Don’t delay to even read this if your child is interested in learning something. One of my favorite philosophies about education is from the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, and they say that learning starts from birth. From the moment they are born, our children are learning about the world around them – how to move, how to talk, even (hopefully) how to sleep! Your child’s brain isn’t “ready” or “primed” to learn at 6 when they start Kindergarten and neither does it magically end at 18 or 22 when they finish high school or college. Our brains learn from the moment we are born until we pass on. How and what we learn are important – but successful people know that we should always continue to learn new things and expand our experiences.
So, the question becomes for us as parents, how do help foster our children’s love of learning that will stay with them throughout their entire lives?
If your child is still an infant and can’t communicate clearly with you, show them a large variety of things, and talk to them ALL. DAY. LONG. It doesn’t matter that they haven’t learned the language yet – they are learning every second they see, hear, smell, taste, or touch something. Put lots of stimulating things in their path.
However, never, ever push them to the point they hate ‘learning’.
This type of education should always be interesting to them as well as fun. While you always want to give them opportunities to learn, you don’t want it to be a chore. It is always best to stop BEFORE they want to and then come back in a little bit, especially if the student is young. Absolutely DON’T force a topic on them, especially if they have new interests. The more diversified their knowledge base becomes the more opportunities they will have as adults.
Another way to foster life-long learners as well as a strong family, is to start conversations about things you have read or learned today. How many times have you heard the answer “OK” when you ask about their day? Kids as young as 3 like giving you their opinion. While eating dinner or in the car, make it a habit of bringing up a question and asking them about it. Don’t put down their opinions, especially in the beginning of this technique – it will only shut them down. If you persevere, you will be surprised about how intelligent your kids really are regardless of what kind of test scores they have.
The most important thing you can do to foster your child’s education is to work on your own education. If you have kids like I do, who have different interests than you, this step is easy if you really embrace the above tactic and engage them in conversation. Learn about what interests them. You don’t need to be an expert, in fact it is actually better if you know LESS than your kids know. You can ask them questions and they can teach you!