Nourishing Your Child’s Love for Learning and Promoting Good Study Habits
How can we instill good study habits and make our kids interested in learning? Our daughter is ten and she loves reading.
When I am asked, “What is the most important educational skill I can help plant into my children?” I answer, “Implant a love of learning.” Researchers who study factors that contribute to academic success, not surprisingly, found that the most influential factor in children’s academic success was when their parents instilled a love of learning early on.
Learning is rooted in curiosity. Kids are naturally curious. From early infancy onward parents can act as facilitators and teachers and guide those exploring little hands and eyes toward interesting objects, especially all those toddler toys.
One of the greatest educational tools, especially in early childhood, is “go outside and play.” Then your child goes to school. Here’s where you want to instill a joyful attitude about learning. Rather than viewing learning as an obligation or chore, it’s important that children love to learn because of the good feelings of self-satisfaction it gives them. They should view school as a privilege rather than a problem.
Studies reveal that children who not only achieve high academic success but do so in a non-stressful way while making the connection between hard work and good grades enjoy the opportunity to shine on tests. Years ago when I was studying what parents could do to instill a love of learning, I remember reading some research that showed that homes of successful students tended to be quieter, with no blasting TVs or stereos, since noise can get in the way of learning. Also, it was interesting that academic outcome studies have shown that students who eat meals with their families more often enjoy greater academic success.
Nourish the Natural Love
You mention your daughter loves to read. Good! I call this fostering your child’s special something. If she’s wired to read, help create a home environment that helps her better enjoy reading and get more education out of it. Try these reading tools:
- Books trump electronic tablets. It’s interesting that researchers have shown that students remember as much as fifty percent more of what they read on a printed page than they do on electronics. The main reason seems to be that the artificial light on screens tires out the eyes more quickly and leads to mental fatigue.
- Talk about the books she reads. Show your interest, “Wow that’s fascinating! Show me where in the book you read that.” Hopefully, you’ll also see lots of underlining.
- If she loves to read she’s likely to also love to write. Encourage her to write her own little stories, perhaps with a fictitious character. Discover her special interests. What does she like to do? When our school-age children were involved in an art, music, or sports in which they excelled at their special something this had what I call “the carryover effect” – it carried over to their general love of school and learning and improved academic success.
For parents with beginner readers, check out Learning to Read on the website for additional tools.
A Word of Caution
One of the most common complaints Dr. Bill sees when talking to teens in his medical practice is: “I feel too much pressure from my parents and my teachers to get good grades.” Yes, on the one hand, parents and teachers do need to “stretch” their students. That’s their job. Yet, practice some balance. Stretch but don’t stress, and have the wisdom to know the difference. It helps to not compare your children with other students, but rather celebrate their own success and not in comparison to others.
For additional information check out The A.D.D. Book: New Understandings, New Approaches to Parenting Your Child. Please note: Even though the title says ADD, most of the information applies equally well to children who do not struggle with Attention Deficit
Written by: Martha Sears, R.N.
Martha is the mother of Dr. Bill’s eight children, a registered nurse, a former childbirth educator, a La Leche League leader, and a lactation consultant. Martha is the co-author of 25 parenting books and is a popular lecturer and media guest drawing on her 18 years of breastfeeding experience with her eight children (including Stephen with Down Syndrome and Lauren, her adopted daughter). Martha speaks frequently at national parenting conferences and is noted for her advice on how to handle the most common problems facing today’s mothers with their changing lifestyles. Martha is able to connect with both full-time, stay-at-home mothers and working mothers because she herself has experienced both styles of parenting. Martha takes great pride in referring to herself as a “professional mother” and one of her favorite quips when someone voices their concern about her having eight children in an already populated world is: “The world needs my children.”