Why does it sound funny to say “teach a child to love learning”? These days, parents with school age children are so competitive: after-school activities starting from a young age, reading book levels always being spoken about and compared, who is the best or doing the most.
I wonder if this is really helping our future generation grow and develop into successful well rounded leaders. Are we teaching them a “love of learning”?
Let’s ask ourselves these questions:
- Have you ever stopped to think of why you are taking your child to extra maths class and reading tutorials?
- Have they fallen behind in class?
- Are you allowing the child to enjoy the learning journey?
- Are you instilling the love of knowledge?
- The thirst for adventure?
It seems we have forgotten the importance of the basic need to “teach a child the love of learning”.
For example, watch your child’s face as they try to build the rocket ship out of linking cubes/magnetic blocks. At first the design might not work; you see the frustration the child feels on their expression, followed by a little anger, then turns into determination, you can see them saying to themselves “I will build this no matter what”. This is such a beautiful process ‘journey to learning’ to watch on a child’s face.
Children will make mistakes, this is when they build fundamental skills like problem solving and decision making skills. Allowing them to use their curiosity, imagination and build confidence to move to the next step.
It’s very hard as a parent not to take over and just do it for them. How can you motivate them to go beyond that as they need to learn what being persistence is all about.
In a learning journey of children, the teachers, parents, carers and environment provide extrinsic (external) motivation for the child to learn. However for it to have impact a child needs to be motivated. As a child gets older and has built the foundation skills they will be curious, inquisitive and love learning. A child will be intrinsically (internal) motivated to learn and build on what they know.
According to Intrinsic Motivation by C.R. Smith;
The very best support for internal motivation (intrinsic) is the family. When children see their parents and other family members work hard to achieve, they tend to do likewise. And after a while, they don’t need hugs, praise, or treats for doing well. Achievement has become a highly valued motivator in its own right.
To be intrinsically motivated to achieve an objective, the child needs to be interested in the task. But interest isn’t enough. A sense of competence (“I can do this”), autonomy (“I am making the decision to do this”), and relatedness (“I feel secure and supported in doing this”) supports this intrinsic motivation.
3 ways we can help our children to love learning are:
- Empower children
Empower them to learn through trial and error. Allow your child to make mistakes, it is the one opportunity they have to learn how to problem solve, also feel the emotions of not getting it right each time, which can allow them to try again. Support your child with their decisions to try new things. For Example give them space in a safe environment to learn.
2. Provide experiences together
I don’t mean go to the most expensive theme park or children’s play area. Provide your child with new opportunities to learn, it may be as simple as going camping, to the park and playing on the equipment or even at the beach, forest, back yard.
Allow them to develop a game where they are leading (student centred) they will show you a little part of their world and how they see it.
3. Talk about the experiences
Your child may have just jumped on the trampoline for 20 minutes, played with construction bricks and also used chalk to write their names on the ground. Your head is still spinning from the different activities however, I ask you did they learn anything? Did this help them to improve their fundamental skills? The answer is yes anything from balance, coordination, fine motor skills, sorting, counting, writing, they have just practiced all their these skills in one hour an not even noticed. So talk to them about what they did, ask open ended questions.
As parents we need to start allowing our children different opportunities to develop through play.
Next time you are reading to your child or getting frustrated that they don’t want to read their reader or do extra maths think about what are the intrinsic/extrinsic motivating factors for you to do different activities.
Simply put, are you as parents making it an enjoyable experience if it is fun they will learn more.