Can we really teach young children? How does the child learn? In our hassled attempts to make the child learn a new skill, we underestimate his/her own abilities that s/he has been gifted with.
For example, some children have an impulse to bite. They bite anytime and anywhere and in a split second. The only way to channelize this impulse is to tell them that people are not for biting and they can bite cucumber or a rice cracker instead.
When they are learning how to express themselves, they go through a phase of hitting and pushing to express their frustration Instead of saying that “we do not push or hit ”,looking at their eye level and reiterating the boundary that “people are not for pushing or hitting” helps them control the impulse. “You can push the wagon”. “You could kick this ball.”
We need to repeat this consistently till the time the child can internalize the boundary and control the impulse to bite or hit people and develop the will to follow the rule themselves.
Children love to climb on tables, sofa or any piece of furniture they find around them. Stopping them produces a rebel outburst and things get worse. Instead of denying, it is best to acknowledge the inner need to practice that movement and provide an appropriate place for climbing. A step ladder to climb up wash hands in the washroom or, another such step ladder to climb and wash vegetables in the kitchen, taking them outdoors to climb low ladders; low climbing domes are few ways to help them redirect their physical energy productively. Before we know, they would have mastered these gross motor skills by repeating them over and over again.
Young children like to be busy. They are constantly finding activities around them. They love to fill water in containers, pour anywhere and get something to mop the spill. They observe us performing everyday tasks and are constantly fidgeting and looking for opportunities to manipulate objects.
They are actually indicating to us that they need to be given purposeful activities.
For example, a watering can for watering the plants, a small mop hanging at the child’s height to wipe the spill, a child size broom to sweep the floor, a spray bottle to spray water on a window to clean it with a squeegee, a low rack for their shoes, a low closet or a drawer at low height to access their clothes by themselves enables them to take huge leaps in their ability to concentrate and build self esteem.
When children are given opportunities to work collaboratively and perform simple tasks like cleaning, chopping fruits and vegetables or preparing food, they show deep interest and genuine focus. They also feel content and happy.
Toys like opening closing boxes, stringing beads, nuts and bolts, ring stackers, among others displayed on a low shelf help them practice and master their fine motor skills and develop eye-hand coordination. Clearly the teacher in the child guides him to practice and master his movements.
We must take cues from the child and provide him/her the appropriate human and physical environment to help him embark him on this journey of joyful learning.
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