Sometimes we forget how much our kids observe and copy us. Perhaps they might not always listen when we tell them how to behave, but they imitate what we do, and absorb many of our attitudes. Because of this, when we're making resolutions for 2015, I want to suggest we consciously share our own learning with our kids.
How to go about this? Showing our children we are fellow learners is a start. That means thinking aloud when we want to find answers, and mulling out loud over how we might do that. Remote car key not working? Discuss with kids what we can do about that. Google the problem with your kids in case someone has a battery changing tutorial online. Show them how we use a phone book to search for help. Ask them what they think, and go with their suggestion to phone Grandpa for his advice, perhaps. If you're enrolling in a course of some kind, talk with your kids about it and share how it will impact family life. Fellow learners not only work together, they listen to and respect each other's opinions.
If our children witness our own enthusiasm for learning, it's likely they will become keen learners themselves. Maybe not in the same subject as Mom or Dad, but it's the attitude we want to transmit. Most of us spend lots of time learning, even if we're not studying for a qualification. Yet how often do we remember to make sure our children see us learning and hear that enthusiasm in our voices?
It's also important to share our mistakes and be realistic about the time and effort real learning can take. We want our kids not to give up at the first hurdle, but to persevere with their own learning, the way we do. Again, this is about making sure we let our children know what's going on with us. We need to demonstrate that while it feels lousy to fall down, we simply dust ourselves off and get back on that learning wagon.
When our kids find something they want to do associated with learning, it's important to be supportive but not take over the learning. Support might be showing children initially how to use the library, and helping them travel there, but allowing them to work out their own research plan if that's appropriate to their ages. Support might be being a partner in ball catching practice, but not demanding ball practice takes place. Support might mean putting kids in touch with useful mentors and resources and then standing back.
I believe these suggestions apply not just to parents, but to teachers and other adults. We all need to be aware of what we share with kids, and consciously pass on positive attitudes and self talk. Schooling and education in general has become pressure-packed, with an emphasis on numerical test scores rather than on children's abilities, so it helps if our children are resilient, keen and self-motivated learners. We want them to realize that mistakes are simply part of the learning process, and that in fact mistakes help us learn. We want them to love to read and to learn. We want them to understand that being a life-long learner is one of the most truly satisfying and exciting things for us all.
Did you make any resolutions for New Year involving your kids? How do you share learning with the children in your life? Let us know on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.