Learning something new makes us feel competent, a positive feeling that is a powerful motivator to continue learning. Parents can create conditions that foster competence and inspire learning.


Model excitement

Share your enthusiasm for learning. Include your child in your hobbies. Talk about the fun challenge of improving your balance in yoga or solving a problem at work.

Allow autonomy

Stay involved in your child’s learning, but allow as much autonomy as is appropriate for your child’s age, ability and personality. The more your child’s learning is self-directed, the more invested she will be in her learning. Provide support as needed, but follow her lead.

Make it real

How are your child’s lessons relevant to her? Help her connect her passions with what she is learning.

Ask your child for help with household tasks that apply what she learns in school, such as doubling a recipe, calculating how much paint to buy for the living room, or grocery shopping on a budget.

Embrace errors

Failing is a natural part of the learning process. Knowledge gained from mistakes is often more potent and more permanent than knowledge gained in other ways.

Let your child know her effort, strategies, and persistence are more important than her final performance. When she gets things wrong, ask what she could have done differently and how that might change the outcome. At dinner, have family members share their “best” mistake of the week and what they learned from it.

Promote a growth mindset

Teach children that their brain is like a muscle—the more they use it, the stronger it gets. Children who believe they can improve their intelligence and performance through effort and learning have greater motivation to achieve than children who believe their intelligence is fixed. Tell children that struggling with difficult material actually makes their brain smarter. Encourage them to compete with themselves by improving their speed, accuracy, comprehension, or other measurable factors over time.