One of the most important requirements of learning is an interest, and preferably a passion, for learning and knowledge acquisition. Without this drive, learning is nearly impossible to achieve. So how do we instill a love of learning in children? And even more important, how can we foster this into a lifelong drive to learn and grow that will set them up for a life and career that will be unlike anything we have seen before, and will change many times throughout their lifetime?
When my oldest son, Jackson, was small he loved to learn. His appetite for knowledge was insatiable. He constantly asked questions, read non-fiction books with a voracity and passion that is hard to comprehend from someone so small unless you witnessed it first hand. He LOVED to learn and our job was to simply keep feeding his insatiable thirst.
Then school started and over three years learning became something he associated with stress, fear, anxiety and eventually he started suffering from severe panic attacks. Learning was no longer a passion, it was something to be avoided at all costs.
My youngest son has always struggled to learn. He has many delays and disabilities due to a history of severe trauma and resulting PTSD and Developmental Trauma Disorder. Learning has never been fun for him, but what tolerance he did have for learning and the school environment, that we spent years developing with a dedicated team of aides and professionals during his preschool years, was crushed in his first 6 months in public school where he was ridiculed and bullied for his struggles and delays. This was in Kindergarten.
School has been devastating for us.
What the school did to my child’s love of learning was devastating for me.
See I LOVE to learn. Nothing is better than gaining knowledge, new skills and finding new passions. That thrill of something capturing your interest and focusing your energy into personal growth and becoming a better you.
Learning is something amazing that we should never fear or worse yet, despise.
Yet here I was with two boys that feared, and at times despised, learning. I had pulled them from school to homeschool and even after de-schooling there was still so much resistance to learning. Learning should not induce panic attacks, yet I watched daily as my boys were triggered into panic attacks at just the sight of a text book or worksheet.
I knew I had to do something, but I wasn’t sure what I could do to rekindle and instill a love of learning in my children again.
There is the typical advise you hear all the time…
Make the lessons applicable to the real world and have a purpose.
Individualize the lessons based on interests.
Make it hands on, productive, focusing on the process.
Make it fun!
All of these ideas are great and definitely have their place, but they weren’t the thing that finally and successfully changed our children’s outlook on learning. Plus, these things would be very difficult to implement for parents not homeschooling and in control over how their children’s lessons are presented and taught.
But there is one thing all parents can do to instill a love of learning in their children regardless of how the children are being schooled.
The single most important thing we have done to instill a love of learning in our children, is…
Be passionate about your own learning.
It seems simple enough but very few adults pursue learning and education once they are done school. Going back to school and taking classes as an adult shows your child, with your actions instead of words, the power of education and the enjoyment that can be gained from learning.
Find something you are interested in, for me it’s been photography and child development/mental health, for my husband blacksmithing and learning new languages. Make your learning intentional and focused. Take courses in person or online. Share your educational experiences with your children. The challenges, the struggles and the successes. Let them see how learning works for all ages and can bring great happiness, success and personal achievement. How perseverance and a desire is all that is really needed to learn.
Children learn more from observing the world around them, especially from those they love, than they do from lectures or words. So show your children a love of learning by loving learning yourself! Instill that passion for learning and lifelong skill acquisition.
Plus, you would be amazed what learning something new does for your own energy and outlook on life. Share the passion, share the learning, and instill a love of learning in your children.
Want to see the results of our learning in blacksmithing and photography? Check out my Instagram.