As adults, we can inspire and encourage a love of learning in our children, but we can't really teach it. We can do far more good by creating an environment of support — both at home and at school — in which children can develop their own ideas, express feelings, take chances, make choices, share their opinions, and most of all, grow to be strong individuals.
A Lifelong Process
Very early in life children begin exploring the world with their bodies, senses, and developing skills. They intuitively know how to take the smallest observation, object, or surprise and turn it into a meaningful experience. Best of all, they are curious! Kids want to find out the "who, what, where, when, how, and why" of everything around them. As parents, we serve our children well by encouraging their inquisitive natures, because curiosity is the primary motivating factor for seeking knowledge.
It All Begins at Home
Creating a home climate that invites investigation, creative thinking, and collaboration lays the foundation for quality learning experiences. When you provide plenty of time and space for open-ended play every day, you create opportunities for your child to really feel the joy of learning. But it's important to remember that fostering a love of learning is not just about the materials or activities you provide, but rather your own responsive, inquisitive attitude toward learning.
One of the easiest ways to deepen your child's thinking is to have meaningful conversations about his activities. When you ask great questions and invite discussion, you help him construct his own learning. In other words, it's not just what your child plays; it's what you and he say, think, and feel about the play.
What Teachers Want You to Know
All teachers have their own unique approach to teaching, but all of them want the children they teach to come to school happy, healthy, and ready to learn. Children need to have their basic needs met before they can even begin to think about learning. That means good nutrition (particularly a healthy breakfast and snack), plenty of exercise (some time at the park after school), and lots of love (make time for hugs and conversations)!
How to Support What Your Child Learns in School
One of the first things you can do to support your child's learning at home is to communicate with your child's teacher to find out what's going on in the classroom. What is being studied? What stories are being shared? What are your child's favorite activities in class? Then give him the space and time to explore and play. If you strictly control how your child spends his time, you limit his chances to make decisions and experiment with new materials and ideas.
By knowing what interests your child and how he learns best, you will be able to help him build skills in the context of his strengths. For example, rather than ask your child to "work on his letters" when he would rather be playing with his cars, invite him to draw pictures, make signs for his car and roads, license plates, car names, or anything that involves letters, words, and cars!