Creating Lifelong Learners in Every Day Situations


Lifelong Learners

Today’s math lesson is brought to you by the following conversation with my four year old.

J: “Mommy needs to get more babies because soon we will all grow up and be Daddies.”

Me: “How many more babies should we have?”

J: “10.”

Me:  “10?! How many children will I have if I already have 3 and then have 10 more?”

J: Thinks about it… “13.”

Me: Not sure whether I’m more shocked that he got the right answer or that I am to have 13 children…”So you want me to have 13 kids?”

J: “No, just 11.”

Me: “11…Okay, so if I already have 3, how many more do I need to have in order to have 11?”

J: Processing…”8.”

There, in the car on the way home from a family outing, our son solved some pretty complex math problems.

                                                10 + 3 = ____    and     3 + x =11

This is what learning is all about. As strange (and possibly disturbing) as the conversation was, it was authentic. He didn’t know I was asking him to solve algebraic equations and was fully engaged because we met him where his interests lay.

Whether your children attend private, public, or home school, YOU are their very first teacher and are arguably their most influential. Cease any opportunity you can to help expand their knowledge.

Here are some tips to help your child become a lifelong learner:

1. Read to Them

Start as early as in utero! Seriously. We frequently read the same story to our son when he was in the womb and when we he was 2 days old we started to read it and he kicked his legs out, locked his eyes on it, and stared intently at the pages. (We were shocked!) The gift of reading opens doors to everything. It teaches vocabulary, encourages language development, goes hand in hand with writing, fosters imagination, creativity, and a thirst for knowledge. It is an escape, a comfort, an outlet, and a key source of knowledge to name a few.

2. Talk to Them

Babies are human sponges. They observe and soak in everything. As you are feeding them, sing nursery rhymes. As you bathe them, name the body parts you are washing. At the grocery store, identify the names of each food you place in the cart. As children get older, continue to enrich them with as much vocabulary and concept development as you can. At the grocery store discuss nutrition, prices, healthy eating, etc. Use comparison words when building structures and discuss social situations in advance (if another child wants the toy you are using, what can you say and do?). Voice your thought processes, tell them what you are doing and why. The more language children are exposed to, the firmer their foundation for advanced learning. Research has proven over and over again the advantages of children exposed to a plethora of vocabulary.

3. Listen to Them

When playing with your child, riding in the car, sitting at dinner, going for a walk, etc., turn off any music or other distractions and be patient. You will be amazed at what comes out of their mouths (such as the fact that I’m literally to become the old woman who lived in a shoe). Let their words be the guide. Today it was a math lesson for us. Yesterday he wondered about how the roots know to grow into the ground when we were working in the garden. The day before that it was a science experiment to discover the best materials to complete an art project. You never know what their inquisitive minds are seeking unless you listen.

4. Meet Them Where They Are

Let’s face it, kids develop obsessions. Rather than fight it, find books, materials, learning situations that match their interests. If your child is very into trains, cater to it. Find both fictional and non-fictional books about them. Create math lessons surrounding their interest (if we add 3 more freight cars to Thomas how many does he have? If one train is going 90mph against 15mph winds and the other…). Go on a field trip to watch trains pass by or visit a train museum. Do art projects, science experiments, imaginative scenarios, etc. surrounding that theme.

5. Be A Good Role Model

This is by far the most powerful. Our children watch our every move. Let them see you read, write, ask questions. Admit that you don’t have all of the answers and show them how to resourcefully find them. Let your own thirst for knowledge shine through and they will grow to be lifelong learners too.

The key to creating lifelong learners is to make learning experiences as organic as possible. Take your child to museums, on hikes, to libraries. As things come up, extend the learning in any way possible. The more you focus on their interests, the less it will “feel” like school and the more engaged they will be.

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Family is everything, and I can think of no better town to live in with my high school sweetheart and our four young children. Although we've been here for a few years now, we often find that it still feels like vacation. Embracing the natural beauty and slower pace were easy. Learning to love Orange wasn't too hard. However, my mid-western roots shine through in my inability to accessorize my daughters with giant hair bows and my preference for unsweetened tea. Being a mother is more incredible than I ever dreamed, and even though our days are utter chaos riddled with exhaustion, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I blog about anything and everything related to motherhood at Stroller Savvy..


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