While legions of children may wish otherwise, it’s back to school time! This school year, you can inspire your children to academic achievement, not just with the outward trappings of success like an A in Calculus or an award-winning Science Fair project, but with a true love of learning.
What is a love of learning or intellectual curiosity, exactly? According to Michael Austin in a recent article in Psychology Today, “The intellectually curious person has a deep and persistent desire to know. She asks and seeks answers to the “why” questions. And she doesn’t stop asking at a surface level, but instead asks probing questions in order to peel back layers of explanation to get at the foundational ideas concerning a particular issue.”
Intellectual curiosity is what drove brave explorers to cross the Atlantic Ocean in search of the New World, what propelled Thomas Edison to experiment with over 2,000 filaments before achieving success, and what has ignited the passion behind each new discovery throughout the ages.
According to education experts, the amount of intellectual curiosity displayed by students directly correlates to academic performance. While “learning to the test” may have some short-term rewards, academic achievement preceded by intellectual curiosity is a far more accurate indicator of eventual success.
So, how can parents inspire children with a love of learning that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives? Here are three simple approaches parents can implement to spark a passion for knowledge in children of all ages.
1. Children model what they see. A parent is a child’s first, and most important, teacher. From early infancy onward, children absorb like sponges life lessons like how to walk, talk, and feed themselves. Yet other vital lessons are also taught, often unconsciously. Parents can use this modeling behavior by displaying a love of learning in their own lives.
Whatever inspires you, whether it’s ancient Greek architecture, digital photography, or propagating new roses, get excited about it and share that enthusiasm with your kids. Take books out of the library. Do online research. Visit an exhibit. Your lifelong learning and active pursuit of knowledge will show your children more than you could ever simply tell them.
2. Explore real-world applications to learning. Some students are apathetic about school subjects because they can’t understand the real-world applications to “book learning.” A common refrain is often, “But this book report/science lab/math project is so meaningless!”
Pointing out how often we actually do use what’s learned in school can be a real eye-opener. Plus, by creating a link between what is learned in school to existing passions, a need to know more is established. For example, if your student dreams of a career as a film animator, nurse, or astronomer, explain how a solid background in math can help, and how many diverse careers use math every single day. If possible, show or connect your child with examples. A conversation with teachers or counselors will often lead to some real-world connections.
Although your child’s dreams of discovering new planets may never materialize, by sparking that desire to learn more, watching the heavens as a backyard astronomer may become a lifelong pursuit.
3. Provide them with opportunities to further an interest. If your child has an interest in bugs, a visit the Museum of Natural History is a natural first step. But also do some online research into how bugs are being used to cure diseases. Or if their passion is music, take your child to a free concert in a genre that is completely outside their primary interest area. From country, to reggae, to classical, you’ll be opening their eyes to a completely new musical experience.
The key, whatever your child’s initial interest, is to help them expand and grow, learning more, questioning more, and developing a true thirst for knowledge.
At Augustine Hills School, the 1:1 teacher-to-student ratio means that your child has the constant attention of the teacher. Your child can listen without distraction. They can speak and ask questions without fear. And their learning style, interests, and pace are their teachers’ primary focus, all day, every day.
If this sounds like the right environment for your student, don’t suffer through another unsuccessful school year. Contact us to get started.