Ever asked a child what he loves about school? If you do, the most common answers you’ll get are ‘meeting friends’, or ‘doing projects’ or ‘participating in events and activities’, but a child will rarely say, “I love to go to school because I love to learn.” When it comes to school, for most children, classes, studies and homework become a chore that they ‘have’ to do rather than ‘want’ to do. In this race to complete the syllabus and score better grades, learning, which is an integral part of schooling, is often sidelined.
The Oxford Dictionary defines the term ‘learning’ as ‘the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught.’ One thing that is clear from this definition is that learning can’t be solely relegated to something acquired in a classroom. As the famous French musician Michel Legrand said, “The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.” Indeed, learning is life-long process and you can’t learn it only in school. Your child learns through experiences and lessons learnt in and out of the class. And, if he takes an interest in the process of learning, he is bound to remember well what he is taught.
So, how do you motivate your child to learn and take an active interest in the process? Here are some tips.
1. Ask her opinion: Most of a child’s life, whether at school or at home, is about being told what to do. Decisions are made for her and tasks are assigned to her. But, if you want to get your child interested in learning, you’ll have to put her in the driver’s seat more often. You could do that by asking her opinion on what tasks she’ll like to do first and giving her a free rein on the extra-curricular activities she’d like to pursue. If you involve her more in the decision-making process, she’ll take more interest in what she learns and how she learns it.
2. Encourage open communication: Your child needs to feel that his opinions matter. Whether you disagree or agree with him on certain topics, he should be encouraged to express his likes and dislikes freely. If he feels that his feelings on issues don’t matter, he’s likely to disengage from the learning process and look at it more as a chore. To get him interested in learning, discuss his educational experience with him and ask his opinions about the teaching, lesson plans and the learning system.
3. Let her pursue her interests: Whether your child is interested in basketball or learning about how different plants grow, take an interest in her activities and hobbies. When, as a parent, you become an enthusiastic partner in her activities of interest, she’s bound to learn more and enjoy the learning process. Do projects together or join parent and child classes to inculcate in her a love for learning.
4. Let him develop his learning style: There are seven main learning styles – visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social and solitary. Your child may prefer one style or a mix of styles to learn different skills. Let him choose and develop his unique method of learning. Do not dictate what he should do. This will encourage him to not only learn more but do it more effectively.
5. Introduce fun to learning: Any task, when you do it every day, becomes tedious. Break the monotony by introducing learning games and activities into your child’s daily schedule. This way she would look forward to learning every day.
6. Focus on learning and not grades: In this competitive world, it’s easy to get distracted by scores, marksheets and the usual numbers game. However, that is not conducive to your child’s learning process. Instead of being obsessed with how much he has scored in a subject ask him to explain to you what he learnt in school that day. If he feels that it’s only his performance that matters and not what he learnt, he will feel demotivated to engage in learning at school and at home.
7. Make your child more organised: Chaos often lead to confusion and this is especially true when it comes to studying. Help your child become more organised by making sure he files his notes properly and keeps his study material in an organised manner in the designated space. This way she will not keep losing her notes and feel more in control of her study routine and methods.
8. Appreciate little achievements: Praise should not be restricted to big achievements and events. Even the day-to-day, little achievements matter a lot to your child. Younger children need constant positive reinforcement to feel motivated about learning. However, make sure you don’t overdo it. Every praise should be earned. This way, your child will strive to do better every day.
9. Focus on the positives: This is not to say that you ignore when your child is performing poorly, but it is important to recognise and appreciate him when he’s doing well in a subject or an extra-curricular activity. For instance, if he underperformed in science but did exceptionally well in his art project, recognise that achievement and use it to help him do better in science.
10. Build the habit of reading: One sure way of getting your child interested in learning is by inculcating in her a habit of reading from an early age. The more she reads, the more she learns. And the more she learns, the more interested she will be to acquire new knowledge.
Apart from these steps, if you, as a parent, show an enthusiasm for learning every day, by sharing information about something new your learnt or saw or taking up a new interest or hobby, your child will also be motivated to learn new things every day. By being a role model for him, you will ensure that he shares all new information he learnt and involve you in his learning process as well.
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