Children are intelligent beings and god knows, they are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. More often than not my son surprises me at how good he is at learning on his own. As parents, we have a tendency to instruct and dictate. We fail to realize that if given a chance to discover certain things on their own, children can learn better and maybe even faster.
Children tend to learn through various sensory experiences like touching, seeing, hearing, and doing. They also love feeling all grown-up. A small act like, encouraging them to solve a puzzle with minimal instruction can make them feel proud and accomplished. Simply placing the pieces on the right or even the wrong spot gives children the feeling of playing a game. Unlike adults, for children it is not always about winning, losing or getting it right. They want to enjoy the puzzle, not necessarily solve it. Eventually, they might come around asking for help and then, we can help them find a solution. However, for a little while, we need to let them enjoy the process of discovering, be it a puzzle, a book or a game.
If parents constantly instruct and critique their child instead of encouraging them, it could lead to self-esteem issues in the child. By accepting their ideas we are giving them a chance to take risks and are encouraging them to think and be more creative.
I’ve found that observing my son when he is playing, alone or with his friends, has been very helpful. I’ve learnt a lot more about him this way. His likes, dislikes, interests and hobbies become clearer. Observing our children allows us to understand them better which in turn enables us to encourage activities that they would enjoy and be interested in. Personal experience has taught me forcing anything upon children will do us no good. The idea of what they love should at least seem to stem from their minds.
Often something as simple as parents showing a little excitement for the activity could do the trick. Little children are impressionable and seeing their parents excited about an activity, for instance, swimming, could in-turn get them excited and they might actually want to learn it.
Children need time to be able to try things, over and over until they can work things out. Sometimes they may get frustrated and want a little help from parents or teachers. A lot of the time, getting them to think about things and coming to conclusions themselves solves a major part of the problem.
Visual, Auditory, and Tactile learning are all important methods of learning and we use these styles most of the time. But we forget to lay importance on Kinesthetic Learning. A hands-on approach that allows the child to actively explore and one that helps them learn better, especially in the early years. Parents and teachers have great influence on the way children learn and absorb information, but always advising and never encouraging could tend to do more harm rather than good.
Children are inquisitive and curious creatures waiting to discover and learn. Best to let them excel at that themselves!