Lifelong learners is a term to describe someone who desires to be a student forever. They are always exploring, thinking, creating, wondering, discovering, and asking questions. Lifelong learners are usually known to be more sociable and confident with better cognitive skills. These qualities usually position them for better career opportunities.
It is the desire of parents to raise children who see learning as an activity from cradle to grave. Children who are curious to learn something about all things. However, children over time lose interest in learning especially in schools. For them, going to school can become all about the grades and accomplishments, jettisoning the primary purpose – to learn.
Children learn in different ways. While some are fast learners, others may need more time and guidance. Parents and guardians need to continue to find probable means of encouraging kids considering their individual peculiarities. The media and technology play a critical part in assisting parents in this task of raising giants.
Here are some tips on how to raise children who are lifelong learners
1. Start Early, Inspire Often
Babies and toddlers find everything fascinating: It’s often enough just to play with sand, stack blocks, and even just stare at their hands. Parents can build on this natural inclination to raise children who are lifelong learners. First, you can share their wonder at the world.
It’s important to take children to new places and encourage them to try new experiences. It helps them to relate what they’ve already learned with the unknown. Nature hikes, museums, road trips, and even your own street can have tons of opportunities to discover things and wonder at what you see.
Other than showing and sharing the excitement, parents should help kids make sense of what they experience. Watching, playing, exploring, and talking with your kid helps them connect some dots and continue a dialogue.
Using media to inspire learning
- Reading to your kids not only inspires learning and lays a foundation for literacy, but if you comment and ask questions as you read, it shows kids that reading can be an active process.
- And don’t discount kids’ favourite online pastimes, such as watching video clips on YouTube or social media as potential learning opportunities. Check out videos that examine unique concepts, such as the ones on Khan Academy, Vsauce, and SciShow. Ask kids what subjects they’re interested in, what their friends are sharing, and what’s trending to get ideas.
2. Model Learning
In addition to being open about your own wonder and curiosity, you can also be a role model for the learning process. Show them that Learning happens every day. Let your children know that learning doesn’t just happen when they are at school.
Show them that adults continue to learn by highlighting some of the new things you’re discovering. It could be cooking a new recipe, using a digital camera or mastering a new hobby.
Talking through the learning process with your child not only shows some ways learning can happen but also that it’s for grown-ups, too. This can be as simple as sharing what you’re learning from a movie or TV show. When you make mistakes, show how we can learn from them and sometimes even turn them into a “beautiful oops.”
Using media to model learning
- Find media you can use together. Seeing you learn something — for example while playing family games or trivia apps — demonstrates the process. Also, consider watching movies and TV shows that help foster curiosity.
- Show children how to use references and research apps to gain a deeper understanding of a topic.
3. Be ready for questions, don’t be so sure
Why is it important to encourage questions? It expands a child’s knowledge, keeps their mind active and shows them there’s always more than one way to look at something. Don’t be afraid to discuss questions that may not have a clear answer – “How deep is the ocean?” or “Why do some people have lots of food while others are starving?”
These are the questions that help kids form opinions, create solutions to problems and understand more about what we do know and what we have yet to learn. Too often, learning is about having the “right” answer, and adults are the keepers of knowledge. Instead of always being the expert, be an explorer with your kid and let them teach you along the way.
Even if you do have some hot wisdom to drop, try to stay open and curious about other positions or further facts about a topic. Foster problem solving and critical thinkingby going deeper, examining opposing points of view, and finding connections. Asking, “what do you think?” is always a good place to start when a kid is curious about something to find out what they already know and where they want to go next.
Using media to explore what you don’t know
- Discover different angles or viewpoints — not to condone or justify things that oppose your values — but to help kids learn to think critically about what they see and hear. Read or watch current events together and fact-check the stories to discover additional information to inform your opinions.
- Watch documentaries on various subjects such as history, animals, and space. Sharing new discoveries increases knowledge — as well as bonding.
4. Go Beyond Subjects and Skills
Sure, we want our kids to be great at math, reading, and science, but what about the so-called “soft skills” like kindness, empathy, creativity and perseverance? While they can be hard to measure, we want our kids to keep learning about how to be the best human being they can be.
Encourage creativity! Allow them to colour the sky green or draw a short giraffe. This just shows that they are using their imagination and thinking outside of the box.
Also, offer more open-ended toys such as blocks, science kits, art supplies and items for pretend play will enhance their creative skills.
Using media to foster soft skills
Role model responsible online behaviour so your children are respectful to others when they start interacting online. Digital citizenship skills as just as important as academic skills — not only for drama-free social lives but also for your children’s’ potential careers. Learn more social media basics to set your kids up for positive online experiences.
5. Keep it Real, Encourage Autonomy, Support Self-Reflection
It’s important to let kids try things, fail, and try again. Even as they get older and want to attempt things on their own, you should still let them — within reason, of course. Making choices and having some independence teaches them special lessons they can’t get anywhere else, such as resilience.
When kids are mostly told what they need to learn in school, being able to explore their own interests can be really powerful. They receive so many step-by-step directions in life that it’s important to give them opportunities and questions that will challenge their mind.
Try to let them decide which strategy they will use to solve everyday problems. Give them choices instead of directions. For example, allow your child to choose what they wear instead of laying out their clothes.
Using media to encourage kids to learn on their own
- Let’s say your teen is on Instagram marvelling at Rihanna’s new makeup line. Ask what sets it apart, how it’s being marketed, and why Rihanna might be taking time to do it in the first place. Maybe you can tap into your teen’s interests and turn them into a discussion about branding and being an entrepreneur.
- Have a nightly challenge where everyone has to share one fascinating fact they learned that day at dinner. Twitter is a gold mine of facts. Encourage them to collect and learn about it!
! Nurture their curiosity no matter what age, allow them to explore, ask questions, read and test out theories. Get them books that help them explore their interests and the world further. The more you do this as parents, you can be sure to raise lifelong learners.