Parents are key to our children’s learning and development. After all, we are also their role models in life.
With this important mission, parents often fret over how and what children are learning. In Singapore, where academic learning is top in priority, we are somehow moulded towards learning for grades, while other aspects such as character and manners are equally important. Also, every child’s learning styles and abilities are unique, so that’s some food for thought.
According to Howard Gardner, Psychologist and Professor at Harvard University’s School of Education, there are 8 different Multiple Intelligences (MI), and everyone has all types of intelligences at varying levels of aptitude. Some are undiscovered too.
The difference between Multiple Intelligences (MI) and learning style: the former represents different intellectual abilities, while the latter are the ways in which an individual approaches a range of tasks.
While we are eager for our children to explore and learn about the community and society, our habits and attitude can affect their learning and experiences. As a mum, sometimes I need a little reminder when I unknowingly make it difficult for my children to learn. Do you feel the same too?
#1: Imposing our fears as their boundaries
Anything that looks seemingly dangerous, or might lead to an imaginary injury, you’d be sure I’m freaking out inside.
And while I have her best interests at heart, it sets a limit to what V could have explored.
Case in point: I had to eat my fears when Little Miss Cautious presented her dare-to-try attitude.
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Watching this vid reminded me how fast Vera has grown. If there's one thing we've discovered about parenthood, that would be learning to put down our own adult fears. . As parents, we are always the first to also decide what our kids are exposed to. But many times, we become discerning about things: "Don't touch that, it's dirty! That's so dangerous! Do this, don't do that!" . We build walls in our kid's faces and we wonder why. Safety concerns are regular parental concerns (and absolutely normal too!), but sometimes we learn that we should hold our tongues. . So what did I learn? The very day, teacher Liz demonstrated a new stunt during class and asked for a volunteer, a hand shot up along with a loud "ME!!". Little did I expect Little Ms Cautious to do that AT ALL. And she gamely went forward and did as she was guided, in front of many eyes. I still couldn't believe mine. . Thank you, V, for sending mummy on a silent lesson… A lesson to reflect and learn to embrace; a lesson to keep windows of exposures opened like how they should. My limits should not be yours, for your potential is far greater than mine. 😘
Our limits should not be that of our children, as their potential is far greater than ours.
#2: Being stressed about setting the “right” learning environment
We forget that learning can take place any time, any where, but some of us consciously set up a learning environment for the children.
Especially as working parents, when we spend most of our time away from the children, it adds to the guilt and stress. It’s great to put together activities for the children to work on and learn. It’s not so great when parents get stressed up when they lack the time, energy, resources to do so.
Children learn in a myriad of least expected ways too – if we’re short of time to “set the stage”, taking them to a nearby garden, a quick tour around the neighbourhood, or even reading or dancing to some music on the radio can serve up new experiences for children.
#3: Stressing ourselves over learning materials
This relates to the previous point.
It’s exciting to see parents share fun activities that they spend time doing with their children. It’s really inspiring to see the effort, but we sometimes forget we are not the same.
It’s fun to see your child enjoy the fruits of your labour, but unfortunately, not every parent can do the same diligently. And, it does add to mum’s guilt when we are unable to do the same.
#4: Comparing ourselves
It’s normal to compare, in fact, with comparison comes improvement, and we further develop and discover new “talents” as parents. But we should not feel the incessant guilt to the point of being frustrated with what we can’t do for our child’s learning. What we CAN do can also be very different from others, so there’s just no end.
Every child has different experiences, and through them they learn new skills or discover a thing or two about others. So keep the comparison healthy, and focus on the positives!
#5: Beating ourselves up
Relating to the previous two points: It’s easy to blame ourselves for sleeping when our children are sleeping, when we could otherwise take the time to create learning resources for them, or plan for the weekend. Or even, taking them to the mall just so we can have a breather from the hectic work days, instead of the library on the coveted weekend.
We are only human, and if that’s something we want our children to understand, it’s just natural to need some downtime. This is a lesson in itself – for both parents and children.
#6: Comparing our children
As we compare ourselves, we tend to also compare our children’s abilities with others. Milestones, achievements, accolades, grades – these are the tip of things we have a guide/benchmark to, which then leads us to compare.
It’s a competitive society, and it is somewhat ingrained in us. Everyone has varying degrees of competitive streak, and it is the same even for young children when they learn about being “winners and losers”. The challenge is to teach them how to embrace losing, learn from it and move forward with the newly gained experience. And for winners, that they don’t have to win all the time (although the glory does wonders to their confidence), and that winning isn’t everything (overconfidence is another thing altogether).
#7: Stressing our children
Stress is inevitable, but is there really a perfect amount of stress?
Chronic stress can affect our health and life, disrupting our digestive systems and immunity. Children also lose interest during the learning journey, as their experience has been poor.
Psychologist advise that the idea of having a healthy dose of stress equates to having stressors that are shortlived and manageable. Hence,as parents, we need to discover ways of helping our children be stronger mentally, physically, emotionally, so they are able to better manage stress.
#8: Forgetting that they’re children
With our lifestyle often strapped to time, we may often rush them to get things done quicker, so we can get to the next task or errand.
In the busyness of things, we might expect them to behave like adults – but that really isn’t possible. Tantrums, mood swings, meltdowns – are part of them learning about their emotions and how to manage (or not manage!) them. When these emotions are larger than themselves, it gets really trying for parents. And yes, that’s when we need to take a step back and breathe, so we can manage that bit of stress eating at us, and move on to manage it positively so our children understand and learn.
#9: Forgetting that experiences are part of learning – good or bad
While we can’t control all the experiences the kids will encounter, gaining any new experience offers new insights to the children.
Experiences help build characters and attitudes, so good ones and bad ones count. Motivating our children help give them a little boost, so they are willing to try something new. After all, we won’t know until we try, right?
#10: Forcing children to live our own dreams
Have always envisioned to be a ballerina? Or always wanted to achieve a black belt in Judo?
It’s easy to put our dreams on the kids; it’s great if they enjoy what they’re picking up, not so great if they’re dreading the opportunity. Afterall, interest and passion makes learning more enjoyable, and they tend to do better too.
#11: Setting a must-win mindset for every single thing
Yup, ditto the point about comparing our children at point #6.
#12: Neglect their emotions
Are the children happy when they head for extra enrichment? Do they find excuses not to go on a playdate with a particular child?
Our kids may be little, but their emotions are just as important. Happy children = happy parents! :)
#13: We forget to be present
Parents need to juggle work and a zillion other commitments, and when we finally have some “alone” time, our kids hanker for our attention.
It’s easy to just sit beside them and turn on the television. We’re there physically, but our minds might be elsewhere, or we’re fiddling with our phones.
Whether it’s play or academic learning, our kids need our involvement not detachment. We may buy the “best” assessment books, or the fanciest toys, but they don’t mean as much when our presence is outsourced. Remember to make time for our little ones :)
This blog post is in collaboration with Friso. Kids learn from experiences whether big or small, good or bad. That’s why Friso provides the right nutrition for your child to be strong inside to take on challenges. To find out more, visit Friso’s website and follow Friso on Facebook and Instagram. #frisosg #frisostronginside #frisoexperience