According to Ginny Graves of Parent Magazine, “All children start out with an instinct to explore and discover.” It’s an inherent love of learning that shows up early in healthy infants as they follow with their eyes your movements about the room and reach out to touch objects presented to them as soon as their developing coordination allows.
That’s good news for parents struggling with a child who seemingly has no interest in education. If you’re in that predicament, know from the start that you don’t have to manufacture something in your child that isn’t there, but rather awaken something he or she already possesses – a hunger to know.
Below we explore how parents can help their children to unlock their love of gaining knowledge and learning.
- Model a Love to Learn
A campaign in the US focused on getting children to eat more fruits and vegetables, this campaign was called, “They Learn from Watching You.” The principle is true for education: Be a learner, and your kids will want to be learners too. Model it through reading, taking classes, going to museums and, very importantly, talking with enthusiasm about what you are discovering. Even if they aren’t interested in the subject matter, your enjoyment will be contagious. When you find a subject you mutually enjoy, learn together!
- Feed their Interests
A love of reading begins with books on subjects that interest them, whether fiction or non-fiction. The bridge from reading books they enjoy to getting through a challenging academic text is much shorter than the bridge there from not reading at all. For reluctant readers, these ten ways to cultivate a love of reading will be of great help. While some kids find maths fun, others may be looking for ways to spice up maths at home. Pairing less enjoyable activities with those that are tried and tested ways to enjoy yourself can be the best way to engage kids in a subject such as maths. All kids like games. Take the time to conjure up some spectacular ideas for incorporating mathematics into games.
- Celebrate their Efforts & Success
Some call this bribery, but that perspective assumes up front that learning is something disagreeable to children, and it is not.
Remember, they’re wired to want to know more. Instead, celebrate their dedication and commitment, and reward their successes. You as the parent will know the proper way to celebrate and what rewards to provide, since you know your child the best. By the way, a monetary reward shouldn’t be ruled out. Consider getting an education to be the child’s “job,” though, again, not one that has to be unpleasant.
- Get Tutoring Help for Struggling Learners
Discouragement is the nemesis of many students. Most find at least one subject difficult to grasp, let alone master. There are two important times to turn to professional tutoring for help. First, if you don’t have a good grasp on the subject, make use of someone who does. Secondly, when you and your child are clashing over the issue, it makes sense to get out of the way.
Let a tutor work with your child on the difficult subject while you assume the vital role of being an encourager, supporter and the one leading the celebration when hard-fought success is won.
- Transfer Responsibility for Learning to the Kids
When children are young, we as parents naturally assume the bulk of the responsibility for their schooling, making sure they’re reading and getting school work completed. We should always be involved in their education, as the Child Development Institute points out. However, as they grow, it is important that we gradually transfer more of the responsibility to them, as we do so many other aspects of life such as choosing their outfit for the day and getting dressed. With education, this may include allowing them to fail.
For example, if you see that your child is procrastinating over writing a book report, you have two choices. You can nag, pester and cajole him or her into working on it. However, that is not how the world will work for them once they are independent adults. Plus, cajoling is a recipe for clashing.
The other option goes something like this: Mention it once or twice, offer some encouragement, and then let them learn that, if they fail to complete it on time, there are consequences to laziness. Consequences make excellent lessons and are truly motivating; nagging is demotivating.
Model, feed, celebrate, get tutoring when necessary and allow them to mature into responsible students with the help of consequences. This isn’t complex, but it is effective. Stay positive in the process, believe in them, and success will likely follow.