How to Help Your Children Learn

We all want the very best for our children and that includes giving them the best possible start to their education. There is a great deal you, as a parent, can do to achieve this. Your priority should be to create an environment that is safe, loving and stimulating.

CHILDREN LEARN THROUGH ALL THEIR SENSES

As we get older, we tend to rely on our sense of sight, and maybe hearing, to learn. We read, we observe and we listen. Children touch, taste, smell, look and then listen.

It's quite pointless to expect toddlers to learn by listening to you -- they're not being naughty when they gaze at you with those big eyes as you explain that it's wrong to spray your expensive perfume all over the bath (you spray the bath when you clean it, they're copying your actions -- they just haven't refined all the details yet).

The best way to teach your children about their world is the most difficult for you. It involves letting them try to do things for themselves (always under your supervision, of course).

When you're rushing to get to work, the temptation is to dress your toddlers, make the beds, tidy the room, pack the bags etc, while they remain passive recipients or observers. It takes much longer if you allow your toddlers to decide what they want to wear, to dress themselves, to begin making their beds and to pack their own bags. But if you deny them the opportunity to learn these things now, when they want to, you really have no-one to blame when they don't know how to look after themselves later (and when they don't want to do these things for themselves).

CHILDREN LEARN BY DOING

Children learn by doing - it bears repeating.

Children are also experts at the scientific method -- they observe their environment; they formulate hypotheses and they test these by carrying out experiments.

The toddler throwing objects from a high chair isn't doing it out of malice, to make you prematurely grey! It's part of learning what happens if you drop different sized objects from a height; what happens if you put a bit of force behind the objects and throw them; what happens if you tip that plate of squishy cereal upside down; what happens to the milk if you pour it into the vegetables ...

When your children become astrophysicists, they'll thank you for letting them conduct their early experiments in such a positive environment!

FOSTERING LEARNING

It's not desirable to just let your children do whatever they want to do -- you need to provide firm guidelines from an early age about what is acceptable and what isn't. By setting these boundaries, and being consistent with them, you'll give your children a secure environment in which to carry out their experiments.

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