How to Encourage Lifelong Learning in Your Family (and Yourself)

This morning I was excitedly detailing in my journal the curriculum I have lined up for the rest of 2015. Nope, not for the kids – for myself. Nope, I’m not kidding or being sarcastic.

I have a stack of books and notebooks ready, along with e-books and videos. My topics of study range from novel-writing techniques and ethical marketing for authors to sacred geometry, desire mapping, and advanced meditation techniques.

To get right to the point of this post, I think the best way to encourage your children to be lifelong learners is to be a good role model. Be a lifelong learner yourself!

Truly, learning is a whole lot of fun. Without the whole buzz-kill of compulsory study on topics you may have no interest in whatsoever, discovering new ideas, skills, and philosophies is amazing. I always say that I would have made an excellent unschooler myself, if my family had known it existed back in the 70s and 80s.

Sure, my ways of learning look different than those of my kids. ElvenTiger, now 16, was recently talking with a younger girl who wanted to know about homeschooling. She was questioning how my daughter learned without textbooks and curriculum. “Well,” ElvenTiger quipped, “there’s this thing called the Internet…”

ElvenTiger (left) taught herself to spin poi, and now she lights her props on fire...

ElvenTiger (left) taught herself to spin poi, and now she lights her props on fire…

When my teens find something new they want to learn about, they start with a Google search. They know how to weed through forums and find video tutorials, and can sift through various sources like pros. They are savvy about advertising. They both know the necessity and value of practice, and will spend hours on pursuits that are meaningful to them.

Just like me.

If you’re looking to encourage yourself in the pursuit of lifelong learning, thinking outside the box helps. Many of us were brought up to believe that the only knowledge worth having was taught to us by official teachers in a classroom setting. Maybe that’s your best method of learning – but if not, don’t worry.

There are many different learning styles, and discovering your best way of exploring new concepts and skills (and your kids’ best methods, too) can be so empowering. Most of us do best with a mix of methods. I know that I learn best when I first read and write about a subject, then begin to practice it on my own. Learning in groups is not for me (too much pressure, which becomes distracting), and listening to new information is more challenging than simply reading the material myself.

Think about how you best learn something new, and then pick a subject that you find fascinating, mysterious, and intriguing. Now, get started! No authorities needed, just you and an open mind.

The more you learn and really get absorbed in the process, the more those around you will become inspired to do the same. Learning really is a joy and a blessing, not the drag that we might once have thought it was, on those nights when homework loomed and we longed to be outside in the warm evening air, watching the stars.

BlackLion got a telescope for $10. at a yard sale this weekend, and he’s already been checking out the moons of Jupiter and the craters on Earth’s lovely moon as well. He could wait to take an astronomy class, or brush up on what he learned in college, but instead he dove right in, letting his enthusiasm lead the way. Direct experience is learning, too.

Go and check out the world, alone or with your family. Life is a learning adventure, no matter your age or profession!

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