Children’s Learning Experiences
Encourage learning in any situation
by Pat Cramer
As a former educator of young children, the biggest mistake parents make, at any age, is assuming their child is either too young or too old for a learning experience. It is a proven fact that children learn their language thru what is spoken by the adults around them. Sometimes this includes words we later wish they hadn’t learned!!
This same theory can be applied to any other learning experience. If you think of a child’s brain as a sponge, you can understand the concept. When a sponge is dry–no learning–and then it gets liquid and it is quickly absorbed. As more liquid is added, it too is absorbed until the sponge is full. It then absorbs no more until it dries out of liquid and has room for more.
A child’s brain is very similar in action. It will absorb from ANY situation what it can take at that time. Do not be afraid to introduce things to your toddler or preschooler just because someone has said it is not an age appropriate experience for your child. If it truly is not age appropriate–then the child will be bored and take nothing from it. But there may be some small part of it, that the sponge will absorb. Sometimes, this will not even be evident for a while after the fact.
Basically, there are three types of learning–visual, where the child sees and records in the brain what he sees; auditory, where the child hears and the brain records the sounds sometimes matching them to what the child sees also; and tactile, where the child touches and feels and the sensory nerves send the images to the brain, again sometimes with vision and hearing.
Young children–toddlers and preschoolers are basically a combination of all three learning types. They listen to the adult’s vocabulary to pick up words–those pertinent to their world and the rest are stored for later use. They see their environment and as the adults “label” things or actions, they attach those words, etc., to the particular item or action. Finally, above all, they are tactile. They must touch, feel,smell, and put in their mouths all they come in contact with. As frustrating as it may sometimes be for parents–it is by this means they learn. A baby learns about “Mom” by her touch and her voice long before vision is developed. The baby can sense the difference between it’s mother and someone else simply by touch or sound.
For this reason parents can’t possibly make a mistake allowing their child to experience all SAFE experiences. The child will take from each what he or she is ready to absorb. It may be as simple as a new color. Parents need to talk to their children about EVERYTHING they are doing. Also, as you go about your daily routine, welcome your child with you. TALK to your child about everything that you are doing and why. Let the child touch the folded laundry, even if you have to refold it!!
A well rounded child is one who not only is “book smart” but one who can make his way in the world, because he knows the way of the world and life. The greatest gift you can give your child is the gift of love and knowledge. You give BOTH when you use every experience as a time to learn and a time to share the parent’s world.
Copyright Pat Cramer. Pat was formerly a teacher in a one room schoolhouse in California for grades preschool through 8th grade. She currently offers a unique line of handmade items for babies on her website at http://www.perfectforbabies.com.