If you’re like every other parent, you want your child to be well-educated. You want him to learn all he can, discover his mission in life, and succeed at whatever he does. The very best way to make sure this happens is to instill in your child a great love of learning. The famous Greek philosopher, Socrates, once said that “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” And he was exactly right. When you help your child to love learning, it will ignite a flame that stays kindled into adulthood. Here are six ways to do that:
1. Create a learning environment.
Children absorb what they are surrounded by. Is your home set up in a way that encourages learning? What kinds of books, magazines, movies, and games are available to your child? Are they at appropriate heights for your child to reach? Can your child see art work at her eye level? Do most of her toys allow her to build, discover, create, and innovate? If you provide the right tools and atmosphere, your child will respond.
2. Read to them early and often.
Studies show that children who are read to, from the time they’re very young, develop a life-long love for reading. And a child that loves to reads is a child who will always be learning. Create regular reading times with your child such as at bedtime, or consider setting aside one evening a week for "family reading hour" when everyone gathers in the same room and reads aloud together.
3. Model a love of learning.
The old adage is true: Actions speak louder than words. Are you a person who enjoys learning? Does your child see you reading books, trying new things, and engaging in intellectually stimulating conversation? When you don’t know the answer to something, do you show your child how you’re going to find the answer? If you’re committed to being a lifelong learner yourself, it will not go unnoticed.
4. Make ordinary moments learning opportunities.
Everyday life affords us many opportunities to help our children discover new things. When you cook together, your kids can learn math and basic chemistry concepts by measuring ingredients and watching them change. When outside for a walk, you can point out the changing seasons, the kind of trees or flowers you see, the formation of clouds in the sky. When you encounter a homeless person on the street, buy them a cup of coffee and afterwards, talk to your child about the needs of our brothers and sisters in the world. Every day, there are endless ways to engage our children’s minds, bodies, and spirits.
5. Allow your kids to pursue their interests.
Children (like adults) have different interests and abilities, and at various developmental stages, they may be drawn to particular ideas and activities. If your child shows an interest in something — rocks, music, airplanes, singing, knights, animals, whatever it may be — foster it. Help them dig deeper into the subject through books, activities, games, internet research, and creative projects.
6. Make learning a whole-life experience.
Formal education is only a part of learning. A good deal of what we absorb and remember comes from life experience, every day interactions, and conversations. Help your child to understand that learning is about much more than homework and long days at school. It’s about being curious, asking questions, pursuing truth, following passions, and discovering the beauty and richness this world has to offer.
No matter what educational path you choose for your child, if you help to foster a love of learning in your child, the flame will always be burning.