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How Do Kids Learn Best?

22 September 2020

Young children possess an expansive stretch for learning, and it is important that we as caregivers create the most encouraging environment to support and boost this gift. We are indeed our children`s first teachers and will remain in this key role for as long as the child remains directly under our wings, which is going to be for a long time.

The Base of it All

The most fundamental key for a child`s healthy development is that the child is given an environment that feels safe, nurturing, and where they can play. We as caregivers need to engage with our children through affectionate, trusting and responsive relationships.

The Primary Ways of Learning

A child primarily learns by interacting directly with their environment and by observing others. Therefore, it is important that we provide the child with a stimulation-rich environment, with diverse possibilities for ways to learn and play. We need to give them room to make their own mistakes, and to figure out the mechanics of this world on their own. This also means that when around our children, we practice the habits and behaviors, that we in turn want to inculcate in them. The child at times does indeed need the support of parents/primary caregivers to learn. Even though, as mentioned earlier it is best to let the child figure the world out on their own, but it is also important to recognize the opportunities where we can show our children how and what is to be done. At the end, it is about maintaining the healthy balance between independent, self-reliant learning and assisted learning for the child.

Expanding on and exceeding the primary ways of learning

Active Learning

As one can imagine, kids do not do very well in scenarios where they are made to be passive listeners for longer durations. It is very important for kids to get the chance to perform hands-on and collaborative activities. They are naturally curious, and in fact love to learn new things. So in a sense we need to allow kids to take control over their own learning. In that regard, we allow them to make decisions for their own learning journey, and what their interests and future aspirations are going to be. By giving children these choices, we not only make them smarter, but also more independent, confident, self-relying, and responsible individuals.

Social Immersion

Social interactions are a central aspect of learning for kids. They teach the kids the dynamics of inter-personal engagements, and how to become an acceptable part of our communities or society. These skills are first brought to life through their interactions with their caregivers. Which is why, it becomes very important from our end as caregivers, to participate with our children in a responsible, conscious, collaborative and co-operative manner. It is also important for us to give the kids opportunities to interact with a larger social circle, such as with their peers, to give them sufficient scope to observe their environment, and have a richer basis for developing these social skills.

Understanding over Memorization

Researches depict that superficially memorized information is easily forgotten. Whereas, the act of understanding helps to convert information into knowledge that is embedded and can in turn be applied to other areas of our life. Therefore, it is important that kids are not made to do or learn things for doing or learning sake. We must help our kids to understand what is it that they are learning, why is it important, and where can it be used. Giving examples is a good practice for inculcating understanding. Having kids to explain concepts or phenomena in their own words can be another good way to sharpen understanding.

Practice Makes Perfect

Learning is an iterative and additive process. For instilling learning, it is important that the child is given enough room to practice his/her lessons. Therefore, in case of focused skill building in children, we must first and foremost not burden them with too many new topics at a time. Instead we can help engage them in activities that are resonant with something they have already learnt once.

Fostering Motivation for Learning

People cannot be pushed towards a goal post, they are carried forward by their passion to achieve the goal. Similarly, for a child, learning can eventually be sustained only through an intrinsic sense of motivation and passion for it. For long term success for the child, it is important to inculcate this sense of intrinsic motivation early on in the child`s life. Researches depict that we can extrinsically help ingrain this sense of motivation in children by rewarding them for “target behaviors”. Praise and encouragement are really good ways to do this.

Last, but not the Least.

Every flower has its own individual scent; likewise every child has his/her own developmental style and character

In developmental psychology, it has been argued that there are various dimensions of human intelligence apart from just logical and linguistic skills, such as – musical gifts, spatial skills, kinesthetic abilities, or emotional skills, etc. It is very crucial that we create an environment that does not favor one type of skill over the other. Therefore, it becomes important to introduce children to a wide range of subject materials, activities and styles of learning, such that we give them enough scope and latitude to discover their own interests and strengths. These subjects can include language, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, art, music, movement, social understanding, etc.

Unlike common belief, it has actually been noted that helping people, and in this case children, to focus on their strengths has a much greater and more profound pay-off than forcing them to “cover up” in skills where they may lack, or which may not come as naturally to them. Therefore, above everything, it is important that we play the role of encouraging and adaptive caregivers, who can adapt to the potential and inclinations displayed by our child.

We hope that this piece was helpful to you. If you liked it, we promise to keep you tuned with more of such helpful content.

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