How can I help my child to develop a love of learning?

A child will develop a love of learning by experiencing more of what interests and fascinates him.

We, as parents, are our child’s first teacher and with our new situation right now during these COVID19 restrictions, some of us are our child’s only teacher!

Daunting as it may seem if you’re not professionally trained as an educator, you have the perfect opportunity to help your child develop a love of learning which they will hopefully carry through to their school days when things get back to normal.

Learning happens every single day. Yesterday I learned to cut my children’s hair. They were not perfect cuts but the kids liked them (big bonus!!) and I will keep practicing until I am 100% happy with them.

Last week, my son learned to put together a fitness training course with his dad outside in the garden so they could workout with sprints, weight lifting, upper body and core strengthening techniques.

My other son learned how to build on his skill of building forts, playgrounds and cute pets on Minecraft.

How and why did we learn these skills with enthusiasm? We learned because we were interested, somewhat fascinated and above all, invested in the outcome. We also had a hunger to continue to improve on them.

When we think about our children’s future, we wish for it to be filled with happiness and success. What better assurance for their happiness and success than to be doing and learning things that interest them greatly throughout their lives. Their future starts in this present time.

As you help your child to develop this love of learning, which will keep him going through life’s tricky bits, take note of what fascinates him. Focus on his interests. Build upon these interests to incorporate further learning but only if he is willing to go that step further. If he is not interested in expanding his learning today, you can always try again tomorrow!

Here are some examples of how you can encourage a love of learning in your young child by building on their sense of wonder, their want for learning and their self esteem as they master their skill:

An interest in books –

  • Listen to the child intently as he retells a story he has just read. Show interest in the plot and the characters
  • Look at the book of interest with him and notice the author’s name as well as the illustrator
  • Talk about the characters of the book. Do they remind you of anyone in real life? (this can be enlightening 😄)
  • Examine the structure of the book e.g. contents page, chapters, dedication, story of the author
  • Encourage him to write his own book. This can be simply done by stapling some blank pages together or presenting an empty copybook
  • Listen to some audio books together
  • Make a little reading nook for your child using items like a lamp, cushions, blanket, choice of books and whatever else you think the child will find inviting.

An interest in Lego/building –

  • Challenge her to a tower-building contest and involve other members of the family
  • Encourage her to sort the building bricks by colour and provide containers for these piles
  • Ask her to design a new house, school, playground or anything that might spark an interest
  • Incorporate small world items like dinky cars, little figurines, little toy animals, model trees/grass to create a town/city/countryside scene.
  • Encourage, validate and appreciate any attempt at building, even if you don’t recognise what the result represents!
  • Invest in a Lego set where she can use the instruction booklet to guide her build.

An interest in photography –

  • If he doesn’t own a phone, let him borrow yours for a time so that he can snap away to his heart’s content
  • Upload any photos or videos from the phone to the home PC or onto a USB stick of his own so that he can keep a souvenir of his creations (this will free up space on your phone too!). This could be a nice album to look back on when remembering the time of our COVID19 restrictions.
  • Encourage him to use the functions on the camera to create fun pictures e.g. filters, text, colour, emojis, slow motion.
  • Ask him to create a short movie. Plan a story, characters, scene, music, title etc. Enjoy watching his movie together when complete and share with other family members if he wishes. Acknowledge the creative effort that he has put into the making of the film, no matter how little or how much.

An interest in animals –

  • Look up websites together to learn about the animals of interest e.g. Irish Wildlife Trust issues magazines, including a publication especially for children. Dublin Zoo have live webcams available to the public to observe the various animals. The zoo’s website also has lots of information about its many residents and has lovely photos too.
  • When browsing through websites or animal magazines, ask her to choose an animal (maybe one that she has never heard of before). Encourage her to take note of how it looks, what it eats and where in the world it is from. She can put together a poster for you and the family including a sketch of the chosen animal and some facts she has learned. Watch and listen as she becomes the educator and teaches you all about her chosen animal.
  • Discover the wildlife in your immediate area: Maybe there is a wild beehive nearby, go and listen to the bees humming. Maybe there is frogspawn in a local pond, check up on their progress over the next few weeks. Maybe there are lots of little bugs hiding under rocks and timber planks, go check them out!

An interest in running and jumping –

  • Create an obstacle course together or let him build his own. If building it together, follow his direction and trust in his ability to create.
  • Have a “Sports Day” and encourage him to include lots of fun races verging on the side of ‘silly’ e.g. sack race, egg & spoon, backwards run, hopping, rolling, frog jumping, snake slithering… the ‘silly list’ is endless!
  • If it’s safe to do so, let him climb a tree! What can he see from up there? Can he hear the birds? What does the bark of the tree feel like? Trust that he knows how high he can climb and knows when he is ready to come back down again.

As I have mentioned, these are just ideas to expand your child’s learning if you feel they want to go that step further and if they are inviting your input. Once they feel they have ownership of their own learning, it will all fall into place at the very right time for them.

Let your child develop a taste for looking forward to the next step, for experimenting, for hypothesising and for pushing themselves to be better.

Simply put, Let Them Play! ❤️️

For some tips on helping your child with maths during a school closure CLICK HERE

And for tips to help with reading and literacy CLICK HERE

(some tips are irrelevant at the moment, but most are very doable!)

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