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Embracing your Individual Learner
The one thing that children age 3-5 have in common is that they learn at a rapid pace. How they learn, their style of learning and levels of attainment will vary greatly. Many parents feel proud if their little one reads and writes early. For others, whose children establish these skills less quickly, there can often be needless anxiety.
Our children are unique; whilst schools will mould and shape them into more focused students, these very early stages are a great time to embrace who they naturally are and what they are naturally interested in.
Physical children who love to be on the move can learn so much from their energetic play. Not only are they learning about balance and motion, safety and risk-taking, they are also learning about distance and self-control. Building in games like throwing a ball and counting catches or playing hopscotch are great ways to introduce numbers and number sequences. Sending them off on a little treasure hunt with a picture and the written word next to each object can help encourage reading.
Social children can learn about sharing, turn taking and exploring joint ideas through their play. These will all be important skills and useful at school. Social children can learn about numbers whilst rolling the dice in a board game and moving counters. They can explore their letters playing I spy with their little friends (with a bit of help.)
Creative children learn to translate their ideas into actions and to experiment, to engage their imagination and process their thoughts. They are also developing their fine motor skills. All these skills are central to education. You could encourage your creative child to paint by numbers or join dot to dots to help them learn. Perhaps you could encourage them to trace their name and use an alphabet stencil to introduce letters?
There are just SO many ways to learn.
Your child probably enjoys a mix of most of these ways of playing. Go with the flow, let them play, let them be, and lightly weave the learning in. Learning is a pleasurable when it is introduced in a way that appeals to us and once an interest is established, it can be built upon easily. Embracing our children as individual learners will encourage them to have high self-esteem and a love of learning, both hugely important foundations for their future. Letting children lead how they learn, by following how they play keeps this informal stage of their education fun and allows them to be the little children that they are.