One of the things that I am very aware of as a parent is that my kids are watching me – they not only watch me, they copy me as well.

I remember deciding that it was time to teach Josh to dry the dishes.  He would have been about 2-3 years old.  I brought him to the sink, stood him on a chair and explained the process.  We practiced it together and he had picked it up pretty quick so I gave him the opportunity to do it without me there.  (Big boy responsibility!)  I went to do something else but before long Josh was there with me saying he had finished.  I came back to the kitchen to see what kind of job he had done because he had finished way quicker than I anticipated.  And what I saw pulled me up in my tracks.  He had simply laid the tea-towel over the dishes.  He had never seen me dry the dishes (except for my little lesson), instead he had always seen me wash the dishes, and leave them to dry with a tea-towel over the top.  He was following my example – not my lesson!

This is the same for whatever we want to teach our kids – be it life skills (like drying the dishes, making your bed and spending money wisely), to moral choices (like telling your kids to say you are not at home – when you are!), to our emotional responses (how you handle someone disappointing you), and certainly to our attitude towards learning.

I am sure most parents know that their kids copy them but I don’t know that many think about it in the intellectual arena.  We subconsciously divide our life up and the whole learning issue is a part of childhood.  Or if we do learn, it is for our qualifications and employment.  And yet we say we want our kids to be lifelong learners.

Wikipedia defines lifelong learning as:  lifelong, voluntary, and self-motivated.

  • Lifelong – you are never too old to learn something new, there is always something to learn
  • Voluntary – no-one is telling you to do this, it comes from within you – a desire to learn something
  • Self-motivated – no one is pushing you or keeping tabs on you and yet you learn

Are you are lifelong learner?

If you want your children to be lifelong learners, you need to be modelling this today. We need to model the following:

[list_item]Curiosity – though curiosity killed the cat, it is actually the instigator in all true learning.  If you aren’t interested, if you don’t want to know, then you won’t learn, not really learn.   What are you curious about?  What interests you?[/list_item]
[list_item]Asking good questions – One way of learning is to sit in a class and just absorb what we are being told or simply listen to what is being read.  Alternatively we can get involved and ask a question – asking questions will set us on a path of deep and real learning.[/list_item]
[list_item]Research – An aspect of asking good questions is knowing who to ask.   Do we know an expert?  Do we go to Google and find something on the internet?  Go to the library and find a book.  Do we have to investigate and experiment ourselves and observe the results?  Research is another name for ‘finding answers’.    Do you look for answers?[/list_item]
[list_item]Trying something new.  We cannot learn something unless we move on from what we already know or can do.  Curiosity and adventure go together.[/list_item]
[list_item]Handling failure.  It is bound to happen – we will try something and we will not succeed.  What will be our response?  Will we only do the things we are good at?  These attitudes will be passed onto our kids for sure.[/list_item]
[list_item]Using technology.  Our kids world is going to include digital technology and I am a strong believer that we, as parents, need to experience at least some of the digital tools so that we can model using it safely, wisely and for God’s glory.[/list_item]
[list_item]Do something.  Knowledge that just sits there, unutilised goes to waste and eventually disappears.  Find some way to use what you are learning – write about it, talk about it, or make something.[/list_item]

I believe that if we have this attitude towards life, towards learning, then our kids will have a head start on learning themselves.

I wonder what you have been learning about lately?

I guess I should be the first to answer that question.  Yes, I have been learning new things:

I’ve been learning about:

[list_item]scrapbooking in a non-chronological way[/list_item]

[list_item]using technology in the classroom[/list_item]

What about you? What are you learning about?

Photo Credit – Stuart Miles and