Children acquire information through natural experiences and directed learning in school. When encouraged, children develop the belief that they can be successful, apply themselves, and enjoy the discovery process. Research routinely concludes that there is a positive correlation between family involvement and student success. Parental attitudes influence student motivation, self-concept, and school achievement. In other words, what parents do, say, and think helps to shape and inspire student academic motivation. By focusing on the following 6 principals, you can help your child become an engaged and enthusiastic learner.
- Value Learning. When parents explicitly express their belief about the value of learning, children model this attitude. Tell your children that school and learning are important because it increases their knowledge base, develops basic skills, fosters personal growth, and builds their future.
- Demonstrate Interest. Ask questions about your child’s school day to show that you are interested in their learning. Ask specific questions such as, “What are you learning in Science?” or “What project are you working on in Art?” Show your child that they are the “expert” by asking, “Teach me something interesting that you learned today at school.”
- Focus on Effort. Good grades are nice but do not always capture all that children learn along the way. Focus on the process of learning and provide recognition for effort as opposed to end products. When things don’t go as expected, use it as a learning opportunity. Reinforce the idea that when something doesn’t work out, we need to analyze what went wrong and what to do next time for success. Problem solving is an important aspect of being a resilient learner.
- Define Your Child as a Learner. Label your child with the positive attributes that you would like them to have, such as inquisitive, capable, creative, and serious student. This promotes the development of your child’s identity as an engaged learner.
- Provide Opportunities for Autonomy. Freedom of choice is a valuable strategy for encouraging independent learners. This does not mean that your children get to decide IF they want to do their homework tonight; rather, for younger children it may be if they want to complete their reading or math assignment first. For older students it means encouraging them to plan their time, prioritize their work, and problem solve rather than being handed an instantaneous solution. Parents who help their children develop effective study habits (e.g., structured evening routines, organized study spaces, use of planners and calendar to manage time) allow their children to become more self-reliant, confident, independent, and responsible individuals.
- Be a Model. Find time to engage in learning yourself. You can take a class in your area of interest, go to a lecture, or join a book club and then share what you have learned. Establish the importance of reading by setting up special time at home for family reading, where everyone sits on the couch together to read. Plan family activities that encourage learning like visits to the nature park, a museum, historical monuments…each town has its own history. By consciously influencing your children’s growth, development, and learning, you shape their sense of self and confidence both in and out of the classroom.
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