How does your child learn?
Let's have a look together at the four different ways of learning
Reading time: 5 minutes
The perceptive preferences of each child can stimulate or slow their curiosity and learning.
Many authors have dealt with these issues and in particular Fleming and Mills in 1992 developed the VARK model (acronym for Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, Kinesthetic) which highlights three particular sensory receptors: sight, hearing and kinesthetic.
When you see your child playing, have you ever wondered which sensory channel they prefer to learn with? Do they prefer to observe, listen or handle?
We can say that a child learns through interaction with the physical and social environment; in particular their behaviour is modified by the experiences they have.
Have you ever observed the first actions of a child when they are in a new environment for the first time?
Children, in fact, are already born with the curiosity to discover and know the world around them. Whenever they are exposed to new situations, the research systems required for their psychophysical well-being are reactivated. The behaviour that you can see in children is that of a little explorer who looks around, touches, moves, listens, observes, tests out. They are trying to learn about what surrounds them using their own senses and drawing on previous experiences.
When a child takes an object that they see for the first time, they observe it and study it. What is happening?
They are thinking.
As J. Piaget teaches us, children learn through two cognitive processes: assimilation and accommodation. In assimilation, the information collected during exploration is acquired based on pre-existing personal cognitive patterns. For example, if a child takes a model car in their hands, they immediately relate it to the macro category of cars. Conversely, in accommodation, new information gathered during exploration changes the existing personal cognitive patterns. For example, if a child sees a train for the first time, they do not relate it to any known macro category, so they modify their structures to give meaning and acquire the new information.
It often happens that when a child plays with a new toy, they do not adopt the intended game procedures but creatively elaborate their own. What is happening?
They are inventing!
Inventing and creating is a gift for the few or can it be trained? To what extent can the context in which a child lives and the materials that are made available to them enhance their creative skills? A child can be accompanied to create new ideas, to play in a new way, by generating different solutions. They can make connections and generate relationships with objects that are not usually related to each other and reorganise the elements they already know by giving different meanings.
Returning once again to Piaget’s studies, we know that children not only manipulate, discover and build when they play from about 18 months of age but they also imagine, create and invent. The term used is in fact symbolic play, that is, the phase in which a play object lends itself to new functions. An example? A fork becomes an aeroplane, a brick becomes a telephone, etc. Children discover and attribute new play functions to objects; it is the start of the game of “let's pretend that”.
When your child is playing and they see another child, have you ever heard them say “It’s mine!” referring to their toy?
It is a way of telling us that sharing is not yet part of their vocabulary and it is the right time to accompany them in discovering it.
Sharing begins in little everyday things, allowing them to savour the point that sharing does not mean losing anything but doing things together. This is the only way that they can you slowly discover the pleasure of sharing with a friend the richness of building a castle or a tower together.
Share a make-believe with your child and pretend to drink the coffee that they have made for you. From the joy of preparing coffee, it is easy to move on to the desire to share a game, a toy or an emotion.
When your child is playing, just a few little devices can help you understand the preferences, needs and interests that may support their learning.
And so, are we ready? Let’s go and play!