from fossil fuels. In short, we enjoyed the process of learning together and ended up knowing a lot more about fossil fuels than what I could have just told her. Not only that, now my child loves to ask me things and she takes it up on her own to find out additional information about it from the library or internet (under supervision).
Explore With Your Child
We underestimate the importance of just simply going out and exploring. Whether it is exploring the leaves of autumn or the new buds of spring, there is so much to learn. And the more children are exposed to outdoors, the more curious they get about things.
We did a short walk around our neighborhood the other day, and my child asked me questions about why leaves turn brown in autumn and how does the tree produce food if all the leaves have fallen. We enjoyed the walk and learnt something new. This kind of outdoor activities creates a life-long opportunity of learning.
Be Enthusiastic About Experimenting
When I was young, I asked my father about Newton’s Laws of Motion. He set up a pendulum tied down from the ceiling fan and explained the laws of motion to me. For me, it was a lifetime of learning. I can never forget the laws of motion. This is what children need.
They need to be taught practical lessons in life. Lessons which motivate them to learn more and which spike their curiosity levels. Take up small practical things and don’t be afraid to experiment with your children.
Know When To Back Off
Often as parents we tend to be over enthusiastic and go on and help our children even if they don’t need it. It is important to know when to back off. Finishing off that jigsaw puzzle for your child or prompting them the last word of the sentence may not be the right way to motivate them.
While the work does get done in time, it always leaves the child with a feeling that I will always get help. That is not a positive way to help a child build on his learning. Give the child a feeling of competence and let them know the importance of taking efforts.
Focus on the Process, Not on the Outcome
We often tend to forget that the process is more important than the outcome. While it is natural to want to prepare your child for the future, it is equally important to teach them the importance of enjoying the process and learning from it. We may end up pushing our children to learning too much too soon.
Take it one and a time and let the child learn and enjoy the process. Take notice of what the child is doing at that moment and how he is learning to learn by himself. While outcomes are important, focusing on the process, teaches the child that learning is important
Let Children Be Children
In today’s high competitive world, we often forget that children need to be children. Pushing them to doing things or making them learn a thousand things is not the right way to inculcate the love for learning in them.
What is important is that children take up learning as a part of their lives and enjoy it. Whether it is just learning to swing as a baby or trying to understand how things work, ensure that the process is an enjoyable one!
About the author and Kitty Moms
Serena Morris is a mother of three children and founder of Kittymoms.com. They have chosen to homeschool their children and focus on living an active, natural lifestyle. Her family loves to travel, but most of the year, you can find us at house gardening and taking care of our small homestead.