How to get your kids excited about learning
Read this to learn how to foster a love for learning in your child during the early years.
“In the first years of school all appears to go very well. The child seem eager, lively and happy.” – Margaret Donaldson, Children’s Mind
That did not happen to me. School, my earliest recollection of it, was synonymous to anxiety, dread, and a sick feeling in the stomach. The situation in Singapore today is perhaps far worse, as children find themselves stuck in the pressure cooker right from day one.
Born to learn
Every child is born with an inherent desire to learn. This capacity to learn in order to master the environment is closely related to the survival instinct and is thus overwhelmingly strong. It activates independent learning, which can be enhanced if given guidance and encouragement.
Pause for a moment and think about the learning experience of your child. How much of that learning experience happens with careful considerations of the natural faculties of your child? Are you developing your child to his or her fullest potential? What choices can you make to enhance the learning experience of your child?
Find out how to get your kids excited about learning on the next page.
Schooling does not equate learning
Children begin their schooling years all curious, energetic, and eager to learn.
Much to the disappointment of their parents, many children soon begin to lose that twinkle in their eyes. When such situations arise, some parents, fearing that the school system would strangle their children’s curiosity for learning, choose to withdraw their children from the system, and homeschool them instead. That, however, is not a decision many can afford. As most of us can attest, children in Singapore are stuck in a grueling school system from a very young age. Parents are fully aware of the situation, but find themselves helpless in going against the unrelenting system. So what do they end up doing?
As illogical as it might sound, parents try their best to make sense of the system, convincing themselves and their children that the system is good for them, that the rat race is a necessary evil, that their children will emerge stronger, brighter, smarter, and yes, further perpetuating the system.
Children are conditioned by their experiences. When the desire to learn no longer gives a child the chuckles of satisfaction, the desire to learn diminishes. When formal education seems unrelated to real life, the purpose to learn disappears.
Children will soon associate learning with the mundane school experience, and find no inspiration to learn. Without the stimulation to learn, learning which was designed by nature to be instinctive and insatiable retrogrades into a chore.
To exacerbate the situation, children who are overwhelmed with repetitive and mundane tasks end up expending their energies on uninspiring tasks. Overtime, they become passive learners well trained in regurgitating the right answers, incapable of more challenging tasks, passive learners who are reinforced to believe that they are not very bright; why else would they need more practices than necessary?In our efforts to help our children succeed, we have foolishly dumbed down our children, robbed them of self-confidence, smothered their passion for learning.
Keep the love for learning flickering
The same situation you probably experienced as a child, the same situation that you hated when you were in school, the same situation, but perhaps worse, that you are subjecting your child to. Be empathetic; do not just sympathize with your children, yet continue to leave them there, frustrated out of boredom with finding the right answers, giving the right answers, repeating the right answers.
“The solution of a problem – any problem – consists in discovering how to transform an existing state of affairs into a desired one that has not yet come into being.” Margaret Donaldson, Children’s Mind
Shape the educational experience to reach the desired outcome you want for your child. Give that spark, and trust that it will catch fire. It might not kindle immediately, but at least you did not extinguish the flame.
Got more ideas on how to get your kids excited about learning? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below!
Article contributed by Leong Sou Cheng, a Singaporean educator based in Angola who is passionate about nurturing learning in children.