One of the most fun and interesting ways that you can spend time with someone is to take on a challenge together. When it comes to learning and personal development projects, we often naturally enlist our friends, coworkers or life partners to take up a challenge with us, but what about our kids?
Taking on a learning challenge with your child is more than just an excellent way to learn something new. It is also an opportunity to establish a love of learning in your child and help them develop healthy learning practices through your example. Besides all that, it’s really just a fun way to spend more time together. What more could you want?
Here are a few ways that you can incorporate a little learning into your family time.
- Be their teacher.
If your child shows an interest in one of your hobbies or skills – that’s great! You’ve got a perfect opportunity to bond over something you’re already passionate about.
Beyond teaching them the basics, you will be showing your child the joy that a skill can bring to their life, and what can be achieved with consistency and focus. These lessons will set a strong foundation for their attitude toward learning and skill acquisition later in life, whether they keep up the current practice or not.
Knowing this, you’ll want to be sure to set a good example and practice what you preach. You may find yourself naturally fixing old habits, and making a point of squeezing in a little extra practice time of your own here and there. Don’t be surprised when your own skill improves as a result.
- Be their student
If your child is invested in a skill or activity that you have little or no knowledge about, let them be the one to introduce you to it.
You’ll get to learn something new, but even more importantly, you’ll gain valuable insight into your child’s life and what’s important to them. After all, the more you know about your child’s interests, the more deeply you can engage with them over those things. The more ability you gain in the activities they enjoy, the more actively you can participate and practice together, even challenge each other.
Your child will benefit from playing the teacher too (and not just from the extra time they get to spend with you). The act of teaching itself is a powerful and reliable way to deepen one’s knowledge of a subject (known as the Protégé Effect). So, you can help your child to improve their understanding and skill simply by being there and providing them the opportunity to share what they know. It’s a perfect win-win.
- Be their learning partner.
Whether it’s learning to paint, play guitar, or walk on your hands, if you and your child share a common interest in a new skill, you’ve got a fantastic opportunity to team up and learn it together.
Not only will you have fun learning the new skill, but you will likely learn a lot about the learning process itself as you go. Adults and children have their own unique strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning, so we can learn a lot from each other by working together.
Adults are typically more strategic in our practice. We’re better at analyzing new skills and coming up with action plans for learning them. Our downfall, however, is that we frequently suffer from unrealistic expectations, putting too much pressure on ourselves to be skilled right away. This can make our practice time stressful and frustrating, rather than enjoyable, which too often results in adult learners quitting before they ever get out of the beginner phase (perhaps you’ve experienced this yourself).
Children, on the other hand, are usually better at accepting that they are beginners. They take more pride and satisfaction in small improvements during the early phases, and find their practice more enjoyable and motivating as a result. However, left to themselves, children tend to struggle with a lack of direction. They are less organized and systematic in their approach to skill-building than older learners are, and usually less disciplined about performing activities that aren’t immediately gratifying (hence the need for structured coaching).
Working as a team, you can better pool your strengths and overcome your weaknesses. As the adult, you can be a model of discipline, consistency, and perseverance. You’ll be the one to teach your child about establishing good habits and creating an organized practice routine. Meanwhile, your child can take on the important role of keeping things light and fun, inspiring you to find opportunities for enjoyment in every lesson. Notice in particular the genuine pride your child feels with each milestone they pass, and let their satisfaction rub off on you. Finding joy in the process is a child’s secret weapon when it comes to learning, and one of the many great lessons they can teach us, adults.
Whatever skill you decide to take on as a team, the time you spend together will be the real reward. Still, it doesn’t hurt to come out of it with a fresh new skill, and valuable insights into the learning process too.
Our ability to learn is one of the greatest gifts we have in this world, and it is also one of the greatest gifts we can pass on to our children. When you spend time engaged in learning with your child, whether in the role of teacher, student, or learning partner, you are also helping to establish a love of learning in your child, which will open countless doors for them in the future. I can’t think of a better gift to give to someone you love or a better way to spend time with them.
I hope this post will inspire you to incorporate more learning with your child into your everyday life. Find opportunities to be their teacher, their student, and their partner in learning, and watch as both your lives are enriched.
Happy learning – Always!
// How do you learn with your kids? Please share your ideas/stories in the comments. I’d love to hear them!