Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thirty Ways to Encourage Your Students to Learn


The environment we provide for our students is paramount.  Our homes and schools should be safe, comfortable places which foster a child's spiritual, intellectual, and creative growth.  The environment should be so full of Christ's teachings, interesting conversations, stimulating mental activities, multiculturalism, and creative opportunities that our children cannot help but be positively encouraged in all of these areas.  The purpose of doing all this is the hope that it will influence them to love life, learning, and God.

       What kind of an environment are we providing for our children if we are parents, or for our students if we are teachers?  

Studies have shown that a child’s IQ (intelligence quotient) is primarily established by age eight.  If children are intellectually and creatively encouraged at an early age, they will be eager to learn.  If they are not mentally and creatively challenged in the early, formative years, they practice learn how to "veg out", which means "to relax to the point of inertia" so that little or no learning is taking place.
 This is one of my favorite preschool/kindergarten books.

     What are we, as parents and teachers, doing to encourage their intellect in these first eight years especially, and then beyond?  If children have a greater capability to acquire knowledge and are therefore able to reason more effectively, this in turn will affect their ability to logically reason and make better decisions later in life, hopefully impacting the world for Christ.  The environment we provide for them every day can and does make a tremendous difference.      

Here are thirty ideas on how to create a spiritually, intellectually, multiculturally, and creatively stimulating environment for your students or children.


1.  Daily, have meaningful devotions.  Read portions of scripture and discuss how they apply to our daily lives.  Give examples, ask questions, and make the scriptures come alive for your children or students.  

2.  Listen to and sing good music that glorifies God.  Could you use songs to make memorizing scripture easier? Here is a link for a free download of a group singing Psalm 119 a cappella.  There are also CDs and printed copies of the music available from  

3. If you are not adept at music, find a brother in the church who is, and ask him if he would come and lead choir once or twice a week.  

4.  Visit the sick and elderly.  Hold their hands, sing to them, talk to and pray with them.
5.  Love and encourage those who are different.

6.  Hold babies and play with their feet.  

7.  Love the brothers and sisters in your church.  Invite parents, grandparents, and church members to your home or to events in your school.  


8.  The conversations we have with our children daily, and even hourly, can have a huge impact on their cognitive ability and language acquisition.  Do we talk to them as young adults and explain concepts, or do we use "baby talk" and assume they can't understand much?  Use a larger vocabulary, and then let them ask you what those words mean.  They will learn far more from words they hear us use than in vocabulary books.  (I do use and love vocabulary workbooks also.)

9.  Go on walks and look for interesting science items in nature.  Our children are now ages thirteen to twenty-three and we still do this.  Collect the finds and save them for later use.  
10.  Provide and encourage them to use workbooks from an early age (two to three).  Explain what is to be done, show them how to do it, and encourage their efforts.  (One or two pages a week for a two or three-year old is wonderful.  At age four to five one page a day is about right.)
11.  If your child or one of your students asks questions about a certain topic, find them a pertinent book, picture, encyclopedia, or research whatever it is they asked about.  This is “feeding” and encouraging their interests.  The sooner this is done the better.  The next day they might not be interested in that any more.      
12.  Do the science experiments recommended in the science curriculum.  They will learn so much more from actually doing something than just reading about it, especially in the area of science.

13.  Provide good, edifying, mentally-stimulating books, games, and puzzles -- lots of them.

14.  Read good, quality literature to your students aloud daily.

15.  Observe interesting animals or pets.  If you do not have these in your home or school they can be observed on walks, at other’s houses, in zoos, or in pet stores. 



16.  Visit museums, hiking trails, aquariums, and anything else edifying that they are interested in, or that you want them to learn about.  

17.  Let students work in groups for some projects.  Encourage them to quiz each other while studying for tests.  

18.  Learn about architecture and teach your students about the different styles and time periods.  Get a good book from the library and learn along with them if you don’t know.  

19.  Pick up a good road kill when it is educational.  (It helps if it is February, you live in Pennsylvania, and the animal is frozen.)


20.  Teach students about different cultures and time periods through reading good literature out loud.  This could foster an interest in missions.  If a student is doing a speech on a foreign country, encourage them to dress in the attire of that country.  Pick a theme for a birthday or school party and find music, food, costumes, and games from that country.  

21.  Hang maps on the walls; the bigger and more colorful the better.  Encourage your students to find the countries and point to them.  Use Geography Songs to memorize the names of different countries (an a cappella version is also available from Christian Learning Resources).  

22.  Find culturally interesting items at thrift stores or garage sales, and display them in your home or school.  Make some yourselves for a fun art project.  

23.  Travel and enjoy new experiences together as a family or on field trips with your students.  

24.  Try new recipes and foods.  

25.  Teach your students about beautiful art and architecture.  Hang interesting things from the ceiling.  Make some creative art projects and hang them up, go on drives in historic areas, and hang reproductions of famous works of art on the walls.

26.  Encourage creativity.  Allow your students to do a few unusual, experimental activities-- especially if they think of the ideas themselves and respectfully ask for permission to do so. 

27.  Don’t just read about things in books, create them.  

 28.  Stop and observe unusual sights when driving on field trips or as a family on a road trip.  

29.  Pray for them.  Lots.
30.  Finally, don’t be afraid to look a little silly.  Don’t take yourself, or let your students take themselves, too seriously.