Children learn the most during the first six years of their lives than at any other stage. This is when the brain makes connections that set the stage for lifelong learning, behaviour and health. By the time your child reaches the age of six, they already have a solid foundation for reaching their full potential in the years that will follow. This is why understanding your child’s learning style is important.
What parents shoud know
During the first six years, your child will demonstrate a sponge-like absorbent mind — which soaks up knowledge from her surrounding environment. From 0-3 years of age, your child learns unconsiously before conscious learning sets in from 3-6 years of age.
Children use different methods to learn. Some prefer to sit quietly and observe, while others fidget while learning how to count. Take the time to figure out which method of learning works best for your child.
“Sometimes kids are just doing what works for them,” says author Maureen McKay, whose website Optimistic Outcomes – provides parents with tips on a child’s learning style.
Educators are well-aware that a one-size-fits-all approach cannot be used to teach children, since they – like adults – are individuals. That is why teachers often adopt different methods to explain concepts to different children in the classroom.
Some children respond best to visual learning, while others respond better to auditory learning. And then there are those who learn best through doing and touching (kinesthetic).
Different learning styles
The visual learner learns more effectively when she is shown images. Through seeing the objects, observing body language and facial expressions so then does she fully understand what she is learning. Some people will go as far as explain it as “information sticking in their brains.” This learner prefers to see what it is they are trying to remember or learn. This is often explained as thinking in pictures and more than half of the world’s population learn and remember in this fashion.
During these early years of your child’s life it is family, caregivers and teachers who all play vital roles in encouraging learning patterns. The auditory learner will find she has no need to watch the person teaching him, she will merely listen to her voice and the sounds she hears.
A way to understand how the auditory learner learns is to imagine that she has a radio in her head and should she not understand the words or sounds she first hears, she will play it over and over via this “built in” radio, until she understands the concept.
The kinesthetic learner prefers a-hands-on approach to learning. Unless she can touch, feel and do things, she will struggle to grasp the concept. The kinesthetic learner will normally show distinct personality traits such as being a wriggler, fidgeting, needing to touch things or be in physical contact with others constantly. She will also often lose concentration easily.
Although learning is constant, the amount of learning that takes place in a child’s first six years, is phenomenal. Those involved in the child’s life can extend this further. Given the three types of learning styles children respond best to, consider the following as well:
- Children learn best through play and experimentation.
- They learn through what they see, hear and what they do and that’s why repetition is important.
- Interaction with other people and children is probably one of the best forms of learning for a child.
- Being praised and encouraged will build your child’s self esteem which in turn encourages her to learn further.
Our children are precious at any age, but for these first six years parents have so much power in helping them create the basics that will inevitably carry them through their lives.
Parents must also note that your child’s preferred learning style may change as she gets older and it’s always best to teach your child how to learn in different ways.
According to McKay “really well-balanced students will be able to be comfortable learning in all ways. Knowing that and working on that when they’re young gives them a competitive edge,” she says.