7 Tips to Help Your Child Learn Without Teaching
By Linda Dobson
Children are humans. Humans learn. That’s what they do, if well-intentioned adults don’t interfere with or, worse, destroy, their natural curiosity. With this basic concept in mind, let’s explore seven tips that allow you to help your child learn without turning into “the teacher” of your worst nightmares!
Help Your Child’s Learning Without Teaching
Don’t automatically equate a child being put through the paces of a lesson with a child who is actually learning something. Often, learning that sticks instead of “learning” that is lost after the test is over, is a by-product of an interesting experience, as well as the opportunity to connect something new with what is already known. Many times, the most effective learning is incidental to the experience as opposed to the experience’s primary purpose. “The brain,” wrote Pat Wolfe and Ron Brandt in an Educational Leadership articled called “What Do We Know from Brain Research?” “is essentially curious and it must be to survive. It constantly seeks connections between the new and the known.” So instead of lessons, start with curiosity and interest!
Infuse learning with love and laughter. The best thing about love and laughter is that they are unique to you and your child, and you can put your own spin on them. For example, if you’re raising a Harry Potter fan, include Harry in conversations about everything from adding to spelling. Don’t be afraid to be silly; children love it and it keeps you young. Learning infused with love and laughter knocks down the barriers that lead children to believe learning is difficult and boring and a chore.
Print this sentence in large type on your computer. Curiosity creates interest, interest increases attention to the task at hand, and attention gives rise to learning. Keep it where you can see it every day, on the refrigerator or, even better, on the bathroom wall.
Mistakes Are Learning Experiences
Embrace mistakes. As William James wrote, “Mistakes, obviously, show us what needs improving. Without mistakes, how would we know what we have to work on? Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”
Know there is no one right way to learn. Well-accepted educational theories reveal that all children don’t learn the same way. If there is no one right way to learn, there is no one right way to help a child learn! Forget the notion that you could do something so wrong as to ruin your child forever. False starts will quickly be evident and you simply try one of the other, myriad ways available to you.
Happy Learning from Reading
Create an enticing environment for reading. There are only four pivotal factors to do this. 1) Opportunity for exposure through the availability of printed materials (not just books). 2) Model the behavior by demonstrating you value reading on a daily basis. 3) Provide opportunity for engagement via contact with paper and pen (or computer) for experimentation with writing. 4) Provide supportive feedback with your child’s storytelling, writing, conversations, answers to questions, and encouragement to reconstruct favorite stories from memory.
Model the thinking process. Showing children how to think is much important than telling them what to think. Simply “think out loud.” It’s exercise for the brain, building the muscle your child needs for thinking, reasoning, analyzing, problem solving, and even daydreaming.
Happy learning without teaching!