Nurturing a love of learning is like teaching a child to ride a bike: once they have it, it will always be in them!
By Trish Montagnino, Kindergarten Teacher
One of the best ways to nurture a child's lifelong love of learning is to model our own love of learning: our curiosity, our interest in exploration, our enthusiasm for discovering new things, our willingness to show that we don't know everything—and just how great that is! When I asked my teenage daughter if she knew that I loved learning, she said without hesitation. "Come on, Mom. I was there when you learned to ride a bike at 40!"
When learning to ride a bike, you have to be fully present and "in the moment" or else you surely will fall. The same is true for nurturing a love of learning in your child. Young children are experts at living in the moment, but for parents with busy lives full of responsibilities, this can be a challenge. Take the time to be present to listen; to wonder about something; to discuss and question; to explore and discover; and to provide support, coaching, and encouragement.
Nurturing a love of learning is like teaching a child to ride a bike: once they have it, it will always be in them! To help you child to embrace the rewarding path of learning that lies ahead, you can:
- Encourage your child's evolving interests. Support their natural curiosity and internal motivation. Wonder with them and promote exploration.
- Give your child the time and space to be hands-on, to try things out, to get messy, and to make mistakes.
- Encourage questions—all of them and whenever they come! Questions indicate that your child is thinking, that their wheels are turning, and that they are beginning to steer their own learning process. Be willing to answer the questions that you can, admit when you don't have the answers, and help them to find their own answers whenever possible.
- Ask your child open-ended questions to promote deeper thinking and understanding (e.g., What makes you think that? What else could you try?). Be a good listener, conveying that you respect your child's ideas and input.
- Recognize your child when you observe the learning process. Learning should be joyful; be joyful with them and for them!
Originally published in Connections magazine in spring 2016.