Engaging kids in learning

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Engaging kids in learning

How can we get kids more engaged with their education? I mean this is one of those classic issues, right? You have a kid who doesn't like school, who thinks it's boring, who isn't into learning. What do you do? One thing you do is you find out what it is they love. Every kid has something that they love to do, that they're excited about, that makes them happy – whether that's music or art or science or space or dinosaurs –whatever it is. And you want to encourage them to follow that love and you want to model what that looks like in a learning environment. You might want to get on the computer together and look up some questions about the topic that your kid loves. You have an older kid who only loves to skateboard, you point out there's a lot of physics and math involved in skateboarding, “Let’s talk about why you don't fall off, why you have the ramp built a certain way.” And then you slowly move that over towards the school and you work with one teacher or one class to get that kid motivated and excited. The way to get kids engaged in learning is to model that kind of learning in your home and work with the school to make sure that they're giving relevant lessons, that they're motivating kids with exciting and different kinds of topics, hands on. What we say is ‘voice and choice’ where a kid gets to choose which of the three books to read or choose what they get to write their paper on. That's the way to help kids get engaged in school and to model it at your house.

Watch Denise Pope, PhD's video on Engaging kids in learning...


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Denise Pope, PhD

Senior Lecturer & Author

Denise Pope, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education. For the past 13 years, she has specialized in student engagement, curriculum studies, qualitative research methods, and service learning. She is co-founder of Challenge Success, a research and intervention project that aims to reduce unhealthy pressure on youth and champions a broader vision of youth success. Challenge Success is an expanded version of the SOS: Stressed-Out Students project that Dr. Pope founded and directed from 2003-2008. She lectures nationally on parenting techniques and pedagogical strategies to increase student health, engagement with learning, and integrity. Her book, Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students was awarded Notable Book in Education by the American School Board Journal, 2001. Dr. Pope is a three time recipient of the Stanford University School of Education Outstanding Teacher and Mentor Award.  Prior to teaching at Stanford, Dr. Pope taught high school English in Fremont, CA and college composition and rhetoric courses at Santa Clara University. She lives in Los Altos, CA with her husband and three children.

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