Very young children are hungry for everything they can learn. But sometimes this thirst for knowledge dries up, the child turns away from the novelty and becomes resistant to any new learning.
How can a child go from an extreme thirst for learning to an attitude of refusal or even disgust? The factors are of course numerous, here are three that seem to me to be among the most essential.
The Ability to Learn
Some claim that “learning is not for everyone“.
I am convinced that this is wrong, at least for the basic skills such as reading, writing, and arithmetic. On the other hand, each child more or less randomly finds his own method, his own way of learning.
When this method proves effective in one area, this becomes its strong point and one will say of him or her that “she is good at math” or “he is a natural reader”.
But when the method discovered by chance is not suitable, then it becomes associated with a failure. The demotivation sets in and the discourse changes to “he is not good with numbers” or “she is clumsy”.
Too few people wonder how the child learns best, what strategy is used, what happens in the mind when learning to read or count.
Correcting a child who is holding his pen incorrectly or who is putting his jacket on wrong is still easy. We can see what is being done and demonstrate how to do it differently. But it is not as easy with learning to read or math because everything happens inside the head.
Many educators, researchers, and scholars have found learning strategies that work very well. Because to learn, we must learn to learn.
Ron Davis, on the other hand, discovered certain mechanisms of dyslexia and created the tools necessary so that a child gifted with certain capacities of imagination can learn easily. This is the Davis® method.
Willingness to Learn
Learning is good, but what and why?
Trying to teach a child (or an adult) skills they do not need is running straight to failure and creating a potentially anxiety-provoking or explosive situation.
Of course, adults, whether parents, grandparents, teachers, and friends, know very well why a child should learn to read and count. But does the child know it? Is he aware of it?
I have often found in my practice of facilitating Davis® that explaining to a child the reason why we are doing the program sometimes makes it possible to unblock the desire to learn, or at least to lead the child to accept and to make an effort. When a child knows what to expect from reading, learning generally becomes easier. And the opposite is just as true.
On the other hand, the will can certainly be forced by coercion (“you must learn otherwise you will be deprived of your tablet“). But many parents who tried force have experienced major setbacks, usually in adolescence.
In fact, it is much more effective and satisfying to feed and nourish the will of the child with curiosity, encouraged from the start by the parents when they engage in an activity with their child.
The Opportunity to Learn
Knowing how to learn and having the will is not enough. It is still necessary to provide opportunities and create learning situations. Many acts of daily life provide us with opportunities to learn.
To make pancakes, you have to read the recipe, make calculations (if you want to double the recipe), or even write if the child wants to create his own cookbook. And we can even enjoy the results!
For all this, we must take the time to do and redo again and again. We are human. Unlike our phone or computer, we cannot click on a link to download new learning. We have to go through experimentation, repetition and error correction to end up mastering a skill.
The evening book can be an opportunity to ask your young child if she recognizes certain words. Without stress, without constraint or obligation of result. Many children like this game and gradually, it is possible that the child may discover one day that she can read her favorite books. What a great experience to fuel her motivation!
It is commonplace to say that a child is naturally capable of extraordinary learning. In case of difficulties, I hope that these few paths will help you to overcome the problems and to give back to the child their natural thirst for learning.
These reflections are largely inspired by Ron Davis’ work on motivation and responsibility, two pillars that support the thirst for learning. Davis® facilitators know them well!
This article has been translated from French by Abigail Marshall, with the help of Google translate. For the original French version of this article, see: https://www.infodyslexie.org/lettre-information/
The drawings on this page are original artwork from the website www.infodyslexie.org — they are used with permission from the site owner.