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How Can Parents and Educators Help Students Learn Better, From Preschool to Secondary

A child’s learning is often influenced by many factors. Younger children generally have greatly different interests as compared to older children. As children traverse through different ages and grade levels, they develop their abilities and understanding of various concepts. Every child has the right to learn about the world, and every child deserves to have access to knowledge that is crucial for their development.

With children, the development of brain function is highly dependent on the emotional and intellectual support that they receive during their early growing years. There is an established model that helps parents and educators understand how children can develop their cognitive skills - also known as the Information Processing Model.

Cognitive skills pertain to the ability to understand, process, and retain ideas, memories, concepts, and sensory skills such as auditory, visual, and processing. For every age group, there is a corresponding capacity and a specific number of topics that the human brain can fully comprehend. Some kids are being exposed to too much information while others are being exposed to none. Therefore, to ensure that younger children are being introduced to the optimal amount of information for their age, there must be a balance between what is desired and what the child is capable of handling.

A child’s learning evolves as they grow. No matter how fast we want our kids to grasp the lessons that we teach them, what matters is the proper introduction of information and the speed at which it is introduced. The famous model about children's cognitive development is backed by years of research and study so it is safe to say that indeed, a child's neurological behaviour continuously changes as they grow older.

A Look at A Child's Cognitive Development

The support that parents provide is crucial to every child's success. Understanding each child’s learning stages is tantamount as we can then tailor their education according to an individual’s learning capacity and age so they are able to maximize their learning.

The learning environment and other external factors play a huge role in moulding the mind of a child. By enrolling your kids at a school that balances play and work, your children will be able to form and practice healthy routines that they can apply to their day-to-day activities at home and in school.

1. Sensorimotor (about 2 years old)
Children at this age range are more inclined towards learning simple words by mimicking the way that the people around them talk. A child will use objects to understand his or her senses by manipulating them through playful handling. An example of this is when kids start to understand a language through their auditory skills.

2. Pre-operational (ages 2 to 7)
Deeper skills such as usage of memory and imagination are best learned at this age. Events and activities that are memorable will leave an impact on their memory. Because of this, the kids are now able to understand and analyze symbols. Children at this phase are also beginning to understand and develop their sense of time.

3. Concrete Operational (ages 7 to 11)
This phase is critical for children. During this time, kids are starting to understand and acknowledge the differences between individuals. Children will gain greater awareness of their thoughts and feelings, as well as that of others. A child at this age will become less egocentric and more empathetic towards others. They will also start to search for things that have more value.

4. Formal Operational (ages 11 and up)
At this point, the child will have grown a lot in terms of thinking styles. The thought processes of kids aged 11 and up are much more complex and meaningful. According to research, this is the right time for kids to start planning for their future. They can also engage in activities that promote higher forms of learning like logic, reasoning, and problem-solving.

How do students learn at different ages?

Children often learn at different speeds and ability levels, from attention, short and long-term memory retention, to information processing, children's brain functions can be quite similar when it comes to when they can absorb such skills—specifically at what age group and grade levels. Still, every student has his or her unique strengths and weaknesses educators and parents would do well to help them develop it by curating their learning curriculum according to their aptitude.

Preschool Learners: UK Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum

Preschoolers from a young age already have a good grasp of the concept of cause and effect. At this age, children are learning about the world and their environment through play as well as the situations they encounter and deal with through these activities. The age group that these 3 to 4 year-olds belong to is more inclined to explore things that help improve communication, social and emotional development, physical development, and artistic interests. Teaching children how to understand how counting works is also essential since, at this phase, the brain is already starting to absorb concepts related to numbers and spatial awareness. Therefore, understanding that objects or matter corresponds to certain places in a given space. Equipped with this knowledge, how can teachers and parents help support their kids with their early education at such a young age?

Use visual aids when teaching

Preschoolers have just moved from the sensorimotor phase where they were able to learn about how senses work through manipulation of objects, to the preoperational stage where they start to imagine and remember moments, all while slowly distinguishing the difference between past, present, and future. Visual aids grab the attention of young children and allow them to understand the topics at hand even more. Since kids' senses are very active at this age, the use of eye-catching visual support materials will be very helpful.

Learning should start at home with the help of the family. Words and language matter a lot especially to kids at younger ages so the parents should know how to communicate well with their children to form a special contact or bond with their child. An understanding parent is a good example of a great teacher. As adults, we should know that kids can only understand and do so much, so limits and expectations should be set following the child's capabilities.

Setting up a mock classroom at home is highly encouraged as this ignites the interest of the children in a concept that is unfamiliar to them. From as early as a year old, a child could already be introduced to number learning and talk practice by implementing repetitive teaching routines.

Acknowledge effort, no matter the result of their performance

As parents and teachers, patience should be exercised as it is crucial to the child's improvement. Learn how to acknowledge the efforts, no matter how small, that the young children are exerting into their learning journey. Positive reinforcement is very effective in helping kids who are in the early stages of their education.

The journey of learning is almost impossible to do alone. Support from the family and educators is very much important as this will help the child seamlessly go through the long education process. Research shows that children who have a strong support system are more likely to be successful. Learning is a continuous process, but the knowledge and experience that children will gain in their early growing years will hopefully serve to mould them into outstanding individuals.

