I hear a lot of people talk about “investing in [their] children”. Putting away money for college, buying them the best computers and devices or sending them to tutors. While there is no doubt that this stuff can help, if a child isn’t interested in what they’re learning, it’s simply not going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, a college fund is something I think every child should have, no matter how small or large. And if a child is struggling with a subject, a tutor can do a lot to help them better understand it. But before the tutor can help them get the marks to get into post secondary, they have to be interested. So maybe the biggest way we can invest in our children is to nurture the natural curiosity we’re all born with and let them grow up wanting to learn as much as they can.
I touched on this subject a bit in an earlier post, but I’d like to talk a little more about it. I find too much today that kids are being sat in front of a TV or a tablet like a babysitter. I’ve seen it in friends, family, and acquaintances and it quite frankly drives me mad! A TV is not a person. It does not truly interact with a child.
TV shows like Dora the Explorer make it seem like there is interaction. Asking questions and leaving a pause as if they’re listening to what the child says. But there is no interaction, those questions and pause would be there regardless of the child. And what if the child has further questions? Dora and Boots aren’t going to answer those.
There can be no substitution for a child interacting with someone they look up to. It doesn’t take a lot of effort and it makes a world of difference. They want to be like you. You know all this information; they want to know all this information. Simply talking to them will make them interested. Maybe you aren’t a science person, that’s okay, it doesn’t have to be science (thought I bet it can somehow be related back to science!). Maybe you love medieval history. I’d be willing to best most kids would love to hear about princesses and knights. The important part is taking a little bit of time to help spark interest in learning more about something.
Better yet, talk to them about something you may not know a lot about, but want to learn. The two (or more) of you can embark on a journey together to learn and explore a new topic. You yourself gain some knowledge and betterment, and can make the information easier for a young mind to understand. I speak from experience when I say that sharing the learning experience with a child who looks up to you is a simply incredible feeling.
I am a huge advocate of day trips, educational TV, nature walks and experiments. I plan to talk more about those in some future posts, but getting a child motivated to do, and then learn from those things, all has to start with interaction. And you don’t have to be a parent. And uncle, older sister or family friend, you are a role model. Use that admiration to instill curiosity and a desire to learn, and maybe one day that child in front of you will change the world.
If you enjoyed this, I’ve written a follow up to it. I plan to have a couple more all on the same topic.