You can’t insert knowledge into a child’s head like you would insert a USB stick into a computer. When a child learns, he or she performs a concrete action that no one else can do for him or her: adding new knowledge to what he or she already knows. This action, which requires effort and time, is unique to each child and can be repeated over and over again.
Also, research has shown that children’s involvement in the learning process increases their attention and concentration, helps them develop critical thinking skills and gives more meaning to their learning.
But how can we make learning something enjoyable in which children are involved and flourish?
The first important point is to favor a living and non-directed learning. This is certainly the most effective and enjoyable way to learn. When a child moves, manipulates and experiments, he or she learns better. It is important for children to be free to move and free to play as much as they want. They also need to spend a lot of time outdoors, close to nature, where they can observe and experiment like nowhere else. This will arouse their interest and cultivate their imagination.
Integrating movement, interaction and tactile experiences into learning as much as possible is truly beneficial. Manipulation, for example, is very useful in learning math.
The role of the parent is to accompany the child on his or her own path, to enrich it by providing tools, content, diversity and fantasy. Knowing how to propose practical and interesting experiences will make learning an adventure.
Children need help in exploring their interests and expressing their passions. One of the best ways to foster curiosity, a desire to discover and learn, is to encourage children to explore topics that interest them.
It has been shown that learning is much more effective when children choose the subjects that interest them, something that we have incorporated into our family through homeschooling over the years. It is therefore important to be interested in what children are doing, reading or playing at. It is important to talk with them about what they are passionate about, and to offer them a multitude of experiences, such as going to museums, libraries and theaters, or traveling and hiking in nature with them.
Remember that learning should be fun. Even the most arcane subjects can be approached in a fun way, through songs, games or creative activities.
In our home we usually integrate art projects into the study of any subject, anything goes : video, music, creative writing… Creating a song about the solar system or making a short film about dinosaurs … our children are never short of ideas!
And most importantly, don’t forget to laugh! Sometimes, making a joke or telling an anecdote related to the subject being studied is enough to make the experience much more fun. The more interested and amused children are in the subject, the better they learn.
Don’t forget to lead by example. It is important to lead your child by enthusiastically exploring your own interests and passions.
As a father I share my own learnings and passions with my children, I show them my enthusiasm, I tell them about my milestones, my progress, how I apply what I learn in everyday life.
As a teacher, it is important for me to show passion and enthusiasm for the subject I am teaching. When I am not enthusiastic, my students are not either.
Sharing your enthusiasm for discovery and learning helps to instill that same enthusiasm in a child.
Try to understand how children learn. Each child learns in his or her own way, and this way is the most effective for him or her. To date, three main learning systems have been defined: visual, auditory and kinesthetic.
A visual child processes information better when it is presented in writing or in pictures. They are often very observant, have an excellent memory and enjoy art.
An auditory child prefers to hear information. They are good listeners, follow instructions and often have verbal and/or musical skills.
A kinesthetic child is physical and often excels in sports or dance. They learn best through movement and touch.
Many children have abilities in all three areas, but one is probably more advanced. If you can determine a child’s strength, then you can help him learn in the way that is most comfortable and enjoyable for him.
Always answer the questions that children ask you. When your child shows curiosity by asking a question, do your best to answer it. Even if it has nothing to do with the subject of study at the time, it is a sign of curiosity and the beginning of a new learning process that should be encouraged. And if you don’t know the answer, don’t panic, on the contrary, looking for an answer together will be a beneficial experience.
By paying attention to the questions your child asks, you will also discover his or her interests, which you can then incorporate into future conversations or lessons.
Never stop encouraging a child. One reason many children lose interest in learning is that they begin to associate learning with anxiety and pressure. They fear getting a bad grade, answering a question incorrectly, or failing a test. And when learning is focused solely on results, it’s neither fun nor effective. ( Read the article: Under Pressure )
The role of the adult is to encourage the child in his or her learning, to value his or her failures as milestones on the road to knowledge, to congratulate his or her perseverance and efforts. It is important not to distill the fear of failure in a child and not to equate difficulty or failure with a lack of intelligence, which is not only false, but also very harmful for the development of a child. A child who is faced with a new difficulty without being afraid of failure will more easily draw on his own creativity and resources to develop a strategy and try to find a solution.
We learn to satisfy our curiosity, and learning should neither become a pain nor an obligation. We learn naturally throughout our lives and the most important thing is to stay curious, because it is what allows us to go further.
Ninon & Thomas.