What influences children’s capacity to learn, and their love for it

We all know people who genuinely love to learn, or who are naturally good at it. It’s who they are. But research shows that knowing how to learn – and enjoying the process – comes down to much more than people’s genetic makeup.

What a person is exposed to – and encouraged to do – as a young child, is shown to have the greatest influence on their capacity to, and interest in, learning. Some of a child’s most important learning is done by mirroring the behaviour and attitudes of those around them.

To create an environment that fosters learning, children in their early years need:

To know the adults in their lives will keep them safe and healthy

Children need to have trust in the adult influences in their lives; to know, without asking, that they will be kept safe and healthy.

To know the adults in their lives will care for them

Reliable, positive caring relationships are crucial to a child’s capacity to learn. All children need at least one person that they know will care for them and support them.

To know they are respected, and their needs will be addressed

Children must have a sense of being respected, and know that the adult influences in their life will respond to their needs, interests, and their feelings.

To know the difference between right and wrong

Children need influences who can help teach them how to behave, and what is considered right and wrong by the society and community they live in.

To have the opportunity to see and experience different things

Learning what goes on, from day to day, by doing, will teach children some of the most powerful lessons they can learn. Everyday activities out in the world, such as going to supermarket, attending a busy playground, helping to cook a meal, or even helping out around the house will help children learn in ways that a classroom setting can never replicate.

Positive relationships with other children and adults from outside the immediate family environment

Children benefit from a chance to interact with other children and adults in a group setting; either via playgroup, a childcare setting (such as occasional care, kindergarten or family day care, school, etc); it is important that these experiences are of a high quality.

Research shows that a child’s capacity to learn is best facilitated by caring relationships between children and the adults around them.

Want to know more about the role you can play in this important stage of a child’s life? Contact WDEA Works’ training division about a career in early childhood education.

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