Learning is, in many ways, a natural function of childhood.
Babies have to literally learn all the functions adults take for granted such as how to eat, hold a spoon and walk.
Children are still being exposed to new situations every day, so learning is a natural event in childhood.
There is no doubt that learning can actually be fun, but adults have largely taken the fun out of learning with mandatory curriculum, standardized testing and other very rigid structures.
It turns out, however, that even adults can benefit from the fun being put back in learning.
Here are 5 hacks to help make learning fun for kids.
1. Explore Nature
The natural world holds untold mysteries that are almost universally fascinating to children.
In fact, they may see and notice things that might slide right past your attention.
Adults are often busy, with heads constantly full of a long laundry list of things they need to do, places they need to go and people they need to see.
Children have no such list, which leaves them free to look around them and see all the world has to offer.
Not only will taking children out in the natural world be an automatic learning experience for them, but it may also be an eye-opening one for you as well.
The best thing about exploring nature with kids is that you don’t have to have all the answers.
Exploring nature in and of itself will often fill them with thousands of questions about how the natural world works.
Encourage them to find answers to these questions while you’re out and about, or once you return home.
2. Visit New Places
From museums to libraries, there is an endless number of places you can take your kids other than an amusement park or play palace.
In fact, your kids may get far more enjoyment out of exploring cool new things that jumping on a trampoline or in a pit of balls for an hour.
It is largely adults that seem to have the idea that learning and fun are two separate things and that kids can only have fun when there is no learning involved.
Instead of taking them to the usual spots where there is nothing to learn, try taking them to new places where they can learn something new.
You might be surprised at just how much fun they have.
3. Make Tech Your Friend
Multitudes of adults today remember the numerous lessons they learned riding the Oregon Trail, one of the first educational video games available.
Parents today may lament the amount of time their children spend on laptops, tablets, phones or just in front of screens in general but the truth is, technology is and will continue to be an integral part of learning.
In fact, as more and more schools make the move to tablets and notebooks, tech and learning will become even more inextricably intertwined, so why not embrace cool new tech that will keep them moving too?
The truth is, children are voracious learners so while it might be wise to limit their screen time, you can also make the screen time you do allow them to count.
There are lots of educational games and apps these days that are both fun for all ages and teach them something in the process.
4. Involve Them in Your Tasks
Too often, when we think of learning, we only think of things like science or math.
The truth is, all of the many household chores you do now, you once had to learn how to do.
In many cases, you didn’t learn how to do them until you were an adult because your parents may never have taught you, they just did them themselves.
There is no doubt it is a lot faster to make a cake by yourself but involving your children can be a learning experience for them and a bonding experience for you both.
From changing the oil in your car to mopping floors or washing windows, what is a mundane chore to you is a fascinating new experience for them.
You might be surprised at how helpful they become once you teach them how to do various tasks around the house.
5. Engage Them in Their Own Learning Style
Some children are naturally voracious readers and can learn almost everything they need to know from books.
Other children are tactile learners and can spend hours putting things together and taking them apart to see how they work while still others can watch YouTube videos for hours.
In many cases, these same children will have a parent or parents that have a very different learning style.
As a child (and even as an adult) you may be a voracious reader that learns best from books but that doesn’t mean your child will be.
As parents, it is important to find your child’s learning style and feed it rather than trying to fight against them and fit them into yours.
While there is nothing wrong with encouraging them to broaden their horizons, trying to learn in a style that is not natural to them is just painful.
If you want to make learning fun for them, find activities that engage their learning style best.
Learning Should Be Fun
Fun and learning are natural companions that adults seem to always want to break up.
The truth is, most learning is naturally fun but it’s the adults that often make it hard with rigid structures and controls.
More often than not, when you simply set your kids loose in an environment ripe for learning, that is exactly what will happen.
Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favorite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters