Your Words Can Foster a Love for Learning

As parents do you feel the pressure of trying to enrich your child’s environment and education with extracurricular activities and yet still wonder whether or not you are doing what you need to do to develop in your child a motivation to be a life-long learner?

Eric Sheninger, the principal at New Milford High School and a 2012 NASSP Digital Principal Award winner, writes that research suggests that one of the best things parents can do to support a child is to help him/her develop a motivation to learn.  Larry Ferlazzo, a teacher at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, has identified three key ways to do this as supported by studies from the National Research Council and the Center on Education Policy:

  • Praise effort and specific work instead of native intelligence.  Try saying: ”Boy, those two hours you spent working on the essay last night really paid off.  I loved how you described the characters in the novel” instead of “Wow, you are a natural-born writer.”
  • Connect what children are studying to what is happening in their life and in the world.  If he is learning about the Middle East, discuss a newspaper article about issues in that region.
  • Avoid using rewards and punishments for academic work.  If you give your child a dollar for every book he reads, it’s less likely he will want to read books for pleasure after you stop paying him.

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