This post was sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.
How do you as a parent encourage a lifelong love of learning in your child? Houghton Mifflin Harcourt believes that everyday moments of curiosity can spark an interest in kids, motivating them to dig for answers. Asking questions and learning how to find answers is the key to creating a desire to learn.
As a mom with three kids, I’ve found that my children are polar opposite when it comes to what drives their curiosity. My oldest, now 16 years old, has always had a love for art. For her, we brought her to art museums, got her art books, and provided her with art materials so that she could draw, draw, draw every single day. Her progress is captured here: Grasshopper and Sensei. It’s no surprise to us that she wants to attend an art and design college.
A recent drawing by my oldest.
My middle child is very different from her siblings. She is driven to learn because not understanding things drives her crazy. At a very young age, she expressed an interest in how business works. At age 6, she wondered about franchised owned stores versus company owned stores when she expressed a desire to own a Staples store.
Now, at age 13, she owns Staples. Sort of. She bought shares of Staples with her own money and now bemoans that her investment is underwater. Learning how to invest in stocks has been a great learning experience for her, and I have no doubt that her investments as an adult will be more successful. One of her goals in life is to become a billionaire. She has expressed that a young age, and continues to reiterate that goal to us often and loudly.
I wrote this stock investment guide for my middle child.
My youngest’s learning is driven by video gaming. He loves Minecraft, YouTube videos of people playing Minecraft, any kind of gaming device, and Naruto. What seems like a vice can actually be a learning opportunity to foster a love of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) or STEAM (which is Art added as well). And, in face, he loves math, science, and computer programming. It turns out that making video games is even more fun than playing them which has motivated him to learn Scratch and Java.
My son’s love of the cartoon Naruto has also sparked an interest in art and we’ve used Naruto theme songs to get him to practice his guitar. My son’s career aspirations have varied but I suspect that he will develop his drawing and computer programming skills and apply them in the technology field, hopefully making gaming his career!
I believe that children’s books are an important cornerstone of fostering a lifelong love of learning (which is why I blog on multicultural books for kids incessantly). Did you know that in middle-income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children. (Neuman, Susan B. and David K. Dickinson, ed. Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 2. New York, NY: 2006, p. 31.) But 61 percent of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children. (Reading Literacy in the United States, 1996.)
Getting books and knowledge tools into the hands of kids is a goal that I share with Houghton Mifflin. With #SparkAMind, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will donate a children’s book to an early learning organization to help close the early education gap and prepare children for long-term success in school and in life.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt also offers The Curious World app, an early learning resource app designed for kids ages 3-7 with over 500 fun and educational games, videos and books! My readers can get a discount subscription by using this code.
Early childhood education is an important time to spark an interest in learning. As evidenced by my kids, they all have varied interests. Luckily there are many ways to follow the lead of your child to explore the world around them such that they develop a lifelong love of learning. What is working for you? Please share!