How to Instill a Love of Learning from a Young Age
Does this sound familiar to you: "But why, mommy?" And then you may do your best to answer why the sky is blue or why flowers smell so nice or why birds fly, only to be met with another, "why?" from your child.
That's because children are naturally curious. They want to learn and explore and discover. Especially for very young children, everything is brand new to them, so learning about their surroundings is key to their development.
But sometimes... the curiosity that seemed so insatiable in their early years seems to fade away as children get older. But this is not an inevitability. As a parent you can help your child cultivate and strengthen their love of learning from a young age so that they become life-long learners.
Help them discover their interests
Learning is no fun if it's a subject that you care nothing for. On the other hand, if it's a subject you are passionate about, learning becomes an exciting activity. Keep this in mind when encouraging your children to learn, and help them discover the things they like and don't like by exploring different subjects and activities together. This will especially help when they start going to school and encountering subjects they don't like but that they have to learn, because even if they aren't enjoying learning in one subject, they'll know that learning isn't all bad and that there are plenty of subjects they do love learning about. This will also be invaluable as they get older and begin thinking about what kind of career they'd like to have. If you help them start to figure out their interests from a young age and encourage them to learn more about their passions as they grow or even change, they'll be better equipped to go after their dreams as young adults.
Reading to your children from a young age helps them develop vocabulary and comprehension, while offering them valuable lessons or interesting information on subjects they're interested in. Plus, a daily bedtime story is such a great way for parent and child to bond.
Make learning fun
Learning isn't all memorizing and regurgitating - no way! Learning can be done through songs or silly dances, art or scavenger hunts or academic games. Learning can happen anywhere - in the car asking questions about how a car runs, in the park pointing out how many different kinds of trees there are, or on a family day spent at a science or art center.
Be inquisitive and have discussions
Children already have inquisitive natures, so encourage this with discussions instead of lectures. If your child asks you about how a guitar works or about why the grass is green, have a discussion about it rather than a lecture. Let your child think up answers for themselves to encourage creativity and critical thinking. Plus, you may get some hilarious answers! Or even better, some very interesting insights. Try to cultivate a childlike wonder within yourself too - look at your surroundings the way a child might and ask your kiddo about the things you see together to get them thinking about their environment.
It's fun to muse together over questions you're unsure of, but if your child really takes an interest in something, it's not a bad idea to do some research on it to scratch the ol' curiosity itch. This will help teach your child how to do their own research later on, plus it provides some invaluable bonding time together.
Discover your child's learning style
Everyone learns differently. Some people are more visual learners, others are auditory, and others still are kinesthetic. There is no right or wrong way to learn, only different learning styles that suit everyone differently. Helping your child discover their learning style will go a long way in cultivating their enjoyment of learning.
Be supportive and never judge
It's impossible to succeed 100% of the time - even if we wish we could. Having reasonable expectations for your child's success, and being supportive and nonjudgmental if they struggle or fail is key to a lifelong love of learning. No one wants to continue to learn if the fear of failure is too scary or the pressure is too big. Instead of expecting perfection from your child, be supportive, understanding, encouraging, and helpful. With support, they will come to see that while there are ups and downs, they can always try again - and even more importantly, that their own personal value is intrinsic rather than bound to their successes or failures.
Learning is a lifelong endeavor, whether we realize it or not. We may have to continue learning new skills for new jobs or promotions, we may have to learn how to save our money or buy a car, we might have to learn how to make a marriage work, or how to be kinder to ourselves. Instilling a love of learning not only helps children through their school years, it will also give them the most important tools necessary to live a fulfilling life in a constantly changing landscape.