Every parent dreams of having a child who is a smart learner. A child who just learns things without being taught. Or a child who needs to be taught something just once to learn it and become very good at it.
When a child struggles with learning – his parents look sadly and wistfully at other children who are learning faster than him and wish that their child was like that too. They regret the fact that their child is not a rapid learner and wonder why their child is not learning as rapidly as some of the others.
Parents of children who struggle to learn – wish for a miracle to make their child a rapid learner. And fortunately – there is good news for these parents. Miracles do happen.
Every child in fact is born a miracle. A miracle who can learn anything and everything and do almost anything and everything. All children need is a chance to perform this miracle. And to perform this miracle this is what they need from you.
Children learn by watching – allow your child to move around.
Allow your child to watch and explore. Children who learn something quickly, have in all probability seen someone doing that thing many times in real life. They have watched intently and closely without being distracted by devices or being dragged away to do other things. They have already learnt half of what they know by watching someone else do it. When a child is allowed to explore on his own he discovers how to do things in his own way ad at his own pace. Then when he begins to learn the same thing in an organised manner where he is taught – he learns much faster
What you can do – A big mistake that we make because we fear for our children’s safety is that we do not allow them to move around and explore. We make things convenient for ourselves by handing them a device or seating them in front of a TV screen. We hope that they will learn from the devices and they do – but much less than if they had a chance to explore and observe. Set your child free – allow him to move around and explore and observe. You will soon have a rapid learner.
Children learn by doing – allow your child to make mistakes.
As adults we are embarrassed of mistakes. We want to do everything perfectly – the first time and every time after that. And we want our children to be perfect too. And so we “help” our children do things. We ensure that they don’t make mistakes. We do this without realizing that making mistakes is the best way to learn.
What you can do – if you want your child to learn well – allow him to make mistakes. Allow him to realize the consequences of that mistake and allow him to find a way to fix the mistake. As he goes through the process of discovering and rectifying his mistake – stand behind him and support him. Let him know that you are proud of him for attempting this and that you are right there for him if he needs you. Show him how he can avoid making the same mistake again – but do not do his work for him.
Children learn by listening– teach your child how to listen carefully
One of the most important ways in which children learn is by listening to what is said. They must listen to what the teacher says. They must listen to what their friends say. And they must also listen to the other sounds around them. But listening is an art – and there is a lot of difference between hearing and listening.
What can you do – Help your child to develop the ability to listen. Help him to notice the sounds around him. The chirping of birds, the sound of the pressure cooker. Help him identify sounds of familiar vehicles like your own car or bike or the neighbor’s door bell. Being able to notice sounds that are not in the immediate vicinity are very good practice for learning in school where every instruction or piece of information may not be directed to the child – but available for the child to grasp if he is used to listening. A child who is able to grasp more information will certainly learn faster.
Children learn from their teachers. Never criticize your child’s teacher in front of him
Your child’s teacher has a very important role to play in your child’s learning process. Even if you think differently from the teacher, even if you disagree, even if you think you know more than the teacher – never say this in front of your child. Your child will learn nothing if he is not respectful and humble. And while you may know more than the teacher – the teacher will definitely know more than your child
What you can do – Allow your child to admire, adore and respect his teacher so that he observes everything she does and everything she says with so much concentration that he begins to learn everything from her rapidly. Respect your child’s teacher. A good parent teacher relationship is very important for early learning. Never criticize the teacher in front of your child.
Connect what your child is learning in school to everyday life.
Concepts that are taught in school – including numbers alphabets etc. can seem very abstract to a child. If your child does not know how to use what he is learning – he will be bored and will resist learning.
What you can do – Connect school learning with every day life. Teach your child about numbers when you shop for groceries. Teach your child about alphabets when you write letters.
Build your child’s self-esteem. Don’t compare your child with others
When we compare our children with others – we do it – not with the intention of making them feel small or insulting them. We do it with the intention of showing them what is possible and motivating them to do the same. We do this because we imagine that our children are unable to see where they are lagging behind and need to be prodded to do what others are doing. This however is far from the truth. When a child is not as good as his peers – he is much more aware of this fact than you are and if he could – he would have done what it takes to be like them. When you point this out to him – he feels even more embarrassed about his inability and this demotivates him and makes him run away from the task
What you can do – Remember – every child wants to learn. Every child wants to be good at what he is doing. If he is not doing what the others are doing – it is only because he doesn’t know how to do it. Instead of contributing to his shame by comparing him to others – help him achieve what others are doing by holding his hand through the difficult spots.
Give your child freedom – allow your child to do the things he wants to do
A child who is allowed to do the things he wants to do – will be enthusiastic about doing the things he needs to do. Children are extremely enthusiastic about doing certain things at certain stages in their lives. These things may seem unimportant to us and we may believe that our children are wasting their time by doing these things – but this is not true. Doing things that your child wants to do gives him confidence and independent. It turns him into a doer. A person who is enthusiastic about attempting things. This encourages him to try the things that he needs to do in school which he may initially find challenging and uninteresting
What you can do – When your child wants to do things like tying his shoe laces, feeding himself or polishing his shoes himself – allow it. If he is interested in an extracurricular activity encourage it. When you allow your child to do what interests him he will feel fulfilled and do what he needs to do – like home work – with more enthusiasm.
Answer your child’s questions
Children are born knowing nothing and having seen nothing. As their eyes and ears and brain start building more and more capability – they slowly absorb the things and occurrences in their surroundings. However because of their limited ability to move around – they see the world in bits and parts. It is like having one piece of a jigsaw puzzle. They need the remaining pieces to form a complete picture. But by themselves, they may not be able to find all the pieces and make sense of a given thing. So, to fill these gaps – they ask questions. Many a times they ask the same question over and over again because the answer they are getting is not fitting in with the knowledge that they have. As they ask questions – in their minds they are turning the piece of the jigsaw puzzle over and over until it fits the gap in their picture correctly.
What you can do – Never get irritated with your child’s questions. Even if you are busy don’t ignore your child’s questions. That may cause him to shut down and not ask any more questions – thereby leaving large gaps in his knowledge of the world. Help your child to find the answers. Guide him towards the answer with little clues. That will help him bring together what he already knows – and build on his knowledge.
Children are born learners. When a child runs away from learning or when a child begins to fear or avoid learning, we must recognize that we have made a big mistake somewhere.
As parents – it is our job to just keep the eagerness alive by participating in our child’s learning