The brain is rapidly developing in the teenage years.
We all want our kids to enjoy learning and to make the most of their education. We place value in ensuring they work hard, study for their tests do their homework to the best of their abilities and appreciate the educational opportunities they’ve been giving. A good education truly is a gift.
This sense of curiosity might be even more important than parents realize. Research has shown that curiosity impacts performance as much as hard work. When you’re curious about a subject and study up on it, you tend to retain that information for longer periods. It’s also associated with positive behaviours such as tolerance for uncertainty, humour and out-of-the-box thinking.
These are all skills associated with happiness, resilience, creativity and intellectual growth.
So how do we foster that sense of lifelong learning in kids? How do we ensure they grow up with a sense of curiosity that will motivate them to want to learn and explore throughout their entire lives? Here are a few tips:
Encourage your children to ask questions. If your child asks a question, don’t brush them off with a simple answer such as “I don’t know.” Don’t simply say “good question.” Go the extra step further and help them find the answer to the question they have asked.
Maybe it’s a matter of going to the library and finding a book that explains the topic. Maybe you can go online together and read the literature. Take them to a museum or help them interview someone who has the answer.
There are so many methods of learning and ways to find answers. What is your child’s preferred method? Maybe they are more hands-on. Maybe they enjoy learning by opening a book. Let them know how much you value their curiosity and reward them by helping them discover the answer. They will enjoy the journey and not hesitate to approach you the next time they are curious.
Talk to your child’s teacher. When you communicate with your son or daughter’s teacher either casually or during more formal parent-teacher interviews, ask if they have noticed whether there is anything in particular your child is curious about. What is their favourite subject? What style of learner are they? Do they seem particularly curious about anything? If not, perhaps they have suggestions for how you can stimulate a sense of wonder. Your teacher will know things about your child that you might not have noticed and their experience in the education field will give them valuable insight into your particular child.
Let your child’s teacher know how committed you are to being involved and in fostering an appreciation for lifelong learning in your child. You are a team dedicated to furthering your child’s education and you share the same goals. Don’t hesitate to speak openly to your child’s teachers about this topic.
Encourage your teen to do their homework well. If you step in and help your child right away, they might not have the opportunity to assess whether they understand the work. By helping, you deny giving them a chance to see how resourceful they are. You will also give them the chance to realize what questions their homework will spark. They might even discover they don’t understand the homework at all. You’ll want to make yourself available, of course, to answer questions or suggest ways in which they might find the answers.
If you’re stuck on how to facilitate the process, here are a few suggestions:
- If your child doesn’t understand what is being asked of them when you’re helping them with an assignment, you might want to read the question together and say, “What do you think the question is asking?”
- If they don’t understand what they are supposed to do as they work on their homework, try asking them if they have any ideas for how to solve the problem.
- If your child is unsure of the assignment, suggest calling a friend or reviewing their notes from class. Follow up the next day and make sure they understand or asked for help from the teacher.
Ensure learning happens outside the classroom, too. As much as we prioritize in-class learning, there is so much to be discovered outside of the class as well. The best way to foster additional opportunities is to encourage your child to participate in extra-curricular activities. Perhaps they like sports, music or want to learn a language. Sign them up for a class at the local community centre or in the neighbourhood. If they discover they aren’t interested in that particular activity, try another. Don’t give up. Extra-curricular activities are a great way to make friends, expand their skills, get exercise and figure out what they are interested in and what they aren’t.
Stimulating that sense of curiosity is very important and there are so many ways in which you can help build this sense of wonder in your child. Once you light that spark, there will be no stopping your child in their quest for lifelong learning.