Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, joined a team of 55 international researchers in 2001, to research the question: “How can we help young people realise their full potential?” This led to research in what makes life worth living, how we experience a richer life, how we reach optimal well-being and how we can become the best version of ourselves. Thus followed three years of research, which resulted in the identification of the 24 character strengths used by mankind.
This series of blogs helps you understand the 24 scientifically proven character strengths, which help mankind’s wellbeing and quality of life across the globe.
Strength #5 Love Of Learning
9 TIPS FOR FOSTERING LOVE OF LEARNING IN YOUR CHILD
We are all born with an innate curiosity, a need to find out, explore, challenge ourselves. Our children really are ‘Tiny Sponges,’ soaking up the world around them, developing, and acquiring skills and information.
During our lives, we face new challenges, new situations all the time. If we have learned to embrace learning, to love learning – then we are more able to adapt, change, evolve, reach our potential, problem solve, and cope with life’s obstacles. We are better able to hope, dream, set ourselves goals, and to achieve them.
As a teacher, it is always my aim to foster a love of learning in any child I teach. Here are my top tips for cultivating a love of learning in your child.
1. Show Your Own Love Of Learning
Children learn best from what they see. If you show them your own excitement and enjoyment of learning – then you’re being the best kind of role model. This can be done in so very many ways. You can talk to your child about what you are learning, talk about books you read, be enthusiastic, even if it’s a news story in a magazine or newspaper! If you’ve watched a video or film where you’ve learned something new, tell them about it. If you’re learning a new hobby, interest, or acquiring a new skill – show them.
2. Create A Fun Learning Environment
If your home reflects a love of learning, it enables children to access that themselves. Have books that they can look at and read, an atlas, an encyclopedia, the Guinness Book of Records, books on nature and the world around them… Play games together, some board games are a great way of learning – and can involve the whole family. Magazines like National Geographic (they also do a children’s version) are also great. Music and songs are also a lovely way to make learning fun, so sing the times tables! Have a world map on the wall, a map of the UK, a map of your town or village and look at them together. Learning through play is THE most fun and effective way to learn.
3. Creativity Is Key
When your children are younger, promote imaginary play. Give them opportunities to paint, craft, draw and make it as enjoyable as possible. Let them explore textures, colour, tastes, and smells. Provide construction materials like Lego. Join in with them sometimes, and show them how much you are enjoying the activity too.
4. Encourage Problem Solving
Give your child choices and get them used to thinking independently and making decisions. Ask questions such as, “What do you think would happen if ..?” “How do you think this works?” “Which of these..?” “Can you think of ..?”
5. Find Out Together!
It’s so tempting, especially when you’re busy or tired, to answer your child’s question with a short “I don’t know”, or even to not answer at all. Instead, you could say, “I don’t know right now, but write it down and let’s find out together.” And if you do know the answer, tell them. It’ll take a few minutes, or a few seconds, and your child won’t be discouraged to ask questions, or to find out.
6. Explore Interests
Encourage hobbies and new activities. Children learn best when they have a passion and when they are enjoying an activity… Go swimming, take dance classes, join the cubs, learn to play an instrument. Visit the library and take out books. Visit the museum, a gallery, the theatre...
7. Hands On, Not Hands Off!
Hands-on learning is so effective for children, as when they touch, move, use their senses to experience, they learn better. Get them out in nature, the woods, the park, the beach … It’s a great way for children to process information while being fun at the same time. It makes learning an adventure!
8. Find Your Child’s Learning Style
Most of us have a type of learning that is most effective for us. There are three main learning styles: auditory, visual and kinesthetic.
• Auditory learners like to hear information. They’re good listeners, follow directions well, and often have verbal strengths and/or musical aptitude
• Visual learners process information most effectively when it’s presented in writing or in images. They’re very observant, have excellent memories, and often enjoy art
• Kinesthetic learners are physical, often excelling at sports or dance. They learn best through movement and touch. They may count on their fingers or use frequent hand gestures
If you can find your child’s strength, you can help them learn in the way they find most comfortable and enjoyable. There are loads of tests online to help you find your child’s learning style, but you can also make a really solid guess based on their interests and the type of activities they enjoy.
9. Support, Encourage, No Pressure!
If children feel anxiety and pressure, they will associate learning with negative feelings. It’s important from the start, that children know that outcomes aren’t the most important thing, that it’s the process of learning that’s the import thing, and most importantly – that it’s really OK to get things wrong – because that’s how we learn. When children think learning is only about the results they get, it’s no longer fun. Make sure to emphasise the effort that your child puts into their work.
Children who look at challenges as positive learning opportunities are more likely to try, problem-solve and persevere.
Learning is for life, it enhances the quality and wealth of our life experiences. Value it, and make it fun!