The norm today is students often complain about schoolwork. As a teacher, I take responsibility for some of this knowing that teachers often make learning dull, tedious, and unrelated to a student’s life; however, I believe the love for learning is ultimately set in the home by parents. As a teacher and a parent, I find the statistics below shocking.
33% – percentage of people who never read a book after they graduate high school
42% – percentage of college students who never read a book after graduation
80% – percentage of families who did not buy a book this past year
70% – percentage of adults who have not been in a bookstore in the last five years (Statistics Brain, 4.28.2013)
How can this be? Aside from the non-reading, I would have almost no social life if Barnes and Noble were not in the area. But I know it’s true because of what parents say to me at open house each year. “I can’t help Junior because once I got out of school, I haven’t picked up a book” or “I was never really a good student and he/she takes after me.” I want to scream “Stop it. Your kid is right beside you ready to live up to your self-fulfilling prophecy” but I don’t because I would probably lose my job for that. So instead I issue the parents a challenge and tell them to read what their student is reading during the school year. Some actually take me up on the challenge, and I cherish the emails telling me they cannot believe they have waited so long to read To Kill a Mockingbird or Emily Dickinson.
One way we have incorporated reading into our schedule is to read as a family about three times a week at the dinner table. We usually read a few pages or a chapter of a book with our 13 year old daughter and whomever else may be at dinner that night. This communicates a few things to her: we like to read, we like to learn, we like to talk about what we learn, we have to be intentional about learning. Our current read, Love Does by Bob Goff, is a book that Brooke chose after hearing a camp counselor talk about it.
Of course, reading is not the only way to demonstrate lifelong learning. Take a class at the local recreation center or community college, learn to play a musical instrument, take tennis lessons, commit to learning what the flea-flicker play is during college football season so you can understand what your husband is talking about – the options are limitless. One time Brooke was really into collecting rocks, so we set up a time for us to meet with a neighbor who is an award winning rock hunter who gave us an education in rocks. It was great!!
The reality is our kids will model what their parents are doing, so we should be intentional about our personal learning.
What is one way you can model a commitment to lifelong learning to your children this week?