Actually, children naturally DO enjoy learning. They are, of course, naturally curious, creative and imaginative, so nearly every moment of the day, they are learning new things.
The problem is that learning in the classroom is rarely as fascinating as learning about the world at the child’s own pace. Parents need to understand that a child’s daily education does not stop when the school bell rings!
Things parents can do to help children enjoy learning:
1. Set a good example of life-long learning. If kids see that mom and dad are interested in reading and learning about new things simply for the pleasure of it (and not because they are required by law!), this gives the kids something to model themselves after.
2. Offer opportunities for learning as a family. Take the kids to places and events with educational, interactive and cultural activities (such as museums, historical sites, and kids’ concerts/plays).
Instead of rushing through, try to really engage your children in discussing what they see and experience. For example, at a historical site, ask the children how they would have felt living in that time, without all the modern things we have now.
3. Obviously, reading to/with your child is important. Talk about the stories, and see if the child can see where the story might relate to his/her own life, or if the characters remind them of people they know. This combines the fun and entertainment of stories with a basis for understanding story-telling (and eventually literature when they get into higher grades).
4. Take an interest in your child’s school work. If you ask them “What did you learn today?” they may say “Nothing”. Ask instead to see what pages/topics in their textbooks they covered during class. Find books, games and activities related to their school work. If your child shows more interest in one particular subject, by all means encourage it by providing more opportunities to learn about it outside of class!
Parents often feel like they do not know or remember enough to help with the kids’ school work. If that’s the case, then maybe you can try to learn more about what the kids are learning. Ask your kids about what they’re learning- you might learn a lot FROM your kids! You can also take a peek at their textbooks and brush up on their lessons after they go to bed. It’s never too late to learn, and it will make a huge difference in your life AND your child’s life.
5. Limit television viewing. Encourage reading instead. Educational programs and videos are great, but go easy on the viewing. Encourage more active forms of learning.
6. Old-fashioned “Let’s pretend” play is an important type of learning. Encourage more active, imaginative play- making up games, playing dress-up, acting out scenes in favorite books and movies, etc- which helps children maintain their natural creativity. Get them moving, get them outdoors, get them active!