Learning new things at any age can be difficult. However, for children, it can be especially challenging. In addition to children’s day to day learning, they also have to learn to develop positive learning habits that require a growing mindset.
A growing mindset goes beyond good learning habits to include behaviours that are not only beneficial to information absorption and retention, but also to the emotional and mental well-being of the student.
I have been an educator of young children for over a decade and during that time, I have learned that nurturing a child's confidence and emotional needs is just as crucial to learning as making sure the child understands the learning material. In fact, the latter rarely occurs without the former. Hence, this is where the partnership of the teacher and parents play an important role in helping students develop a healthy growing mindset and learning habits.
Thus, with this more holistic view of learning in mind, here are 5 tips to help your children create positive learning habits.
- Maintaining the Growing Mindset in Children
In the natural state, children are born to learn new things without any hindrances. Babies do not have to learn how to smile, cry, copy an adult's expression, grow their physical body, crawl, talk, etc. New learnings come naturally to them until their growing mindset begins to be limited by their environment.
Limiting beliefs can start as early as the first memories of a child trying something new and being stopped by an adult without proper reasoning and understanding. Slowly, their daily life begins to chip away their curiosities, and curiosity is important for learning and maintaining a growing mindset.
- Create a Calm Environment
Removing stifling expectations from the learning environment is one of the best ways to set the stage for optimal education. This isn't to say you shouldn't set goals, but many children benefit from goals that are more attitude oriented, not performance-based.
For example, when a child is learning how to walk, as parents, we encourage them, motivating them to keep trying their best, but we never give up or discourage them from trying to walk. No parents would expect their child not to be able to walk, or think it is fine for their kids not to learn how to walk just because they fall and hurt themselves. Parents cannot expect their child to learn on a fixed schedule and should not compare their progress to other children’s. Rather, parents should create a positive learning environment for their children. The confidence in learning new skills are natural to children until their growing mindset is somehow limited or discouraged by their environment.
When we leave young children to learn on their own without proper guidance, they might create limiting beliefs in their mind because they didn't have the proper explanation as to why they failed in their first attempt, and just gave up on anything they tried once, and could not do. Learning requires continuous, repetitive effort to acquire new skills. With a limited mindset and a lack of a supportive and encouraging environment, children will encounter difficulties throughout their learning.
- Keep Lessons Individualized
This is pivotal to your child's success. Just like most adults will have trouble focusing through a long presentation (if the presentation is not engaging), most children will have trouble concentrating through a long lesson due to the lack of engagement.
With engaging activities and a positive growing mindset, students will have no problem being engaged in class. If learning is like playing and individualized to the needs of the child, even over an hour of lesson becomes a breeze for children who have the curiosity to learn. They will develop a growing mindset that involves understanding that their newly acquired knowledge requires practice but will eventually become a special skill that they can proudly and confidently call their own.
- Start Small
10-15 minutes a day is an excellent amount of time to spend practicing a certain skill — especially when the skill may be perceived as being difficult by your child.
Take math, for example. I have been teaching a mental math program that helps children understand mathematics through visualization. I have seen children who struggled with traditional math excel beginning with a mere 15 minutes a day of abacus training. I have found 15 minutes is enough to nurture learning and gradually progress (as children begin to increase their focus) from minutes to an hour.
The challenge for students and adults in today's society is the lack of mental focus; without that, they become restless. Mental focus is a skill set that requires practice and dedication to develop.
- Encourage Interest-Based Learning
There are things we need to learn such as reading, writing and basic math. But outside of these core subjects — and even within this core framework — we should encourage children to learn through their own interests, which will almost always be more engaging.
For example, I have encouraged my students to take their image abacus skill (visualize the abacus in their mind) out into the real world to tally pinecones or chipmunks or flowers in a planter. You can likewise encourage children to learn about geology by looking at rocks on a shoreline. Similarly, you can help develop their analytical thinking skills through reading and talking about their favourite story. Moreover, you can improve your child's reading skills by sounding out signs on the way to the park.
The point is to remember not all learning needs to happen within a classroom setting.
Additional Resource: Our Proven 3-Step Guide
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As a passionate educator, my vision and mission is to deliver high quality, affordable, and accessible education to children around the world.
Annie Hardock B.Math
Uxbridge Online Inc.
O/A Easy Math for Kids
Connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anniehardock