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Dealing with Differening Learning Mechanisms

Early understanding of language, such as "No," "Don't touch" or "Where's Daddy?" are examples of a child learning through the sense of hearing. Very young children, such as 3- or 4-year-olds, can learn foreign languages easily, probably more easily than many adults. Coupled with their sponge-like brains is the ability to learn very effectively by listening to words and phrases.

Generally, children are very flexible. They have not formed any opinions regarding learning. They have not yet been inhibited by teachers or the formal learning system. Many children learn equally well through the senses of touch, hearing and vision.

For example, if parents begin to read books to children at a very young age (less than one year even), the children generally will exhibit all three learning processes. Infant and toddler books are usually made of heavy paper or cardboard. Why? The book will be held, dropped and tossed by the toddler. Chances are that the book will end up in the baby's mouth at some point. Due to the kinesthetic learning process, publishers must make these books nearly indestructible.

As the parent reads the book, sooner or later, the child will attempt to repeat some of the words or sounds. The dog may become a "bow wow." A car is simply a grunting or roaring sound. The child is learning by hearing. Very often, a child who is read to at an early age becomes an early talker.

Needless to say, reading to toddlers also serves to help the child learn visually. Big Bird and Winnie the Pooh become recognizable characters for the child. The toddler will identify and select a book and hand it to the parent so that it can be read.

To have these same uninhibited learning mechanisms working for us throughout life would be ideal. Unfortunately, we most often reach a point early in life at which we begin to lose interest in learning. Sadly, this point usually is reached early in our exposure to education, as practiced in the school systems.