All parents know how curious children can be. They naturally want to explore, take risks, and learn. However, there seems to be a rising trend where parents are becoming increasingly focused on creating a structured learning environment for children as young as toddler/preschool-age.
What if I told you that there are natural ways that children learn which inevitably increases their love for learning in later years? What if I told you there is not a real need for boxed in rooms with catchy decorations and curriculum developed that focus primarily on data collection and textual information (sorry schools)?
To be completely honest, that is just not how human beings (in general) learn – willingly at least! Keep reading to check out 5 ways children learn naturally and how easy it is to incorporate them into your child’s daily life.
You’re probably thinking, “Well Michelle, that sounds a lot like teaching to me!” Truth is, it’s part teaching but mostly instinctual. Think about how many times throughout the day where you give your children instructions or directions that you don’t have to think twice about.
These directions may include:
- clean up time
- helping with household chores
- getting a particular article of clothing (like socks and shoes to go “bye-bye”)
- reminders to be kind to siblings (*ahem* and sharing, LOL)
This type of teaching doesn’t come from a textbook or pre-made curriculum. This comes natural, and from instinct, and your children are learning a lot about life in these instances!
I believe this is where the saying, “Do as I say, not as I do!” comes into play. Children are known as little sponges who soak up everything that is going on around them – both the spoken and the non.
Have you ever wondered how your child knew how to do something without having to be shown? That, my friend, can be contributed to mindful observation. Our soon-to-be 2-year-old will instinctively take his depleted sippy-cup to the sink without having to be told.
Bryan and I looked at each other one day and asked, “Did you tell him to do that? Did you show him where to take that?” And the answer was no. He had watched his brothers and sister do it so he knew that’s where his finished cup went.
Yes, there is a time and place for directed instruction, but we should also make room for children to naturally observe and make sense of the world around them.
This will go hand-in-hand with the next point but I believe it still deserves its own divided attention. Why? Well, because curiosity is definitely a way that children learn naturally.
When they see us parents doing things that they may not understand, yet seems so easy, they want to try it to! Think about the times your child may have tried to plug something up, flip a light switch, grab the remote and turn the TV on, or grab a pot out of the cabinet.
These are times that their curiosity is at an all-time high. “Hhmm, mommy pushed this button and made that thing turn on. I can do it too!” Sound (or look) familiar?
I do believe that curiosity should be more guided versus wild and free, depending on the environment and situation. If we are at the park then curiosity levels and abilities to be more free would be higher than if we were in a different environment. Regardless, curiosity is a good thing.
You’ve probably heard this time and time again – LET THEM PLAY! For some reason, we feel like our children aren’t learning when they are playing, but the opposite couldn’t be more true.
So many domains and skills are used and learned when children are playing. From small and large motor skills to deep thinking and comprehension, children are using their minds much more than we give them credit for.
I remember recess being one of the funnest times of the day, and this is also where we practiced doing what we enjoyed most (alone and with others) that often mattered even more.
Next time your children are playing, just sit back and watch what they do and say… it may just surprise you!
Love & Support
Of course I had to put this on the list. It probably should’ve been first but I purposefully put it last because it’s through a parents love and support that a child is able to truly thrive in all other areas.
Again, this isn’t something that has to be taught, but is more about basic wise parenting. Statistics and society alone shows what happens when people are not loved and supported.
Perhaps you may even have some memories that are tied to a lack of love and support. Those have outcomes just the same as the outcomes of a child who has their love and support tank filled.
Love and support is one area that, in my opinion, has the biggest impact of all on a child’s ability to learn naturally.
Last Minute Pep Talk
Keep in mind that you don’t have to be some kind of professional or super-parent to raise smart, well-rounded individuals. Fixed standards, common core teaching, and unforgiving milestones don’t have to be the goal – and shouldn’t. Instead, place more focus and emphasis on the natural growth and development of your child – without limits.
CHIME IN: what are your personal beliefs about natural ways children learn? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
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