By Carol Groves
I have had the pleasure of working with young children for well over 15 years now.
Although I am edging towards 52 years old, I get so much pleasure from helping children learn how to do something new that gives them a sense of achievement and helps to build their self-esteem and self-confidence.
I also had the pleasure of helping my own two sons in their early school years as we lived in a location that required me to teach them at home.
Nowadays, working as a home tutor, I have discovered that children generally have lost the ability to be inquisitive and to seek answers for themselves.
Never too Young to Begin Learning
I feel this is a sad state of affairs and one that greatly concerns me. My experience has shown that inquisitive children do better at school and are often happier and more contented as they grow older. Our children are never too young to learn. Babies are naturally born with a will to question everything. They learn by observing and imitating. Later they start to ask the question “why mummy?” We may get tired of that question, but when we respond to it, we give our children a priceless gift; that of our time and the benefit of us teaching them how to understand the world around us.
For ten years I worked with children aged 6 to 8 years as a Joey Scout Leader. The focus of the scouting movement is to learn by doing. Through activities, children of all ages are encouraged to learn by practicing new skills in real life situations. Through this process, children learned to do things their peers couldn’t do and they learned to be risk takers, yet they learned also to think about the risks involved and how to avoid situations that could potentially harm them
Foster an Inquisitive Nature
As parents of young babies, we instinctively want to protect our children by warning them of dangers. We let them toddle around the house but say “no” or “hot” when they go to touch the oven. We put things out of reach that may harm them and cover the power switches. Yet we let them pull things out of cupboards and give them plastic containers to play with. Their inquisitive nature soon uses these same containers to put things in, practice putting the lids on or building towers that full down.
Learning by Doing
Each of these is an example of learning by doing and each give little children invaluable opportunity to explore their world and offering children more of these experiences are an invaluable way of promoting an interest in why things are as they are.
As parents, we must not limit these activities because of fear of the children making a mess. Instead, include them in the tidying up process and as they play, explain to them what is happening In the same way we explain to them that the oven is hot, we should explain that water is wet, cold etc.
Take Every Opportunity
Likewise, as children point out things, give them the name for them and reinforce it with them. If something is pretty, use pretty in a variety of situations so that they learn how to use pretty and show them that beautiful, gorgeous etc are synonyms and practice using them with your baby and toddler rather than just using the same words all the time to them.
Take your children to educational experiences such as science museums rather than only to theme parks or other fun experiences. Children will quickly find as much fun in educational experiences as they do at theme parks. It will be cheaper for you and the children will learn as they play. They are never too young for these experiences, with most museums offering toddler rooms as well as areas more suited to older children.
Resurrect a Beautiful Night time Ritual
A beautiful ritual that is quickly disappearing with the busy lifestyles we are living in families is reading a bedtime story to our children before they sleep. This shared time will foster a love of books, create a definite bedtime and help to expand their vocabulary. It will be a child hood memory children will carry with them into adulthood.
We must nurture our children’s innate love of learning. As they play as babies, toddlers and preschoolers, we must help them develop enquiring minds and a love of learning. Time spent in these early years, will have lifelong benefits and is time well spent.
This article was written by Carol Groves: Carol trained and worked as a nurse and midwife in Australia and overseas, many years ago before having children. Later I trained and worked as a breastfeeding counsellor with Nursing Mothers (now Breastfeeding Australia). Today I am preparing to be a Doula (Childbirth and Peri natal Support Person) and Mother’s Helper. My website is being developed at http://muslimumi.com.
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