“Child is the father of man”, poet William Wordsworth wrote. A love of learning in early childhood helps develop habits that can mean a lifetime of success. That’s strong motivation for parents and teachers as they work to foster a love of learning in their charges. But don’t work too hard at it, because a sense of fun is key.
From infancy, a child is interested in the senses, sight, touch, taste and sound, and parents can help develop these senses by exposing him to a variety of sensations, and then observing what they are most excited by.
Read Early and Often
Reading to children from infancy helps foster a love of learning, but the American Academy of Pediatrics also says it stimulates brain development and builds other skills, including language and social growth. Don’t be afraid to read a child’s favorite over and over. The repetition is comforting and fosters parent-child closeness. Take preschoolers to the library for story time for an activity that’s part bookish, part play date. If your child sees you reading, they will aspire to the same. Make it a family habit.
Let Your Child Be an Explorer
Small children learn best through play, so keep activities on hand. Stash dress-up baskets; paper, paints, and crayons; puzzles and games; and musical toys so they’re ready for them to explore. Take time to play with your child, to follow their interests, and see what makes them tick.
Make Learning a Game
Whether you want to work on math or explore science concepts, children will get involved when you make it fun and interactive. A study from 2007 indicated that early math skills contributed not just to mathematical ability but also to reading skills. Visit museums, venture outdoors, and look closely at the surroundings. Use everyday activities such as grocery shopping and cooking to reinforce math skills. Having a mathematical background or business management degree can help with reinforcing these skills in yourself, but make it fun as well. Even pointing to things around the house can develop ABC skills. Make it more fun by setting it to music. Sing children’s songs and bang on instruments.
Learn Together; Set Goals
While many children’s TV shows are enjoyable, limiting television is crucial, because it allows time for learning, exploring, and developing social skills. Another time-honored supposition is backed by research: Parents who set expectations about going to college will see expectations met. Make realistic goals that can be met easily and watch how motivated your kids get by this.
So, to help your child foster a love of learning, get involved and explore the world with them. And be the model: Read, explore, and have fun learning together.