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Learning to learn

You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.
Clay P. Bedford

It may seem like only yesterday that your child was taking those first tentative steps, but your little one is now becoming ever more independent.

This year you'll notice that your child begins to enjoy solving problems independently rather than running to you automatically. While this is a key stage of their development, and as such is a positive step, as a parent it can be difficult to accept that your child doesn't need you in quite the way that they used to. Try not to feel rejected. It's not that your child doesn't need you; they are growing up and as such will require as much support and encouragement as ever.

How should you handle it?

Try to foster your child's new found independence by encouraging them to develop their problem solving and critical thinking skills. Research has shown that those children who have these skills are better able to take advantage of educational opportunities, and therefore tend to perform better at school. Try out these tips:

Encourage an inquisitive nature: positively encourage your child to ask questions about how things work. Be supportive, but rather than always providing an answer yourself, encourage your child to find out for themselves (with your assistance if necessary). For example, if they have a question on a particular topic show them how to find out the answer - perhaps looking at a children's encyclopedia, visiting the local library, or doing an internet search.

Nurture creativity: encourage your child to try different ways of doing things, and to solve problems creatively. It really doesn't matter whether or not their first solution actually works - they'll learn as much through their mistakes as through their successes.

Don't become too focused on the ‘end game': remember the aim now is not necessarily to solve a problem quickly, it's as much about the journey. Offer support and encouragement and try to ensure that your child does complete a task, but don't rush them, and try not to take over.

Remember, many of the skills that your child is learning now will be important in later life. Effectively, they are now learning how to learn.

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