Once kids love learning, parenting becomes pretty easy. But how to teach kids to love learning? Few questions are more important to parenting and its a question we have struggled with a lot.
Here are a five strategies that we have found to be effective:
1. Read to them early and often. Start the day they are born...so reading becomes like breathing.
2. Ask the greatest question ever..."Why?". It's so easy to ask and it invariably takes conversations someplace interesting. We call "Why?" the Greatest Question for reasons Sumay explains below:
3. Create activities to make learning fun. For example, use of blueberries to teach probability theory.
4. Get in touch with emotions. Help kids see books as a source of meaningful knowledge about their world. For example, connect their love for nature with powerful stories about protecting the planet (below).
5. Help kids realize that by learning they can create. Learning expands opportunities for self expression. (Thank you NaiNai for the amazing picture below :)
Sumay is nine now. She loves to read, but got in a habit of reading only fiction. This posed a challenge for us.
We were able to nudge her in the right direction. Without going into detail let me just say this...
Don’t always ask what your child likes to read, or even what your child is interested in ... tell them that there are stories they can’t even imagine because they are simply too young to have experienced them.
Sumay reacted to this with a look of confusion, as we all do when being told that there are things we don’t already know. Then I walked to my book shelf and pulled this one ...
“Here is a story of someone who walked away from everything ... gave away his money ... didn’t even say goodbye to his friends and family ... he simply walked away from civilization in search of a reality untouched by humanity. I think he wanted to know what life would be like if he had been born before humans were distinguishable from animals. Honestly I don’t know why he did it, but it’s an amazing story and the ending will shock you.”
That’s when it clicked for Sumay. You don’t read books just for fun or to understand something better ... the greatest of objectives is to expand the mind, to harness another’s life experience to enhance our own and broaden our appreciation for the human condition.