By Joseph Sacks, LCSW
The most important factor in a child’s education is the extent to which we teach him to enjoy learning!
Teaching a child to take pleasure in study is the greatest guarantor of his intellectual success! A child who enjoys the bliss of learning will be self-motivated and will read and explore knowledge voraciously for the rest of his life. Therefore the most important question we need to ask and answer for our child when he engages in schoolwork is, “What is interesting, fascinating, amazing and beautiful about what I’m studying right now.” You must be able to answer this question for every assignment and allow the answer to be the goal for the learning work. Thus we generate enthusiasm for learning. The most successful people, the brilliant geniuses, are those who deeply enjoy their work. They love it so much that they are self-motivated to think about it constantly, and to continually invent new ideas and intellectual creations. They are not motivated by grades or external approval but by the pure bliss of learning. Such a habit is the greatest educational gift we can give our children! It will ensure they become lifelong learners who always joyfully seek to acquire more knowledge and achievement. Schoolwork must be made fun and interesting at all costs!
Avoiding the Tedium of Schoolwork
On the other hand, nothing is more harmful to education than making a child’s learning unpleasant or tedious. It must be avoided like the plague. This creates a negative association between the displeasure of schoolwork drudgery and the learning itself. If a child is too often forced to study when he dislikes it, it creates in him a hatred for the learning process and ultimately, he will learn and achieve much less. Furthermore it makes him miserable and creates conflict between parent and child.
Issues Preventing The Most Important Factor in a Child's Education
There are many problems with our educational system, the first being this that children are not taught to enjoy learning. Instead there is too much emphasis on completing tedious assignments and getting grades.
Another great problem is that our curricula do not allow students any choice about what to study. A student is much more motivated, interested and successful when he can choose what he would like to learn. Let’s take social studies. Not only is the choice to study that topic made for the child but which category for which year is chosen for her. She has no choice but to study US history in say, fifth grade. In addition, she is not given any choice about which aspect of US history to study, the units and course of study are all chosen for her, and, right down to the particular day, each lesson is chosen for her against her will. This is terribly demoralizing and kills enthusiasm. Ideally, a child should be allowed to choose whether to focus on literature, history, science or another subject that interests him, and then to decide which aspect of that topic to study and in what order. Following his bliss is the surest way to success in learning.
So What Can We Do?
But since our schools are not like this what can we do? We must educate our children to enjoy learning despite our inadequate education system. Instead of giving a child extra work on the same school topics that are not of his choice, help the child find some topic he enjoys and try to teach it to him just for the pleasure of learning. Maybe he or she is interested in technology, computer science, astronomy or creative writing, pets, or chess. Encourage the child to pursue his love, for if you can get a child to learn something with enthusiasm it has more educational value than his whole school experience! Within the school curriculum, speak with your teachers and try to give your child more latitude in choosing which assignments to do and what to study. If he enjoys one subject, let him spend more time on that and less time on the others.
Remember that with learning, especially with young children, ‘less is more.’ It is better that he do less but that he enjoy it, than that she do more but be forced.
With the proper guidance, and remembering the most important factor in a child’s education, you can help establish in him a passion for learning!
Feel free to peruse the rest of my informative blog, the specialties on my website, or download one of my interesting free reports. If you are facing challenges raising and educating your child and would like guidance or treatment from a child psychotherapist in lower Manhattan, you may give me a call at 646-681-1707 for a free 15-minute consultation. I look forward to speaking with you!