When you were a baby, you knew how to learn. Think of everything you learned in the first few years of your life!
- You learned how to feed yourself
- You learned how to walk
- You learned how to talk
- You learned how to annoy your siblings
But then you got older and suddenly it seemed like learning was different. You were supposed to study. What’s that about?
It turns out that learning when you’re older is pretty much the same as learning when you’re a baby. You don’t have to say “goo goo ga ga” and mash carrot mush into your clothing, but everything else is pretty similar.
Here’s how babies learn:
Engage your senses
Babies don’t just sit back and watch. When they want to understand something they use all their senses.
If you want to learn something new in math, don’t just sit back and be passive. Draw pictures about it. Sing songs about it. Make jokes about it.
Use it or lose it
Babies don’t just learn something and then go onto something new. Once they learn something, they do it—a lot! Remember the two-year-old’s mantra: Anything worth doing is worth doing 100 times.
Repetition is key to learning.
But repetition can be boring, right? That’s where creativity comes in. If you have to memorize lines for a play, don’t just say them over and over. Act them out, say them in funny voices, sing them.
If you are learning science, get your hands dirty and do experiments. If you are studying history, make a video. Whatever you can do to engage your creative mind will help you learn better.
Hey, babies don’t take tests! Well, actually they do. They test themselves. Have you ever seen a baby spy something enticing up on a table and then urge herself to stand up to get it? That’s a baby testing herself.
Non-stressful mini-tests are a great way to make sure that you’re retaining the information you’ve already learned. And when you test yourself in new environments and in new ways, you also engage your senses and your creativity.
Teach someone else
Do babies teach other people? You bet they do. A baby cries to get food, and in the process teaches his parents when he is hungry. Babies love it when big people pretend they don’t know where something is. Babies love to show new friends everything they know.
Once you think you’ve got something solid, try teaching it to someone else. You’ll notice what you know…and what you still need to learn.
Sleep on it
Babies don’t get stressed out about whether or not they’ve learned to walk today (though their parents might). When babies have had enough, they crash. That’s right, they go to sleep. They are learning more in a day than you learn in a week, and all that learning tires out their brains.
Sleep is so important that your parents probably bug you all the time about it. Guess what? They’re right! Try not to get any screen time at least an hour before bedtime. A shower, listening to music, or reading might help you relax.
Then get your Z’s. In the morning, you’ll be fresh and ready to learn again.