Enter them into formal learning

Enrolling your child in a school that offers a curriculum that fits each student's needs is important. This stage is crucial to the child's initial learning so make sure to involve your kids with schools that have outstanding teaching styles and enabling environments. Invictus International School utilizes the UK's national curriculum which is the United Kingdom Early Years Foundation Stage (UK EYFS).

We offer international education that is designed to fit children in the Nursery and Reception (kindergarten) classes; the curriculum covers various aspects of learning. And because we understand that although the goal is for kids to get fully educated, children are still in their developmental phase so we make sure that the courses included are child-friendly which means it uses play and games in assessing the student's performance so that teachers could also learn about the child's behaviour and response to each lesson. By enrolling your children in a stage-specific curriculum, you can support and prepare them early for the next stage which is International Primary Curriculum.

Primary School Learners: International Primary Curriculum

At this stage, younger children are already starting to progress in terms of age and learning capacity. The neurological function of the brain is also improving at this age. Kids are now able to connect with their classmates and their teachers. Invictus International School offers International Primary Curriculum (IPC)—a curriculum that covers the second phase, widely known as the "primary level", of a student's educational life. Each school is adopting a different type of curriculum so you should know which one it is that you like best for your child. International Primary Curriculum is eminent worldwide with over 1,800 schools in 90 countries adopting the said curriculum.

With such improvements, they now begin to learn, understand, and cope with more complex lessons and master the importance of language. To support students at this age, try to do the following:

Engage them in collaborative activities

Primary school students are highly creative and sociable. A teacher must search for ways to effectively and efficiently approach the students in a classroom so each one can participate in collaborative work. Parents have the option to pick a school for their kids but the parents must be knowledgeable about the curriculum being offered by their school of choice. Learning mostly happens inside the campus and the students' development mostly relies on the school, the teachers, and the tools and methods that are being used for learning. Engage your children in schools that use effective methods that allow children to be collaborative, proactive, and productive inside the room.
Let the children lead

Parents and teachers should give every child an opportunity to lead. At this age, children are already building their confidence so letting them lead can give their self-esteem a boost. Even kids are capable of leading and controlling certain things like group activities, projects, or even an entire body of students. To know if your child is the leader type, you must first let them experience how it is to be in charge and control, but in a positive way of course.

Make them value the importance of academics and extracurriculars

In primary school, children are taught rigorous Math and language courses, as well as other subjects like Science and History. Encouragement and support start in the family, so help your children learn the value of academics and extracurriculars. IPC introduces various programs to primary students such as Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Social Studies, Creative Arts, Physical Education, Language Arts, and Information & Communication Technology. Moreover, the Math courses that Invictus use is based on the Singapore Ministry of Education Mathematics Framework which is a known curriculum used by many schools from across the globe. Primary students are exposed to tougher subjects so children must know why they do what they do.

Secondary School Learners: Cambridge International Curriculum

Older children learn much faster at this age range. By the time they get to secondary school, the child has already picked up skills and knowledge during his or her stay in preschool and primary school. Secondary school students are more inclined on developing tougher skills through tasks like problem-solving, research, and other activities that involve a more challenging process.

Get them acquainted with Mathematics

Students in years 7 to 9 will begin their year in secondary school by getting into the Cambridge Lower Secondary curriculum. This program takes a more in-depth look at language and numbers because it provides a strong foundation for literacy and numeracy. As adults, we would know what's best for the children so support from family and teachers is crucial. In the curriculum, students can take specialist subjects that are related to their interests and skills while still enjoying their education journey.

Help them transition to complex courses by preparing them for the exams

At years 10 and 11, students are being encouraged to take the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) tests. This exam is widely known in various areas around the world because of its esteemed international qualification—preparing the children for the Cambridge International A-Levels. With this IGCSE curriculum, students can explore their options on subjects that they would want to take, carefully considering their plans for their higher education, life in general, and future careers. Parents and educators should be keen on helping their children decide which path is best to take and what goals are important to set.

Enhance their critical thinking skills and academic competency

Finally, those in years 12 and 13 can now take complex tests and assessments because their cognitive abilities have improved a lot already throughout their younger ages. At this point, children are already scheduled to take the Cambridge International A-Levels which has a global qualification so students could enrol to international universities in the future. Getting good grades in the line of A-Levels is essential because universities usually reference their grant offers on the performance of the child at the A-Level exams.

The importance of a student-centred approach

Family members and school teachers should understand that every child is unique. Students have different interests, abilities, and skills so the children’s needs must be met and addressed by the school's adopted curriculum. A good environment where valuable events and activities are practised stimulates productivity and passion so finding the right school that suits your child's goals and overall personality makes a huge impact on their learning. When parents and educators work together in assessing the child's strengths and weaknesses, gauging the right methods and resources to use would be much simpler.

Invictus International School practices a student-centred approach in every curriculum. Supporting children of all ages and nationalities, the school serves as a safe space for all learning students to grow mentally and physically through collaborative events and activities. Each classroom is built around values that foster diversity and multiculturalism. Our curricula focus on strengthening every child's cognitive competency through courses that are focused on academics and extracurriculars. As an esteemed school that carries out a world-class curriculum and services, your child will surely be able to stand out globally.