Children are naturally curious and have active minds that learn rapidly. A child’s brain development is 90% complete by age five.
Moreover, research has shown that a child’s experiences from birth to age ten determine her learning patterns and mental development. As such, it is important to provide positive and interesting learning experiences to the child from an early age.
Here are some important ways to instill a love for learning in your child that will last her entire life and help to reach her full potential.
Ways To Encourage Learning In Children
A Conducive Atmosphere
A child’s immediate surroundings have a direct impact on her mental development. If her home is replete with colorful books, educational toys and games, and fun activities that arouse her curiosity and her interest she will feel encouraged to explore the world around her.
Communication And Sharing
Talk and discuss often with your child about the interesting things you see, read, hear and experience, including animals and plants, food, current events, traffic rules, values and manners, relationships, and other topics. Let her express and explain her own opinions and feelings and do not be over judgemental or impose your own views on her.
Interests And Hobbies
It is good to share some of your own hobbies and interests with your child, as well as to encourage and support her own ones. Reading, drawing or painting, playing a musical instrument, a sport, gardening, solving puzzles or collecting things – any field can stimulate a child’s mind and make for an interesting learning experience. For example, games and sports improve memory, concentration, strategic thinking, and problem-solving and social skills.
Art is a very important form of human expression, and it is known to stimulate mental development and creativity in children. Art and music enhance intelligence, critical thinking ability, and social skills. Young children express themselves better through drawing and painting rather than words,and are especially sensitive to sound and music.
Encourage your child to draw, color, dance and sing, listen to music, play an instrument, sculpt or photograph. It will enable better self-expression and communication which is an essential part of learning.
The human mind likes variety and change, and children are no different. Expose your child to diverse experiences like sports, music, theatre, travel, swimming, cycling, games, food, other cultures, museums, exhibitions, parks, nature, fairs and festivals.
These encourage lateral thinking and intellectual development. Besides, such exposure may help determine future choices.
Learning becomes fun when it goes beyond conventional ways and becomes interesting to the child – such as through active participation and hands-on activities.
Science projects, math games, reading aloud, etc. improve the grasp of a subject and encourage children to learn without boredom. Moreover, doing things with their own hands and finishing tasks successfully enhances children’s self-esteem.
Learning is not just about academics, art and sports. Everyday situations provide an excellent opportunity to learn real-life skills – buying goods and paying bills at the grocery store, dealing with adults other than parents, storing and organizing things at home, keeping time, following traffic rules, taking help from cops in need and the like.
It also makes the child feel more in control of their world, and this in turn gives them the confidence to try bigger things and explore the wider world.
A study published in 1995 in the Journal of Technology Education found that collaborative learning enhanced critical thinking, decision-making, communication, problem-solving, team work and social skills in children. It taught them to bring their individual strengths to the group and work together to arrive at consensual solutions.
Home And School Work
Give your child support and guidance in academics. Take an active interest in her home work and class learning. Ensure a quiet spot at home for study, make sure she completes homework and understands mistakes, and ask questions about what was taught at school to know if the learning is by rote or by understanding.
To ensure that children really learn, it is important to reinforce at home what is taught in school. This can be achieved by asking children to teach you or a sibling their newly-acquired skills, planning activities at home and out of home relating to what is taught – such as visits to the museum, zoo or science center, helping them maintain a diary or scrapbook for a subject or area of interest, and collecting samples, pictures, notes or articles.
Learning is a continuous process and happens even when there is no conscious or structured ‘learning’. Do not squeeze in as many activities as possible into your child’s daily schedule. Allow your child to simply be – wandering, free play, day dreaming, doing random things, and hanging around adults going about their work at home. This enables natural learning, where the child discovers and learns about things on her own.
Parents are the best teachers. They must motivate their child and create excitement towards learning and school. This attitude will be imbibed by the child and make them self-learners for life.