Every parent wants their child to enjoy school and do as well as they can in their studies. But most people have no idea how to go about it. Perhaps you were a top student at school or didn’t really apply yourself and now regret it. Whatever your own school history, you can create the right environment for your child to enjoy the learning experience.
The earlier you do this, the better as studies have shown that as the pressure to achieve and pass exams increases, the love of learning can decrease.
Encourage free play
Children today have much stricter schedules than previous generations. By giving kids time to play without too much guidance is a way to encourage imagination and encourage characteristics of effective learning and achievement. Give them the right materials such as toys, crayons, dressing up clothes. But don’t overdo it, only get a few toys out at a time.
Talk to them about your interests
If you’re passionate about something, then it will show when you’re talking about it and your child will sense that. It could be anything from sport, reading, music or geography.
It shows your child that learning is something that lasts a lifetime.
Give access to books
Having many books around the house, that your child has easy access to encourages them to read. Reading to your child from an early age has so many benefits including:
- Better communication skills
- Advanced speech skills
- Effective concentration skills
- Greater awareness of other cultures
- Academic performance
If books are left around freely, rather than being locked away, then your child is more likely to pick them up and read them. Yes, they will most likely get damaged and ripped but that’s the risk you take with children’s books and it will stop in time. You can get hold of children’s books book exchanges and pre-loved stores, so you’re not spending a fortune but are still able to provide a selection of materials.
If you live next to a library, have them join up as a member as soon as possible. Make a big occasion of it and take them as often as you can.
Let your child find their own interests
Kids tend to go through different phases and interests but don’t let this put you off diving into these interests and encouraging them. For example, if they develop an interest in planets, why not get a book about the solar system, visit a planetarium and watch some documentaries about space. You can also get out at night and look at the stars.
Yes, it’s perfectly possible that they will soon find another interest, but encouraging them to dive into what is currently interesting will validate their interests and give them a love of learning new things.
Try new things
Expose your child to new places and experiences. Whenever possible visit exhibitions, museums, historically significant buildings etc. They may not be immediately excited by what they’re seeing, but it’s important that they get the opportunity to learn and decide for themselves.
Don’t try and live through your children
There is a difference between guiding and pushing your children. It’s tempting to try and encourage children into particular interests or career paths without letting them make these choices for themselves.
Try and find a balance between helping them learn and micromanaging this aspect of their lives. Like you, your children need to find their own way. Figuring things out for themselves is an important skill that will serve them well in life as well as education.
Praise effort, not just talent
If your child is naturally gifted at something, it is perfectly natural to want to shower them with praise for their achievements. While you should be proud of this and encourage them, it’s also very important that you praise them for effort, not the result. For example, perhaps they have been working very hard on an art project, or a story for school. They may not have produced a masterpiece, but the effort that they put into it should be recognized.
Studies have shown that by only praising results, then children naturally start to move away from activities they don’t immediately excel at. This can cause some difficulty in their studies as they will not try and improve their grades in other subjects.
Take an interest in their learning
As children get older, they tend to talk less and less about their day and that includes their studies. By taking the time to ask them about their studies and what they enjoy learning about, they can feel good about their own interests and actively talk with someone about them.
Involve your family and friends
When your child is developing interests and going through curious phases, then talking to other people can really fire a child’s imagination. Encouraging your extended family and friends to talk to them and read to them on a regular basis.
Limit screen time
Too much TV can have a negative effect on your child’s development in the long term. That’s not to say that you ban screens altogether but limit the amount of time they spend on them. When you do let them have screen time, try and make sure that it is age-appropriate and educational where possible.
Always be enthusiastic about learning
Even at a young age, kids pick up on negative feelings towards things. Every time you say something negative about school, exams, or learning, even if it’s a joke, you risk them picking up on this.
Always try and talk positively and excitedly about learning and they can feel confident that their interests are valid and that what they are doing is a positive activity.
Getting your children excited about learning is something that can benefit them for the rest of their lives. It can be a difficult balancing act to provide encouragement and guidance without over-managing your child’s life. You know yourself and your child best, so you are perfectly placed to be the one to help them discover their love of learning.