You don’t, nor do you need to!
It’s a superfluous question because children come into the world with an innate love of learning just like they come in with a heart in their chest.
But you can take their natural love of learning and trample all over it. It happens to children every single day, all over the world.
The question you want to ask then is not how can you teach your child to love learning, but how can you avoid obliterating his love of learning?
The love of learning is essential to living a life of meaning, a life worth living.
As Thoreau has been quoted a million times for saying it far more eloquently than I:
You don’t want your children to grow up to be quietly desperate. You want them to embrace life, to discover their passions, develop their talents and turn those same passions and talents into hobbies and professions.
Children are looking for truth; the truth of how things are and what they are. They are born insanely curious and curious people seek to know.
There’s nothing you have to do to teach your children to love learning, but there are a couple of things you can avoid doing if you want your children to remain true to their natural state.
Don’t Be Your Child’s Playmate
I don’t mean to say that you can’t play with your children! Only that parents are far too involved in their children’s lives today, often times acting as their child’s playmate, and this can inadvertently interfere with the learning process.
If your child is trying to stack blocks, for example, but the blocks keep falling down because the bottom block is too tiny to carry the weight and size of the upper blocks, let your children figure out the problem.
You don’t need to come to the rescue; there is no impending danger.
Sure, he may cry, he may get frustrated, but eventually, he’ll work it out and when he does; he’ll be overjoyed as in over-the-moon happy.
Other than to correct uncivil behavior such as loud crying and throwing tantrums when things aren’t going his way, you don’t want to interfere with the task he has set before himself.
Have you ever tried to figure out how to do something? You try, and you try, and you try and finally understanding kicks in. Oh, the joy that follows!
The joy is lovely, its exhilarating, its ecstatic but it’s not the point to learning; it’s the perk that comes with struggling long enough to figure something out by yourself. It’s a built-in reward system that makes learning enjoyable and rewarding.
There are things we can’t always figure out though and at those times we need mentors and teachers otherwise we’ll waste time and create unnecessary problems for ourselves. Nor can children figure everything out for themselves which is why they have us.
We’re here to teach them how to develop the skills to survive in the world just like all mammals teach their young.
For example. learning how to be civilized is something it’s our duty to teach our children; they are too young to figure this out on their own. We have to teach them about a hot stove and how fire may burn them.
We also have to teach them their A B C’s.
But learning as much as they can on their own about how the physical world works not only nurtures their innate love of learning, but it’s vital to developing many skills that they’ll need to lead successful lives.
When they conquer a difficult task, they develop confidence in their ability to master things.
When they don’t give up trying, they learn perseverance which leads to success.
When they don’t quit, they learn resilience which teaches them to bounce back when they fail.
(With suicide amongst children on the rise, resiience is a vital skill)
When they don’t give up, they learn to think strategically, analytically, and comprehensively
They learn to see things from different angles and in different ways —this fosters their creativity and problem solving skills.
Who does not need problem solving skills in life!
And all of the above foster independence. You do not want to be taking care of your children forever, do you?!
Let them struggle; it’ll only do them good.
Need I mention public school? It’s general knowledge now that children enter school with immense curiosity and depart after 18 years with a piece of paper that in-between the lines says: “They knocked the love of learning out of me!”
Try to avoid it if you can.
There is something else most parents do today which is a concern like no other.
You know what I’m going to say, don’t you?
Putting your children in front of screens qualifies for what Heinlein calls “making their lives easy.” The only thing they have to do is lay back and watch a screen. They barely even need to move their eyes.
If you’re serious about raising lifelong learners, and I believe you are or you wouldn’t have read this far, then turn the screens off and get them out of sight of your children. You need to create an environment of learning in your home and technology will negate this.
Screens entertain children and children don’t learn how to entertain themselves; they lose their sense of curiosity, their love of knowing, which is why your children drive you nuts and why you rely on the screen more and more to give yourself a break.
Screens are like bandaids in that they cover up the problem, but they are unlike bandaids because they make the wound worse.
If your children are bothering you, tell them to put their shoes on, grab their coats, and send your children outdoors to explore, create, and discover. Don’t fret if they cry and get angry in the beginning; they’ll get used to it and they’ll be better off when they do.
In the meantime, you can get back to whatever it is you were trying to do. When you’ve finished, invite your children back in if you want to or let them play outside until dinnertime.
It’s a win-win for everyone.
Children do not need screens, nor do you need to rely upon them as babysitters. They’re a costly crutch that will create much bigger problems for you and your children later.
Children who are curious and who love learning for learning’s sake will naturally entertain themselves.
The world is far too fascinating a place to ever be bored.