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Education for Children Who Are Less Fortunate and How They Learn

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Is There Hope for Children

We all know that Children are active learners. Researcher’s tell us that children are “ passive beings waiting to be told or taught like empty cups needing to be filled”. This is not correct according to research and scientific evidence and firsthand experiences with infants and young children .

There are several basic principles about the way children learn that are aptly called the “fundamental of early learnings”

  1. From birth, children construct their own knowledge and understanding of the world through repeated interaction with people , objects and events in their environment.
  2. Children learn through social interaction with adults and other children.
  3. Children’s learning reflects a recurring cycle that begins in awareness, and moves to exploration, to inquiry, and finally to utilization.
  4. Children learn through play.
  5. Child development and learning are characterized by individual variation.
  6. Children’s interest and ‘need to know’ motivate learning.

For a long time, the emphasis has been on pointing out the deficiencies of the poor rural and urban environment where a significant number of Filipino children are growing up. For example, the absence of toys and materials or the lack of parental guidance that is stimulating for young children have often been identified as factors that are detrimental to a child’s intellectual development.

Recently, however, more of the features of these environments where the children live in poverty have been identified in terms of strengths that promotes early child development. These strengths include:


  • Opportunities for play with peers and older children with very little interference from adults. These enhance the development of self-reliance, self-control, cooperation, empathy, and a sense of belonging.
  • Exposure to multiple teaching styles with emphasis on modeling, observation, and imitation.
  • Presence of rich cultural tradition of games, toys, songs and stories that provide a culture-specific context for language development and learning.

Children are curious, inquisitive, and always excited about learning new things. Learning for them comes naturally and the best way to teach children is to build on play and their natural learning styles.

These features of so-called “deprived environments” have been identified through long-term research involving children who thrive or manage to develop their full potentials despite poverty. The concept of “resilience” among young children is based on these researches conducted in different cultural contexts.

Researchers have identified the following categories of protective factors that have enabled “stress-resistant” or “resilient” children to thrive despite the especially difficult circumstances:

  1. Personality characteristics of the child
  2. A supportive, stable, and cohesive family unit
  3. External support systems that enhance coping skills and project positive values.

How Children Learn

Children learn through play. Play is what children enjoy most. For them play os work. Play fosters total development and should be integrated into everything children do.

Children learn by doing. Children learn through active involvement with concrete objects. They need many first hand experiences with real things, such as science experiments, construction, art objects, dramatic play, and field trips.

Children learn through their senses. Children learn by seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. Think of each of the senses as a pathway to the brain; the more senses or pathways involved, the more likely learning will occur. Sensory learning also emphasizes the need for a variety of media and materials to stimulate children’s senses.

Children learn through language. Children need to talk about their experiences and to verbalize what they are thinking. Teachers can foster language by describing what they are doing, labeling objects, clarifying children’s thoughts, and asking and answering their questions.

Children learn by moving. Children seem to be in constant motion. They have a limited attention span and cannot learn sitting quietly pushing a pencil. Direct their energy with whole body experiences where they can move and use their hands, feet, heads, and bodies to learn.

Children learn by being motivated. Motivation is a key ingredient to learning. Interesting materials and a stimulating environment will spark children’s curiosity and inspire them to learn.

Children learn at their own level. Assess each child’s background and skills so you can build on their past experiences. If activities are to easy, children will be bored, but if they are too difficult, children will be frustrated. Break down difficult activities into small steps so each child can succeed and move from simple to more complex activities.

Children learn through praise. “nothing succeeds like success.” Positive experiences and praise encourage children to learn more while building their confidence. Give children praise with a smile, pats, and verbal encouragement.

Children learn through imitation. Children learn by observing others and then imitating what they see and hear. Children also imitates values and attitudes that they see in parents, teachers, and peers.

Children learn through repetition. Children build knowledge through repetition and through accumulated experience. The amount of time that is spent on activities is another significant factor in learning.

Children learn by experiment. Children need the freedom to experiment, explore, try things out, and to make choices. Since they learn through trial and error, accept their mistakes and offer feedback and support.

Children learn through exposure. Children are like sponges, learning more in the preschool years than any other period. They need to be stimulated with a wide variety of materials, activities, and subject matter.

Children learn through interacting with friends. It is amazing how much children learn through talking, watching, and playing with their friends, siblings, and others. Peer teaching is a meaningful way of learning that should not be overlooked.

Children learn in a positive environment. Children need to feel loved, safe and secure in order to learn. An atmosphere of warmth and acceptance is much more conductive than one that is competitive or threatening.

Children learn when their physical needs are met. Children who are hungry, sleepy, or under stress will have a difficult time learning. Make sure each children receive good nutrition, proper rest, and emotional support.

Children learn through wholeness. Learning is not isolated, but should be connected and integrated in all areas of the curriculum. Learning should also focus on the whole child by meeting his or her physical, social, emotional, and intellectual needs.

education-for-children-who-are-born-and-growing-up-in-poverty

The Result

When the above guidelines are followed, children will become more independent learners who are excited about school and enthusiastic about learning. They will have a strong foundation, confidence in their abilities and lifelong skills that will help them continue to learn.

"Encourage teachers to feel empathy rather than pity; kids will appreciate your ability to know what it’s like to be in their shoes.”

Let us ensure that every child, irrespective of gender, age, language, ability, religion, nationality or other characteristics, is supported to meaningfully participate and learn alongside his/her peers, and develop to his/her full potential.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Cynthia