When a child is born, a new life is celebrated and a lot of questions come to parents� mind.. What kind of person will they grow into? Where will life take them? How will their life be defined?
As parents, we hold dear the hope that all our children�s dreams will come true. We hope that incredible opportunities will come their way and that they�ll seize them with enthusiasm. And we hope that the life ahead of this tiny person cradled in our arms will bring them happiness and success.
But how can we help our children onto a successful path? We can�t just hold out for good luck alone. We need to give our children the tools and independence to help them find this success and fulfillment for themselves. So, how can we do this?
What will bring our children happiness and fulfillment?
Provide Good Quality Resources
It�s an important parental responsibility to provide the opportunities your child needs to learn, from sourcing educational materials to registering them to a good nursery school. It isn�t always affordable to provide everything you �think� your child needs to learn but actually, many of the best learning materials are very inexpensive.
For all ages, prioritize books (use your local library) and creative art materials. Giving your children everyday items to reuse for art projects, such as paper, fabric, or packaging is a great way to foster creativity and to teach your children to reuse and recycle.
Nearly always, the simpler the toy, the more creative your child learns to be. Therefore blocks and shapes are perfect toys for learning. Also, often the best toys are not �toys�; sensory play is really important for early childhood development, so let your young child explore interesting, safe everyday materials using all their senses. Sensory play is proven to stimulate brain development and open up the neural pathways that will help them be better learners later on.
Examples of using everyday materials in sensory play might be something like providing dried rice with spoons and recycled containers for pouring, sprinkling and mixing. Or perhaps giving your child a mix of cornstarch and water to experiment with. Let your child make music with simple instruments, either bought or homemade. Or make perfumes or potions from safe plants and herbs in your backyard.
There�s probably no greater gift you can give a child than successfully inspiring a love of reading. There are just so many lifelong advantages of being a �reader�.
For a start, through reading, your child can explore and learn about every subject under the sun from the comfort of their own home whenever they choose. Reading can undoubtedly bring a great breadth and depth of knowledge.
Also, by reading, a child can begin to truly master their own language (and possibly others): they increase their vocabularies, they observe the subtle ways language can be used to entertain, to explain and to persuade and thus they learn to communicate well themselves. Reading definitely helps improve written and spoken communication.
Amongst many other advantages, reading is also a great workout for the mind. It helps improve focus, concentration, memory, imagination and so much more.
Provide Children with Choices to Help Them Find Their Own Passions
It�s easy to be overenthusiastic and get swept into making a lot of choices for your children. However, remember the activities you enjoyed as a child may be of little interest to them or they may have different aptitudes or untapped talents.
By allowing children to make choices, we empower them. By supporting them to make their own choices, we fuel their self-confidence (they will also learn a lot from making bad choices, this is part of learning, as long as we ensure they are always under the supervision of their parents ).
When it comes to decisions about what to learn (ie sports, musical instruments) a child will be a lot more motivated if their choice has been valued, and if they are learning something they are genuinely interested in.
Giving them a say in how and when they learn is important too as it can help them develop good learning habits, aid their enjoyment, avoid unpleasant battles over learning, and improve self-confidence.
Work Out Their Learning Style
There have been many educational studies looking at learning styles, which all make interesting reading for parents wishing to understand how their children learn. One of the best-known theories of learning style belongs to Dr. Richard Felder.
According to his research, conducted alongside Barbara Solomon, there are 4 dimensions to learning. They can be seen as spectrums. Some pupils may lean heavily towards one end of a particular spectrum, or sit somewhere in the middle of each. Here are the 4 dimensions:
This is the idea that some pupils learn best through looking at pictures or images, and that others learn best through listening. Many pupils will learn well through both, but some may lean towards one more than another.
A sensory oriented student may tend to seek out facts and concrete information. Other more intuitive learners may prefer to learn concepts and theories; they are more interested in overall meaning.
Active learners prefer to learn by trying out different options and experimenting. Reflective learners prefer to learn through evaluation and analysis.
Sequential learners like order and linear information. Global learners prefer to look at things holistically. A global learner would start with the big picture then fill in the details, whereas a sequential learner would prefer to add up details to see the big picture later.
You may recognize that your child sits heavily to one end of one of these spectrums, or they may sit in the middle for all. It is important to know that there is no right or wrong way to learn.
However, it is also important to realize that your child is likely to respond better to certain teaching styles. For instance, particularly �Visual� and �Reflective� learners will enjoy immersing themselves in books to learn, whereas other children may require more hands-on experiences to learn effectively.
As a parent, you can help your child in two important ways. Firstly, by knowing their preferred learning style, you can provide them with the kinds of resources and experiences that will ensure they enjoy learning at home.
Secondly, you can also help them find ways to develop as learners so that they are better equipped to learn in the classroom, where they will be taught in a variety of ways. You could help them improve their listening or analysis skills, for instance.
A Bright Future
By giving enough of your time and love for these strategies, you will see your children flourish. Better still, you will also see the bond you have with your child grow too as you enjoy living and learning alongside each other.
Alan Williamson is the Chief Education Officer at Kings’ Education, a premium school brand in Dubai which leads a fantastic group of premium UK curriculum schools, including Child�s Play Nursery. As well as being passionate about teaching and learning, Alan has been actively involved in school leadership related to Special Educational Needs.