How your child learns

How your Child Learns: Baby to Pre-school Years

For a child, learning begins way before they start going to school. Very often we associate learning with schooling, but we need to become aware that a child is learning every day. Read on to understand the learning process in your child.

Learning during early years also involve watching and learning, and it can lay the foundation for learning much before a child starts school. As your child’s first teacher, parents play an important role in fostering early learning in their kids. Providing your child a safe environment,  praising them when they do well, regular encouragement, and your overall attitude towards your child are crucial factors that help them learn.

A Safe Environment to Boost Learning

Your child needs to be in a safe environment to learn. He would be able to learn and explore new things if he knows he has the support of a parent or a caregiver. He needs to be motivated to learn and should be able to show interest in learning, which in turn, should be duly acknowledged. A child cannot learn in isolation. The best part of teaching is to let your child make mistakes, and find out a way for himself. Timely praises and encouragement can go a long way in reinforcing learning.

Who Helps your Child?

Each and every person with whom your child interacts on a daily basis, can become his teacher. During babyhood, different people interact with the child- caregivers, siblings, neighbours and family members all become his teachers, and when the child gets older – playgroup co-ordinators, preschool teachers and peers take on the role.

How Does a Child Learn?

A child learns mainly by observing and watching during his early years. They then move on to responding to voices, making different sounds and listening. Exploring comes the next, or may overlap with all other stages. The kids are exploring when they put things in their mouth to taste, or shake or bang things. As they grow, play becomes an important part of learning – first with their parents, then alone, and later with other children. When they begin talking, “whys?” and “whats?” are usually their favourite words. Experimenting and socialising are skills they then learn as soon as they are placed in social environments.

Every child, however, has his own unique way of learning. Some are early socialisers, while others may take time. Some are stimulated visually; some get excited with people around them. If you suspect that your child may suffer from an learning disability at any stage, do not delay seeking timely help from your paediatrician.

What Role do Parents Play?

1. Relationships

Maintaining healthy relationships are a great way to help your child learn. Your child learns that he is important, loved and also learns to trust people around him.

2. Communications

Talking and listening to your child, reading and singing to him are immensely essential in helping your child grapple with language – verbal and non-verbal, both.

3. Home

A child learns a lot at home. He knows his position at home, and the things surrounding him.

4. Being Healthy

Children learn a lot by observation. Parents can teach children healthy eating habits and exercises that are necessary. They should encourage reading instead of allowing kids to watch television. Children pick all of these cues from their parents.

5. Interacting with your Child

You can teach your children by involving them in household activities. By getting them to count while climbing stairs, playing hide and seek with them at home, and with similar games – you can teach them several life skills – such as logic and numeracy, names and so on. You can lay the foundation for literacy by reading to them, teach them to sing or dance by dancing and singing to them and so on. Introduce homemade musical instruments to your child to lay the foundation of music and rhythm.

How to Help your Child Learn?

When your child invites you to play with him, respond to his request and participate. Encourage your child to explore, make mistakes, allow him to fall at times, and get hurt a little. Teach him to be a good loser, and teach them how to deal with losing a game, inculcating the spirit of sportsmanship in them. Singing with and to your child is a good way of teaching. Music not only stimulates, but also helps them co-relate to things. Encourage him to listen to instructions. Limit distractions when he plays alone – switch off the TV, though you can keep playing music in the background. Show interest in his activities and praise him for his effort. Give him enough activities and opportunities to discover his true interests.

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