Learning: What Parents Need to Know for 2023 and Beyond
By Joanne Foster, Ed.D. – www.joannefoster.ca
How can parents help young children take full advantage of learning opportunities—now, and throughout 2023 and beyond? Read on to find out how learning occurs, including three fundamental factors, and five practical tips for parents to consider.
How Learning Happens
Is learning about following passions? Or is it a skill that develops over time with practice and hard work?
Passion and skill are both important in order for children to broaden their intelligence and abilities, and to enrich their lives, in the short term and over the long haul. When thinking about how learning transpires (whether at six months of age, six years, or even six decades), here are three important factors for reflection.
People learn by:
Being open to figuring out new things. This includes actively engaging in problem-solving strategies, being willing to take a creative leap, and exploring various ways of overcoming challenges. For example, for children, this might involve building unusual forts or getting oddly shaped blocks to balance.
Having good support and role models. Parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, friends, and family members can offer young children encouragement, reassurance, and guidance.
Having plentiful experiential opportunities. Different experiences allow children to try out and practice different kinds of learning processes.
However, meaningful learning also involves cultivating joy in those processes, step by step, over time.
Five Important Tips
Consider these five tips to foster your child’s learning:
Embrace your own enthusiasm for learning. Learning is a form of growth. It requires enthusiasm and determination—and sometimes quiet intervals and relaxation. Parents who actively demonstrate various ways in which they like to learn (for example, by reading, asking questions, and observing people, places, and things) are at the same time conveying that learning matters.
Encourage play time. Play lies at the core of learning. In fact, Albert Einstein said, “Play is the highest form of research.” Play is a forerunner for intelligence, creativity, and productivity. (And, adults benefit from play time, too.) Support children as they pursue their interests, discover what they enjoy doing, and create their fun—independently, with you, and alongside others.
Help kids appreciate and navigate the twists and turns of life. Learning involves being able to recognize and deal with the kinds of constraints and factors that can hinder it (such as negativity, distractions, emotional upsets, and difficulty communicating) and the provisions and factors that can help it (such as using the imagination, combining ideas, and participating in hands-on activities). Guide and reassure children when they confront obstacles, and commend the strategies and efforts they undertake to build resilience and overcome challenges.
Encourage children as they build their skill sets. Cheer them on as they develop their inquiry, communication, and language skills because these facilitate thought. Reinforce curiosity, listening, and lots of questions, too.
Expect change. Nothing stays exactly the same. Help children understand that changes and transition times are inevitable and will have an impact on their learning as they continue to grow. Chat about how they’ll begin to see their world differently as they investigate options, develop coping skills, and follow and also create new pathways.
To sum up, it makes good sense to pay attention to the value of exploration, support, and opportunities to learn. And, help children develop an enthusiasm for learning, participate in play times, strive to overcome challenges, hone their skill sets, and roll with change. There’s both joy and learning in all of that!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Joanne Foster is a multiple award-winning author who has written seven books, the most recent being Being Smart about Gifted Learning: Empowering Parents and Kids Through Challenge and Change (co-authored with Dona Matthews). For more information on her publications, presentations, and ways to support children’s well-being, go to https://joannefoster.ca