Education has sadly become far too much about test results, exam grades and the levels of progress a child makes. Of course, these things are important – but if a pupil feels they are just a number, a statistic, or a target grade, it is highly unlikely that they will develop a passion and genuine love of learning.
In tomorrow’s employment landscape, life-long learning will be vital to success so parents and teachers need to be doing all they can to encourage young minds to learn.
Choice and opinions
Both in the classroom and at home, it is important that children are given the opportunity (and even pushed) to give their own views and explain their feelings. Giving children a choice of task or activity is often a useful tactic – but they should always be encouraged to explain their choices.
A key characteristic of a passionate learner is a questioning, enquiring mind. This can be cultivated from an early age.
Read, read, and read some more
It’s no surprise to see the importance of reading being emphasised once again. We don’t need to go into any great detail about why reading is so important – it’s pretty obvious. Reading prowess is not just an advantage for a young learner, it is an essential enabling skill.
Much has been made of the importance of reading with children from a young age. It should never be underestimated, but remember that almost anything is a reading opportunity, from a food menu, to a shopping list, or the words on a poster.
Adults as role models
Teachers and parents are obviously highly important role models, and there is real opportunity here. Adults can model an enthusiasm and passion for learning. Every time you learn a new skill or some new information, share with it the children in your care.
Focus on skills not grades
If we’re not careful, it’s easy for everything to become about marks, levels and grades. Focus instead on what a child has learned, the new skill they have mastered – not the fact that they are now a ‘6’ a 4C or a 7/10!
Encourage any interest a child has
It would be nice to think that all we need to do is put a child into a classroom and instantly they fall in love with English, Maths and Science. The reality, of course, is that this rarely happens! However, as soon as a child shows an interest in something – a sport, creative art… anything – show an interest in it yourself and encourage to child to learn everything they can about it. This is a great way of developing a love of learning.
Focus on strengths and weaknesses
It is the weaknesses that a child displays in school that tend to get the most attention. It’s the weaknesses that usually lead to interventions, extra classes, private tuition, or set changes. A low mark or grade, or difficulty in a certain aspect of a subject can have a really demoralising effect on a child. Yes, offer support to help them address and overcome weaknesses – but don’t forget all the other positive things that a child does. Give these as much attention so that learning becomes at least as positive as it is negative.