Homeschooling offers a unique opportunity for creating lifelong learners. Here are 11 tips and strategies you can add to your day to help encourage and empower your child.
I remember the first time I understood what it meant to be a lifelong learner. I was 12 years old and looking at pictures of my mom when she was in the military.
“Why is your hair in a French braid in every photo?” I asked. Her answer: “It was the only hairstyle I knew how to do in uniform. I had to teach myself.”
I often heard her mention the things she had taught herself. She taught herself how to cook, how to balance a checkbook, and even how to change a flat tire.
That day was the first time I understood how impressive it was that she taught herself all of those skills. And this was long before Google and YouTube.
When my mom taught herself how to French braid her hair, people didn't have access to knowledge and information at the touch of a finger. Someone either had to give it to you or, if you were like my mom, you looked for it.
People like my mom are lifelong learners. And as parents, that's a skill we want our children to have as well.
What is a Lifelong Learner?
Even at 12, I understood my mom was unique. If she wanted or needed to do something, she figured it out.
She never let her lack of knowledge stop her.
When she was pregnant with me and couldn't afford maternity clothes, she made her own. When she wanted to learn how to prepare sushi, she bought a book and taught herself.
She even learned how to play golf at the age of 40.
When my mom came up against obstacles in her life, whether big or small, she didn't let them stop her. She went out and learned the information and skills she needed to overcome them.
Her willingness to learn and improve is the hallmark of a lifelong learner.
The Cambridge Dictionary describes it as “the process of gaining knowledge and skills throughout your life, often to help you do your job properly.”
I know for a fact my mom does plenty of continuing education classes, but the real impact of being a lifelong learner is in her own life and the things she taught me as her daughter.
Benefits of Lifelong Learning
Growing up, I was amazed at how my mom seemed able to teach herself how to do whatever she wanted.
However, it wasn't until I was an adult that I began to appreciate the benefits of being a lifelong learner. I began to see how it empowers you to take control of your future.
Here are a few ways lifelong learning impacts your life:
Self-confidence and Empowerment
As my mom showed me time and time again, when you learn and try new things, you become more self-confident. You know no matter what comes your way, you can figure it out.
This confidence not only improves your personal life but also spills over into other areas like work and relationships.
More life satisfaction
Learning new things keeps your mind active and engaged. You gain a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction which are important for long-term happiness.
Lifelong learners are also more adaptable to change because they have a growth mindset and constantly seek new knowledge and skills.
Being adaptable enables you to embrace changes in your life when necessary. When my mom became a single mom with a daughter to support, she wasn't afraid to go back to school to get a better career.
Being a lifelong learner allowed her to take control of her life and create positive changes.
Ability to keep up with our changing world
In this fast-paced world, knowledge and skills can quickly become outdated. Being a lifelong learner allows you to stay up-to-date with new trends and developments in your field or interests.
You can adapt to new technology and changes which impact how we live and work. This allows you to be secure and successful in your career.
The Takeaway: Teaching your child to be a lifelong learner gives them the self-confidence and ability to not only keep up with the world around them but to thrive in it.
11 of the Best Strategies for Creating Lifelong Learners
So what's the secret to creating lifelong learners? Start when they're young.
The sooner you work to create an environment that encourages lifelong learning, the better.
As a homeschool parent, you have the time and opportunity to teach important lifelong learning skills and encourage the mindset necessary for continual learning.
Here are 11 things you can add to your homeschool day to teach your child how to be a lifelong learner:
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1.) Give them ownership of their learning
A great step for creating lifelong learners is to give them ownership over their learning. Help them become a part of the process.
Let them choose what they want to learn about and how they want to learn it. As a lifelong learner, your child needs to know how to seek out knowledge rather than wait for someone to give it to them.
Right now is a great time to allow them to practice this skill.
- Let them choose which topics to study.
- Have them create their schedule.
- Let them explore different learning resources. (documentaries, hands-on projects,
books, videos, etc.)
2.) Set learning goals
Another way to incorporate ownership into your child's education is to set learning goals together. Help them identify what they want to learn and where they need to go to find the information.
For example, if your child wants to study dinosaurs, have them decide ahead of time what they want to learn about dinosaurs. Then go over places and ways they might gather information.
This helps them understand the connection between what they want to learn and how to find it.
3.) Mistakes vs learning opportunities
Another way to help create lifelong learners is to embrace mistakes. Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process.
Instead of teaching your child mistakes are bad or that they've messed up, use them as an opportunity to learn.
Encourage them to try again and figure out what went wrong. This teaches them it's okay to make mistakes and they can learn from them.
