When I was a preschool teacher, my class would start every day by shouting “Learning is an adventure!” Then we would talk about the adventures of learning! Learning can be fun, scary, easy, hard, silly, sad, intimidating and crazy! Learning is truly an adventure because of the feelings we have while we are on our learning journey and because we are learning our WHOLE LIFE! But, how do we get our kids to see the world through the eyes of a lifelong learner? How do we instill this attitude in our children? The following tips have helped me to guide my children (both in the classroom and at home) in learning to love learning!
Tip #1 Find simple ways to teach
Learning is all around us! Whether it be at the park, in the car, at the bowling alley, or at the grocery store, there are teaching opportunities everywhere! While at the bowling alley, work on math skills by counting the bowling pins, subtract the number of pins they hit or figure out different ways to add up to ten pins. At the store, let your child find numbers on the prices or letters on the packaging. Encourage your child to use their reasoning skills by letting them weigh out the produce and guess which items will weigh more. In the car, teach colors by pointing out all the blue cars you see on the road. Talk about sizes by comparing little cars to big trucks. Help your child identify letters, words and numbers on signs. Find learning opportunities in everything you do.
Tip #2 Model an attitude of learning
“Actions speak louder than words!” is a well-known phrase, and for good reason! As a role model for my children, I can show them the importance of learning by showing them I love to learn. I can let them see me reading a book. I can tell them about a new skill I am working on. I can even say “I don’t know” if they ask me a question I don’t know the answer to. Then we can discover the answer together.
Tip #3 Be ready to teach when THEY are ready to learn
When children ask questions or bring up topics, be ready to engage in a teaching moment, even if it is quick. Children want to learn. They are curious about the world around them and we have the incredible opportunity to support them and teach them. Look for teaching opportunities and when they come, pounce on it while your child is interested.
Tip #4 There is more than one way to learn
One of my favorite learning theories is Howard Garner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In short, this theory is based on several different ways of learning. These include learning through pictures, nature, music, logic, words, people, hands-on activities, and self-discovery. As we explore different approaches to learning we may discover ways in which our children learn best. If a concept doesn’t seem to be sticking for your child, look at learning from a different angle or a different approach. If your child is struggling to learn the alphabet by looking at and reciting the letters, introduce the alphabet in a different way. Help them draw the letters in sand, glitter or shaving cream. Introduce them to the alphabet by hiding letters around the room and going on a scavenger hunt for the letters. Find ways to engage them in a different approach to learning and the concepts just might start to sink in when other approaches haven’t.
Tip #5 Don’t overthink things
We can always increase our efforts in guiding our children to learn. There will always be someone who seems to teach their kiddos better. There are thousands of tips on the internet (including the above paragraphs) to tell us what to do and what not to do. At the end of the day, don’t overthink things. Find what works for you. Find what works best for your kids. Get in your lane of parenting/teaching/mentoring (whatever your role is with kids) and do it! Do your best, keep moving forward and continue to love your children. Love the journey you are on with your children and always remember that learning is an adventure!
Kyla is a former teacher and is currently a stay at home mom to 3 boys. She creates learning resources on Teachers Pay Teachers. She also posts parenting tips and teaching philosophies on Instagram and Facebook. She loves hiking, camping, playing the piano, singing with her husband, photography and pursuing new talents.