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Nurturing a Love of Learning

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People sometimes ask, “How do you instill a love of learning in your child?”

I think that’s the wrong question.  Children are naturally curious and eager to learn, and God has instilled this in them; we don’t need to.  Instead, the question should be, “How do we nurture this love of learning?” And, if for some reason it has left them, we need to ask, “How can we help them recover their love of learning?”

Here are some of the things that have kept our children and teens learning almost constantly for more than two decades. Do note, however, that this love of learning has nothing to do with textbooks, in most instances.  In fact, my kids agree that less formal schoolwork is one of the most important ingredients in encouraging a love of learning.  On the other hand, they have also gained a lot of new interests from their rigorous formal studies.

So here’s how we have tried to nurture the love of learning throughout the years. Of course, we do not always achieve all of these goals, but when we do the learning is amazing.

  • Limits on screen time.
  • Lots of classical music.
  • Enough free time for curiosity and boredom, although sometimes formal learning gets in the way of this.
  • Lots of good books and very few low quality ones.
  • Very little formal schoolwork at an early age.
  • Encouragement to stretch beyond their comfort zones, especially when they are older.
  • Ample scope for initiatives, mistakes, and messes.
  • Responsibility and freedom, within reason.
  • Lots of physical activity.
  • Lots of time in nature.
  • Many kid-directed free time activities, and few mommy-directed ones.
  • Freedom to explore their own interests with suitable mentors.
  • The example of parents who are constantly learning new things.
  • Adequate sleep, nutritious food, exercise.
  • Meaningful chores.
  • Field trips, documentaries.
  • Conversation and time with a variety of interesting adults.
  • Volunteer work and paid work.

In fact, I would sum up the whole idea of nurturing a love of learning in your children with a quotation from Charlotte Mason.

“We spread an abundant … feast … and each small guest assimilates what he can.”

And then, as one of my children pointed out years ago, “Learning is the reward.”

This is based on a blog post I wrote 5 years ago; very little has changed in how we try to nurture a love of learning.

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7 Comments

  1. Yes, I have been amazed at how nature walks have encouraged my most restless child to observe and are something to which he looks forward.

    It is easy to be overcome by the amount that can be going on and fail to learn new things. Recently, I’ve been challenged about this several times and am having to make an effort to make time to learn again. To be honest, learning is a pleasure; making the time isn’t!

    1. Annie Kate says:

      I suppose you will be going on more nature walks, then! What a gift to give your children, especially the restless one, and also yourself.

      Learning itself is a pleasure, and even going for nature walks is part of learning. I hope you’ll be able to find little moments here and there to focus on learning.

      If you are having difficulties finding time, it’s worth reading The Fringe Hours, reviewed here: http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2015/03/review-the-fringe-hours-by-jessica-n-turner/

      1. Thank you. Yes, I have learned from our nature walks. Thank you for the recommendation-I have just put The Fringe Hours on my Kindle.

        1. Annie Kate says:

          You’re welcome, Sarah Elizabeth! I hope you’re managing to find some pockets of time you didn’t know you had.

          But do remember, you are in a very busy stage of life right now, and there probably won’t be too many of them. If that is God’s will for your life right now, that is OK too.

  2. Carol says:

    Definitely agree with all your points! Great ideas.

  3. Annie Kate says:

    Thank you, Jenn and Carol. I know both of you do many of these things too!

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