Launch Global Education
Sparks blog: Promoting life-long learning

by Dr. Ann Wagner

It can drive us a little crazy—our child seemingly takes no interest in learning. Social media, gaming, spending time with friends, even sleeping—these all seem to take priority over educational endeavors.  How, as a parent, can you help your child understand the importance of learning? And even more importantly, how can help them become life-long learners?

two people at an art museum

Support, not force

Yes, forcing a teenager to cut back on time spent pursuing non-academic activities in favor of academic pursuits can help in the short term; however, in the long term this may stifle creativity and extinguish a love for learning.

Find ways to stimulate learning that emphasizes variety.  Take in an exhibit at a local art museum. Wander the aisles of a bookstore or the local library together. Learn and share research and knowledge on a current event. Learning doesn’t always mean reading and rereading textbooks. Encourage a multitude of ways to learn.


Be open to their interests

What is your child excited about? Perhaps motorcycles are your daughter’s interest. Maybe your son loves sea mammals. No matter the interest, understand that they are learning more each time they connect with this passion. Your daughter might be learning how motorcycles are built, growing her knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Your son could be learning about the science behind habitat preservation, or how non-profit organizations function. 

Remember, it is these types of pursuits that stand out on college applications, especially if these learning journeys are nurtured and allowed to flourish.  Most universities take a holistic approach to applicants, looking not just at academic achievements, but what makes them stand out as individuals.  When students can connect their interests to their learning, it shows a higher level of thinking.

parent and student reading


During the teen years, it may seem as though your child’s default position is to be in opposition to you.  However, the way parents approach learning after formal schooling can greatly influence a child’s perception of life-long learning.

Let’s take reading as an example.  You advise them to read more—do you read?  Do they see you reading?  Do you discuss what you are reading?  How do you show the application of what you are reading to the work you do? To your viewpoint on world politics? Or local issues? Or life? Life-long learning should be modeled. A do-what-I-say-and-not-what-I-do approach is rarely successful.
long row of books

Encourage connections

Some of the most valuable learning occurs when students take what they know and apply it in new situations. Help your child make connections—not just spend more hours going over the same material. Show your children the ways you link your knowledge to the real world.  And don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Seize the opportunity to learn something new together.

Life-long learning is, in short, about remaining curious. When we expand our definition of learning—encourage passions, make connections to the real world, and model through our own learning—our children will remain inquisitive.

Dr. Ann Wagner

Ann Wagner, EdD is a founder and the Vision Engineer for Launch Education.  Dr. Wagner has led international schools around the world and currently teaches at the university level, working with educators earning their master's degrees.