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How do children learn best?

by Ines Wurbs

We learn through experiences gained through our interactions with the world outside. 

Learning experiences should be offered as diverse and as appropriate as possible. The learning atmosphere and the learning environment are just as important as help. This help should be individually adapted to the child and flexible. Find out more about how you can do this below.

10 ways to encourage your child to learn

Gain experience

Offer your child the opportunity to gain experience in the specific topic it requires. The more practical application it collects, the more experience it has in dealing with the learning material. In this way, we can remember things much easier and faster. 

Direct experience makes the learning content tangible and also more interesting. This also applies if the subject is not necessarily one of your child’s favorite topics.

Mathematics, for example, could be integrated very well into everyday life. It doesn’t matter whether it’s cooking, baking, shopping, or playing board games, the benefits of mathematics can be seen almost everywhere.

You can do this with almost all subjects, although it may be possible that you have to read up on some of them first. For chemistry or physics, there are countless experiments to google that can also be easily implemented at home. Accounting? Well, then we may have to resort to role-playing, like “let’s make a company,” or maybe you or someone else in the family actually has to do your bookkeeping. Help your child to understand the practical relevance, this also promotes motivation to learn.

“Learning is experience. Everything else is just information.”

Albert Einstein

Learn to ask questions

Not everything is self-explanatory. A lot has to be learned with the right information. Language is our most important tool. Learn your child to ask specific questions at an early age if they do not understand. Of course, you can also practice this with teens. Encourage your children to be curious.

Children often do not dare to ask at school. Try to find out at home and check back with your child if there are any questions, or if anything is unclear or weird. Best of all, of course, in an age-appropriate form. If your child is generally shy, I also recommend reading my tips for overcoming shyness.

Learning atmosphere

A pleasant and stimulating learning atmosphere is important to keep motivation high and to make learning an experience. The environment must be pleasant, or at least not stressful for our children. Encouragement and proper praise are important (you can find out more about praise here). Most children benefit from being able to choose their own time and place to learn. Depending on the age, possibilities, and the more self-determined children can be there, the less resistance the learning generates.

Design learning environment

A good learning environment should be one that is calm and comfortable. In addition, stimulating learning materials are also important. Quietness is especially important. There doesn’t have to be absolute silence, but disturbing noise, distracting noises such as television, music, or even siblings playing could have a strong distracting effect. This makes it unnecessarily difficult to focus all their attention on one topic.

It also depends a lot on the individual situation. If you are the only one at home, your child can also write the task at the dining table. But if there are smaller siblings who don’t have a job, or you might be teleconferencing while working from home, it’s more of a distraction than helpful for your child.

For many children, the less stimulating the environment, the better. For example, it helps others to have visual support in front of them.

Learning distractions

Here you can see the most common distractions of students at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. But I think it can also be applied to our children. At the very least, it gives us a glimpse of the possible distractions our children might be facing. More details on the study can be found here.

Consider learning type

There are different ways people learn better. These styles have been classified into types. These types are not absolute, but it can be helpful to know them.

Some people learn better when they have visual support. They must see the information. This can be presented either in written form, diagrams, pictures, or otherwise visually. However, the information is presented, it should be visually perceptible.

Then there are the auditory learners. They absorb information faster and easier when they hear it. This is often the case in traditional classes. Other variants are, for example, audiobooks, and podcasts, or you can explain it to your child yourself.

Some people learn more easily through communication, i.e. when they can discuss or talk to someone about it. This is where study groups are helpful.

The movement also helps some people focus on the material. So, for example, when they walk around the room and learn to name the simplest shape. 

Most people don’t have just one learning type, but all of them. However, some are more pronounced than others. The learning success is also sometimes dependent on the task.

Just watch your child and try different things. Do not interrupt your child’s impulses, for example, if he stands up while studying. First, see if it might be easier then.

Serve multiple channels

Apart from the type of learning itself, it is good if the learning material is prepared or worked out in different ways. This helps to network the material well with other things learned. The graphic below shows that the more senses we engage in learning, the more we remember.

Learning retention curve

To arouse curiosity

Of course, it’s best if you can present the task or information to your child in a way that arouses your child’s curiosity. This works well if you work through the topic together. This immediately takes motivation to another level.

Several solutions

The implementation of several solutions is not possible everywhere. But if it turns out that your child can solve the task in different ways, that’s great, of course. In such cases, you should use this and encourage your child to do so. You can also show other ways. This gives your child a broader understanding of the subject.

Show multiple perspectives

If possible, try to look at a problem or task from several angles. This also expands your child’s perspective enormously and helps with the processing of the learning material.


We, humans, remember information better when we can add it to people or things we know. So try to link the new subject with what you already know and find points of contact.

Various difficulties

Try to break down the entire learning material into different levels of difficulty, and then adapt the levels of difficulty to your child’s ability. At school, the learning plan is designed exactly according to these requirements.

However, this shows that it is important to master the easy learning content before tackling the difficult ones. You can see that clearly in mathematics. Children often have trouble understanding when they don’t have the basics. 

The learning content should always be a challenge, but not impossible. If the content seems too difficult, try practicing the easier material again.

Channel frustration

Even if your child fails a task, encourage them to continue and make sure that the last task is a sense of achievement. Never stop learning after failure. If your child is frustrated, try to explain how it could have worked out or what you noticed without judgment. Explain why the task was not completed.

Organize learning material

Determine together with your child what needs to be done and what it needs to do. The smaller the child, the more support it needs. Even if they have to study for a test, it is advisable to set smaller learning goals, to structure and divide the material. It often helps to create a learning plan together. The learning plan should define what is to be learned and when.

It is important to proceed together and take up your children’s suggestions. This way your child doesn’t get the feeling of being forced into something and at the same time learns to organize itself. This should be practiced with the child at a very early age. During puberty, parents have little chance of launching a learning plan. 

Take breaks

Of course, the learning time should also be adapted to the age. If you notice the first signs of fatigue, it is important to take a break of 5-10 minutes. This prevents overload.

The younger the children, the more support you need when dividing the time. Time timers are also helpful. This way you can see how long you still have to work. But even during breaks, a timer doesn’t hurt.

Learning naturally

Our brain processes an incredible amount of information in just one second. To remember something, our brain needs connections. It forms so-called synapses for the memorized information, which then connect. Interestingly, the more we use the information stored in them, these become more connected.

If we have a lot of experience and information on a topic, many synapses with thick connections form with each other. Repetition and different performances and angles further strengthen these connections.

The information is classified in the appropriate existing systems and saved in this way. This is how we get our picture of the world. We build our reality through our experiences.

Thanks to our communication, we expand our reality and make it equal to others. Even if we humans have different perspectives and knowledge on individual topics, we all see the world as a whole quite similarly.

Conclusion about learning

That’s a lot of information all at once. But luckily, you are not alone. Normally, our modern kindergartens, schools, and universities work with all of these pedagogically valuable concepts. Individual cases excluded, of course.

Of course, it is best for your child if this is the case at school and home. We don’t take away our children’s joy and motivation in learning but encourage it.

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