Explore these tips to encourage a love of learning in your child at any time of the year!
1. Lean into existing interests
As a parent, you’ve probably listened to various long-winded descriptions of your child’s latest interest. Encourage learning by capturing that interest and applying it to a basic skill. Take math, for example. It’s easy to incorporate basic math concepts into a story pertaining to your child’s interest. For a child interested in dinosaurs, the story might be “the T-rex ate two velociraptors for breakfast. Then he ate two pterodactyls for lunch. How many dinosaurs did he eat today?” At Global Game Changers, we tap into individual interests with our Superpower Equation: MY TALENT + MY HEART = MY SUPERPOWER!®, asking students how they will use a talent they possess to further a cause close to their heart.
2. Get experiential
Hands-on experiences are a great way to demonstrate learning in action. These opportunities are more interesting to children than explanations using only words, and help them understand why they’re learning certain skills. Consider planning a trip to a museum or historical site, enrolling them in camps or programs, or starting a hands-on experience in your own kitchen. Through cooking, for example, students get to practice reading and math and understand why both are important skills to master. Global Game Changers’ Student Empowerment Program has lots of great service project ideas for young kids that engage them in experiences while building skills like empathy and planning.
3. Let go of preconceived notions
Our own experiences and history shape our perception of learning and learning tools. Try to avoid placing your own learning baggage on your child. They don’t need to know how you were taught everything as a child ― and they often won’t care. Be open to the new tools that have developed or expanded since you were their age, such as graphic novels and app-based learning.
4. Find a role model
In order to believe in their ability to achieve different career paths, show children positive examples of adults who reflect their potential future selves. Fortunately, the number of books featuring a wide diversity of characters has expanded dramatically in recent years. Try to find real-life individuals who look like your child and exemplify the careers and traits you want your child to model.
5. Focus on a growth mindset over growth
The concept of a “growth mindset” has become popular among educators recently. People who adopt a growth mindset believe that achievement is based on effort rather than natural-born talent. It transforms an “I can’t do this” mentality into “I can’t do this yet.” According to a recent study, students who adopted a growth mindset scored well above their peers who had a “fixed mindset,” even when controlling for variables like socioeconomic status.
6. Acknowledge emotions
It’s important to teach and learn core subjects, but it’s also important that children learn how to manage and deal with their emotions and interactions with other people. Parents must play an integral role in teaching these skills. Anger, frustration, apathy, extreme excitement, and other emotions can interfere with learning. Helping your child navigate their emotions can help them get more out of learning experiences at school and at home. Global Game Changers has some great free tools and resources for parents and educators to get this conversation started.
7. Model lifelong learning
Learning does not stop when the school bell rings, nor when you walk across a stage to receive your diploma. Demonstrating this to children first-hand helps them feel as though learning is something that can be shared, and will help them adapt to situations and skills they have to learn as adults. Consider having a dialogue with your child weekly about one new thing each of you learned during the past week. Maintaining this dialogue may have the added benefit of keeping your brain young!