By Guest Author Kerry Beck
Many parents pull their children from school because they want to give their kids a better education and a love of learning. How do you inspire your kids to love learning on their own? Let’s take a step back and ask a few questions.
Do your kids love learning?
Do “you” love learning?
You need to be honest as you answer those two questions. Do your kids groan when you say it’s time for school? Do they complain about school? I’ll let you in on a little secret. My kids complained about school sometimes, but now they all love learning as adults. How did that change occur?
Tip #1: Model a Love of Learning
I modeled a love of learning for my kids. They saw me day-in and day-out, reading and learning. I didn’t tell them I loved to learn — they saw it. As I did this, I was patient and trusted God for the change in my children. Let’s face it, changing attitudes takes time.
Your kids know what you like. They see what’s important to you. If you truly love learning, you will model that for your kids. After all, they learn to imitate us as we show them how to write and solve a long division problem, so it makes sense that we need to model a love of learning as well.
I’ll let you in on a secret. I was not a reader growing up, but my kids would all tell you I’m a voracious reader now.
A few weeks after we moved to Idaho so Steve could attend seminary, our son, Hunter, visited a friend for the first time. To enter his friend’s home, you walked through their dad’s office, which was basically a library. The room was octagonal-shaped with floor to ceiling bookshelves, books on the desk, books on the couch, and books on the coffee table. Books were everywhere.
Hunter walked in and said, “My mom would love this room.”
A few hours later, Steve and I picked Hunter up. I walked in that room and said, “I love this room.” Everyone started laughing, so I asked, “Why are you laughing?”
They said, “That’s exactly what Hunter said when he entered the room.”
Hunter knew I love to read. I didn’t spend time saying, “Hunter, I want you to know I love reading.” It was something I naturally showed him in my life.
You are modeling something. Are you modeling a love of learning?
Tip #2: Read Aloud with Your Kids
Another way to encourage a love of learning is with read-aloud books — because, as we know, a love of learning is tied to a love for reading (after all, we generally learn by watching someone or by reading about the subject!). After our family devotions at breakfast, reading aloud was the next most important part of our homeschooling day.
Why Did I “Start” our Day with Read-Aloud Books?
During our first year of homeschooling, I read aloud after lunch. As I began to read, you might guess what happened. I got tired and sleepy, dozing off as I read. I had to ask one of my daughters to finish reading many days.
That’s not the example I wanted to set. I didn’t want my kids to think reading puts you to sleep or is boring. I had to make a change.
The very next year, we started each morning with a read-aloud book. Although I heard complaints, such as “I won’t finish my math if we read first,” I stood firm. My kids slowly adjusted to our new schedule of starting our day with a half hour of reading aloud together.
I soon realized that whatever you do first thing in the morning is what’s most important to you. You do it first because you want to be sure you get it done and that it’s done well. How do you start your day?
On a practical note … my kids didn’t sit on the couch like perfect angels as I read. Sometimes they folded laundry. Sometimes they played with Legos. Sometimes they drew in their journals. When their hands were busy, they listened better.
How Can Read Aloud Books Encourage a Love of Learning?
- Use voices & inflection … make it enjoyable & fun!
- Don’t make your kids sit still on the couch.
- Don’t use read-aloud books to teach … ENJOY the books.
- Share your favorite parts about the book you’re reading, but don’t force your kids to do the same. Let them voluntarily share.
- Don’t stop in the middle of your read aloud time to analyze or discuss vocabulary or other literary items … just enjoy!
- Read books your children are interested in (not just your own interests!). Rotate topics if necessary.
- Don’t stop reading when your child can read independently. Keep reading through high school. We did!
- Read every day.
Two easy ways to inspire a love of learning are by reading aloud daily and by modeling your own love for learning. I will share more tips at the CHEC Conference in June. I hope you can join me for my sessions!