Looking to encourage and motivate your child to learn? Here, clinical psychologist and family therapist Andrew Fuller shares how parents can increase children's motivation and passion for learning.
Every child’s brain is as unique as their fingerprint. This gives them their own pattern of learning strengths. When parents and children know this pattern they can more powerfully engage in learning and discover pathways to success.
Parents don’t need to be teachers or experts in brain functions. Learning strengths expand parents existing knowledge and increase their capacity to motivate and inspire their children about future possibilities.
Learning strengths is based on the latest research from neuroscience and gives parents a way of increasing their children’s motivation and passion for learning.
How does knowing learning strengths help me to help my child?
There are a number of ways this knowledge benefits your child:
Overcoming a fear of ‘failure’
Success in life is not about being good at everything. Success is about discovering what you are good at, developing those strengths and applying them to other areas where possible.
Some children believe that unless they a good at everything, they are not smart or successful. If this belief persists they lose motivation, fear making mistakes and avoid learning.
A child whose parent knows how to help them discover their learning strengths and how to use them to build success in other areas is much more likely to remain confident and motivated.
Knowing your learning strengths and your child’s patterns assists you to consider similarities and differences between you both. Not every child shares the same strengths as their parent. Valuing strengths your child has, that you do not share, is a voyage of discovery for most parents.
Parents are powerful teachers of their children. By focusing on activities that your child already has learning strengths in, you are likely to get greater engagement and enjoyment.
Extending opportunities to develop learning
Learning strengths starts with what is strong as a way of improving what is not yet strong.
For example, if your child has a learning strength in perceptual-motor areas (sport, dance, craft, construction) and you wanted to improve their strengths in number smarts, you might find ways to discuss how numbers play a role in those areas.
Concepts like arcs, trajectories, sports statistics, percentages, right angles and number sequences all become more meaningful when we relate them to something a child is already good at.
At home, a child who has concentration and memory learning strengths but is yet to develop planning and sequencing strengths may struggle to clean up their room. A parent could help them by using what they are already strong at (concentration and memory) by turning room cleaning into a memory game i.e. ‘what we need to do next?’ This will make learning a new sequence easier.
Success creates success
The fastest way to help children to become passionate about their learning is to have their early attempts and successes acknowledged. The Learning Strengths letter and full report are precisely designed to do this.
Involvement at school
Completing the analysis and report empowers parents to take this knowledge to parent-teacher meetings and use it to proactively and collaboratively plan with teachers what strengths to build upon in the next term and also how to use those strengths to develop in other areas. Learning happens fastest when parents, teachers and students collaborate together.
There is a strong overlap between our learning strengths and what we are interested in. A child’s learning strengths may change as they mature but in the long-term, knowing about learning strengths helps young people choose the
courses or careers that suit them and where they are most likely to experience success.
Finding a career path that calls upon your learning strengths is a pathway to having a satisfying life. Children knowing their learning strengths goes some way towards increasing the likelihood that they may be able to provide you with some support in your more senior years.
Discover your learning strengths
Go to www.mylearningstrengths.com and complete the analysis. Begin by completing the analysis for yourself. You will be emailed a free letter outlining your two top learning strengths and suggestions about how to use these to increase learning in an area you are yet to fully develop.
Knowing your own learning strength profile will help you to see how to help your child towards success.
Once you have an understanding of your own learning strengths, ask your child to complete the analysis and discuss the letter with them. For children younger than Year 4 you may need to do it with them. For very young children, you could complete it on their behalf and treat the results as a rough guide as they develop and mature.
You can repeat the analysis as many times as you like but generally, once every six months will be most useful.
Andrew is a clinical psychologist and family therapist, author and speaker, and a regular contributor to The Parents Website.
More tips about how to maximise your success can be found at:
Books for teachers
Guerilla Tactics for Teachers (from www.andrewfuller.com.au)
Unlocking Your Child’s Genius (Bad Apple Press)
Neurodevelopmental Differentiation- Optimising Brain Systems to Maximise Learning (HawkerBrownlow)