We all want our children to be successful and great when they grow up. We devote endless resources both monetary and non-monetary (like our time, effort) to make sure our children get the best, so they can be the best. And yet, we see some children who are brighter and smarter and we wonder what is it that we are not doing? Sometimes, this self introspection leads to welcome changes but most of the times it ends up putting more pressure on the child as well as the parents. So, what does it take raise a child who is a Learner. I say learner and not a genius for two reasons. First, all children are born genius. You cannot make genius a genius, right? Secondly, intelligence is vector not scalar. What that means is that your child might be great with numbers but flounders with language. I won’t list examples from this genre…we all know those great men who changed our world. They were are all vector.
Coming back to our question, raising a child who loves to learn is not easy. We need to un-school ourselves for that. So if you are ready for that, here are a few sure short ways to raise a learner:
Answer their Questions: Children are capable of asking 200 questions a day. Some of them you may find irrational, but not from their point of view. Things we adults take as facts are not really facts for them. For children, they are great mysteries. Why is sky blue? Why bananas don’t have seeds? What are the whites of the eyes called? These are few examples of the questions young children ask and you should be answering with the best of your ability. When you answer their questions, they gain self-confidence and receive encouragement to ask more, question more. That is the foundation of learning.
Encourage Curiosity: Curiosity is the seed to excellence. And the best part is all children are immensely curious. Seize learning moments during play to encourage this curiosity. Like if your child like playdough, ask him why he thinks playdough can be manipulated so easily? Why can’t we do that with cotton though it is also soft? And while you question them, wait for them to find their own answers. Truly learning takes place when we try to seek and find answers on our own. Even if we land on wrong conclusions, the process is itself is very enriching.
Do not over-help: Children get frustrated easily and the job a good parent is to guide the child and not to solve things for her. When your child is frustrated and ready to give up, join your child in the task to just help her figure out another way. For example, if your child is playing with block and want to make a tall tower but is getting frustrated as the blocks keep falling, encourage her to try arranging the blocks (at the base) in some other way. The idea is to help them experiment and analyze. Once, the base is wider it is easier to build a tall tower of blocks. Something we all know and is the basic architecture of all tall buildings.
Read a Lot: Reading opens up the world for children and adults alike. Grab titles which interests your child and not you. Be it cars or dinosaurs, your child gets to pick his area of interest. Once you have got them into reading habit, introduce fictional as well as non-fictional titles. Fictional titles help spark their imagination while the latter add knowledge to their database.
Invest on experiences not toys: Instead of buying toys for every occasion, plan trips with children. Take them to Museums, Planetariums, Libraries, Zoo or even a barbeque. All these are enriching experiences which teach a lot and open doors of their mind.
Incorporate Free and Imaginative Play: Free and imaginative play encourages children to experiment with what they have learned. Its during play they test their newly acquired knowledge. Allow them to come up with their own rules as long as they are justified. Don’t invest in props and rather encourage your child to make props from the stuff he already owns. This will help him think creatively and find out of the box solutions.
These are few simple ways to raise a lifelong learner. They have helped us immensely though I must admit it gets tiring for me to answer my child’s questions all the time. But that’s a small price I am willing to pay.