I remember watching tears of frustration run down my mom's face as she had to pull out all of the stitches on a sewing project that went wrong. But I also remember seeing her figure out her mistake, fix it, and create a beautiful dress she wore for years.
Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. As a lifelong learner, you learn to embrace them.
4.) Help them master their learning style
A big part of being a lifelong learner is understanding how you learn in the first place. Is your child a visual learner or prefers hands-on activities? Can they learn from a book or do they need videos?
This might sound like a small thing, but so many kids think they can't learn or feel it's difficult for them because they aren't taught in a way that matches up with their learning style.
Once they know how they learn and what methods or techniques work for them, they can use it to their advantage in all areas of their life.
5.) Let them teach you
A great way to encourage a love of learning (a core part of becoming a lifelong learner) is to let your child teach you about something they're passionate about.
This not only improves their confidence but also reinforces the knowledge and skills they have acquired. Plus, it shows them you value their opinions and ideas, which can boost self-esteem.
You can do this with hobbies, extracurricular subjects, or any area they're passionate about. I can't tell you how many times my kids have taught me something new about Minecraft!
6.) Make time for play
Another way to support a love of learning is to ensure there is plenty of time for play throughout the day. Play is how young children learn. (Older children too!)
When children play, they use their imagination, problem-solving skills, and creativity. They also get to take control of their learning and explore their interests in a fun and engaging way.
These are all skills lifelong learners use often.
7.) Follow their interests
As a homeschool parent, you have the flexibility to follow your child's interests and incorporate them into their learning. This is a great way to keep them engaged and motivated.
If they show an interest in space, for example, you can plan lessons around it and incorporate science, math, writing, and even history. This not only helps them learn about their interests but also shows them how different subjects are interconnected.
Exploring their interests also helps further support an openness to and love of learning. This is what gives a lifelong learner the drive to seek out new information and skills.
8.) Encourage critical thinking
Lifelong learners are also known to think critically about the world around them and ask questions.
Encourage your child to be curious and look at different perspectives. This helps them develop their own opinions and beliefs, as well as seek out new information.
You can do this by asking open-ended questions or talking about current events or topics they're interested in.
This post, 100+ Inspiring Open-Ended Questions to Ignite a Child’s Curiosity, has some great questions to get you started.
9.) Be open to technology
Since technology is such a big part of our lives, it's important to embrace it and use it as a tool for learning.
Almost endless educational resources can be found online, from virtual field trips to interactive games and activities.
These resources can help your child become comfortable with technology and see it as a valuable tool for learning.
My mom might not have had Google or YouTube when she was younger, but you better believe she uses those resources now to learn about things that interest her.
10.) Offer help, not solutions
This is one of the tougher strategies for parents, but it's important to offer help instead of solutions when creating lifelong learners. As a mom, I know how hard it is to not jump in and solve problems for our kids.
It's what we've done since they were born, after all. However, creating lifelong learners is all about teaching them to find their own solutions.
Don't tell them the answer to their math problem, ask them what methods they tried to solve it. Maybe suggest websites they might try to get help.
Show them where they can find the answer instead of giving it to them.
11.) Be an example
The last thing you can do in your homeschool day to help create lifelong learners is to be an example of one. A large part of how my mom taught me to be a lifelong learner was by being one.
She showed me what it looked like to not be afraid to go out there and learn how to do something. To embrace being a beginner and the person in the room who knew the least.
She taught me to ask questions and not be afraid of mistakes or looking silly. She showed me learning is fun and it's something we can do throughout our whole lives.
As an example, you need to be open-minded, curious, and ready to learn. As your child sees you doing these things, it will inspire them to do the same.
Final Thoughts on Creating Lifelong Learners
Creating lifelong learners doesn't happen overnight, but if you embrace the tips from this list, you'll set the foundation for your child to become one.
Remember it's not only about academic success, but also about fostering curiosity, adaptability, and critical thinking skills. These qualities will serve them well in every aspect of their life.
I've seen my mom go from pretty French braids to refinishing furniture and snagging her dream job all because she wasn't afraid to continue to learn and grow. I can only hope I teach my kids to do the same.
If you want more resources about creating independent, lifelong learners, check out the book Teach by Dennis Denoia. It's a fabulous resource for homeschool parents who want to create an environment that fosters a love of learning.
Do you have any go-to tips for creating lifelong learners? Leave them in the comments below. And don't forget to share this post with a homeschool friend who's also ready to raise lifelong learners. 🙌
More Resources to Help You Homeschool!
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