How Children Learn
..and what we need to know as parents
Knowing how children learn can ultimately unlock their blueprint of potential.
Think of your child, as the seed of a tree. Inside every tree lies a blueprint of creation that is there to guide the growth of that tree. Our children have their own unique coding, that holds their own unique potential. As parents, we are like gardeners, with the privilege of creating the right conditions for the growth of a child. When we understand those conditions, then we can promote the potential in each child.
Children learn best when they feel safe and securely attached
When survival needs are taken care of then children feel safe to learn.
They feel safe to attempt, fall down and try again.
They feel safe making mistakes
It’s easy to send positive encouragement to our toddlers because every milestone is such a delight to watch – and parents often do this naturally.
As the child grows, our role is to send positive messages and create powerful beliefs around learning.
It is helpful to know that there are many different types of intelligence. Traditionally we have focused on IQ as an ultimate measurement of intelligence but we know much better now. IQ, emotional, spatial, musical, bodily and the list goes on. It is helpful to point out to children that we all have natural inclinations toward certain ways of being in the world – which can make things easier to learn. Conversely, we can still learn other things that don’t come easily – it just takes more effort.
It is also helpful to know that we all have different learning styles.
Some prefer to learn by;
- seeing or
- hearing or speaking or
- or a combination.
What do you think is your preferred learning style?
What do you think is your child’s preferred learning style?
What are the implications for helping your child to learn?
We need to know this about ourselves and our children, to help them realise that if they are struggling to learn and remember something, then perhaps try a different style of learning. It doesn’t mean they can’t learn.
When I was teaching a year 1 class, I became acutely aware that the children were quick to realise who could read, and who couldn’t. They then made a decision whether they were smart or dumb depending on that measurement. I had to reinforce that we are all good at different things but we can all learn, it just takes time.
Children learn through their bodies and senses – it’s what switches on their brain.
Physicality in play and life is essential to the wiring of the brain, particularly when children are young. When learning is a full-bodied experience, they activate the creation of connections within their brain.
When we place children in front of screens, they are using only a small portion of their body – and you will often find they get agitated, fidgety or angry afterwards. To much input and not enough physicality.
It must be said, that there are some wonderful advantages for learning on screens, but the evidence is pretty clear for young children – it does far more harm than good. This is due to the immaturity of their brains and the role their bodies play in learning.
Too much screen time can create;
- Behavioural problems
- Social problems
- Sleep problems
- Vision problems
- Physical problems and
- Weight problems
Children learn a lot in their natural environment
How many of you remember a time when you played outside all day, lost complete track of time, and came home ready to eat a horse. I was blessed to spend all my school holidays on a farm doing just that. Unfortunately, not too many of us have access to that kind of environment, but it is important.
I once had a mum, who came to a mother’s group with her baby, and brought a small tree branch into the room, inserted it into her baby bag to hold it upright, and placed her baby underneath. Everyone marvelled at how soothing this appeared to be to the baby. Do you remember ever lying on the ground, looking up at a tree and allowing your mind to wander and dream – I bet you do.
Going on camping holidays, hiking, walking in nature with the time to notice things around us has never been so important.
If ever there was a time to educate children about the natural environment, it is now. More than ever, we need to keep our children connected to the natural world both the beauty, the value and the interconnectedness of all things. We will not value what we don’t know. We cannot save what we have not seen.
Children learn best through play
Play is the work of childhood and the seeds of the imagination. Imagination is linked to our inner creative forces. Imagination is the seed of intelligence and the ability to solve problems. Imagination is the seeds of inspiration.
This takes time – cultivating time for children to just play. Allowing them to get bored, is the beginning of the urge to create. We can sometimes get caught in the trap of feeling like we need to entertain our children, when the truth is – given time, and left to their own devices they will eventually find something to do.
There are however some things in the house that will foster play. Here are a few toys that foster creativity.
- Toys that mimic life – dress ups, cubby houses
- Junk box/room
- Books, without pictures
- Books with amazing illustrations
What else can you think of? Start a list of toys worth investing in.
These are magical and foundational years, and with this understanding you can be the gardener, creating the right conditions to unlock that little seed of a human you have brought into the world.
Enjoy my dear ones, these are precious years.