When it comes to learning, it’s not just about academics. A healthy child has to grow holistically so that he or she will be prepared to face the complexity of the real world. The capacity to learn peaks in one’s childhood, and it’s during this time, that one should be exposed to different forms of learning; namely intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally. Through growth in these areas, children are better equipped for the future, as the skills they pick up may be applicable when they start their careers, form relationships with others, or pursue their interests and hobbies.
A holistic education instils a sense of confidence in children as they make sense of their identity and place in society. Here are some ways where parents can encourage and promote holistic growth towards their children.
Intellectual growth in itself does not focus on one kind of cognitive learning, but a mixture of different forms of thinking. Being aware of the kind of cognitive skill that the child is picking up through a particular subject helps to identify the areas of intellectual learning that the child has already grasped, and the areas the child is still struggling in that needs improvement. For example, in learning languages, children are acquiring the ability to comprehend words spoken and written, through reading, through writing, through verbalising and conversing with their teacher in the language. If children are learning math, the focus is on developing skills on finding solutions to problems. Art lessons help them to develop creative thinking while literature can develop their critical thinking and analysing skills.
Knowing that these are some of the skillsets that children pick up in school, what can parents do to expand the learning capacity of these skill sets further? If children are home, encourage them to apply what they have learnt in school. Speak to them in their mother tongue if they are struggling with comprehending words at school, and help them to familiarise themselves with common phrases that are applicable outside of school. If children are struggling with solving math problems quickly, engage them with fun activities like baking and train them to calculate measurements quickly. For example, if servings need to be increased, ingredients might need to be doubled or tripled. Parents can ask their children to calculate the exact measurements before they start baking in batches. This way, children can also understand the practicality of learning and how it benefits them.
Building Soft Skills
Social and emotional skills often come hand in hand. Through growth in these areas, children are better able to relate to others and empathise with them. They are also better able to emotionally regulate themselves whenever they encounter difficult situations. Parents play a crucial role in this area by setting examples. If a child is in a loving environment surrounded by caring family members, he or she will learn to love and care for peers in the same way. The kind of treatment that a child receives will also be learnt and emulated. Parents can also teach their children on how to identify and deal with emotions in the healthiest way, not only through setting by example but through open conversations that steer their thought processes. Questions like “Why are you feeling this way?” or “What can I do to help you feel better?” can be asked to help the child think independently in identifying and addressing emotions. These questions also show children that parents care and are concerned, further feeding into positive feelings of self-worth while improving communication abilities.
Children can also be exposed to situations that allow them to interact with people. For example, children can be encouraged to participate in sports activities and learn how to work with teammates in achieving a common goal. Through practice and learning to come out of their comfort zone to make friends, children gain more confidence to try and experience new things without feeling intimidated by others.
Encouraging Physical Activities
Speaking of sports, children can gain a lot from being exposed to different forms of sports activities. High and low intensity sports will build on different motor skills while improving agility and coordination. Endurance and strategic planning are other skills that will be picked up on the way as children train and prepare for matches. Exposing children to sports helps them to inculcate a habit of exercising regularly and build on a healthy lifestyle. Parents can reserve weekends to specially spend time with their children playing a simple game of football, or frisbee together at the park. These not only strengthen family bonds, they also create an element of fun that motivates children to exercise more.
If children are interested in a particular craft or activity, why not leverage on this interest to expose them to building their motor abilities too? For example, if a child is interested in music, exposing them to instruments like the piano or guitar helps them to train different muscle types in their body. Likewise, If a child is interested in arts and crafts, expose them to different forms of art, such as painting or drawing. As they are exposed to what they like, they are better able to hone their skills and develop confidence in what they enjoy doing.
Of course, each child has their own personality, their own way of learning best, and their own temperaments. It is important to know them well enough to tailor a good learning plan that suits their needs.
Encouraging holistic growth in children helps to set basic foundational structures of learning in place. If children are exposed to different forms of learning even outside their school premises, they will learn to apply what they have and adapt it to the kind lifestyle they want to live in future. They won’t see it as just something that they need to learn in order to pass an examination, and they will carry it with them for life. Holistic learning can play a big role in shaping who they are and who they want to be when they grow up.