5 ways to develop YOUR CHILD’s love of learning

“If we succeed in giving the love of learning, the learning itself is sure to follow.” – John Lubbock

Humans are born with an innate curiosity. A desire to explore and learn is built into all of us but for children who experience challenges and adversity in their education, this craving to gain knowledge often wins. With the learning difficulties that dyslexia can bring, dyslexic children often lose interest in learning

However, you are able to reignite your child’s interest and enjoyment in learning using the following tips:

1. Make sure they understand that they are capable of learning anything.

First, watch this youtube video From Khan Academy with your child and use it as a way of opening the conversation up on the experience of learning.

2. Explore your child’s interests

Research has confirmed that learning is enriched when children are encouraged to their own interests to pursue.  So talk to your child about what he is doing, reading, watching, and learning.

Expose them to a variety experiences like museums, theatrical performances, zoos, etc. you don’t go into debt doing this, many of which are free to access and explore books on a variety of topics from the local library. All of these activities can help you find and spark your child’s interests.

When your child demonstrates curiosity by asking a question, do your best to answer it.  If you don’t know the answer to a question, finding out together what the answer is can be a fun and memorable experience.  Don’t just ask Siri/Alexia/Google for the answer, have a look in a book, research online (teaching your child how to do so safely and sensibly) or better yet, if the answer can be established in a practical way then do so and help your child find out with you.

But don’t just settle with finding out the answer, expand the conversation by asking open-ended questions such as, “Why,” “How,” or, “What would happen if….?” These questions can move children to higher levels of critical thinking and problem-solving.

Coloured pencils

3. Find out how they learn

All learning happens through the senses and different people have a preference for absorbing information from one sense over the others, this is referred to their learning style. Educators and psychologists have identified three main learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic.

For instance

  • Visual learners like to see information presented in writing or in images. They tend to be observant, remember things they have seen well and often enjoy visual art.
  • Auditory learners prefer to hear information. They listen well, follow directions, and often have linguistic strengths and/or particular fondness for music.
  • Kinaesthetic learners approach their learning in a physical way, often doing well at activities like sports or dance. They like to get ‘stuck in’ and explore concepts using movement and touch.

Most children learn using all three of these areas, but one is likely to be more dominant than the others. If you can find your child’s preference, you can help them learn in the way that they enjoy the most.

4. Make it multi-sensory and fun

Numerous studies have found that when you offer a hands-on learning experience far more of the information is absorbed and remembered.

As described above, information comes into the brain through the senses:

  • Auditory – through the sense of hearing
  • Visual – through the sense of sight
  • Tactile – through the sense of touch
  • Kinesthetic – through body movement

Even if your child has their own particular learning style, or dominant sense, do not discount the important role the other senses play in their learning.  Helping your child learn using all their senses will engage their minds more fully irrespective of their preferred learning style.

Not only does this approach help children focus on and process information, but it’s also a more enjoyable way to learn and it sparks their imagination than treading through textbooks or copying notes from a whiteboard.

There are many ways to help your child take a more physical approach to their learning and I will be blogging about this more in the coming weeks but here just as a few examples,

  • If you’re teaching basic addition, you can use things like raisins, buttons or marbles,
  • Use instruments to explore sound waves and pitch
  • Write words on ball-pool-balls or ping-pong balls and saying the letters/phonemes as they throw them at a target or another person.
  • Write a poem or song about the photosynthesis or trigonometry, or
  • Write a story from the perspective of a caterpillar as he transforms into a butterfly.
  • Build a model of the solar system out of rubbish and recycling items and use torches to show how the sun shines on each planet for different lengths of time depending on its speed of rotation.

Make sure they have frequent “brain breaks”, The dyslexic mind has to work over time to focus when learning new things. Having short, silly activities that disrupt a long or difficult learning session will enable them to return to the task re-energised and focused.

Paper people on a book

5. Be supportive of the learning process

One significant factor that prevents many children enjoying learning is that they begin to associate it with anxiety and pressure.  When the outcomes are given more emphasis than the process of it is no longer fun.

It’s important that we help children understand that success comes from persistence, practise, hard work, failure and recovering from failure and is NOT the result of innate abilities like “intelligence.”  Those who associate struggle or failure with a lack of intelligence and innate ability are likely to give up when things get hard. Conversely, children who see challenges as opportunities for learning are more likely to persist and keep working until they find a solution. 

Make sure you are supportive when your child struggles or fails and have reasonable expectations. Encourage them to learn from these experiences, and reduce any pressure on them to obtain high grades.

Show your child your own love of learning by enthusiastically exploring what interests you. You could read books or watch videos together to learn more about it.  Simply by demonstrating your own enthusiasm for learning will help to inspire a similar appetite in your child.

When your child understands that learning is not about achievement or perfection but simply an enjoyable process, they’ll be able to relax and appreciate the fun and pleasure of just learning.

Author: Zoë Brown

I am a dyslexia specialist, qualified in assessing dyslexia and literacy related difficulties as well as tutoring dyslexic children and those who need additional literacy support. Having been diagnosed as dyslexic at an early age, I have a personal understanding of both the challenges and advantages that dyslexia brings. I feel strongly that when given the right support and positive encouragement, dyslexic people of all ages can excel in confidence and academic attainment.

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