Children have a natural thirst for knowledge and love to experience and learn new things. However, it is difficult for some children to concentrate, to internalize and understand new facts. Fortunately, there are many ways and possibilities to support and encourage these children and show them that learning can be really fun.
The Influence of Parents
Parents have a direct influence on the learning outcomes of their children. Studies have found out that a stimulating and supportive home environment has a large and lasting impact on a child’s school performance.
But how can parents create a stimulating learning environment? An elementary aspect is that parents have to be aware of their role model function. For example, if a child sees its parents reading frequently or the parents often read books to their child, the child’s interest in books and in reading will increase automatically. Furthermore, it is important to combine learning with positive things instead of pressure and compulsion. Everything else will have a negative impact on your child’s motivation and learning results.
Another important way to support your child in learning is to work at the meta-level. Where do I find information about a certain topic? How should I arrange my materials clearly? How can I best internalize the learning content? All that, a child must have understood in order to learn purposefully and successfully – children have to learn how to learn.
On top of that, a positive self-image of the child is an elementary requirement for good school achievements and fun to learn. Therefore, parents should give their children self-convidence and trust in themselves. This can be achieved by inviting your children to help with small tasks in everyday life and showing them that they are trusted. It is very important to work with a lot of affirmation and praise, so that the children are proud of themselves and motivated to go on.
Reform Pedagogical Approaches
A good solution for supporting kids with learning needs is the use of different reform pedagogical approaches. The Montessori method is one popular alternative educational way. Above all, it is based on self-directed activity. The kids experience the learning topics by practical work and collaborative play. In Montessori schools and kindergartens children become creativ and choose their learning materials by themselves.
An important strategy of the Montessori method is to integrate children in daily activities and thus showing them the significance of certain things they need to learn. It can mean inviting them to help in the garden, asking them to help doing laundry or prepare some simple food together. No matter what the task is, there is always a way to integrate topics that are relevant for school. For example, while cooking together you can teach your child the calculation of quantities and some reading skills. While doing laundry you could talk about different colors. This is how your child sees a purpose in what it is expected to learn in school.
Promoting children in this way has proved its worth, as successful and sustainable learning can only be achieved with the help of different senses. There is diverse lerning and playing material for children which is especially designed by the concept of Montessori.
The largely unknown Freinet pedagogy is quite popular in Belgium. In this alternative educational concept the talents of the children are paramount. The four principles of the Freinet pedaogy are “personal development”, “environmental awareness”, “self-responsibility” and “cooperation”.
In school teacher-directed lessons are replaced by student-directed lessons. The children are allowed to follow their own interests in self-selected work without feeling any learning pressure. This learning pressure is unfortunately not a rare phenomenon these days and a common reason for poor school performance or lack of learning motivation of children. Because this pressure is taken away from the kids in the Freinet pedagogy, this educational concept is especially suitable for children with special learning needs.
In schools, based on Freinet’s theory, children organize almost everything by themselves. For example, they cook lunch together and tidy up the classroom which is divided in certain areas, depending on different learning topics. In the daily morning circle there is time to talk, exchange important information and plan the day together.
As with the Montessori method, a main feature of the Freinet concept is to understand the purpose and reasons of learning certain things. By showing the children references to everyday life, their learning motivation and curiosity increase.
Do It Like The Finns
Finland’s students are almost always the best in PISA studies. This is because they have a very good school system that is both, student- and teacher-friendly. But what can other countries and parents learn and copy from the Finnish school system?
On the one hand, in the schools of finland, a lot of value is placed on physical activity. Physical activitiy is an important and helpful tool for kids to stay concentrated, healthy and balanced. Sports and physical activites can be also combined with learning. Your child could show you the result of math tasks in leaps, or the kids could build letters with their bodies, just to name a few examples.
Another ritual conducted at Finnish schools are the regular 15-minutes breaks per 45-minutes lesson. During these unstructured breaks children are allowed to do anything they want. According to research results, breaks like these are conducive to concentration of children and they ensure a better learning environment. When you are teaching your children or you children are studying by themselves, ensure regular breaks during which the kids can play or just close their eyes for a few minutes.
In Finnland students are served a healthy, rich and balanced lunch daily. A healthy nutrition can also support the learning performance of a child and that’s why it is important for kids to eat regulary and balanced. Foods that increase concentration, for example, are nuts, dried fruit, fish and linseed oil. These foods contain a lot of omega-3 acids which are good for your kid’s brain. Above all, a sufficient fluid intake is essential for good concentration.
“The Power Of Play”
Under this name, an American research report that deals with the benefits of playing for kids was summarized. Children understand the world much better when it is explained to them in a playful way. Finnish schools have been working on this concept for a long time, obviously with success. Students get many incentives and are allowed to play a lot in special rooms and lessons. Above all, in Finnland children start school at the age of seven which is comparatively very late. The Finnish kids spent a long time at home or kindergarten where they can live out their natural play instinct and ripen.
Against this background, learning topics should always be prepared child-friendly and in a playful form which makes it more interesting for kids to deal with it. In general, playing is important for the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of kids. Children who have the opportunity to play a lot and get many incentives have automatically fewer problems in learning due to the better development of their brain.