Learning is not just for school. Learning is any form of mental growth we achieve throughout our life – this could include algebra or physics just as easily as repairing automotive engines or streamlining the manufacturing process of spit balls. Regardless of the topic, learning can take place.
Unfortunately, many teenagers today have the mindset that learning is purely for academics or school and when asked if they enjoy learning they will often reply “no.” What happened between the ages of 3 and 13 to change our children’s view of learning? Observe any three year old in the world and you’ll notice they love to explore and learn about the world they live in. They not only show interest in learning, but they also get a great deal of pleasure from the effects of learning. Fast forward ten years and observe that same child, now thirteen. Rather than showing excitement when faced with an opportunity to learn, they often become irritable or frustrated. Many would rather watch TV or play a video game then explore and learn about the world around them. Their mindset has changed – they no longer view learning as an enjoyable activity.
Peter Gray writes in Psychology Today that “Children explore and play, freely, in ways designed ot learn about the physical and social world… In school they are told they must stop following their interests… that is why they don’t like school.” After reading this article one must ask themselves – do students assume that by asking if they enjoy learning, we are actually asking them if they enjoy school? How many students would separate the two?
This is where parents and role models (including teachers) must step in and foster change. Students today need to learn from a very young age how exciting and wonderful learning can be. Here’s a few great ways to make that happen:
- Read to your kids – Young or old it doesn’t matter, humans love to be read to. They need to see that YOU enjoy reading and do it regularly.
- Learn in front of your children – Model learning for your children. They should see you taking part in learning activities regularly – read a book on a new gardening technique or visit a local hardware store to take a class on DIY projects, for example.
- Talk to them about learning – Share with your children something interesting that you learned that day, you’ll show them that learning takes place in the adult world and should be celebrated.
- Cultivate their interests – What does your child show an interest in? Any hobby involves a learning curve, but some foster themselves to “learning” more than others. Does your child love gaming – how about a local community education or online course in computer graphics? Does your son love baseball – how about learning about the physics that make the balls line of travel happen?
- Celebrate their successes – Parents should be excited to see their children learn, this will help foster a personal sense of accomplishment when learning takes place in our young people.
By keeping these ideas in mind & making a conscious effort to make learning a normal part of everyday life at home, you’ll foster a love of learning outside of the classroom in your child. Children that love to learn grow up to be successful, driven adults in the real world, and lets be honest – that’s what we all want for our children someday.