Parents will always be a child’s first teachers.

Even before a child goes to school, he is already learning and adopting new skills through his exposure to his parents.

Parents then have a responsibility to teach their child as much as they can. They complement the learning a child gets from school.

Cris Evert Lato, co-founder and vice chairperson of Basadours Inc., a non-profit organization which advocates reading through storytelling, believes in knowing the different learning styles of a child. Knowing this crucial piece of information enables parents to teach their children effectively.

“Children learn in various ways. That is why it is important for us, parents, to know the different learning styles of our children, so we can better tailor-fit activities which can maximize learning,” said the journalist, editor, and a mother of three children.

Matching styles with activities

There are seven learning styles of a child. These are:

  • Visual – prefers pictures or images to understand lessons
  • Aural or Auditory-Musical – loves sounds and music
  • Linguistic or Verbal – use of words, may it be written or oral communication
  • Kinesthetic or Physical – involve physical activity with a sense of touch
  • Mathematical or Logical – reasoning, logic, and systems
  • Social or Interpersonal – learns best with groups or through interactions with a team
  • Solitary or Intrapersonal – learns best when alone, or through self-study

These styles are not exclusive to each other. A child could learn through more than one style, but it is important that the child learns based on his style. If a child likes to learn through photos, buy him picture books. If a child likes to learn through active, physical activities, bring him to the zoo to learn about animals. Or if a child likes to learn with groups, bring him out to play with your neighbors.

It is important to pinpoint your child’s learning style, matching it with appropriate activities to help them learn at their best.

While the internet offers a lot of reading materials and references which parents can use for their children, the most effective technique would be to “listen and observe”.

“I think we fail as our children’s first teachers when we impose a style [on] them. Conflicts arise when we choose to impose,” emphasized Lato.

Their interests, not yours!

The best way to motivate a child to study is to make him feel that his interests are encouraged. “For my children, they like it when lessons are made into games, art activities or songs. It has to be fun. When children learn in an atmosphere of fun, they unknowingly learn. When learning is equated to fun, it motivates the child to study more,” she shared.

As a frustrated teacher and an avid reader, Lato creates lessons plans for her children. She mixes and matches lessons with materials she finds online. Example, she taught her kids the days of the week using Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. She made flashcards and played songs on YouTube. Now her children have been singing the song for 10 days running.

During the early stages of development (until 6 years old), children can learn best through play. Children love to run and climb. Part of the process is letting them stumble, fall, and get up.

“This is the perfect time for them to learn empathy. These values are often caught, and not taught,” Lato explained.

As they grow, a child’s interests change. At the age of seven, children become exposed to more social settings in school. This is where he now cultivates more interests, talents, and skills because of the influence of things and people he has seen and encountered. It is important to take note of what the child is particularly interested in, and not the goals, dreams, or wish fulfillment of the parents.

Open the lines of communication. Talk to you children and be interested in what they want. If you can, learn with them.

“Some parents enroll their children in violin class, even when the children do not like it. Democracy should also happen at home. It is best to discuss any plans to enroll in classes with your children,” Lato said. “Am I insisting on this class for the benefit of my child, or because I didn’t get to do this when I was her age?”

Cherish those moments

Before you know it, your child has sprouted into a teenager, and you will have to start letting them go. While they’re young, cherish ever single tantrum, learning opportunity, and seemingly humdrum moment with them.

“You should always cherish your children at a time when they ask you for help about their homework, or when they are clingy to go with you to work, or when you run errands, or even when they want you to sing the alphabet song. Cherish every single moment,” she stressed.

And ultimately, teach with your heart. Children are sponges, and they usually pick up on the emotions of their parents.

On a final note, Lato shares, “Teach with joy and love. That is my cardinal rule. Happiness is infectious, so is sadness and grumpiness. You will not be happy at all times, but when you teach, teach as if your life depended on it. Teach with joy and love, and you will never go wrong.”

Enduring the pains of teaching will be totally worth it. For sure, you will snap at times, run out of patience, and get bone tired. Who said teaching a child was  walk in the park?

But when your child grows into a smart and kind person, you’ll give yourself a pat on the pack. After all, you were your child’s first teacher. You taught him well and had fun doing it.

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