Instilling a love of learning into a child is completely unnecessary – they are born with it. What parents really should be focusing on is fanning the flames of that inherent joy and preventing it from being stifled by exposing them to rigid forms of education.
Children are born with a sense of wonder and delight at making new discoveries. That natural sense can be erased in just a few short years if it is not nurtured and encouraged properly.
In my experience working in a public school for over a decade, by the time children hit third grade, the vast majority of them look at school and learning as a dreaded chore.
Standardized testing and state requirements have turned many teachers into factory supervisors, droning through the motions with a one size fits all approach to levying information into young minds. An environment like this does not further or even embrace love of learning as a priority.
When homeschooling my daughter during her final years of school and now with helping her homeschool her children, there are three quotes I keep keenly in mind when approaching the learning process and laying out activity plans for the week.
“Never been indoors when you can rightly be without”Charlotte Mason
Learning absolutely does not need to take place indoors or even in a seated position. Forcing a child to sit still for at least an hour at a time is excruciating. Adults sitting at a professional inservice or waiting 45 minutes in a doctor’s office waiting room struggle with successfully completing the same task without getting bored, irritable, and impatient.
“Tell me and I will forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me, and I will learn”Founding Father Benjamin Franklin
Hands-on and interactive lessons are always the best choice when trying to re-instill or cultivate an existing love of learning.
Allowing the children to help choose what and how they learn isn’t some throwback hippy concept, it is incorporating them into the development of their own education, which will tremendously increase the likelihood that will not only embrace the material but retain it.
“Study without desire spoils the memory and it retains nothing that it takes in”Leonardo Da Vinci
Barking facts from a dry reading portion of a textbook, ordering children to memorize the material that has not importance to them will be remembered for only as long as necessary and then forgotten.
Living books engage children, enticing them to delve into the artwork and text, eager to learn more, know more.
To keep the joyful eagerness of children to soak up new information like sponges, there are some truly simple things you can do on a regular basis in your homeschool. Here are the top 10 ways to make your child fall in love with learning.
Helping your child find his or her passion(s), or nurturing them is one of the easiest and most impactful ways to help them fall in love with learning.
If your daughter is in love with princesses or fairies, use that. Find storybooks and non-fiction and themed worksheets (for limited seat work time) and read them with her and allow her to read them herself.
Do you have a tractor obsessed child? Let them sit on the tractors, take rides on the tractors, inspect the parts and touch them as they learn about how each functions and the many ways a tractor is used on a farm – then find as many fiction and non-fiction books featuring tractors as possible.
Reading is the most fundamental building block of all learning. Comprehension, critical thinking, analytical thinking, prediction, sequencing, and vocabulary lessons can all be created using princess and fairy story books just as easily as they can be using a grade level textbook – which the child will likely be only mildly interested in … at best.
If your child loves to build things or go fishing – use that too. Reading books and watching instructive videos on the topics, making fishing lures or plans to build something – that is learning too. Learn about the history of angler equipment and how living along waterways was an important aspect of settling the United States.
There are hundreds of ways you can create hands-on projects around any of your child’s passions that offer cross-core subject learning. Field trips, volunteer experiences, etc. can also be used to help your child explore a passion and to help him or her develop a sense of responsibility and independence.
Introduce new ideas, places, and topics to your child frequently. Take a trip to the local historical society, or stop at a historical marker or statue in your county to learn about it, visit an animal refuge, botanical garden, go to the zoo, watch a play or live music.
The new experience will attract and keep the child’s attention. Children will absorb what is going on around them and have a myriad of questions to ask about all that they see, hear, smell, and touch.
A budding musician, be he or she a preschooler that pounds on everything as if it is a drum or a teen who has been taking guitar lessons, will be enthralled when listening and watching local musicians perform.
Once an interest in a new experience is sparked or furthered, you can read, write, research, and build upon it in other ways to expand a child’s knowledge and passion in artistic, academic, and hands-on ways.
