“Akaash, come here, let’s learn fractions”
Is this something you can relate to as a parent?
Does your child run away every time they are made to learn something?
And are you tired of forcing them to do so?
Well, we can help you out!
Learning is for life…
And if done right, it can be a LOT of fun for your child.
We interviewed Vidya Ragu, psychologist, learning and development expert, and she’s shared with us simple tips that will make learning time truly enjoyable for your child!
By following these steps, your child will learn in a manner that’s most comfortable for them!
So let’s start with the basics…
What exactly is learning and how does it happen in children?
As adults, we face so many choices and opportunities on a daily basis…
So many fields to experiment in… so many different sports to try out… so many topics to learn…
But do we learn them all?
Are we curious about everything?
No. We only take up the things we believe we’ll be good at… or that we’ve proven to be good at… right?
Well, the same goes for your child — their self-belief plays a key role.
What matters is how your child associates with a subject and the way they think they perform in that subject.
If a child has had a bad experience with a particular subject in the past, they may not take to it easily in the future.
Thoughts such as, “This won’t work for me” or “I won’t understand this anyway”, will run in their minds.
At the same time…
If a child performs well in a subject or is appreciated for their knowledge on the subject, their attitude towards it will be more positive.
So how do you identify this?
As the saying goes… when you dig deep, you find gold!
So dig! If your child is interested in something, find out why.
“Why don’t you like maths?”
“Do you like another subject?”
“What makes you like history and not science?”
Find out their beliefs with regard to it.
And once you identify that they don’t like a subject, the next step would be to reshape their association of it!
Here’s how to get your child interested in learning:
a) Realign their belief:
This is something that happens in most households. When a child does not perform well in a subject, the parents immediately rush to send them to tuitions or extra classes!
This won’t do them any good – unless, of course, there’s a particular teacher at the tuition centre who can trigger their curiosity on the subject 🙂
Instead, what you can do is, re-shape your child’s understanding of the subject.
So instead of forcing theoretical concepts on them, use everyday examples that they can relate to!
For example, when it comes to teaching fractions, show them how dividing a pizza or a cake involves fractions!
This way, they’ll realise that they can easily learn and comprehend the subject because they already know the concept.
b) Careful what you say:
Your child’s self-belief is built through your voice!
Children are keen observers and what you think or say makes a whole lot of difference to their perception of it.
So when you say things like, “Oh! I hated Social Science when I was in school!” in front of your child, they may think the same way too, because “That’s what Mamma said!”
Even “Come, sit down! Geography is a difficult and BIG subject, so you better concentrate”, can impact the way they perform and associate with the subject.
c) Shift their association:
Ever wondered how a child in one school studies averagely, but when placed in another school suddenly picks up an interest in learning?
This isn’t due to some miracle.
It’s not that the child wasn’t a learner before and suddenly turned into one.
It’s because of the change in the environment and shift in the association!
This shift can be through three ways:
- The teacher – who can shift the child’s association of the subject by instilling confidence in the child.
- The medium – so the child learns in a manner they are most comfortable in. If the child is not able to learn through reading, teach them by showing a video!
- The delivery Methodology – which is, understanding the child’s learning style.
When it comes to learning styles, there’s no one-size-fits-all!
Some children are auditory – they learn by listening…
So if you’re teaching them some content, they’re constantly picking on the audio part of it. Which means you need to make this part effective and interesting.
Some children are more visual – they learn through pictures or text…
They may find learning through reading a lot easier.
And some children are kinaesthetic – they walk, move, do and learn!
They may look like they’re running around distractedly, but actually, they’re listening, absorbing, doing and understanding the concept.
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d) Build a strong foundation:
A child may find it difficult to pick up a concept because their foundation on the subject may not be strong enough.
Here’s an example – Vidya explains that a parent had once come up to her and complained that her child could not spell the word ‘Parrot’.
On dwelling deep, they realised that the child knew to spell the word, but had a small confusion on whether the ‘p’ is written towards the left or the right.
Yes, a confusion that small!
So give your child different options like writing, drawing, singing – only then can you identify if there is an underlying issue that was not evident previously.
Sometimes, children make associations that are hard to comprehend!
Have you ever asked your child to narrate the alphabets but they replied saying something completely unconnected?
This is probably because the child built an association between the two random concepts from a previous experience.
So first thing to do is find out if the child is confident about the basics.
Here’s an acronym to help – CAR
C – Confidence, Clarity, and Curiosity:
Are they confident and clear about the basics required to learn what they are about to learn? And secondly, are they curious about the subject?
Build on it! And instead of taking a purely theoretical mode, use real-life examples and scenarios while teaching a new concept.
Then comes A!
A – Ability:
A lot of times, when we’re teaching children a concept, we do so in a one-way direction. We explain something and expect the child to just understand it.
After 15 minutes or 15 days, when you question them again, they’ll not be able to answer you.
This is because the child did not pick up the ability to use the knowledge gained.
So what do you do?
Use different techniques! For example, if you’re teaching numbers, instead of just teaching 1234 methodically, see if you can ask them to draw the numbers on sand or elsewhere.
While teaching them, ask questions to understand whether the child is picking up the ability to use the knowledge in real life. If they are not able to pick it up, go back to the subject and try a different delivery method and then gauge again if they are picking it up.
R – Repeatability
You teach your child Baa Baa Black Sheep and they learn it by heart.
But one month later, in front of guests, your child is blank and you feel disappointed.
Well, it’s important to understand that every child picks up information at a very rapid rate.
So it’s not that your child did not understand what you taught them a month ago, it’s just that they need repeatability.
Repeat it once in a while in different ways – through writing, through songs, through drawing, etc. Once the foundation is strong, the skyscraper can be built to any level.
The more children are able to explore their environment, the better learners they become!
The child becomes a learner and is drawing information towards themselves. They are in the curiosity mode and want to do, experiment and is questioning things.