Learning begins the moment kids come into the world, from watching their parents, their peers, and the world around them. As parents, it is our job to help prepare our children for life, which includes getting ready to start school, making friends, and being well-adjusted and well-rounded kids. Below are some great ways to foster a love of learning, starting in the home.

Surround Them With Books

Reading is the gateway to endless possibilities. When kids start to become proficient readers, the world opens up to them through books, magazines, newspapers, and the internet. Start at a young age by reading picture books at bedtime and throughout the day. Let them pick their favorites, and never make reading a punishment or a chore.

Get your kids their own library cards and let them take ownership of selecting books and taking care of them. You can also get a subscription to a digital library like Epic!, which gives instant access to thousands of books for kids under 12. Another alternative to traditional books is using audio books. This is a great solution for kids who are less confident in their independent reading abilities or want to read a book above their reading level.

Build Upon Their Interests

As your kids get older, you will notice that they naturally tend to gravitate towards certain interests and hobbies. These interests may be a short phase or develop into a lifelong fascination. Either way, encourage them to delve further into these pursuits. If your child is obsessed with dinosaurs, take him or her to a natural history museum, watch a documentary about prehistoric times, or build a model of a T-Rex together. For young toddlers, let them direct play time and play a supporting role to their ideas, even if they are doing it “wrong.” When kids feel like they have a choice in the things they engage in, they are more likely to get excited about learning new things.

Provide Hands-On Experiences

Although kids may have different learning styles in the classroom, hands-on learning has proven to be an effective way that kids (and many adults) learn. When learning new concepts, such as solving a math problem, use beads, coins, or candy, to help facilitate the learning process. You can do simple science experiments at home, create a map when learning about geography, go outside to learn about how plants grow. Incorporating hands-on learning will help your kids relate abstract concepts to real life and help them retain information long-term.

Share Your Own Passions

You are your kids’ primary role models, so model the behavior that you want them to emulate. Share your passions with your kids, introducing them to a wide variety of fun activities that they may also be interested in. Having interests in common is a great way to connect with your kids and spend quality time doing things everyone loves.

My husband taught himself guitar as a teenager, and he enjoys playing on an almost daily basis. Even though he is quite skilled for an amateur guitar player, he still strives to learn new techniques and songs. Rather than deciding that he’s “good enough,” his love for guitar fuels his desire to keep getting better.

Help Them Find Resources

Kids are more likely to be more enthusiastic about learning when they are able to
take ownership and find information independently. Help your kids know where to find reliable resources, via reputable websites, books, or people who are knowledgeable and experienced in the subject matter. When your kids begin to see the learning process as their own project, they are more apt to seek it out willingly and on their own terms.

You can facilitate their learning by providing opportunities, such as taking them to a museum, signing them up for classes or clubs that they want to be involved in, or traveling to a new place with different types of people and experiences.

Avoid Rewards and Outcome-Based Mindset

The key to fostering a deep-seated love for learning in your children is to focus on the learning process itself and not the outcome. It’s not about the amount of knowledge that is retained or how quickly your child can pick up a skill. Concentrate more on their efforts, not their talents or achievements. When your kids encounter failure, change their perspective on the experience and show them how they can learn from it.

Show Them Learning Is Fun

Whenever possible, encourage your children to go after things that they are curious about. Express your enthusiasm in trying and discovering new things. If they are hesitant or wary, reassure them that new experiences are safe, not scary, through demonstration or participating with them. Praise their achievements and feats when they accomplish something difficult. Look for new ways to make learning a fun adventure.

Teach Them Learning is Lifelong

Learning begins long before a child ever steps foot in a school, and as long as we are living, we are continuing to learn. Teach your kids that learning is not something that we have to do to pass a test. It is what continually challenges us to be better people through learning about the world around us.

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