I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.
There are so many wonderful gifts we can give our children, yet so little time to make it happen. Inspiring another to love to learn and seeing the impact it has on living a truly fulfilled life has got to be one of those gifts—and is why it is the Sixth Kidmandment.
Finding sustainable joy in life is so much easier when we live a life of ongoing learning. The term “learning” encompasses so many arenas of life—far more than just scholastics. Learning has the power to transform us mentally, spiritually, psychologically and physically. Learning allows us to explore new adventures, experience new opportunities, meet new challenges, develop new skills, stimulate our brains, solve new problems, change our attitudes—the list goes on and on.
As human beings, we are uniquely adapted to learn. Our brains thrive on stimulation, and our talents lie dormant if we don’t constantly challenge ourselves. Without growth and new experiences, it is easy to get bored and live an apathetic life.
Raising “successful” children is a very personal thing, and it may mean significantly different things to different people. However, no matter what your definition of “success,” it will be hard to accomplish it without fostering a love for lifelong learning.
By encouraging others to learn, we help them find the internal motivation they seek and the knowledge required to succeed in just about anything they set their minds to. Learning makes us alive!
But if this is true, why do so many of us stop learning so early in life? Perhaps because some were never challenged; and others never found anything worth exploring. Both of these scenarios are preventable when children have passionate parents. However, inspiring others is not an easy task, especially if we are living unfulfilled lives ourselves. It’s difficult to pass along the joy of learning to our children if we have found no joy in it ourselves. But great parents always find ways to break this vicious cycle and give their children something money could never buy.
The good news is this doesn’t mean we need to go back to school in order to be positive role models. Far from it! Whatever you’re passionate about is good enough—as long as you are still learning and growing yourself! If you love to tinker with old cars, or work out rigorously, this will inspire your children to find something they are equally passionate about.
When it comes to being a good role model, there are basically two extremes: teach by example and the choice is up to you. At one extreme, we have those who sit around and complain about how “life isn’t fair,” while doing little to change it. At the other are those who are conscious creators of their own reality. These people are the consummate ongoing learners, those who take the time to dream and plan their own lives
Unfortunately, dreaming and planning is not something that you typically learn about in fourth grade—or any grade, for that matter. This is something people usually learn on their own. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We need to teach our children to take charge of their lives by setting goals and taking action to achieve them.
Goal setting and lifelong learning go hand in hand. Goals provide us the direction in which we want to move our lives. They allow us to relearn new skills, evolve as people and adapt to new challenges. Physics tells us that an object in motion stays in motion; it could also be said that someone with no goals will have no motion. Can you say “Boring”?
What is important is that you are aware of your own skill sets in the area of goal setting, so you may decide if you want to or need to improve for yourself and your family.
Please remember, learning is not just for economic or career success. Learning new skills is necessary to handle our ever-changing lives. If we, or our children, hope to thrive in this complex world, we must be able to obtain, assimilate and apply knowledge effectively. Bernard Iddings Bell once said, “A good education is not so much one which prepares a man to succeed in the world, as one which enables him to sustain a failure.”
Failure is a part of life. Children who are comfortable in their ability to gain and assimilate knowledge will be more confident and better prepared to deal with the challenges that are ahead of them.
The key is for our children to want to learn for the joy of learning for its own sake. The hard part is teaching our children how to truly enjoying learning. Typically, it starts with children who have success early on in life. So anything we can do to help our children identify the subjects, sports, musical and creative outlets that might interest them and consequently lead them to victory will greatly benefit them later in life.
Try to understand what they are most passionate about, then facilitate opportunities for them to experience success in those areas. Focus on the positive, and make it fun every step of the way. Remind them that life is about the journey, not the destination. Doing so reinforces the importance of personal growth and self improvement, not necessarily the end result.
When it comes to textbook learning, parents need to understand how their child learns best. Not all kids learn alike. We learn through all our senses; some learn better visually, some through auditory instruction and others through hands-on learning. Some require more than one style to be fully able to absorb information.
Also, different children need different environments in which to concentrate. Find out where your child does best and provide it. Once you have a good grasp on what they are interested in, how and where they learn best, you will have a much better chance of raising children who love to learn.
Good Parents teach their children to read and do their homework. Great Parents teach their children to love to learn. How are you doing? In the end, a child who has a desire to serve others, and learn new skills, will never live a boring, lonely, unfulfilling life—all of us should be so lucky!