How to Teach a Child to Love Learning and Excel in School and Life
Learning is a lifelong thing, no matter how well you did in school. But the love of learning is what brings joy and fascination to the work in our daily lives. And it’s important to cultivate this attitude from childhood. After all, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
1 Know Your Child’s Passions
Every child is inclined to certain school subjects— Maths and Science or English and Mother Tongue or P.E. You can tap into this interest to help your child get excited about learning.
If you have the time to guide your child through their homework, help them discover the interesting side of the subjects they find tougher or tend to call “boring”. For the child who loves Maths but dislikes English, you can show them that languages also work with logic behind them— like the way we pronounce words or form sentences with subject and object. For the child who loves art but dreads solving sums, you can draw the question so that they have a more engaging visual reference.
When a child is interested in a topic, they will be more likely to learn and grow in that area. So pay attention to your child’s passing comments on a subject and which ones they excel in or are weaker in.
Be a role model for your child and show them how excited you are about learning. Sign yourself up for weekend workshops you’re interested in, like baking or bouldering, and tell your child all about the challenges you faced, what you learned and how you moved on from it. If you don’t have time for a workshop, reading books and watching videos at home can also provide a great platform for sharing what you’ve learned.
Show your child that learning doesn’t stop when you grow up; we are always learning new things. Listen to all that your child has to say about their newfound passion, get excited about what they are excited about and be patient with their progress.
2 Develop a Positive Learning Pattern
You’ve probably heard of the three types of learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. While widely popular, there are debates if using a specific learning style is actually beneficial for students and educators are now putting more emphasis on Deeper Learning. So we’re going to look at something that may be more useful: Learning Pattern.
Learning Pattern is how a person processes the world around them to learn new things. It consists of
- The way you learn
- What you believe about learning
- What motivates you to learn
You can help your child develop positive beliefs of learning by encouraging them with positive coaching. That means saying things like, “I believe in you”, “You can do it” and “You’ve done this before; I know you’ll be able to do it again.” After a while, your child will start believing this about themselves and believing that they can learn.
Positive statements like, “Wow, that was fun! I really enjoyed it” and “It feels good to learn something new” can also show your child that learning is beneficial and worthwhile and motivate them to keep at it.
3 Turn Up the Fun
When our kids were toddlers, they learned by playing. It’s still the same for older children— and adults too! We just have a different name for it, like “A/B Testing” and “Ideation sessions”. When a child enjoys the learning process, they are more likely to learn better.
You can encourage your child to make art and music or do creative writing to change things up. Draw a masterpiece of the life cycle of a butterfly or act out the story of how Helen and Ivan sorted out their coins.
There are lots of hands-on Science experiments you can do with your child at home, like setting up your own water cycle system in a glass cup or making an ice-cube North Pole model to learn about the rising sea levels.
Beyond school, give your child opportunities to discover new interests. Bring them out to museums, to the parks, watch live theatre and visit the library. You can collect brochures and ask your child which programme or event interests them and sign them up for it— better yet, go together for some parent-child bonding time.
Make the learning relevant to your child by pointing out how to use academic concepts in their daily lives. Bring your child on your own learning journeys through the neighbourhood and find out the stories behind each region in the country. Spark your child’s imagination and see how the wonderment helps them to love learning.
4 Keep an Open Channel
Let your child know that you will be there for them when they need help with homework or are curious about a certain subject.
When teaching your child, try to have two-way discussions rather than one-way lectures. Ask your child more open-ended “what” and “how” questions than “yes/ no” questions to get your child to think deeper on a topic.
On the other hand, remember to step back and let your child discover things on their own. When your child asks a question, encourage them to research the answer on their own or look it up together with your child taking the lead. As a child learns to grapple with problems and find their own solutions, they begin to feel competent and confident in a subject, and this motivates them to learn even more.
Sharing personal experiences with your child can also provide opportunities for incidental learning and build your bond as your child gets a peek into your life and stories.
5 Support System
When you see your child putting effort into learning, praise them for their diligence. It’s not just the outcome that matters— getting A+ grades in school doesn’t define how a child will continue to excel in life, but their love for learning will help them keep growing and advancing.
Let us not pressure our kids into associating learning with stress and anxiety of failing. Instead, we can teach them to stay resilient, to get up after a fall and find the joy in learning.
Studies have shown that when children were praised for being “intelligent”, they tended to understand failure as a lack of intelligence and avoided more challenging tasks that might lead to failure. However, when children were praised for the effort they put in, they saw difficult tasks as learning opportunities and were more likely to work at it until they found a solution.
It’s also useful to find friends for your child who share common interests and can learn together. You can encourage your child to join a regular sports group or enrol in a class they’re passionate about, like coding or learning a new language. This will help them to meet like-minded people and find a meaningful community.
Give your child room to make mistakes and play. Support your child’s learning in their unique interests and give them as much encouragement as you can. They’ll flourish in their talents and more importantly, learn to love learning.
Learn from the experts to coach your child in academics, persistence and social and emotional learning. Sign up for our upcoming run of The Incredible Years® Parenting Programme
We also coach parents alongside kids with behaviour challenges in The Incredible Years® Small Group Dinosaur Programme (Child Therapy) Comprehensive