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How to Encourage a Love of Learning

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/2/2008 | Parenting
Children are born students. From birth they seem to have an insatiable hunger for information. Unfortunately, that thirst for new information, for learning, does not stay at that level indefinitely. If efforts to learn are not initially satisfied and that thirst is not quenched, they begin to turn their attention in other directions. Sometimes they turn to being disruptive to get attention. Others may turn inward and stop trying to communicate at all. As parents, we need to nurture that desire for learning by taking an interest in our children's education.

Parents influence their children's ability to learn. Researchers have found that children who were talked to the most during their first three years of life had strikingly higher IQs than children whose parents did not talk to them very much. Talking should include 1) praise for the children's accomplishments, 2) answering their many questions, 3) giving direction rather than demands and 4) using an expanding vocabulary in these communications.

Undue pressure should never be put on the child. Labels such as "stupid" or "dumb" can have a lasting effect. Always be supportive of your child's natural desire to learn-and at his or her own pace.

Encourage each child to set personal goals and to compete with himself, no one else. The goals should be attainable. Help them to see the need to improve over previous efforts at certain tasks. Monitor their progress, try to improve on weaknesses and praise improvement.

Reading and writing are fundamental to a good education. Parents can create a love for reading by reading to the child from infancy. But the reading needs to be fun. Select books that the children enjoy. Sometimes you may have to read the same book again and again. Doing this, though, will help the child become familiar with the vocabulary and begin to recognize the words on the page.

Let your children see you reading and enjoying it. Provide a wholesome learning environment in the home. The memories of times of shared reading will stay with your child long after they leave home.

No two children learn the same way. Try to learn how your child takes in the information the best. Some understand and remember things better if there are pictures or diagrams. Others do better with written or spoken word or a combination of both. If possible, use both methods together. Change what is visual to verbal. If it is verbal, create a diagram or picture that will tell the story. This will help make learning more rewarding and enjoyable for you and your child.

Learning is not just for children. According to "Inside the Brain", "What the brain can do depends on whether or not it is used. It is the ultimate use-it-or-lose-it machine, and it is eager to learn new skills." Researchers have found that mental workouts can do for the aging brain what physical exercise can do for the aging body. "People do not lose massive numbers of brain cells each day as they grow older, as was once thought." A severe slide in mental function is usually a sign of disease. But an active brain resists deterioration, especially when the person also has a good routine of physical exercise. Another research paper wrote: "The more one is involved in learning activities, the more one's ability to learn expands. Continuing learners are better learners."

So never stop learning, and let your children (and parents) be inspired to do the same.