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How To Encourage Your Child To Love Learning

BY: Nguyen-Ngoan  |   Aug. 6, 2018
17 MIN
Children
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Learning is a large part of childhood, so why not make it fun? Start by providing opportunities for your child’s curiosity to unfold. Encourage your child to participate in new activities and find out what they love. When your child finds an interest, help them build on it and explore it. Help your child confront fears and feel safe when trying new things. Giving your child chances to ask questions about the world around them will help them stay curious and love learning.

1. Providing Opportunities for Your Child

  1. Let your child play independently if they’re younger than 2 years old. Babies and toddlers love to play on their own, exploring their environment and discovering new ways of play. Supervise your young child, but allow them to discover new ways of play by themselves and without too many other children around.
  2. Allow your child to play alongside other children when they’re older. When your child is about 2-3 years old, let them sit next to other children and play. They may not interact very much until they’re 3 or older. At that point, they’ll start to learn new skills by playing interactively with other children.
    • This is a natural progression for children to take. Try not to force your child into playing with others before they’re ready for it; let them take their time and learn to love learning on their own.
  3. Encourage imaginative play. Let your child’s imagination run wild. Imagination is critical for development and create a world of wonder and learning for your child. If your child is imagining something or being silly, don’t shut their play down. Go along with it and encourage your child to continue creating and dreaming new things.
    • For example, if your child is playing with a kitchen set, ask your child what they’d like to cook and how they will cook it.
  4. Make learning fun by using games. Creating a game of something can make learning just about anything fun! Make up games that include things you’d like your child to learn about. See how many items your child can count or how many things they can name about horses in one minute.
    • For example, when you’re at the grocery store, have your child guess how much the peaches weigh or have them add up the items in your cart.
    • Find games at the store that involve things you want your child to learn about or explore.
  5. Allow your child free time. Children need plenty of free time to discover and explore. Don't jam pack your schedule with errands and activities and keep your child constantly busy. Give your child time for free play, daydreaming, and roaming around in the back yard.
    • For example, if you do follow a schedule, schedule in some time for free time. Let your child choose activities to fill this time.
    • If you don’t follow a schedule, take your child’s lead for when they want some time alone or to play on their own.
  6. Provide hands-on examples and experiences. Give your child concrete, direct experiences as much as possible, in lots of different environments. Children will connect with real-life experiences and have a more exciting time learning.
    • For example, if your child is learning about geology, bring them to a cave and take an educational tour, or go to a museum.
    • Use an old, unhooked computer keyboard to teach your child the alphabet. They’ll enjoy getting to press the buttons while learning the letters and becoming familiar with a keyboard.
  7. Let your child form their own opinions. Ask questions and let your child respond without judging them. Let them think through difficult questions and form their own ideas and values. Ask them about their thoughts and feelings and let them answer in a way that’s meaningful to them.
    • Ask your kids how they feel about various issues (current events, relationships, values). Let them have opinions without passing judgment.
    • Ask your children to help you understand why they feel the way they do.
  8. Surround your child with books. Children love books and can learn about their favorite activities, animals, and cultures by reading. If you have a young child, read out loud to them. If you have an older child, encourage them to read on their own and find books that interest them.
    • Spend some time reading with your child every day. For example, include books as part of your child’s bedtime routine.
    • Make regular visits to the library and check out books. If your library offers story time, go with your child.
  9. Talk about your own interests. Share your own passions with your children. If you love architecture, share your love by talking about buildings and structures. If you love sewing, get your child involved in projects and let them see how fun it is to make things by hand. If you love the outdoors, teach your child all about rocks and animals. Sharing your interests can help your child learn about things in a unique way.
    • For example, if your child is learning about foreign countries, talk about your experiences traveling and ask them where they’d like to visit. Use visual tools like maps or pictures of different places around the world. Ask about what they see in the picture and what makes them curious about it.

