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Don’t Teach Children, Help them Learn
Teachers and parents need to keep in mind that, instead of trying to ‘teach children something’, they must ‘help them to learn’. If they can bring about this change in their outlook and approach, children will learn better and have fun while learning.
There a few simple, yet important, guidelines that must be followed to make learning a joyful and enriching experience for children. These are based on the principles of cognitive development and child-learning. We have put them to practice in our Grammangal’s schools.
- Give children the opportunities – and motivate them – to learn by themselves
Research shows that the human brain is constantly learning. This is a natural process. Humans learn from their immediate environment and understand from their experiences with it. Self-learning is natural which is why teachers and parents must facilitate the process in children.
- Give children the freedom to choose what they love to do, and trust them to make the right choices
Avoid telling the child ‘not to do this’ or ‘do only that’. Let them learn and reflect.
Learning occurs at a faster pace at a young age. Children learn faster and better if they are allowed to learn from what they enjoy doing. Give them appropriate and diverse opportunities, and let them decide what suits them best without being pressured to make ‘desirable’ choices.
- Give children experiences that are appropriate for their age.
This requires considerable thought and planning. The brain develops the most at younger ages. Learning experiences are essential ‘nutrients’ for the brain’s development. Physical activities, informal talk among peers, laughing, etc. all stimulate the brain’s development. Encourage children to use all the five senses.
- Give children something to do from which they will learn
Children learn very little from just listening. In fact, the brain tires from too much listening or doing the same thing over and over again. Children do not like forced quiet and lack of activity because the developing brain is constantly seeking new experiences. Therefore, physical activity is integral to learning.
- Give children opportunities to work with others and in groups
Man is a social animal. The human brain needs a social stimulus. The quality of learning is better when children work in groups. Group (or cooperative) learning also inculcates a sense of belonging and sensitivity to others, mutual respect and interdependency, which are attributes essential for their development as productive and responsible citizens of tomorrow.