By the time a child reaches school age, a lot of learning has already taken place. The amount, quality, and type of learning, however, varies within each household. One thing we know for certain today: we cannot count on our schools to nurture a love of learning in our children. This is something we must foster by creating a learning environment in the home from the time a child is born. Here, then, are some of the most important things we as parents must do, if we want our children to be excited about learning as children, teens, and adults.
1.Read: Children model the behaviors of their parents. If they observe those parents reading and talking about what they have read, then they see this as a valuable activity.
2.Read to Your Children: From the time children are toddlers, make a ritual of reading at bedtime. It may only be a picture book with very few words at first, but it must happen! The more you read to them, the more inclined they will be to read for themselves as they grow up.
3. Talk about It: Whatever is read, viewed on TV, or seen on a computer screen should be discussed. Watch educational TV programs with your child, and discuss what is happening. Ask questions; answer his/her questions! As children get older, documentaries are great ways to have quality and learning time together.
4.Get apps that are educational. The wonderful thing about technology is that educators have really “hopped” onto ways in which to make learning fun. There are great games for reading, math, science and social studies that will engage children of all ages. And don’t just use them as “babysitters.” Play these games with your kids!
5.Be Available: Children are naturally curious. You may be tired after a long day; you may have things to do. But do not ignore your child’s questions. They want and need answers for their “world” to make sense, and they depend upon you!
6.Have Educational Field Trips: Zoos, museums, national parks, bodies of water, etc. all have things to teach your child in wonderful ways. And if any of these excursion sparks an interest in something specific, get online at home and find out more information together!
7.Reinforce what is Taught at School: Stay aware of what the curriculum is in your child’s class. Find supplementary materials – books, videos, games, and TV shows that will support that learning in fun ways.
8.Capitalize on your Child’s Interests: Maybe your youngster has developed a real interest in astronomy, dinosaurs, art, or music. Find ways to nurture that interest in any way that you can. Today’s child who has a love for the stars and planets may be tomorrow’s future astronomer; today’s child who loves drawing may be a future graphic designer; and today’s child who is loving the learning about any of these subjects may be able to transfer that love of learning to other subject areas in the future!
9.Be Enthusiastic about your Child’s Learning: Whether it is an “outside of school” interest, or something being taught at school, get excited about the subject. Show your child how s/he can use what is learned in the real world. If a young child is learning measurement and simple geometry, for example, how about building something with your child that uses those skills?
All of these activities are simple and easily accomplished. The only thing required of you as a parent is some time. Surely the time is worth what your child can become – an adult who will see lifelong learning as a magnificent journey!