It’s as simple as this: You can’t expect your children to love learning if you don’t love to learn. If learning isn’t a joy it’s difficult to expect them to develop a joy for learning. Children learn what they live so as parents we must ask ourselves how we are living whenever we want our children to change or aspire to greater learning.
As humans we are wired to model what we see. In younger years, this behavior is even greater as a child is learning how to adapt to his environment. This is built in for our survival so that we can live and thrive wherever we land. When we cooperate with nature we are able to find great success. When we work against it we create difficulty, stress and struggle. So I ask you to model what you want to see develop and expand in your children. A great leader, Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” When we are raising and educating our children, doesn’t that world begin at home with our children?
You can begin inspiring your children to want to learn by being an inspiration and cultivate your own love for learning. Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to do math or history; that is unless you want to. What you will do is take three important steps to create what you want for your children and your family as a whole.
- Live so you have more to give. This means being a student yourself. What do you find of interest to learn more about? Can it be about your profession, a hobby, travel or special interest? Read plenty of books, write in journals and notebooks, subscribe to magazines for greater knowledge such as National Geographic, a scientific magazine, or one in your specific field of interest. Go to your local library, purchase books from your local bookseller as well as a used bookstore and seek out books regarding particular information you are intending to learn from. Don’t forget to include in your reading list the classics as well as biographies from leaders and great minds that have shaped our world. Don’t make this hard on yourself. It needs to be demonstrated and lived as a joy rather than a duty. You want to be seeking out information to increase your knowledge and to have a continual flow of inspiration as the result of your continued learning. What you will find is that you have more passion for your life and less fear and stress, in fact much of what you do will become easier as you increase your knowledge. This will improve you personally, professionally and as a parent, spilling over into your family life creating a constant flow of inspiration. Your children can’t help but be inspired to their own learnings.
- Create an inspiring learning environment. This does not include chalk boards, bells to ring, desks in a row or posters on the wall. All you need a warm and loving home with plenty of everyday living and interacting with the world in which we live in, locally all the way to globally. Your children can’t help but be inspired to learn when they are surrounded everyday by people (parents, children, family, friends and community); a natural flow of everyday living, events in the home, community and world; quality books; time tested education plan for academic excellence; love and encouragement; common sense and curiosity; and time and space to explore and learn. Don’t let them be distracted or bored. It is important that they be engaged, challenged as well as supported. This is where the greatest growth takes place.
- Partnership between parent and child. As you create partnerships with your children you will move from always telling them what to do to mentoring and guiding them in the direction they need to go. As you share your enthusiasm for learning they will be empowered to love to learn. Children need positive social feedback from the leaders in their life. As you encourage them to keep moving forward during the times when it’s hard, remind them that you know it’s hard now but within a few months it will be much easier. This is because your brain is continually expanding in intelligence. When your children are saying, “Look at me!” or “Come see what I did”, this is when you want to encourage them. They are asking for your input and this is the precise moment when they are open, ready to be inspired, and ready to soar. Create family habits around sharing the learning. Take time around dinner to share what was learned today. Give positive feedback and don’t forget to take your turn to share as well. You are partners in everyday living; join them in being inspired to learn more.
As you are inspiring your children to learn, you yourself will discover how inspired you are to learn. It doesn’t have to take hours and hours out of your day. Just learn one thing every day. This is the important stuff, the stuff that really matters. I’ve often wondered if I am learning more or are my children learning more. I know I am a better person for homeschooling and for becoming a student myself. It enables me to be a better parent and spouse. I am able to communicate and relate better personally and professionally. I see this growing and blossoming for my family too. I share this quote that speaks to me often as I self-educate and parent: “First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” –Epictetus.
Parents Inspired to Action:
- Choose a subject of interest to study and begin pulling together resources. Read, write and apply what you are learning. Be sure you are sharing with your family your passion for what you are discovering and learning.
- Set up your environment to support whole family learning. Eliminate distractions or anything that negatively affects your ability to learn. Find a comfortable balance between plenty of time for reading, writing and contemplation as well as being active in your community.
- Decide to be your child’s partner. Support them with positive feedback and set them up to receive positive social feedback.
Children Inspired to Action:
- Support them by paying close attention and being fully present when they have something to show you or want to share their discovery. As you are passionate for them learning they will grow in a passion for learning.
- Read aloud something you are learning that your children may find interest in. Likewise, read aloud something from what they are learning to better understand. This shows them you are fully invested.
- Let your children get messy by trying new things. Let them explore projects that will give them hands on experience matching their current study.