Being a good student and a good learner are two notions that are not necessarily connected. Roughly speaking, the difference is that the student acquires the information for the purpose of getting a good grade without organically adopting it into a larger “body of knowledge” within their brain. Good learners are good at creating natural cobwebs of knowledge; they build their mountains of information solidly and organically without holes, missing cornerstones or porous slopes. The best of both worlds is exactly that – to have a child that is both a good student and a good learner. However, in order to achieve that, you should know it is not about what they learn but how they do it, and with that in mind, here are the 7 best approaches to long-term learning motivation.
1. Don’t answer, start a conversation
Communicating with children is usually one-sided – they hit you with a barrage of questions and you answer as plainly and succinctly as possible. However, in order to assist them in developing good learning strategies, you should avoid plainly answering and start conversations whenever it is possible. For example, if they are particularly interested in something, you can fire back with your own question: “Why are you so interested in that?” If the child answers with “I don’t know,” try to encourage them to think about it and ask more questions. This way, your child will learn to recognize the value of things and learn how to think.
2. Encourage interests
If your child shows a true proclivity for a certain skill or interest in a certain topic, you should definitely encourage them to pursue it. Try to keep your own wishes and hopes out of the equation and accept whatever ‘fires up’ your child and helps their further cognitive development. This is a guaranteed strategy for developing learning motivation.
3. Be enthusiastic
When it comes to encouraging learning, there is hardly a better approach than showing genuine enthusiasm for a certain topic. If your interests overlap with the interests of your child in any way, you should definitely use this window of opportunity to share your unadulterated enthusiasm about the topics you have knowledge about. This is bound to ‘infect’ your children with interest. Just be careful not to oversell it, because it can also have the opposite effect.
4. Start early, encourage consistently
The latest scientific research is opening new and exciting windows into the minds of children, and what most parents can see will change the way they approach encouragement forever. First of all, it has become a widely accepted fact that children actively begin to learn as soon as they are born. About two months after they are introduced to the environment, the influx of information and impressions can determine the way their brain develops drastically. This is why it is important to encourage your children’s learning processes from early on. You can seek help from an early learning centre in Sydney that begins to work with kids as soon as they are 6 weeks old and offers incredible controlled environments.
The world is complicated and there are countless ways to tackle a variety of skills and topics. Therefore, you should always be on the lookout for the most practical way to engage your child in learning about certain things. Don’t box your child into a singular, dominant learning style. Mix it up and encourage your child if they find their own, practical and shorter way to solve something. With that in mind, the following approach is just as important…
6. Promote initiative in children
Too much control can turn your children into good students, but they will probably become bad learners. The last thing you need is a child that acquires information mechanically and with the wrong motivation – to satisfy parents and teachers. If your children have already shown interest and now manifest a desire, the initiative to pursue the interest, you should absolutely not stand in their way. In fact, this is a moment when you should even bend some rules and restrictions that might stand in your child’s way, as elegantly as you can, of course. Teach your children that it’s ok to take initiative.
7. Reading is crucial
The most important approach is saved for last – encourage reading. It is a simple and open-ended strategy that has the greatest impact. Develop an atmosphere for reading in your home, teach your children to read about a variety of topics and reward them for reading voraciously. They will develop a rich vocabulary and keep their neuroplasticity flexible. A research paper in 1993 has shown that reading invests more mental effort than watching, which indicates that the process of reading is crucial for cerebral development and retention of inferential knowledge.
Learning is a complicated process; if it weren’t, people who are solidly educated wouldn’t be of such high value to the world. In order to tackle any complicated process, the most important thing is to devise a strategy – or a set of strategies – which can encourage your child to adopt quality learning techniques and turn solid learning into a habit. Knowledge is like an intricate carpet – the weaving process has to be consistent and done with the best set of needles, the thread needs to be flexible and the motifs need to be consistent. If, at any point, a hole in the weaving appears, make no mistake – it will begin to spread and cause terrible lapses in knowledge which can impede the future learning processes.