Teaching your child how to do two-digit addition or about World War II is important. But those are limited skills and facts. Teaching your child to love learning offers them a lifetime of discovery, far outside the classroom.
Here are 18 easy ways to foster a love of learning in the middle of everyday life.
- Read to them. Reading not only has physical and emotional benefits, there is concrete evidence that it helps brain development and academic growth. With so much possibility, reading is the perfect way to help kids fall in love with learning.
- Let them see you read. While reading to your children has many benefits, letting them see you read shows kids that reading is forever. It’s not just for babies. It’s not just for school. Read in front of them (and Facebook doesn’t count).
- Be outdoors. Time outside provides opportunities for fine and gross motor development, risk-taking and exploring, all of which prove beneficial to learning. There is also a direct correlation between time outside and reduction of stress, confidence building and exposure to different stimulation.
- Sing, play and listen to music. The brain benefits of music are numerous. Plus, music has the ability to bring joy, relaxation and express ideas.
- Relax. True learning goes far beyond grades in a classroom. Show them you believe that.
- Embrace what they love. Give kids the opportunity to explore the things they love. If your child is into trains right now, find books about trains, build a train, draw a train and watch trains at the train station. Allow your child to guide their learning through their passions.
- Talk about learning. Let them know when you discover something new. “Wow, I never knew that popcorn could burn so quickly. I wonder why.” Kids need to see that we are always learning, even in the ordinary.
- Ask questions. I know, as a parent, it feels like all we do is answer questions. So start asking. “How did that bird know I just put birdseed out?” or “Why are there so many commercials on TV?” Questions are the foundation of learning.
- Give them money. I know it can be painfully slow, but letting them pay at the store and count change is real-life learning. If you use plastic for your payments, talk about how that works, too.
- Wonder. Encourage them to think freely about things, without boundaries. Some of the best ideas started with wild wondering!
- Play. School keeps kids busy learning good things. But there is less room for play in a regular day. Giving kids the opportunity to play with no agenda allows them to be better thinkers.
- Ask random math questions. Math facts are foundational for good mental math, but kids don’t always want more schoolwork. Make math facts fun by asking them when you’re doing something else like driving, hiking, making dinner. Make it easy, fun and short!
- Keep reading picture books. Even as kids get older, picture books can provide unique opportunities for learning. Increased connection with the text, vocabulary and a more sensory approach to reading helps the experience be enjoyable and beneficial.
- Go places. Visit the park or a mountain. Spend time at the free art museum in person or these days online. Experiences make learning part of life and create schema, a personal framework for learning.
- Create. Giving kids the chance to create through art, music, science or any imaginative play helps them develop better thinking skills that translate far outside the classroom.
- Enlist help. Helping with adult tasks gives kids new skills and shows them the need to learn tmahroughout life. Cooking, taking pictures, changing the oil, doing laundry all show kids that there is always something new they can do.
- Fail. Often. Let them see that failure is part of learning. Recognizing failure as part of the learning process, rather than an end to learning, shows kids to keep going. Demonstrate that it’s OK, even good, to fail because it’s all part of the learning.
- Did I mention read? It’s one of the simplest things you can do with endless possibilities. Read to learn, for fun and for life.