One of our most important roles as parents is to provide our child an education. But education does not start at kindergarten and end at college graduation. Many experts have said that one of the things that highly successful people have in common is a love of learning. There are things that you can do to help raise a lifelong learner.
1. Be a Role Model – Share Your Passions
Don’t forget that you are your child’s first teacher. Not only are you their first, but you are their most influential teacher. Children want to be just like their moms and dads. They even mimic their parents. Be a role model that shows how important education is and that learning can be fun! Make sure that your child sees you reading, trying new things and exploring your passions and hobbies. Talk to your children about things that interest you. Even if your child does not fully understand the things you are trying to explain to them, the important thing is that they see that you are excited.
Do you go to conferences or seminars for work? Tell your child! No, you don’t have to go into detail about the newest web security that your company wants to use. But you can tell them that you got to do something really cool at work & you got to go learn something new to help you in your job. By showing them that learning never ends and that you can always learn to do something new (and a new way of doing old things) will show them that learning is a way of life.
2. Surround them with books
Books are so important! There was a Harvard study that said that constant access to books can increase a child’s motivation to read. To help foster your child’s love for books, make sure that your child has access to books and magazines. Set aside time to read each day to read together. When your child gets older, you can take turns reading or have your child read to you. Keep story time interesting (and your child’s imagination active!) by asking questions throughout the story such as “What’s going to happen next?”, “How did that make them feel?” or “What would you do?”
Be sure to visit your local library! Getting your child their own library card will give them a sense of ownership. While you are there, be sure to check out classes since lots of libraries have free classes and story time activities. Head to the library and get lost in a book with your child!
3. Focus On The Education and Less On Report Cards and Testing
Studies have shown that a child’s enjoyment of learning drops continuously. Some researchers say that this is due to the increasing focus being put on grades and report cards. Learning becomes stressful & parents, teachers and school districts push standardized testings. While tests, grades and report cards are important, sometimes as parents we need to remember that they aren’t everything.
There are two ways to make a child quickly hate learning. The first is for them to feel like they constantly fail at it. The second is for them to be burnt out.
Seeing that bad grade on your report card can be shaming. It can be discouraging, especially if your child has been trying! If your child’s grades aren’t where you would like them to be, make sure to talk to the teacher and find out what you can do at home. Do you need to get a tutor? (Lots of schools can help you find a tutor or offer free tutoring service) You will want to make sure that you talk to your child about this process. Explain that it’s nothing to be embarrassed about and that everyone needs help at something. And you will want to make sure you walk the line of not overloading them with work at school and at home.
4. Know and Understand how your child learns
Everyone learns differently, but there are 3 main learning styles. Knowing the best way that your child learns will not only help you teach them and help them learn the best ways to do things like study for that big test, but it’s important information for your child’s teachers to know as well.
Auditory learners learn best from hearing and speaking. They often prefer to be told how to do things. Generally they have a good memory and have talents in music. They may concentrate with soft music playing in the background.
Visual learners do well with things like graphs, charts, pictures and seeing information. They can easily read body language, memorize and recall information, and do well with lists.
Kinesthetic learners prefer the hands on approach. They generally are good at math and science. They would rather demonstrate something rather than have to explain it. They do better with group work.
5. Know When To Back Off
There are so many times that my son or daughter has a project in school and it takes every ounce in me to not take over. I want to make sure it looks nice or to tell them things like “Add this fact here.” or “Let’s do it this way.” I have to remind myself that this is NOT my project. And while it is ok for me to help, I have to take a backseat and let them be the driver. If their project ends up looking like a second grader did it, then you know what? That’s ok. Actually, that is awesome because a second grader actually DID do it!
Let your child do things on their own. They will learn more. And when they see that they CAN do it and that you are proud of them they will also feel good about themselves.
Your child’s education is one of the most valuable tools they will ever have. As parents we can help our child to develop skills to make sure that our children will have the best gift anyone could ask for – a love of learning!