Time spent reading together will never – ever be time wasted. When a child chooses a book or the topics for reading, he or she is already excited and invested in the process.
Read under a tree, inside of a makeshift tent in the living room, before bed, and listen to audiobooks when in the car or doing chores.
Reading together can be accomplished even with young children who are not stringing letters into words or words into sentences. The child can tell you the story by deciphering what is going on in the photos and ultimately from memory when you have read a favorite book to them time and again.
I have purchased several electronic reader and book sets for my young grandchildren to use as part of the homeschool curriculum. Each child chose the topic of the set – so there are a Peppa Pig, Marvel SuperHeroes, and Disney Princess in our ever growing home library.
The little handheld “tablet” puts the child in control of the progression of the story, and the book selection.
After “reading” the books so many times with the reader, my four year old granddaughter now “reads” the princess books without the reader by retelling the story from memory, and by using the engaging illustrations on each page.
It is not uncommon to see my nearly six year old grandson using the reader like it is an audiobook to listen to a favorite superhero story while he is working on a Lego project.
A reluctant reader will rarely ever find joy in learning. Finding gripping stories of both fiction and non-fiction variety on topics the child already enjoys will bridge the gap between dragging their feet about reading to rushing to get just one more page in before going to sleep.
It matters so very little what a child is reading (with you and alone), as long as the reading occurs. It is impossible to excel at any subjects as the child ages if he or she struggles with or loathes reading.
Once the child is grabbing a book more frequently because they want to hear or read more about something they love, you can more easily and slowly introduce topics they are less passionate about or unfamiliar, and not be met with frowns and rejection.
Making sitting down to read as exciting as gathering to watch a movie. Make snacks and a special punch or milkshake to share and enjoy before the firsts page is turned.
Create a reading nook that is filled with comfortable and fun pillows and throw rubs, put a canopy over it or buy a pop up bed tent, if necessary to make a fun space just for the devouring of books and a huge bowl of popcorn.
Don’t Fear Or Reject Using Videos
Books are best, but there is a place for videos in the homeschool that has set falling in love with learning as a priority. While not a fan of screen time in general, I still use technology to grab a child’s interest, further their passions, and explore new ground.
While screen time should be limited, offering videos centered around a topic a child is passionate about, historical documentaries, and other educational or interactive videos that have the child engaged or up and movie will offer variety into the learning day to avoid any monotony that can cause boredom and frustration with “being schooled.”
Recommended Fun And Educational Video Channels To Stream
- Reading Rainbow
- Little Travelers Series
- Homeschool Pop
- Ollie Bye
- Travel Kids
- Second Thought
- What’s Inside
- Mr. Fix It DIY
- I Like To Make Stuff
- Jam Campus
- Brave The Wilderness
- Aqua Kids
- Elf Kids
- Bounce Patrol Kids
- Alpha Blocks
Puzzles encourage a child to focus intently and bring a sense of satisfaction and pride when completed.
Finding super-cheap puzzles at the Dollar Tree that coordinate with a topic being learned or a topic the child is passionate about will complement any themed unit or living book reading for the week.
Learning your letters, numbers, sequencing, animal matching, etc. type of educational puzzles for young children helps them to learn these vital building block skills in a fun and interactive way.
Puzzles also prove to be an excellent morning basket item or to use when involved in direct learning or a project with older children.
Life And Vocational Skills
Adding life skills and vocational skills to your homeschooling routine will also increase the fun level. Teaching the child how to learn a new skill or to hone an existing one in an interactive and hands-on way helps to build self-confidence, responsibility, and a sense of independence which will spill over into more traditional educational subjects.
Teaching a child how to help prepare a meal, bake, garden, preserve food, sew, carpentry, mechanics, and livestock husbandry will introduce new or improve current reading, comprehension, prediction, critical thinking, and analytical skills.
Math and science are not academic subjects that are always embraced with sheer joy by some children. When these topics are used in a meaningful and engaging way, they are more readily accepted – and sometimes even fun.
