5 little changes to get your children excited to learn anything
Children are naturally curious, or so they say. When they pose a thousand complex questions such as “Are there more buildings or trees in this world?” to “why can’t I stay up as late as you do?”, why do parents have to face different challenges in getting them to the study table? Parents have to admit, getting kids to learn can turn the house into a battlefield and we know who’s winning- tablet and YouTube. The fact that childhood is the primetime learning is indubitable. It is the time a person most receptive to new information. If you are still battling with your child when you tell him to sit on the table and study, here are some nuts and bolts to get your children interested in learning.
Build on your child’s natural interest
First, you have to determine his/her interest. Dr. Paul C Holinger of Psychology Today suggests that parents and children engage in Floor Time, an experiment conducted by a child researcher Dr. Stanley Greenspan to study parent-child interaction.
“Floor time is a warm and intimate way of relating to a child,” says Dr. Greenspan. “It means engaging, respecting and getting in tune with the child in order to help the child express through gestures, words, and pretend play what is on the child’s mind. This enhances the child’s self-esteem and ability to be assertive, and gives the child a feeling that ‘I can have an impact on the world.’ As you support the child’s play, the child benefits from experiencing a sense of warmth, connectedness and being understood.”
If he loves animals, you can take him to the zoo, look at the animals, touch them if you can and talk about them. After that, you can take them to the library and read books about animals. You can also buy toy animals and play with them at home. It doesn’t matter what their passion is, even if he doesn’t like the same things like other kids his age do, his uniqueness can be a catalyst for you to keep the learning fire burning.
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Provide different learning environment and methods
As parents, it is important for us to be aware of non-conventional methods of learning. That said, the boring routine of reading and writing at the study table must be thrown out the window.
Learning methods that can sustain his interest are through visual and audio learning. Introduce your children to educational TV shows such as Sesame Street, The Cat in The Hat That Knows A Lot About That and Bill Nye The Science Guy. These TV shows teach educational and moral values. You can also enhance your children’s language skills by learning through songs. When I had to teach English to my tuition students, I used the audio method to capture their attention. It was proven that the students participated in the learning session, especially when I use current hit songs. Next class’ turnout has also tremendously changed.
You also can consider manipulating the learning environment. Go for a fun learning picnic at the park where you can have a picnic and learn at the same time. Use the environment as your teaching materials. Talk about the behaviour of the park visitors or list out the things you see at the park.
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You can also introduce hands-on learning to your children. Hands-on learning benefits children in so many ways including getting them eager to learn. Studies show that hands-on learning is more effective in retaining information compared to the old drill and kill method. Hands-on learning can be a reason children wants to learn- because the activities are interesting.
Children always ask the question, “Are we going to use this in real life” on things that they learn, more often when they don’t have a clue on what they are learning. One of the easy ways to make learning relevant is that it is able to answer the question “Why are we learning this?”.
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It is important for parents to make connections between lessons with real life applications. Studies show that learning things without connection or relevance is neurologically useless. Children’s brain will not retain the information long-term. Parents need to answer question – why are we learning this
A simple way to give relevance in learning is to use daily life’s application as an example because it definitely answers the “Are we going to use this in real life?” question. The practise of providing relevant learning to children can also polish their critical thinking skills in solving problems using the environment.
Celebrate achievement no matter how small
B.F. Skinner, a famous behaviour psychologist came up with Operant Conditioning, a law that dictates a reinforced behaviour is repeated and/or strengthened whereas behaviour that is not reinforced tend to die or weakened. Thus, positive reinforcement is introduced in children’s learning as one of the elements to engage them in learning.
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“How am I going to use positive reinforcement to get my child to learn at home?”
For starter, celebrate their achievement without judging the size or intensity. Say that they did a good job and that you have seen how hard they have worked for their work. It will uplift their spirit to continue learning. Be vigilant of the words you utter to your children.
“Sooner or later, my children will get used to the compliments and they don’t want to learn anymore.”
Then, up the ante. Offer them any motivating items or rewards in exchange for getting them to learn. For example, offer them more fischer TiPs time if they complete the Mathematics exercise.
Focus on the process rather than the outcome
Grades are less important than learning and understanding. A child who gets good grades is not equivalent to a child who loves learning. To get your children interested in learning, you must show interest in the process. Ask about what they learn in school rather than their test results. Always keep track on your children’s educational and emotional progress. Continued interest from parents is a motivator for children.
Parents are the most powerful tool to make children learn. You know your children, you can handle them and you have the resources needed. Getting your children interested in learning can be an uphill battle but the view can be breathtaking. Consistency is key.