Teaching small kids

Parentree-editors 2011-06-15 18:58:08

These days there is a lot of emphasis on teaching kids as many things as possible and as early as possible at that. Parents begin singing nursery rhymes,alphabets, numbers, shlokas to the baby inside the womb. Till he or she is inside, only auditory methods are used to "teach", but the moment babies come out into this world, they are exposed to various other modes of stimulation like visual, kinesthetic, and tactile. This is not something new. Kids have been learning this way ever since human race came into existence. The only difference is that earlier these stimulations happened naturally and instinctively, and now, a lot of conscious effort goes into "exposing and teaching" the child right from the time of conception. It’s almost like forced learning, which has taken over a mother’s natural and innate capability to teach various things to her child.

For an overall development there are 4 basic parts of teaching and learning in the case of children.

Love and affection

Happiness accelerates learning. When a child is stress-free, feels loved unconditionally and is showered with affection, he or she grows with a deep confidence in himself and in his parents and with a genuine curiosity to know and discover without fear. This confidence and curiosity form the foundation for learning for years to come.

Good sleep and right nutrition

Good learning starts and ends with a fresh, alert and healthy mind and body. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise; these are not just old sayings. They have a lot of truth in them. Nutritious eating and healthy sleep habits provide strength, stamina and energy to the child, to keep infections at bay and to focus on his or her environment with interest and attention. Poor nutrition may even lead to learning disabilities. 

Exposure and repetition

It is important to expose various things to the child and not limit learning to alphabets, concepts, numbers and rhymes. It is more important to unburden yourself from the pressure of "what are they learning when I am showing them this leaf- is it pattern, shape, environment, or color?". Because the pressure of teaching concepts with everything can actually make you neglect something in which you don’t find a concept. So the best idea is to generally expose things to the child, show various aspects of each thing and leave it to the child to absorb what he or she wants. Children need repetition to remember.

So it may not suffice to teach something "once and for all". Teaching a child is a continuous and on-going process with lots of repetitions with innovations.

Trust on innate capabilities

When a child responds well when something is taught to him, it excites and encourages parents to teach him more. Out of their genuine excitement, they sometimes do not give adequate consideration to the child’s inherent capacity to learn. Over-stimulation is detrimental for learning. So it’s a wrong theory to "teach as much as possible, so that something interests the child at least". Over-stimulation backfires by making the child hyperactive and disinterested in what is being taught to him. How much of teaching is alright depends entirely upon the child’s interest areas and capabilities. Not only quantity-wise, it is also important to respect your child learning interests quality-wise. While you may not understand the usefulness of things beyond academic syllabus, the child may not understand the usefulness of things in the syllabus. Not all children want to learn alphabets and counting when they are 3 years old, because they can’t see the usefulness of the information. Some are more interested in understanding about sun, moon and stars, while some get more excited to learn about animal kingdom. It is important to teach them in a way that they find interesting as well as useful.

This is the time and age of information and new knowledge bombarding at us from all sides. It shouldn’t create pressure on us. Knowledge is supposed to make life easy for us, and not burden us with the expectation to pass all of it to our kids. The pressure we feel to teach doesn’t go unnoticed by kids. Their antennas catch this pressure, making them stressed about this whole process of "learning".

Teaching shouldn’t make us anxious and learning shouldn’t make the kids anxious. Then only true learning takes place.  

Written by Aanchal Agarwal, Aanchal is a psychotherapist and special educator and mother, based in Bangalore. She specializes in child development and learning disabilities. 


2013-03-05 11:34:00


Hi, Nice article. On similar lines, I was looking for something that would give a lot of stimulation to my 2 year old daughter. And wanted her to enjoy while she learns and I got a perfect education kit. It comprises of knowledge books that make sounds/sing rhymes/read out, also there is an English time with awesome characters, Maths with a magnetic board and values with very nice story books supplemented with CDs and finger puppets. Its a complete library for my 2 year old and she simply dots on it. -Apsara

2012-12-11 15:07:04


'bad reviews' do more harm than good..its important that we dont talk about our kids like this. children believe in their parents. if parents think low about the kids, kids start believing the same. they also behave in a way to fulfill the prophecy. you need to have faith in your child. you need to show him that you respect him and that your love is not dependent on the marks he is getting in exams. this first step itself will show you a great change in your child. as far as academics is concerned, rule out ADD/LD first

2012-12-11 15:02:24


hi!! i am the mother of 2 boys one is turning 5 year old and the younger one is 2 +. i have always get bad reviews about my elder child he is too good in orals but when it comes to writing he is lagging far behind then his other class mates. according to the teacher he is only child who didn't listen to her in class. whatever work u give him he is just not interested in completing it be it HW or class work. rest his IQ in play, cars and with gadget is superb. need ur help what to do with this one paying so much attention on the elder one is affecting younger one too. what to do tired of trying different play ways learning and it is affecting my mental and patience level too

2012-10-30 18:00:17


hii i am a parent of a 5 year old son he is very naughty and wants to play all the time. he is poor in studies and me and my husband are not able to make him study since he falls sick very frequently because of very poor appetite. we have engaged a home tutor and hope that he adjusts with her. kindly suggest some ways to increase his diet.

2012-09-11 12:23:08


Hi Aanchal, I have sent you a friend invite. Could you pls accept it so I can send you my email id and thus get in touch with you? - Mom to a 2.5 yr old naughty boy :)

2011-12-06 15:36:01


How very true :) Very nicely written article Aanchal.. Enjoyed reading it.

2011-10-18 17:20:17


Copy of Nanny 911?

2011-10-18 15:38:09


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2011-06-28 10:02:10


hey aanchal....excellent article.....i need ur help regarding my 3 and half year old daughter...where can i write to u....and also some time back i had read one of ur thread where u had suggested some book, must for all parents to read....pls tell me the name of the book...i desperately need ur help....waiting anxiously

2011-06-20 00:04:03


thk u so much very good write up

2011-06-16 16:07:55


Lovely awesome one Aanchal kudos to U ,u have put it here very nicely and rightly touched the chord !

2011-06-16 15:24:21


thanks :)

2011-06-16 15:15:39


Excellent article.. very nicely written... I hv become a fan of ur writing.. hv read many articles.. of urs on PT...

2011-06-16 14:30:53


Very Good start, as the school begins we the parents must know how the concept of teaching begins. Excellent article!

2011-06-15 22:45:32


I agree. Very informative. Thankyou.

2011-06-15 22:03:01


very nice article!! Thanks Aanchal!

2011-06-15 21:12:22


"Teaching shouldn't make us anxious and learning shouldn't make the kids anxious. Then only true learning takes place." Very true... Dear Aanchal, Wonderful write up and nice tips for parents as usual :)...Thanx..


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