Searching for “bad bugs” in the garden, or going berry-picking and making jam involve both math and science in a joyful and even tasty manner.
These hands-on activities and projects can become the focus of reading and video time as well, tying everything in together in a theme unit style manner.
Share Your Own Passions
Allow a child to watch your passion or hobby develop – and the end result of your efforts. When a child sees a parent or grandparent learning just for the fun of it and making something or sharing something they are passionate about, the feeling can become contagious.
Every year at Christmas, my granddaughters pick out the doll they want me to make. We shop together (using a budget they need to stick to) for all of the supplies needed and help make decisions about the eye color, hair color, clothing, and accessories for the dolls.
They have learned that scrap fabric from old clothes and blankets can be turned into more sets of doll clothes. They eagerly run in my backdoor with a shirt that no longer fits or a pair of pants that are stained partially, so the fabric can be added to my stash so we can sew more dollie outfits together.
Both girls now want to learn how to use my sewing and embroidery machines, and will soon be able to make their own toys and fabric gifts with very little adult supervision – and they are only three and nearly five.
Go Outside And Get Dirty
Learning doesn’t always have to be a neat and tidy process. Dig in the dirt to discover all of its layers, build in the sank, see what sinks and what floats in your creek, build toy boats, and race them across a pond, and hike, hike, hike.
Not only will the conversations be memory making and knowledge sharing during the hike, there is no better way to have fun learning about natural and earth science than being out in it.
The sights, sounds, smells, and textures found in the woods will be intriguing and be cause for more investigation by young children to teenagers.
Give the children some explorer or scientist tools and supplies to use during the outdoor adventures, as well as when they get back home to learn more about the focus of the discovery.
Very little prep work needs to go into an outdoor adventure. If everyone suddenly needs a break from a tedious homeschooling lesson or project, just grab a sack and go hunting for nuts in the fall or gather leaves to crinkle up and glue onto a picture of a tree the children draw on construction paper.
Recommended Fun Learning Science And Exploration Tools:
- Magnifying Glass
- Bug Catching Container
- Field Guides: flowers, trees, insects
- Map making supplies
Get Crafty And Creative
- dioramas, figures, or dolls that coordinate with the period or topic being studied,
- natural playscapes for dinosaurs, farm animals etc.,
- manual tools for building projects,
- a wood burning tool,
…and other general craft items for handiwork projects and art projects created simply for the fun of it or as part of a theme unit project.
Buy or make some simple dress up costumes and accessories the children can use to act out the stories they read or when writing their own skits.
Scrap cardboard and paint can be used for set design purposes or even to make a life size diorama, or as a backdrop in an instructional or faux commercial the children make to demonstrate their knowledge on a topic.
Throw in the occasional book report in a bag instead of the traditional handwritten report. Children make or gather items from around the house to put into a bag and pull out individually as they recall the parts of the story and share what they remember about the plot, character, and setting.
Sometimes there can be moments when everyone just needs to chill and take a step back from a hectic week or have a little less togetherness. This is a great time for some fun independent reading or engaging educational video viewing.
Always make the time to listen to your children during the homeschooling day and whenever they want to talk about a subject they are passionate about. When the children are excited to share something about their Batman storybook or about the ant hill they just discovered by the barn, they are sharing their knowledge.
Make sure they realize that their knowledge is as important to you as their structured learning. When a child babbles on for 15 minutes without taking a breath when telling you about the latest episode from an educational video, their comprehension skills are shining through – that always should be encouraged to nourish the sheer joy of learning inside of them.
Tara lives on a 56 acres farm in the Appalachian Mountains, where she faces homesteading and farming challenges every single day. her homesteading skills are unmatched, she raises chickens, goats, horses, a wide variety of vegetables, not to mention she’s an expert is all sorts of homesteading skills such as hide tanning, doll making, tree tapping and many, many more.