Take care not to lose your child’s eager attempts at learning
From The Learning Child set of talks and materials
In all they do during these early years, your child is looking for opportunities to learn and understand this fascinating world. But as they look to you for guidance and confirmation of their actions, be careful. Because, if we are not careful, we can derail their early attempts at learning by not recognising or valuing their efforts Or by not seeing them for what they are. Yep – that was why they pulled your plant over… again! So, what is the truth about why your child must touch everything?
Since before they were born, your child has been equipped with everything they need to learn . These natural features of Lifelong Learning are present in every child, it is how we have survived as a species. But they do need validating, encouraging and nurturing during these early days.
With a knowledge and understanding, support and guide your child as their features of Lifelong Learning flourish
However, if a child is denied opportunities to explore, then their instinctive urges to know and understand will become limited. Look at how you play and engage with them. Are you denying them these opportunities? Do you devalue their attempts without realising? Are you continuously interrupting them?
If the answer to these questions is a guilty yes, then they are learning that these attempts are not worth their efforts. Equally, if they become over stimulated or overwhelmed, they will be quick to retreat, no longer able to function well. Sound tricky?
Well luckily, young children are very good at demonstrating when the experiences you are offering are unmatched to their needs. So, tune in to their body language and responses and learn what they are trying to tell you.
Children learn “just in time” more than “just in case”
We tend to think of our children as developing through milestones. While the timing may vary, they are hitting steps of development in the same basic ways and in a pre-determined order. However, it is truer to say that necessity is the mother of invention. Your child is learning what they have an interest in, and a need for.
If there was never a need to communicate, if no one spoke to them, would they bother putting in the effort? When their curious attempts to know and understand are repeatedly met with discouragement – how long before they stop completely? So, if you want your child to grow up curious and motivated to learn, give them things to be curious about. With experiences that reward their efforts.
Children are so keen to accumulate rich experiences because they are such a rich method of learning
You are stimulating your child’s neurological development through every sensory experience you are giving them. As they explore their ideas, strengthening what they think they know. Challenging other ideas as they reinforce or dismiss their understanding. When they combine multiple senses, this is even more effective.
So consider this in the toys you offer them. And avoid plastic in favour of authentic, multisensory, unexpected and interesting. Children need to engage in enriching experiences. And this is the truth about why your child must touch everything, their senses are triggering connections deep within their brain.
However, there is NO evidence that “super enrichment” leads to “super development”
So, don’t be swayed by toys promising any of this, they are totally unnecessary. Instead, simply think of the experiences you are offering for your child to engage with their world. How interesting is another plastic toy to hold – how about feathers or segments of orange? What are they looking at right now – how about laying under a tree to watch the movement of the leaves in the wind?
And all the while, be aware of what they are communicating to you as you connect with their leaning. Because the truth is, it is not just a child who will touch the fluffy cushion in the shop when they want to learn more. So, embrace every new opportunity and enjoy this wonderful journey of discovery together.
Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods. Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child. www.nurturingchildhoods.co.uk
DEVELOPING EVERY CHILD’S POTENTIAL