Knowledge is power and learning is the key.
Society has labeled some kids as gifted and others as ordinary. Getting a child to enjoy reading books, playing puzzles or counting numbers are skills that have to be learned. While it is true that some kids are more inclined to learning than others, under normal circumstances, every child can be taught to be a true learner.
A gifted child will still benefit from help because abilities vary from schools and students. Several years ago, my child was in third grade; she was clever so I had no concerns about her progress. However, she changed schools and in her new school, she met some extremely intelligent students. For the first time, she was no longer the top student and she was challenged. A simple plan of spending fifteen minutes daily with her made a huge impact and her confidence was regained.
Over the years, I have witnessed transformational changes in kids by implementing these action plans that have enabled them to develop a natural love for learning.
- START EARLY: From the moment a child is able to talk or say words, re-direct and guide their speech; turn the baby talk to educational words, one word at a time. For example, teach them recognition skills by holding an apple and asking them what it represents.
- COMMUNICATE: Talk to your child with respect and get their attention. While giving them instruction, ensure they understand your message. Give the child time to respond and if they do not, ask them to repeat your sentence. This is a method of teaching them to pay attention. Let the child carry out the task regardless of their slow pace.
- INTRODUCE new words at each discussion; this is a means of building their vocabulary. Re-use the older words to expand their retention and memory.
- FIND TIME FOR LEARNING: Form an intentional and daily habit of spending at least fifteen minutes or more with your child and teach them. The best teacher that any child can ever have is from their family. From my experience, I found that ten minutes worth of work with my kids is equivalent to a week’s work at school. Who knows your child as well as you? From their personality to temperament to abilities, teaching your child is an opportunity to help them in an intimate way. It also shows interest in what the child is doing and motivates a child to better actions. This will help you to truly grasp the struggles or potentials displayed by a child and take early corrective action.
- DISALLOW TANTRUMS: When a child is throwing a tantrum, it is mainly due to an inability to clearly express themselves. As an adult, ask the child to communicate in a manner that he or she would be understood. Let the child know that by appropriate expression, his or her needs will be properly met but by speaking un-clearly, it is very difficult to help solve the problems. It is important for the parent or adult not to be frustrated or discouraged because the goal is to teach the child proper ways of expression and correct use of words.
- SPEND QUALITY TIME TOGETHER: Always be the first to find out about your child’s day, assuming they go to preschool, kindergarten, or grade school. This factor is so important for parents because in the teen years, your child will continue confiding in you. Start from the car or by the door or at the dinner table. Give them full attention and show keen interest in what they are saying. Try to learn from them: what were their challenges or teacher’s comments, so that if needed, those areas will be examined at home with the child. Sometimes, it could be just a quick explanation that will clarify the situation.
- BE AN ENCOURAGER OR MOTIVATOR: Despite the child’s performance, motivate them and be there for them. When a child knows that he or she will be encouraged, they will turn to the adult or parent at each point of difficulty. Motivating a child goes beyond telling the child to try harder but letting the child hear words like, “I know you can do it”; “If anyone is going to get that award, it is you”; “You are doing excellently well”; and “These grades were not good but I trust that the next ones will be a lot better”. Recently, my child had a bad exam and she called me, devastated and upset. I advised her on the steps to take which she did and the unfortunate situation turned around in her favor.
- STUDY ROOM OR PLACE: Find a convenient and consistent place where the family or kids can study. Do not move around frequently, as it creates distraction. I personally do not encourage studying in the child’s room because they need supervision and focus. My kids study together at home and this gives them the opportunity to build team atmosphere by learning from each other. Also study time is very important and should be established. At study time, encourage everyone to start at the agreed time. Occasionally, be part of your kids study time and take a book and sit with them. This action is to support them and to show your love for learning too.
- BE STUCTURED: Set standards, limits and expectations, however, make room for exceptions. My kids are very athletic, involved in activities and also have social commitments to meet. However, they understand and respect the rule which is simply that school work comes first and must be completed or sports, activities and socialization will be forfeited. So there are minimal arguments about school work, homework or studying for tests or assignments.
- READING BOOKS: This is the most important factor in creating a natural love for learning. As adults, we tend to read for our kids and that is great. However, it is more effective to teach someone how to fish than to catch the fish for them. Reading is the key to educational excellence and it is most beneficial that we encourage our kids to read to us or by themselves. Reading creates comprehension. Solving mathematical problems, science and critical thinking are all based on comprehension. The best gift to bestow on a child is to start as early as possible to teach them new words, word formation and number concepts. Get your child interested in learning very early by surrounding them with books in the car, the airplane and in the house. Let them choose any book they are interested in and teach them to read by themselves. Make it their lifestyle.
In eighteen years and with 3 teens and 1 toddler, I have used these methods very successfully. Today, my kids have turned around from normal, ordinary kids to gifted and talented kids. Recently, my toddler’s school moved him up to full kindergarten because of his learnt abilities and my teens have earned numerous awards, published works and leadership titles.
Start today and turn around the life of your precious one!
Mom Four Kids