It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a young child is a lot more excited to go to school than teenagers are to go to high school or a young adult to college. It is commonly observed that young children ask a whole lot of questions, yet as they grow they cease doing that. Somehow, in the growth journey, most kids just inevitably lose interest in learning.
How then, do we keep children interested in learning not just while they are young but for as long as they can learn?
To effectively understand methods to keep children interested in learning, we must first understand why they lose interest in it in the first place.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a reason why children lose interest in learning? They get bored by it. It becomes a routine, a task. They feel like they have to tediously grit their teeth through education day after day for many years. At the beginning they are excited because it is something new. But as the experience of having to wake up early and prepare to spend most of your day in school doing tasks for five days a week goes on for years, children just can’t help but get tired of it.
To remedy that, parents should make learning fun for their children. And how to keep your child interested in learning? There are a number of ways to make learning fun.
Make Learning Fun 101
1.) Reward their efforts
Children should, at a young age, learn that hard work and patience pay off. They should learn that the efforts they put into learning will reap rewards in the future. They must learn from experience that learning is worth all the work they can put into it, and it will motivate them to work harder. Sure, while they are young, they can only grasp the idea of small rewards such as a compliment or toys, but as they grow up, you should adjust to teaching them that there are far greater rewards in learning. Things like mental growth, sense of accomplishment and eventually, a bright future.
It must be explained to them that these rewards are fruits of their labors and are not mere incentives. Children should know that learning in and of itself is already a reward, a privilege not all children get to experience.
2.) Balance play and learning
As a child, there were times that I just couldn’t wait for the time to run faster so I can finally get out of the torture house and proclaim myself a free man-child. But as playtime just can’t happen soon enough for me. Time seems to crawl painstakingly slow that I grew to resent having to study.
That should not be what children are experiencing. Children should find joy in learning. Their play and learning activities should be balanced. In fact, learning should become as fun as play and play as fun as learning. There must be an exquisite integration between the two.
Incorporate toys, music and fun activities with other children in their learning. One of my favorite teachers in college made his classes more fun by incorporating games into the lessons. This not only helped the students love the class more, but also helped cement the lessons into their minds.
3.) Keep raising the bar
Familiarity breeds contempt. When the standard of learning remains the same for a long time, the child won’t be able to help it but get bored with it. There should be some dynamics, some unpredictable and exciting changes. Think of more ways to make learning more efficient, by analyzing what your child is interested in and integrating it with their studies. Raise the bar, even in rewarding them. It doesn’t have to be expensive rewards. It could be just sincere compliments (specially with young children) or a special dinner specifically made for their good effort.
When everything becomes familiar, the means become the end. The means is learning, and the end is becoming educated, a good member of society. But when children lose sight of what the end is because all they see are the repetitive methods of learning, they will lose interest in it because they won’t see the point in doing the same thing over and over again.
4.) Be deeply involved
This is the crux of the matter. This is the entirety of everything discussed. When the children see that their education is not important enough for their parents or guardians to care for it, then they will think that education is truly not important.
Children imitate and are deeply influenced by their parents’ actions and feelings. If the parents show great interest in their child’s education, the child will also pay much attention to it.
Children also have a great desire to please their parents. By showing appreciation in their efforts (by rewards, as already discussed), children will soon learn that studying hard and learning makes their parents happy, which is already a reward for them.
It should be shown to children that parents care about their education. Be there when they need help. In their homework or projects. Ask them if they need clarification in any subject then clear matters up by explaining to them what they don’t understand. Explain to them in terms that they understand, by using ideas or analogies that they are interested in.
Encourage them, but never force them or overwork them. That will only result in resentment. They should be taught with love and care. Keeping your child interested in learning is, in a nutshell, being a good parent.
When children say they get bored in school or in learning, they might be under-challenged, under-skilled, under-motivated or under-connected with children their age. But if the parents incorporate rewards, children will be motivated and will learn that education plays an important role in their lives both in the present and in the future. Play and fun activities will ensure that they will be socially capable and have a network of peers with whom they can interact. Raising the bar for them eliminates the problem of them being under-challenged. And being a loving parent who helps them and teaches them will lessen the risk of the children being under-skilled.