By Dina Halaseh, Educational Psychologist

How can we develop a lifelong love of learning among our children and what does it mean to be a lifelong learner in the first place?

Remember your youthful years when you were so mesmerised by something and how it worked? Imagine you are a child seeing bubbles for the first time or seeing a volcano made out of paper, baking soda and vinegar, erupt. How did that feel? Awesome, right? That’s how learning is supposed to be. We all have a natural need to learn and figure out how things work. But, unfortunately, many grow up to hate learning after so many hours of homework struggles.

Looking back at my teaching years, my students used to love home baked treats that I would bring to class every once in a while. It would be so much easier to explain fractions using the recipe, for example, or by figuring out who discovered chocolate during our history lesson and learning more about culture, or how that piece of brownie was being digested in their systems during our science lesson. Asking students how many questions they might think of about brownies can start a huge learning spree!

This is pure curiosity, and when curiosity is nurtured and managed, it will result in an interest to learn more.

A teacher’s main passion should be igniting the fire of learning and curiosity among students. Every opportunity can be a learning one; every situation can spike interest in learning more about a topic. We are all born with the love to learn and find our own interests. Let’s  ensure that we foster our children’s love of learning and help them become lifelong learners.

Cultivating the passion for learning

1. Questions: We all know how children tend to ask a million questions per day. The first step would be for parents to make sure they encourage these questions and help their children find other questions to build upon. A simple “what else would you like to understand or know?” will go a long way in praising their interest. A parent can also show interest or praise their questions to help them see that asking questions is a positive thing and that wanting to learn is fun! The more we focus on assisting them in asking questions, the better the chances are for children to love learning about all sorts of topics.

As parents and educators, keep an eye out for those moments when a child feels curious; these can happen anywhere and everywhere. Listen carefully and find those moments you can help a child generate countless questions.

2. Choices: When students have a choice to pursue their interests and curiosity, they tend to be more engaged in learning. Moreover, those who are in charge of their own studying tend to put more effort into their schoolwork and manage their time to finish material to their best abilities. When parents get involved in their children’s learning, processing and teaching, they sometimes take away the student’s power of choice, which results in hatred towards studying. Even though learning does not only happen while studying, both are much more interesting to a child when given control.