Kids who do well at school?
Kids who love learning?
And parents can help their kids to love learning in and of itself.
But why should they?
Because — the benefits of learning don’t stop after school.
Humans are on a constant journey of learning.
While formal education may reach a definitive end at some point, we are constantly required to learn new skills and gain new knowledge…
So that we can perform at work, so that we can navigate social situations, and so that we can have healthy relationships.
(Among limitless other reasons).
The people who are the best at learning are those who love to learn.
And since learning starts when we’re children, there’s no better time to foster a love of learning than childhood.
But when it can be challenging enough to get kids to school on time…
How can we help kids to love learning?
It’s not as hard as you may think. Simple changes to your routine can help to foster a love of learning in your family.
1. Help them to engage.
Education experts are blaming underperformance in Australian schools on a chronic ‘lack of engagement’.
And while strategies and reforms are in place to improve classroom engagement in the future…
Parents can help to work on this lack of engagement at home.
Ask your kids what they learnt at school today.
In doing so, helping them to be proud of their newfound knowledge.
Some kids will simply relish in the opportunity to teach their parents something!
So being interested, curious and asking lots of questions can really help.
It will also encourage them to think more critically about the materials they’re learning in school, and to learn more in the process.
Questions to ask:
In science, ‘why do you think scientists wanted to discover this?’
In History, ‘how do you think that event changed people?’
In maths, ‘how do you think people use this in every day life?’
Your questions, and their answers, will obviously need to be age-appropriate — but don’t underestimate them.
You’ll find that their ability to answer them, and be excited about doing so, will often exceed your expectations!
2. Identify any barriers to learning — early — and work on overcoming them.
It’s very hard to love something when you struggle with it (not to be confused with being challenged by it).
Be on the lookout for symptoms and signs of things that could impact your child’s ability to learn at school, and as an inevitable result, their enjoyment of learning.
These could be social issues, emotional issues such as anxiety, or potential learning disorders.
Although teachers are on the lookout for these issues, kids are very good at overcompensating.
If problems haven’t been flagged in class, but you think they’re may be a problem…
Talk to your kids in a comfortable, safe environment.
Look out for any suggestions of avoidance or stress about a particular subject or activity.
And consider a learning assessment to find out exactly where the cracks may be.
Questions to ask:
What was your favourite part of school today and why?
What was your least favourite par and why?
What was the hardest thing you did today, and why?
3. Make learning fun.
Have a look at your child’s curriculum, homework or text books.
You’ll find so many examples, however small, of ideas and information that you can incorporate into activities they enjoy.
For young kids, it can be as simple as making counting games with their toys, or getting them to try to spell words from their favourite books.
For older kids, help them to discover their passions and interests…
And encourage them to pursue them.
Both in school, and out of school.
Although you may have concerns that the subjects they want to study won’t yield the most academic benefits or be ‘practical’…
Their enjoyment of their studies, and the love of learning that will come with it, will yield much more significant (and long-lasting) benefits.
4. Make learning relevant.
Teenagers in particular can get frustrated by what they think is having to learn ‘useless’ or ‘irrelevant’ information.
But for every kid who has said ‘why do I need to learn this, anyway’...
There’s an adult who has said ‘I wish I paid more attention to that in high school.’
That’s because every act of learning helps us to learn in the future.
On a very general level, school work involves inherent ‘problem solving’.
Help your kids to understand that problem solving in itself is a skill…
And one they will be tested on throughout their lives.
Conquering the art of problem-solving takes practice, and school is the best time for it.
More specifically, work on relating your kid’s studies at school to ways it will benefit them in the future.
This could be maths helping them to make budgets so they can save for special items…
Or History and Languages to give a context and skills for their future travels.
Students are under increasing pressure to get good marks.
But this pressure can actually impede their ability to perform well.
It can cause anxiety around school…
It can lead to avoidance, of going to class, of homework, and of studying…
And it takes the inherent ‘fun’ out of learning.
Remind your kids that being able spend their youth learning is a privilege.
And the knowledge they will gain will be ongoingly beneficial to them, while the impact of their marks will (relatively) quickly disappear.
This is a form of the ‘Fixed versus Growth’ mindset, and not only encourages a love of learning, it also helps kids to become more motivated and ultimately successful.
And in that vein…
6. Take the pressure off!
Believe it or not, kids put enough pressure on themselves.
And, they (mostly) are desperately seeking their parents approval.
Punishing them or giving them hard time for their poor results is going to make them dread the learning process.
So instead of punishing bad grades or poor performance:
Offer support — both emotionally, and academically.
Let them be open about their disappointments without fear of your judgment.
And talk with them, listen to them, and collaborate together to find ways that can help they improve, and to enjoy school.
7. And finally — as always — lead by example.
Don’t just encourage your kids to love learning…
Show them how much you do, too!
Even better, create a family environment that promotes learning.
This is the easiest tip yet:
Talk often, ask questions, share stories, and seek out knowledge…
Read all kinds of books to and with young children.
Discuss news stories and current events with your teenagers.
These simple steps can help to make school what it should be for our kids — a happy, safe space, where they can learn about the world, themselves, and discover who and what they want to be.
And if you are in Melbourne and would like some some extra help with this issue?
Click the button below to book your initial parent consultation and get the right advice for your child’s needs.