By now you’ve probably read a million tips and strategies on childhood learning. You have an ear for learning-ideas because you want your child to be a solid learner. Who doesn’t? You do what it takes to nurture kindness, respect and cooperation–but where learning is concerned, chances are you’re worried you’re not doing enough.
Here are three highly effective learning strategies that are also easy to remember. I’ve written about them before , but now I’m summarizing them. They are Montessorial in nature, but you don’t have to send your child to a Montessori school to apply these ideas. They’re designed to strengthen your child’s learning experience. They don’t cost anything and you don’t have to be an astral physicist to figure them out.
1. One activity at a time. Let your child exhaust the possibilities of one activity before you introduce something new. When your child is playing an activity, she’s making critical connections and advancing her understanding. Countless choices are being made. New ideas are taking shape. On top of this, she’s strengthening trust and confidence in her own abilities, and—maybe most important of all, she’s developing the habit of exploring something completely. So do your child a favor and let her finish exploring one activity before you introduce something new. When she gets bored, she’ll let you know.
2. Quality Playtime. What is quality playtime? –It’s playtime without interruption. That means no TV. No blaring music. No phone calls. Your child is 10x more capable than you think. But you have to give her an environment that allows her abilities to develop. There is no better way for your child to strengthen her attention span and ability to focus than to allow her to sink completely into an activity. That means no interruptions. Whether it’s for 1/2 hour per day, or three hours per day, set aside time every single day for quality playtime.
3. Figure it out by herself. When we see a child doing something slowly and inefficiently, it’s tempting to jump in and show them the “right way to do it.” But that approach develops your child’s dependency on other people for the right answers. Suppose your child is trying to adjust her swim goggles, for instance. What’s the harm in allowing her to fiddle with the straps until she figures it out for herself? If she can’t get it, she’ll just ask for help. But who knows–she might invent a new way to do it. More importantly, your child is developing confidence in her own ability to figure things out.
You can remember these three learning strategies by the acronym: One Quality Figure (short for One Activity at a Time, Quality Playtime and Figure it out for herself). Just make a mental image of a stick figure and say to yourself–wow, that’s One Quality Figure.
Mnemonic techniques aside, these strategies are founded on the premise that the essence of playing is learning. As evidence, just give your child something to do that’s beneath her skill level. What will happen? She’ll be bored right away. She won’t want to play. Why? Because there’s nothing to learn. So it’s no stretch to say that, from your child’s perspective, the best part about playing is learning.
The strategies described in this article are aimed at strengthening your child’s overall motivation and enthusiasm toward learning. They don’t cost anything, and you don’t have to be an expert in child development to figure them out. Just think in terms of daily routine: if you allow your child to develop solid learning habits one day at a time, her attention span and ability to focus will surprise you in more ways than you can count. Best of luck!