Perhaps, no other generation of children has been under as much pressure to learn as the present one. In fact, some parents want their babies to begin learning while they are still in the womb, by reading books to them!
We think that by giving our children lessons or direct instructions, we can make them learn more. While children do learn that way, it comes at a price, as was found by Bonawitz et al during their study titled, ‘The double-edged sword of pedagogy: Instruction limits spontaneous exploration and discovery’, published in the journal Cognition (2011). During their study they found that, ‘Pedagogy promotes efficient learning but at a cost: children are less likely to perform potentially irrelevant actions but also less likely to discover novel information’.
While children are born with a natural desire to learn, their love for learning begins to wane once they start school. Lorna Collier in her article, ‘Grabbing students’, published in apa.org (2015) says, “Too often, research shows, children lose that spark. Their interest in learning and desire to perform wanes, so that by high school, a significant number have checked out, viewing school as boring and frustrating and the content as irrelevant to their lives — with worrisome implications for their futures.”
So, how can we encourage our children to love learning and keep their desire to learn intact? These few tips will help you foster a love for learning in your child.
1. Introduce an element of fun: Children feel motivated to do things they find interesting. But, introducing an element of fun or a bit of humour will arouse their curiosity and motivate them even further. This will make them love doing tasks assigned or even attempt learning tasks on their own.
2. Try to provide hands-on experiences: Due to lack of time and resources, most parents want their children to learn by reading books or watching videos. After a while, children no longer find learning interesting through such media. So, as much as possible, provide your child with the opportunity to learn through hands-on experiences. For example, if you want your child to learn about fruits and vegetables, you can take her to the nearby supermarket, or a farmer’s market, where she can touch and feel them.
3. Urge asking questions: Children learn most when they are encouraged to think and ask questions. So, when you give your child an activity to do or discuss something with him, encourage him to think and ask questions.
4. Encourage research: Your child’s curiosity can make her ask you an endless number of questions, for some of which you may not know the answer. During such situations, admit that you don’t know the answer but that both of you can find it out together. Show your child how to search for answers on the Internet or books so that he can carry out his own research.
5. Praise the effort and don’t criticise: When your child puts in effort to accomplish a difficult task, praise his efforts even if the results are not up to the expectations. This will make him more willing to take on a challenge the next time he faces one. Criticising him for failing in his efforts will discourage him from attempting to perform tasks.
6. Point out progress: When you give your child a task to do which is complex for her age, help her break it down into smaller parts. Point out the progress she has made, as she completes each part. Not only will this make her feel happy, but will also motivate and encourage her.
7. Instil enthusiasm: Discuss what interests your child in such a way that it makes her feel enthusiastic. For example, if your child loves space science, tell him about the exciting things that astronauts do or the interesting developments taking place. But, while doing so, use age-appropriate language and simplify the concepts.
While you encourage your child to love learning and learn more, remember to keep your expectations within reasonable limits. Also, keep in mind that your child’s learning ability depends on his age and maturity. So, focus on your child’s strength, shower him with love and affection, say a few words of encouragement, and soon you will find how much your little one loves to learn.
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