Igniting Your Child’s Passion for Lifelong Learning

igniting-your-childs-passion

Have you ever sat back and watched young children at play? Notice how they take something apart to see how it works, or use make-believe to act out a story. Children have such incredible imaginations and a natural passion to discover the world around them. Compare this excitement for discovery to what you see in most adults; that joy and passion seem to fade and are replaced with cynicism. At what point do we lose the excitement and enthusiasm for God’s creation? When do the miracles that we see in everyday life become commonplace?

We know how important it is to continually grow and be lifelong learners. But how do we lay this foundation in our young children? As an educator and a mom, I ask God daily to use me to motivate and inspire children to reach for their highest dreams.  As parents, we have the privilege and the opportunity to instill and spark an enthusiasm for learning that can last throughout our children’s lives.

Where Do We Start?

Step 1: Identify what your child is passionate about.

Listen carefully when your child shares his or her passions and dreams. When children dream they are not confined by “reasonable” boundaries; anything they can imagine is within their grasp. Too many adults have dreams and visions unrealized because they were told, “That can never happen.” Too many adults are in unfulfilling careers because they do not align with God’s plan and purpose for their lives.

When you see the natural excitement in your child focusing in a certain direction, fuel that vision with genuine interest and support. These passions and interests will motivate and inspire your child to continually learn about the world around them. Ask God to reveal to you what special giftings your child has. Then pray for wisdom and direction in how to support your child. Jeremiah 29:11 says: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (NIV). Encourage your child to dream big because God placed those passions in your child for His greater purpose. There is no telling what He has in store for them!

Step 2: Determine how your child learns.

Each one of us has a specific way of processing information, making sense of it, and making connections. For this reason, many teachers like to incorporate theories such as Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences in the classroom to capitalize on their students’ individual strengths. Gardner suggests that there is not one specific way that intelligence can be measured in an individual, but that capacity for intelligence will look different from person to person.1 When we encourage our children to approach learning in a manner that naturally makes sense to them, we help foster connections and maintain a passion and excitement for learning.

Step 3: Play with your child.

A common discussion point in early childhood education is about the importance of teaching children how to play. When we were young, we turned piles of yarn into plates of “spaghetti” and pretended we were cooking in a fancy restaurant. Or we turned a box into a “pirate ship” and faced the tumultuous sea. Today, toys are so realistic that they do not require any imagination.  We pull children into our adult world so quickly, when we would actually benefit more by entering their world of imagination and play.

Imaginative play develops important academic and social skills, but also helps relieve the daily stress that zaps our energy. Not only can we model for our children how to play again, but by engaging in fun, silly, and adventurous play, we share in their excitement. That helps to renew our strength. This is such a wonderful opportunity to build connections with our children and show them how important they are to us.

Step 4: Ask questions.

Take every opportunity to interact with your child and ask plenty of questions. “What do you think happens when…?” Or “Why do you think it does that when…?” These types of questions encourage children to think beyond what they can see and already know, and stretches them to discover more. When your children ask you questions, do not be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” This is one of the most powerful things that you can say! “I don’t know. What do you think happens when…?” Or “I don’t know, but how do you think we can find the answer?” Or even “I don’t know, but I would love to find out with you!”

When you ask questions, you are modeling for your child that learning is a lifelong process. You are showing them that God designed their brains to learn and solve problems and they are very capable of doing so. They will have the confidence to know that you are there every step of the way to support them as they learn and grow.

Notes:

  1. Gardner, Howard, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, New York: Basic Books 1983.

 

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