What I’m Teaching My Kids About Learning

I do love to teach people stuff. I remember when I was in year two and I was learning about magic squares. You know, those grids with missing numbers and you have to figure out the sums and they have make sense going across, up and down, and diagonally. I was in total heaven. They were hard for our little minds, but I was all over it. In fact, I became the go-to magic squares kid. You could find me at recess showing my classmates how to work out the number puzzle. Yep – I was really cool!


Learning new things has always been really exciting for me. But as many of you parents know, it is not always the case. Watching our kids either struggle with learning or alternatively, develop a “who cares…boooorrrrrinnnnng” attitude can be really heartbreaking. It can actually create a really crippling feeling of powerlessness. Because we can nag, cajole, encourage, make rules, give consequences, but ultimately, just like that stubborn horse, we can’t force our kids to drink. And as parents who want nothing but the best for our children, this can be devastating.


However, like every hurdle we approach in life, there is always another way, always another option, a different choice. While we may not have a magic wand to ‘force’ our kids to love the learning process, we can certainly become knowledgeable in the life skills that foster curiosity, competence, confidence and commitment. In fact, this is exactly what I help clients do!


So what is the first step? Ultimately, like any other area in life in which we seek success, we must start with mindset. So many children think that there are limits to what they can do. There is such a focus in today’s education system around testing, results, scores, rankings. So if your child sees their numbers as low, perhaps they believe they have gone as far as they can. In contrast, how might they view themselves differently if they wholeheartedly knew that there are no limits, that there are always small steps towards growth and progression?


We don’t get to be in our children’s learning environments to cheer them on and to celebrate progress, no matter how small. However, this type of thinking can be first fostered within the home. For example, I want my kids to learn to tidy up after themselves in the kitchen. So when my daughter manages to put her dishes on top of the dishwasher, my comment is always, “Nearly! So close!” She then remembers the next step.


When my son was convinced that he would never learn to tie his shoes, he was able to manage his frustration and his desire to simply stop trying when we realised that he only needed help with those pesky loops. When my youngest told me outright that he couldn’t read, I added the word “yet” to the end. So in his mind, reading was a process, and one he would master step by step.


Lastly, as a business owner, I am constantly learning new things. And I let my kids watch me as I do this. They see me frustrated, yet they also see me persist, ask for help, and do embarrassing fist pumps when I finally conquer a challenging task. They also get to see me deal with failures, to which I respond not with anger or ‘I suck-ness’, but rather with curiosity and resilience to try again in a different way.


And they hear me share stories about my clients (confidentiality carefully guarded, of course!) and how amazing it is to watch the growth of others.


As parents, it is so common to feel like we are not doing enough, but as I consistently say, it is more important to feel like we are being enough. And we can do this by modelling awesome strategies for being incredible, lifelong learners. We can do this by engaging our kids to focus on growth, to remember how far they have come, to remind them of their successes they may not acknowledge.


I’d love to know – what is one thing you could do right now to help your child love learning. You may not know if it will be effective – yet! But it is a step in the right direction – progression, not perfection, isnt’ that right??

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