Children have a natural propensity to learn. Imagine a 10-month-old discovering the world: they reach out to grab things, feeling textures and looking at colors with a big curiosity for how things work.
That natural curiosity toward learning doesn’t stop at their first birthday. As they grow to be toddlers, they continue to reach out and explore the world with wide-open eyes.
If children are born with an inward desire to learn, why do so many school-aged students see learning as a chore? What changes as they go from toddlers to elementary students?
Maybe the answer lies in the way we approach learning. It’s not supposed to be fun, right?
Your children possess an innate desire to learn. As a homeschooler, your job is to feed that desire, not smother it.
How do you keep their fire for learning burning? Keep reading, my friend!
Do things together – Kids love it when you learn alongside them! When you are enthusiastic about learning, it shows them it’s something to enjoy. Go on family trips to museums and parks. Read books and watch documentaries together. Model how you want your children to learn and be fascinated with the world right beside them.
Reinforce their effort – When children feel supported in what they do, they are more motivated to keep doing that very thing. Support your child’s effort in a project. Recognize what they CAN do, not what they can’t. If they are struggling with a subject, point out their progress. It helps them to see that they have the ability to succeed, even in small measures.
Give them books and read with them – Full of pictures, information, and inspiration, books enhance learning and help children enjoy themselves while they are absorbing every word and image on the page. Reading books is a wonderful way for kids to expand their horizons and grow their imaginations. Developing an atmosphere in your home that facilitates reading will hopefully create a lifelong love for learning.
Ask them open-ended questions – They make your children think for themselves and show how learning can be a part of every day. Maybe it’s asking how hummingbirds can move so fast and stimulating a discussion about the biology of their wings. Or maybe it’s wondering what causes that summer storm. Ask questions and encourage them to search out the answers. They can be just a Google search away!
Follow their interests – Each of your kids is going to have special interests. Your daughter might like science and your son might appreciate art. Let them pursue those interests! Try to find ways to incorporate what they love into other subjects. While it is important to give them a well-rounded education that includes multiple subjects, give them the freedom to pursue the subjects they love.
Tailor to learning styles – Auditory learners aren’t going to love school if they are learning through a method geared toward visual learners, and a kinesthetic learner isn’t going to like learning in a way meant for auditory learners. If kids aren’t learning in a way that best suits their needs, they may start to feel stifled. If your child is struggling with a subject, make sure it’s not because the curriculum doesn’t match their learning style. If that’s the case, you should consider changing the way the information is presented so they’re getting the most out of their education. We can help with this! Check out Bridgeway’s resources for discovering your children’s learning styles!
Encourage them – There are going to be difficult times in your homeschooling, topics your kids don’t understand, and subjects they may not like. Keep encouraging your kids to persevere, even through the subjects that are challenging. They need encouragement and support, to know that they can do it, even if it’s hard! Be there to provide that support.
Make learning fun! – Kids just want to have fun! Be excited about learning and they’ll feed off your excitement. Don’t forget that kids explore by playing. Try to find ways to combine learning and playing so they don’t develop the view that learning is a chore.
Kids are natural learners and you as a homeschool parent want to make sure you are fueling that love, not the opposite. I think a lot of kids get the idea that school and learning are something to dread, not enjoy. You, as a homeschool parent, get to change that mindset.
How are you going to do it?