WKND Parenting Tips: The kind of education children under seven need
Online learning. For four-year-olds. Does that make sense?
They can’t sit still.
They’re glued to a screen.
They are miserable.
“Mama, I have finished my work. Can I go and play?”
Those were the words that woke me up, exactly one day after I started e-learning.
What did I do? I stopped it immediately.
My four-year-old is only supposed to play.
Work for a four-year-old? No part of that sentence made any sense to me.
There is nothing wrong with your children if they cannot sit still for online school.
There is nothing wrong with your children if they are distracted and uninterested.
There is nothing wrong with your children if they don’t want to read or write.
Because they are not supposed to. Their brains are not meant to do these things at this age.
Here’s what a child is supposed to do — play, play, play. Why?
1. We are social beings. We learn primarily from our relationships, not standardised metrics like how well a child reads and writes. Children’s relationship with the natural world and with their caregivers is what shapes them.
2. Children learn through communication and interaction. Think about this for a second — did anyone teach your child to walk? Did anyone teach your children grammar? How did they learn it? Because they are natural learners!
3. Children are meant to be curious. They are meant to be distracted as they have a whole world to absorb. If you make them sit in one place, you are hampering their development. Instead, create a safe environment for them to move freely.
THE RIGHT KIND OF LEARNING FOR CHILDREN UNDER 7
1. Encourage a child to think out loud. Interact with them
Example: Your child asks, “Mama, why does the bee sting you?”
Instead of saying: “Because you bother it, or it’s scared”, say, “Hmm… why’d a bee sting someone?”
2. Use interactive language within context
Example: It’s raining and you see a rainbow. And your child says, “Mama, there are colours in the sky!”. Tell them, “Yes, there are several hues, right? Which shades do you see?”
In that one sentence you have communicated three different ways of thinking and seeing colour. Don’t underestimate the power of your child’s brain. S/he has picked it up.
3. Let them play outdoors
Research has shown that it is when you are grounded and barefoot, interacting with nature, that your pre-frontal cortex develops — the part that controls how you organise, execute and generally are able to manage life. Keeping children indoors is shrinking their brain.
4. Connect with them
Make eye contact. Get down on your knees and play. Connection and presence create safety. When they feel safe, their brain relaxes and they enter peak learning.
Children are not meant to be independent when they’re so young. When you show love and nurture, they learn love and nurture. That is how you teach empathy and compassion. By modelling it!
True learning happens within. And true growth happens when one is at ease and is in flow. Create the space for your child, and for you, to be, not do.
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