Ease the “I’m bored” moments and the “Mommy, do you know what I can do that is fun” requests and spark your child’s interest in learning by creatively turning your child’s learning into self-care.
It’s not unusual for a child to either lose interest in academics, structured homeschooling, or suddenly not be interested in learning at all, but that doesn’t mean you can’t re-ignite that interest in a creative way.
The perfect time to start getting your child excited to learn is when they’re young. However, I’ve learned through homeschooling, the perfect time to redirect learning strategies and add in some fun is when homeschooling starts feeling stressful. With the right methods, your child will be eager to absorb knowledge and try out new skills.
The more time you spend igniting a child’s interest now, the easier it’ll be for them to learn as they get older.
8. Tips to get your child excited to learn, and turn their learning into self-care
The first thing to understand as a parent is that kids are born with a natural inclination to play, learn, and explore.
1. Lead By Example
A great starting point is leading by example. Your kids love you and love to imitate you. Like little ducklings, they follow where you lead them. Take a moment to journal or think… What things do you do every day that demonstrates your love for learning?
- Do you openly take the time to read each day?
- What hobby or other interest are you engaging in?
- Do you play games or sports?
- Do you share your thoughts, ideas, dreams, and places to visit in the world with your kids?
- Do your allow children see your journey learning and accomplishing a new skill?
- Do you openly share your admiration for others who are still learning?
2. Create A Learning Environment
There are a few ways you can set up your home and schedule to accommodate a more creative learning environment for your kids. Many things we do each day can be turned into playful and learning moments without a lot of effort:
- Let your child help you assemble things you buy or make. They do see this as a means of playing, and when you foster a relaxed and patient attitude, building things together is also quality bonding time.
- Encourage your child to ‘discover’ how something works, instead of just telling them the outcome.
- Stop for unscheduled free play time each day, and join them in the fun.
- Listen to their stories or engage in their pretend play.
- Be playful aboutsorting laundry, putting groceries away, cleaning rooms, or conducting other household chores
- Encourage exploration and questions, create a game to find out answers to things.
- Play an educational board game to engage and develop their thinking skills, geography, math, and social understanding
3. Uncover Their Interests, and Use Them
Children of all ages and even adults learn better when the topic is something they’re interested in. For instance, a kid that loves basketball would learn math better if basketball and math were tied together versus just trying to get a child to memorize math concepts via flashcards or a book.
The first step to igniting a passion for learning is to tie education to something the child already loves. If they have a favorite cartoon character, educational games involving the character helps to grow their excitement. Little things like this will inspire them to have so much fun, they won’t even realize they’re learning.
4. Make Learning Less Obvious
Sometimes, structured learning is necessary. But structuring all learning, especially for elementary and younger kids, can also be extremely boring. If your kids are like mine, boring doesn’t take long to turn into an opportunity to be disruptive.
Kinetic or playful learning works much better. For example, adults attending iPadpalooza didn’t pay much attention to dull lectures, but they learned about technology concepts through a series of playful challenges.
The same approach works for children. Reading skills are much easier learned when playing a game together, or when reading silly jokes off a card. Even asking your child to read a bedtime story to you instead of you reading to them.
5. Eliminate Consequences
This one took me a while to figure out. Why eliminate consequences when your child isn’t performing the way he or she should? If you’re like me, then your childhood was also filled with consequences for not taking care of your responsibility. It is difficult to not pass on that culture to our children to teach them accountability.
Sometimes children, especially school-aged children, lose their interest in learning because every mistake seems to lead to lasting consequences, or feedback comes too late to make a difference. With free play and games, mistakes don’t matter. Instead, mistakes become learning opportunities. A child feels safe learning through playing, which inspires them to want to try again to do better.
As children build confidence through play-based learning, they retain their interest in learning in other ways as well.
6. Focus On Having Fun
Learning should be fun, especially for younger kids. Allowing them to focus on learning naturally through games, free play, and their natural interests not only builds confidence but sets them up for having fun, which enables them to learn more efficiently.
Sometimes all it takes is a game to help kids learn easier.
All work and no play isn’t always the best modality to help your child learn. Wouldn’t it be nice to just play for a while? This is now our go-to strategy when learning becomes a little too stressful. I was surprised to see how much more information my kids retain when we are just playing and being silly.
Give it a try with a fun, educational board game and you’ll be surprised at just how much your child remembers afterward. You’re also creating memories and your kids don’t even realize how much their minds are growing.
7. Use Laughter To Increase Memory
Playing games often causes people to laugh and relax. Studies have shown that humor activates the brain’s release of dopamine, which has been linked to long-term memory retention. Your kids may just think they are enjoying a fun game, but while they’re laughing, they’re also learning math, science, language, social skills, and more.
Dopamine, the feel-good hormone, has many benefits. It’s released during genuinely happy moments, including times when you’re especially proud of yourself. Dopamine also contributes to modulating the hippocampus, which is a vital part of long-term memory. By creating happy memories with play, you’re helping boost your child’s long-term memory retention as well.
8. Get Emotional – Memories Link To Strong Emotions
Have you ever heard the quote, “people don’t always remember what you said, but they will remember how you make them feel?”
According to an article posted in Brain World, some studies have estimated as much as 95% of reactions are motivated more by emotion, including memory. Moments triggering stronger emotions create more vivid memories. This is why we often remember our strongest positive and negative moments more than any other past memory. The same applies to children.
A teacher asking them to memorize facts isn’t going to trigger an emotional response.
A fun game played with their friends or family creates a stronger, positive memory, leading to a higher rate of retention. Add some play to learning and you’ll create lasting memories full of educational value.
Descriptive stories that take the kids on an emotion-led adventure are more memorable than memorizing a sheet of facts.
I remember my oldest didn’t want to read or study history at all until we started reading the Magic Treehouse series. The adventures are funny, sometimes a bit worrisome, exciting, and adventurous. After reading the books, we would talk about the factual aspects of what we read, and looked them up in the corresponding Fact Tracker books.
We did the same with civics and economics by reading the fun Tuttle Twins books. Instead of just reading through law books, we read fun stories that followed a brother and sister on an adventure to how laws and businesses work. My kids were able to describe the lessons in the book and apply them to real-world applications easily, which enabled them to retain the info much better than straight memorization.
Play More And Learn More
Take the time to break out some board games, be silly with your children, or use one of these brilliant ideas for engaging in self-care WITH your kids. It’s not only fun for everyone involved, but it also increases memory skills, creates quality bonding time, improves their social skills, improves their mental health (and yours too), and relieves stress. These are all important qualities to teaching them to value self-care. Learning doesn’t have to be dull. Encourage your children to play more, and they will learn more.
A Note From Nicole
If you enjoyed this post, please comment below and share it with your friends and on your favorite Pinterest board to save it for later. Our website team LOVES to hear about your personal experiences and wins.
Let’s Connect! You can find me online at:
Looking for more info about adopting a healthier lifestyle? Be sure to check out our online courses over at www.gracefullyabundant.com/courses/ or check out my home business opportunity centered around maximizing your physical and mental health.
Nicole is a military-trained research analyst, homeschooling mom, healthy lifestyle coach, and flexible business consultant. After living through and overcoming a season of homelessness and chronic health, Nicole developed a passion for helping others using functional nutrition, herbalism, and aromatherapy. She now uses simple lifestyle shifts, self-care, and developing healthier habits to help people move through difficult times.