Whether you know it or not, you teach your child a lot as a parent. Your input informs almost all aspects of their thinking and their approach to life.
How you teach your kids can have a massive impact on outcomes. Adopt a good strategy, and they’ll make tremendous progress. Fail to do so, and they’ll have a negative attitude towards learning and all that it entails.
When you realise this truth, it gets you thinking:
What would happen if you changed the way you teach?
It’s true that a lot of kids aren’t interested in learning how to read and write. And fewer still care about mathematics.
But that doesn’t mean that these subjects aren’t enjoyable in their own right. There can be a lot of satisfaction in them.
Often, it means that the approach to teaching is wrong.
This article isn’t meant as a criticism of educational institutions or the current setup. But it is intended to point out that there’s a different way of doing things – a teaching approach you can use to really change how kids see learning.
Imagine approaching education with a different goal. Instead of seeing it as a method for inserting information into children’s minds so that they can function in the world, what if you saw it as a way of engendering the desire to learn?
Can you see the difference here? The first option is prescriptive. You’re blasting the child with education and then trying to manipulate them into accepting it and working with it. Many kids will see what you’re doing and naturally rebel against it, especially if they don’t want to learn.
Now consider the second approach to learning. Here, you’re not twisting your kids’ arms at all. Instead, your aim is to create a swell of interest in them naturally. In other words, you’re trying to “educate” them in a way that internalises the desire to learn.
Kids want to find out as much as possible about the world. We’ve all experienced this as parents. They ask endless questions and are genuinely curious.
The task of the authentic teacher is to nurture that process and take it as far as it will go. Your goal isn’t to fill their minds with more information. They can do that themselves. Instead, you want to keep that inquisitive process moving forwards no matter what.
There are all kinds of practical methods you can use to achieve this.
One is to simply address your own attitude to learning. When children see your inspiration, they’ll take that as an emotional cue and use it themselves.
You can also try things like approaching learning in innovative ways that children appreciate. For instance, when teaching phonemic awareness to a young learner, it helps to present it in a way the child understands. Once you give them manageable building blocks, it’s amazing what they can make out of them.
You can also do things like take them on trips – hard these days – read interesting passages from books to them, or show them your own skills. Ultimately, kids want to get a sense of the fun that mastery brings. It’s fun to play the piano. It’s fun to write a great novel. It’s fun to solve a math problem.
When you change the way you approach learning with your kids, all sorts of amazing things start happening.
Nobody forced Albert Einstein to write his physics theories. He just had an idea and then ran with it. In fact, the same is true for practically all great thinkers. Nobody was prodding them to do their homework. They just loved their ideas and wanted to pursue them to the max.
Traditional learning takes a different approach. It assumes that people don’t want to explore the world under their own steam. Instead, they need constant guidance and coaching. And that, of course, leads to resistance, arguments, and all of the rest of the problems that parents face when trying to teach their kids.
Arguments evaporate, though, when kids start learning for themselves. All of a sudden, they want to engage in the process. They desire it. There’s no resistance because they want to do it.
It seems so basic when you read it aloud, yet it’s a lesson that our society still hasn’t learned.
Results Go Through The Roof
There’s another thing that happens when kids start learning on their own terms: results go through the roof.
Think about what happens whenever anyone engages in a passion project. Difficulties cease being something that they have to grit their teeth to overcome and instead become joys in themselves.
You know this from your own experience. Things only become interesting – that is, really interesting – when there’s some complexity in them. It’s the challenge that drives you.
The same is happening in the minds of your kids. They actually want resistance because it’s fun and it gives them a sense of satisfaction.
The Apprentice Becomes The Master
The startling progress that your kids make also leads to another change: the apprentice becomes the master.
For parents, it can be a strange experience to watch your kids grow and then eventually exceed your capabilities. But that’s what happens when you change your approach to learning.
Why do you think kids are so good at video games compared to you? It’s not because of anything to do with you. It’s because they’re put in the practice. They have a method for winning the game. They’ve figured it out.
And how have they managed to figure it out? Because they love the process and want to master it.
Video games might seem different from education, but the same process is underway in the child’s mind. There’s a desire for mastery and rewards that provide the “hook.”
Think about how video games reward kids. They let them “level up” and win achievements. But that’s not fundamentally what keeps your children going. What really makes them want to play is the fact that video games provide the optimal combination of challenge and satisfaction.
When you teach in the right way, you translate that process into the educational environment. You provide some challenge and some satisfaction in everything you do. You build it up from the ground and make it fun. And you use your own excitement to propel the child forwards.
When you get the formula right, the most incredible things start happening. The child grows in ways you never imagined and gains tremendous skill. Eventually, their passion drives them to exceed the master.
It Makes You Feel More Satisfied
There’s nothing worse than being in a situation where you feel like you’re forcing learning. That’s because you know deep down that it doesn’t work. You’ve had experiences like this yourself in the past.
But when you change your approach to teaching, it changes how you feel about it. The whole process becomes so much more satisfying and rewarding for you personally. It puts a spring in your step and gets you pumped for what you and your kids could achieve.
When you generate positive emotions, that drives everything else in your relationship with your kids. The moment they see that you’re fired up about a topic, it’ll encourage them to get into it too. It makes all the difference.
So, in conclusion, changing the way you teach makes a huge difference in your child’s educational experience. What they want is a coach, not a preacher. And they need you to understand their needs in the process. That’s the only way to get genuine results.
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