It’s never too late to change, but it makes sense to start the way you mean to continue. Are you struggling to get good academic results from your children? Many of us spend a lot of money on extra tuition for our children when they start preparing for exams yet there are things we can take care of years before that to minimise the need for this investment. Here are 10 things that you do when your child is young that interfere with their ability learn optimally:
- You don’t take them out or play with them or facilitate play for them. You even scold the maid if she is caught outside playing with the baby! Spending time stimulating their senses helps children develop cognitively, linguistically, socially and emotionally, physically and creatively. It exercises the brain! Seen how babies are all eyes when they go into a new environment?
- You don’t talk to them. Speech and language are the tools humans use to communicate and share thoughts, ideas, and emotions. The most intensive period of speech and language development for humans is during the first three years of life. These skills appear to develop best in a world that is rich with sounds, sights, and consistent exposure to the speech and language of others. If you don’t talk to your baby, they won’t learn how. Expressing oneself is a core part of learning. And don’t talk to them as if they are stupid.
- You are inconsistent. Consistency means that rules and expectations are the same from one time to another. Consistency makes the child’s world predictable and less confusing. It frees their minds of worry about what might happen and teaches them accountability for their actions. How will they learn there is a link between the effort they put in to pay attention, study and complete assignments, and the grades they get?
- You lie to them. “Ok sweetie, go get your shoes so that we go together”. As soon as the baby is out of sight, you drive off without them. Why should they believe you when you later give advice about studying and other things?
- You say one thing and do another. You threaten to take away their toys if they don’t put them away neatly, but you don’t. Soon they understand it’s all a game. So threatening to take away privileges when they don’t make the grade is just another game.
- You discredit their educators in their hearing. Children cannot learn from someone they disrespect. If you disregard and malign teachers and other educators in your child’s hearing you make it more difficult from them to learn.
- You don’t show them how – you rescue them. You do everything for your kids. You carry their school bag; you pay for drivers and maids and chefs; people to make sure they ‘don’t suffer like you did’. What about the lessons your ‘suffering’ taught you? What about the resilience your ‘suffering’ helped you build? Try getting a child who has ‘everything’ to give up something – like TV time, or an hour of sleep, or going out with friends – for study. It’s painful for them because they have never learnt how to exert themselves, or to delay gratification.
- You make academics a battle ground – nothing else matters. You congratulate them, or praise them or give them treats only for academic achievement. When they don’t do well you punish and abuse them. You don’t recognise any of their other talents and achievements. They are so stressed about trying to please you in this way, they cannot learn.
- You don’t grasp and use teachable moments. When your child gets teased on the playing field you go join the fight…instead of teaching them how to respond. When they are unable to do a sum, you do if for them, instead of showing them how (if you know, or asking the teacher to revisit the concept). When they make a mistake you berate them, instead of helping them learn from it. When you talk about your childhood, it’s gilded and perfect. Yet, when they get to a certain age, you expect them to engage in self-directed study, or some other stuff that you have never shown them how to do.
- Long before your child is 14 you have full control over what they eat, yet you don’t feed them right. Balanced nutrition to match the child’s developmental needs right from conception is critical. Did you know that a baby is born with all the brain cells they will need, but they are not connected? By 3 years the brain has developed 80% of its full capacity? Your child’s developing brain needs protein, or more specifically amino acids, to make neurotransmitters (the connections between cells). Calories provide your baby’s brain with the energy it needs to function properly. Fats are necessary for the development of your young child’s central nervous system, vision and intelligence. Certain vitamins and minerals impact the development of your young child’s brain. They include iron, zinc, copper, iodine, selenium, vitamin A, choline and folate. Iron is especially important, as studies have shown that children who were anaemic in younger years perform poorly on cognitive tests and have a harder time catching up when they enter school.
Invest in your baby before they are 2, when it make a critical difference, rather than paying for extra tuition at 14.