Thursday, January 10, 2013

Learning to Love Learning

You can read articles all day about how to teach a subject, what worksheets to use, what hands on activities to include, etc., but what every parent really wants to know is how do we teach our kids to enjoy learning? One thing I try to do is make sure that Gess has plenty of opportunities to succeed in whatever it is she is trying to learn.

I think that idea really hit me when I went to a homeschool convention and listened to a speaker discuss it.  (I am sorry I can not remember his name.)  When talking about teaching reading he said that the problem with typical education is that it teaches children to read but fails to teach them to learn to love to read.  Teaching reading should go from learning to read to reading to learn however somewhere in between we need to teach them to learn to love reading so they will want to read to learn.  How then do we do that?

One idea that he suggested I put into practice and still utilize today.  It is our reading center.

While we no longer label it and the bean bag chair has pretty much lost its fluff, we still have that basket full of books that are below my daughter's reading level.  Why below her reading level?  Because if you want a child to enjoy something it is important that they are able to enjoy doing it successfully. You have to give them opportunities to succeed.  No person, a child or adult, is going to want to relax by reading something that is beyond or just at their ability and understanding.  No, when it's time to unwind we read a novel, magazine, or blog articles rather than a college text book.  It's the same for a child.  Do not expect them to grab a book for fun if they know they are going to struggle reading it.  Always keep easy books for them to read on hand. Of course as Gess' reading ability has grown so has the book selection in the basket but there are no books in it that are on or above her actual ability to read.  She tends to spend lots of time reading from it so there must be something to it.

Now, keeping that thought in mind we can apply it to just about any other subject.  If you want to child to enjoy learning you have to give them opportunities to do it successfully.  Gess really struggles with math and gets very discouraged if she can not do a problem correctly.  Because of this I have decided to let her use manipulatives when necessary.  We also always do some new work as well as some review.  We basically have a two sided worksheet.  On the first side she tries not to use helps but on the other side she free to use them.  Sometimes she uses manipulatives and sometimes I let her use the calculator (which is an important skill for her to learn as well).

I also make sure to have some problems that are a review of skills she has already mastered.  She is much happier doing math now and really enjoys when she gets the problems correct.  She doesn't mind struggling some, as long as it not all the time.

I think about it this concept in my own life as well.  Take cooking for example.  I get so frustrated when I mess up a difficult recipe that there is no way I would make myself try one after the other after the other.  I first allow myself to have some success with easier recipes before trying my hand at that "disaster" again!   This can apply to anything in life, to any person, at any age.

If you are finding your child hates learning a particular subject, go back all the way to where they were able to master it successfully.  Let them have fun getting everything right for awhile.  Then move forward, more slowly this time, and always find time to let them use those skills successfully throughout the day.  When they experience the success over and over again, they will soon fall in love with that feeling and before you know it, your child will love learning!

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