Your child is learning from the moment they’re born, and studies show even before that. Research from the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child has found that children’s brains make over 1 million neural connections PER SECOND during their first few years of life.
Infants do not make these connections because we tell them to. Learning is the most natural process in the world, and as seasoned parents will tell you, it happens whether or not you’re even trying to teach them. Babies don’t learn to roll or crawl because there’s a test at the end of the month. Young children learn because they want to — and that desire can continue through their entire lives if they’re shown the right encouragement and support in their formative years.
Natural vs Structured Learning
Unfortunately, many children develop a distaste for school that can affect attitude toward learning. How some children learn may not be best in a classroom setting. And while their teachers are often inspirational to their learning, many feel restricted by the pacing and subjects of their curriculums. The best ways to manage these feelings are to show children that school isn’t the only place they learn, and to encourage them to discover more about what captures their imagination.
Here are four ways for how children learn that you can encourage, support, and participate in as a parent. See these concepts in action through Hello Genius, the app-based exploration platform for children and parents.
1. Learning Through Exploration
In the eyes of a young child, the world is full of wonder. Things that we may take for granted or not notice at all — the way the sunlight is dispersed through a prism, for example — are endlessly fascinating to their developing minds, and discovering them is how kids learn.
Everything a child sees can teach them something about the world. But here’s the trouble: because we adults take so much of the world for granted, we don’t often see all the teachable wonders that young people do!
If you want your child to be a thriving, lifelong learner, you need to foster his or her explorative side. Allow the child to explore the world (or even their own backyard), and be ready to teach them more about the things that catch their eye. Allowing kids to express their interests first is how children learn best.
2. Learning Through Creativity
Creativity plays a significant role in how children learn. Neuroscience is discovering more about how creative tasks engage multiple regions of the brain. What children choose to paint, sing, craft, or otherwise express work tremendously well to bring connecting concepts together and advance their understanding.
You may have heard that we remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, etc. Those percentages are different for everyone, and encouraging children to engage with material in multiple ways, and the ways they prefer, is how children learn best.
This is not to say that there is no place for traditional education. Test scores can be incredibly useful as a metric for aptitude or lesson retention. But children will learn better when they’re creatively engaged and allowed to play.
3. Learning Through Passion
Think about something you know A LOT about. It could be anything. Behind-the-scenes stories from your favorite movie, stats on the local sports team, the history of grammar rules for the Oxford comma. There’s one key reason that you know so much about this topic: you are passionate about it. Passion is one of the key elements in how children learn.
The late Sir Ken Robinson was a world-famous reformer and advocate for education, and his TED talks on the subject include the most-viewed presentations in the history of the TED conference.
Sir Ken believed that all children were born with innate creative abilities — and that it’s through discovering their passions that children are able to unlock their full potential. If you want to see how your child learns best, observe how they talk about what they’re passionate about, and how they’re naturally inclined to discover more about it. Once their creativity has been sparked, children will often discover more about what they like on their own. And as parents, it’s our job to support them.
4. Learning Through Communication
The prior three methods for how children learn are, in many ways, independent endeavors. Instead of a teacher or parent dolling out lessons and testing a child’s memory, authority figures can take a step back and let each child find the subjects that spark his or her passion for learning. However, taking a “step back” does not mean disengaging from the learning process — in fact, communication is one of the most important aspects.
When a child discovers his or her passion, the adults around them must take active steps to foster that passion. This means engaging with the child, asking them questions about the subjects they love, and giving them the opportunities to explore even further.
If you’re a parent looking to support your child’s learning journey, consider Hello Genius. This app-based platform is a safe environment for your children to learn about what they love in a self-directed way. You’ll see everything they explore through your joint parent app. Hello Genius will actively suggest activities for you to do together in light of what your child is already interested in. If you’re looking for how to help your child learn best outside of school, Hello Genius just might be what you’re looking for.