Truth be told, children do not think learning is fun. Those who enjoy learning don’t call it that; to them it is exploring or discovering. Call it learning, and watch them lose interest at the drop of a hat. Then you will struggle to keep them focused while you teach and show and their minds start to explore someplace else, far away!
Nobody likes to feel lectured—neither child nor adult. Of course there are times when it is necessary to have serious conversations with children. But daily learning can be, and should be, fun. Studies continue to show that things learned through activities children consider fun actually stay put. Things memorized for the sake of acing the next pop quiz tend to be forgotten as soon as the quiz is over! Children remember what they learn from experiences they consider enjoyable.
So, to make learning fun, call it something else and do it together! Some of the answers are obvious—reading to your children, educational TV, lesson-themed video games—but let’s factor out some of the technology that is simultaneously ruining and bettering our young people, and look at some other ways to make learning fun.
Set the Example
You have probably noticed that your children like to mimic you. You might have learned this the hard way when your little pride and joy made an obscene gesture at the neighbor, complimented by an expletive we usually only hear at rush hour.
“Mimicry is flattery,” they say. Start instilling the want to learn by being seen learning yourself. Give your child the chance to see you reading a book, playing an instrument or paying attention in class.
Lessons converted to games are a sneaky, effective way to coax children into learning! Make the object of the game a lesson undercover. Let the children be astronauts, explorers or pirates—Let them wear whatever hat they want—if it encourages them to take on the mission and learn along the way.
Get Brothers and Sisters Involved
You want to please your kids, and they want to please you. Siblings each want to be the one you love more! (In their hearts they know you love them equally wholeheartedly, though, right?) Encourage friendly competitions between them, asking questions like, “Who can find the right answer first?” (This is a handy tactic to use when your kids have friends over who want to make a good impression.)
Life is a constant system of cause and effect…of action and consequence. Children, like adults, need acknowledgment for their achievements. It is good practice to reward a good report card with a child’s favorite activity or excursion. It is OK to acknowledge successful milestone learning and create incentives for successive accomplishments. But be ever-conscious of the difference between rewarding and bribery. Rewarding children is healthy, but bribing them is not.
Learning is a constant process that should never cease for anyone—adults included. By helping children develop a wealth of knowledge, and teaching them how to continue learning processes independently, you are preparing them for the future in the best possible way.