2. Expanding Their Interests

  1. Expose your child to a wide variety of experiences. Build a rich environment for your child to foster growth and learning. Make trying new things fun, exciting, and safe. Expose your child to music, plays, sports, museums, travel, reading, dance, games, food, puzzles, ethnic activities, and social opportunities.
    • Exposing your child to various activities and experiences can help them be open to new things and find interests that they enjoy.
  2. Let them choose their likes and dislikes. Expose your child to lots of activities and experiences so that they can create their own interests. Don’t push your child to pursue something that you enjoyed when you were their age. Let them choose what they enjoy. Giving your child a wide variety of experiences can help them learn their likes and dislikes and begin to develop their preferences.
    • Notice what draws their attention and create more experiences like that.
  3. Go on outings that interest your child. If your child is interested in space, take them stargazing and talk about constellations. If they enjoy flowers, take them to a garden and name the flowers. Use their interests to teach them more about what they enjoy in a fun environment. Your child will likely enjoy learning all about their interests and gaining more knowledge.
    • If they love the ocean, bring them to the ocean and let them explore some tide pools. If this isn’t an option, find some sand for your child to play with at a local playground. To see sea animals, take them to an aquarium.
  4. Get a membership to a museum. Kids love to learn experientially. Places like a children’s museum or the zoo will captivate them while helping them learn new things. Getting your child interested in areas and expanding that interest is easy with exhibits that excite children and make them eager to learn more.[10]
    • If your child loves dinosaurs, get a membership to the natural history museum. If they love fish, get a membership to the aquarium. If you have a young child, get a membership to a children’s museum.
    • Let them ask museum workers questions about things they’re interested in.
  5. Sign your child up for classes and clubs. If your child shows a strong preference for something, find a way for them to get more involved. For example, if your child loves tumbling, look into gymnastics classes. If your child is interested in acting, see if there’s a class or club for young actors. Find ways to expand on their interests to build their skills and passions.
    • If your child enjoys art or writing, encourage them to do these activities both at home and in classes.

3. Overcoming Fears When Trying New Things

  1. Be enthusiastic about new things. Teach your child that new things can be exciting and fun. Some children are scared of new experiences, so tell them that new experiences can be fun and teach them new things. Give your child a heads up when they will try something new so they feel prepared and excited. Try the new activity yourself first, to show them that it’s okay and even fun to do, then invite them to join you.
    • Prepare your child for new experiences by talking about it beforehand. For example, if your child is nervous to go to a birthday party, say, “Birthday parties are lots of fun! While you might feel shy, I bet the other kids will be friendly and want to play with you.”
  2. Show that new experiences are safe. An anxious child may feel fearful about trying something new. If your child is nervous to try something new, go ahead and demonstrate the skill or activity for them or have a sibling or friend try the activity first. Tell your child that they are safe and everything will be okay.
    • For example, if your child is afraid to go down the slide, go down first and show them that it’s fun. Then, go down with them. Finally, let them try by themselves.
  3. Help them talk about their fears. Encourage your child to talk about what scares them and why they feel scared. Empathize with them and show them that their feelings are okay and valid. Then, let them come up with ways to overcome their fears. Let them do this on their own as much as possible so that they feel in control of handling their fears.
    • For example, if your child is scared of going to school, let them tell you about what scares them while you listen and soothe them. Then say, “What do you think might make you feel less scared?” Let them give some responses before offering suggestions.
  4. Help them gain competence when they struggle. Your child might struggle in a certain area (like reading) and try to avoid it. If your child is struggling to learn and wants to give up, continue to encourage them. Praise their efforts and not their outcomes. Even if learning is hard, your child can still feel accomplished and proud of themselves.
    • If your child wants to give up, point out their progress. Let them know that even if they’re not where they want to be, they’re beyond where they started.
    • For example, if your child struggles to tie their shoes, encourage them to keep trying. Be patient and give a few gentle pointers, but don’t tell them exactly how to do it.
  5. Allow them to make their own mistakes. Fixing your child’s mistakes for them will discourage them from trying and show them that minimal effort will get the same result. Instead, be patient and encourage them to be, too. Tell them there’s nothing wrong with trying a few more times. You can even demonstrate how to do something, while not directly fixing their mistakes.
    • For example, if your child is having trouble tying their shoe, tie your own shoe to show them how it’s done. Have them follow alongside you or try again after you’re done.
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