You know your child is exceptional. From the moment you first held your baby in your arms, you knew your little one is something special. All mothers know this, and all mothers can also help guide their children to become the amazing individuals they’re meant to become. But now that your child is growing fast, you wonder, “How do I do this? How can I help my child achieve their potential?” Even from an early age, how you nurture your child has a profound effect on their development. With innovative learning, together with the right nutrition and support, your exceptional child can soar to new heights.
What is innovative learning?
Every child is different. Some take to math or music naturally while others are good at language, using big words with aplomb. The idea behind innovative learning is to take a creative approach to teach. It means being attentive to what makes your child special and encouraging their talents and gifts. It’s about fueling his or her curiosity and boosting confidence. If done right, innovative learning can make a big difference in your little one’s life. Find out how to ignite their innovation.
How do children learn?
First, to understand how to practice innovative learning, we need to understand how toddlers learn. From birth to their first year, they’ve learned so much, walking and talking and interacting with others – they didn’t learn any of that from school! So how do children learn?
Nature has given children the perfect way to learn: through play¹. To us, it may look like toddlers are just having fun, playing with their toys and laughing at silly things. But when they play, they are learning important skills and connections are being formed in their brain.
When a child plays with building blocks, he or she is learning about size, weight, and colour. And when they engage in a funny conversation with dad, they learn new words and socialisation skills.
Children also learn through several different behaviours²:
- Watching and observing. Ever wonder why your toddler is so obsessed with you and every move you make? They’re learning from you!
- The development of language begins with listening, identifying words and figuring out what they mean. When your child listens, they are busy making connections in their brain between words and meaning.
- Asking questions. Be patient with the “What’s that?” questions. Your toddler is busy learning.
- Trying out new activities. Much of toddler learning involves experiencing things. Have your child try out new activities as much as possible. Remember to be supportive because new activities can also be scary for little ones.
- Practising skills. Pick up the block; let it fall. Pick up the block; let it fall. Your toddler practices important skills by repetitive tasks like this.
Innovative Learning in Action: How to Support Your Child’s Learning
Nurture the exceptional child. Ignite their innovation. Here are a few concrete things you can do to put innovative learning into action.
1. Be attentive to your child’s interests
For every child who’s skilled at playing the piano, there’s a parent who spotted their child’s interest in music and supported this. And the same goes for any child who seems gifted. Someone spotted the child’s interest, nurtured it and ignited their passion.
Your exceptional child also has unique gifts, as does every child. It’s not just about genetics; some talents need to be nurtured. Be attentive to what excites them. Is it drawing? Maybe it’s storytelling. If it’s drawing, get behind your child’s passion: draw with them, watch instructional videos together, take them to a museum. And remember, children’s interests change all the time. They may want to be a doctor one month and an astronaut the next. That’s okay; keep supporting your child!
2. Be encouraging
We all want our exceptional child to shine. But putting too much pressure can result in stress and spiral into negative emotions. Your child’s achievements may seem like small things, but they are a big deal for your child. So be generous with your praise and always be encouraging. Praise has been found to boost a child’s confidence and build his or her self-esteem³.
It’s important to remember to praise your child’s actions4 instead of praising the child. When you praise their actions, it reinforces that behaviour. But when you praise the child (“You’re so smart!”), it becomes entangled with their sense of identity – and a failure, later on, can negatively affect their self-worth (“I didn’t do well, so I must not be smart.”). Make it a habit to say “Great work!” “Good effort!”, or “I can see you really put a lot of work into this.”
3. Provide a stimulating environment
Just as stress can be harmful to development, a positive learning environment5 is one where your child feels safe. It is a place where they feel they belong and can trust their teachers and playmates.
Learning outdoors6 is a great way to expose your child to a stimulating environment, boosting emotional, behavioural and intellectual development. The outdoors is an ideal environment where children can build connections in their brain by experiencing all the things they’re learning. It has also been found to be good for their health as it helps children to become more active.
4. Play with your children
Now that we know that play is how children learn make sure to play with them. Instead of just handing them toys, get on the floor with your toddler and take an active part in their learning. Go on pretend journeys to space and beyond.
5. Boost your child’s immunity
Getting sick gets in the way of learning!
Young children’s immune systems are not yet fully developed. That’s why it’s a good idea to supplement their diet with immunity-boosting food that positively affects their gut microbiome. Oligosaccharides, a prebiotic found in human milk, are one such food. They have been found to promote the growth of “good” bifidobacteria, reducing the incidence of diarrhoea and making children’s gut microbiome stronger.
6. Fuel their brain development
All this learning is hard work! During the toddler years, your child’s brain is a hive of activity. So make sure you give your child the right nutrition to fuel this brain development. Essential nutrients like DHA & ARA are important building blocks for their brain development in early years.
When it comes to nutrition, mothers want a milk brand that will give their children the brain-building nutrients they need. But a walk down the supermarket milk aisle can often be overwhelming because of all the choices available. For brain-building nutrients, the choice is clear: a formula that contains essential nutrients, including DHA, ARA and all-important vitamins and minerals is what can make a difference in your growing child’s development.
With the right nutrition and these innovative learning tools, your child will be well on their way to ignite their innovation. You’ve got this, mums and dads!
- www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/leaf/school-grounds/documents/outdoor education research for school Grounds.pdf