The term “lifelong learner” is coming up a lot in schools today. Yes, it may start feeling like an overused buzzword; however, there’s also a lot more to it.
A lifelong learner isn’t just about succeeding in middle school (or high school or even college.) It’s about being curious about life.
I don’t know about you, but I think an extra dose of curiosity could help us ALL live more enjoyable lives!
Today’s question ties into the hot topic of how to raise lifelong learners. It came from a parent who said…
”Julie, I feel like I’m finally getting a hold of the whole middle school thing, but my child’s losing interest. How do I create more enthusiasm for school?”
There are three things you can do RIGHT NOW to help your child become a lifelong learner, which ties into being more interested in school. These three actions will really help set this foundation for your child to live life curiously.
1. Encourage them to ask questions
Questions are one of the fastest and easiest ways to raise a lifelong learner. The key is giving your kiddo space and freedom to ask questions, without judgment.
If they say “what happens to the gravitational pull of the earth when the moon goes too low?”
Instead of giving them a quick answer or saying “shh, not now, I’m busy” (we’re all guilty of that one from time to time!) encourage that sense of wonder. Say something like “wow, that’s a great question. You should go and research that. It sounds like you’re really curious about it.”
The more you can encourage your child to ask questions, and the more you ask THEM questions like “what do you think about this?” the more you’re going to give them that space to problem-solve. And problem-solving is really what lifelong learning is all about.
2. Let them fail
What I mean here isn’t to throw your kiddo to the wolves. But by letting your child fail, you’re giving them opportunities to problem-solve. (Yep… you’re gonna catch a theme here!)
For example, if your teen is working on a big homework project last-minute and asks for help… it’s okay to say no. I know you’re probably inclined to fix their problems, but it’s better to give them some space to work on it on their own… and yes, maybe struggle some.
Saying something like “I really want you to figure this out. Where do you think YOU could find the answers on your own?” teaches your child to be self-reliant and problem-solve.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but the more they have opportunities to struggle, the more they’re going to build confidence in themselves. Failure can help develop critical problem-solving skills, which is an essential skill for kids this age.
3. Give them learning experiences
This one can be really fun!
If your child is curious about astronomy, take them to the planetarium. If they’re interested in animals, go volunteer at the humane society.
Learning experiences like these help kids see the world through a different lens. They give you an opportunity to come together and bond over a new experience. And they give your kiddo the opportunity to get curious and ask more questions.
All three of these tips go together to instill a love of learning in your child, and help develop those all-important skills they need today, tomorrow, and always.
Now, over to you:
- In what ways do you encourage your kiddo to be a lifelong learner?
- When is the last time you let your child fail? How did that feel for you as the parent?
- Where could you go to your town to create a learning experience based on one of your child’s interests?