The way humans learn through the course of their lives is a fundamental part of how we shape the modern classroom environment, from kindergarten to doctoral degree courses. But educational psychology does not need to be confined to the classroom. The fundamentals are quite simple, and utilizing them during your stint as a parent is paramount to the development of your child, whether you realize you’re using them or not. This is especially the case during the ages of 4 and 11, when children still typically lack the capacity to “see outside themselves.” To invoke such thoughts, parents must be mindful of the ways in which they can relate to the mind of a child. While said psychology may seem complicated, learning how to plant the seeds of applied independent thought while also instilling a sense of communal responsibility is pretty easy with practice.
Developmental psychologist Jean Piget hypothesized that children do not gain the capacity for abstract thought until the ages of 10-11. Until that age, Piget stated, children are almost entirely reliant on concrete learning structures. While modern developmental psychologists have cast doubt on this assumption, presenting proof that the ability to think in the abstract is something children learn at all sorts of levels and in all sorts of patterns, there are ways in which parents can encourage abstract thought at virtually any age once the child harnesses the fundamental ability to learn. For example, mathematics is often cited as an example of children thinking abstractly despite still relying mostly on concrete means of education. Parents can use a child’s interest in math to encourage them to consider other aspects of abstraction, such as emotions, ideas, and morals.
Indeed, morals are a fundamental component of developmental learning and therefore key to successful implementation of educational psychology. It’s through the use of storytelling and the structure therein that parents can achieve the most successful instances of inciting moral though in young children. Movies, while historically cited as the antithesis to education, are in fact wonderful ways to help children learn the value of right and wrong, and above all establish within them a sense of empathy and compassion. No matter how sugary, simple, or silly a movie might be, there is almost invariably a moral to the story within it. Finding that moral, and discussing it with your child, is a superb way of improving their moral understanding and extending their level of empathy for others and other living things.
Use time together, doing just about anything, to express to your child the gravity of situations. This is another key element in educational psychology and is simply known as seriousness. Never scratch a poison ivy-ravished part of the body is serious, but not as serious as learning to wear a seat belt. However, learning to pay attention in school is a whole other side of seriousness, as it doesn’t affect your body but your mind. Explaining these sorts of differences to children in simple matter-of-fact ways during the course of the day can have long-lasting positive effects on their mental development.
You cannot force your child to learn and mature at a pace quicker than what is possible by their nature. They’re only human, after all. But that doesn’t mean that parents get to take a back seat while their children are left to fend for themselves when it comes to understanding the world around them. Parents provide a necessary spark that oftentimes ignites childhood imagination. Never let an opportunity to enhance your child’s mind go to waste.