Most children have the desire to accomplish something, the same as us adults. Whether they are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, kids have a basic urge to achieve things and feel good about themselves! By recognising these inbuilt emotions, we can fine-tune learning experiences and motivate greater involvement, attention, concentration, and enjoyment. In short, we can hack the learning experience so it's more fun and effective for our children.
Below, we have outlined some urges that can be channeled into creative and dynamic activities that are varied and imaginative. By avoiding doing the same activities in the same way in every session, you help ignite the flame of learning and keep it burning brightly!
Urge to Move
Kids love to explore, run around, and interact with others. So, in our language sessions at Dadi Mandarin, we build in fun movement activities! This also help kids to develop their motor skills, rhythm and concentration. It’s really hard for young children to sit still for a long time, and it’s easy to build in a quick 2-minute movement break. This also helps the brain to refocus back on the task, in this case, learning Mandarin.
Urge for Success and Approval
Children like to achieve and have this recognised by their peers and the adults in their life such as their parent or teacher. Even the quiet, shy kids inwardly smile and are happy when someone praises them for their efforts.
At the same time, they inwardly shrink and feel sad when faced with criticism, angry voices, or disapproval. When they feel they are ‘failures’, they lose interest, and switch off, this often happens when a child struggles with learning Mandarin, they give up.
At Dadi Mandarin, we believe in positive education and we show our kids that learning Mandarin can be really fun. We have learned over 3 decades of teaching that kids learn best when they are well supported and happy and we create this environment in the classroom every time.
Kids soon learn that approval comes not just with success but with effort too. We always praise kids for trying their best, even when they may not yet be "succeeding" at learning Mandarin. With this approach, we can help all children have a positive experience with learning Mandarin.
Urge for Peer Acceptance and Social Competence
Children want others to like them, and, as adults, we need to model recognising that everyone has different skills and abilities, but we can all learn good manners such as sharing and being polite. Helping kids to recognise social skills is of huge benefit to them as it enables them to function more effectively and be liked by their peers and adults as well. At Dadi Mandarin and Otto2, we encourage good classroom behaviour including respect and kindness to each other. A kind classroom is a happy classroom!
Urge for Creative Satisfaction
Children like to find different ways of doing things, they are natural born explorers. Encouraging them to experiment, explore, and be creative satisfies this urge. Learning language can be creative too! Many adults recognise the satisfaction in successfully trying out a new recipe or repairing something that has been broken and it’s the same for kids, they feel joy when their project is completed. Creative satisfaction can also help build perseverance, after all: great art or literature isn’t created in a day! At Dadi Mandarin, our classes are taught through age-appropriate activites including play, dance, art, cooking, and performance.
Urge for Rhythmic Expression
There is a natural rhythm in walking, running and dancing that is even more enjoyable when combined with language rhymes or repetitive songs that help learning be multisensory. There is much research in this field: The more you use rhythm and movement, the greater the impact on learning. At Dadi Mandarin, we move, dance, and include music to bring Mandarin learning to life.
Urge to Know:
Children are naturally curious and observant. They want to know ‘Why….?’ all the time, often driving parents to distraction with so many questions. It’s useful to recognise and channel this curiosity and to take time to listen to what children want to share with you and find out why they are asking the question. We encourage our students to get curious in class, after all, when they ask questions, they learn! Active learning is far more effective than passive learning and we always encourage the kids in our class to be active participants in their language journey.
Treat each child as an individual
When looking at how children learn effectively, consider if you are really making the most of their natural urges to supercharge your sessions with them. It’s a great habit to acquire, and that feeds your own urges too! Every child thinks, acts, and learns differently and will respond to different motivators. At Dadi Mandarin and Otto2 Art School, we focus on small group learning and on understanding each and every student as an individual, meeting their needs to help them learn at their best.
We hope you enjoyed this blog. Stay tuned next week for our next edition. As always, if you would like to book a trial class for Dadi or Otto2, please get in touch.
You may also be interested in reading The Power of Positive Language and Clear Communication.
Developed for Dadi Mandarin and written by WOI.