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How Children Learn

By Ashraf Al Shafaki

As we all do know that children are extremely fast and effective learners by nature, the methods by which children naturally learn can be studied in order to discover, deduce and adapt fast and effective learning techniques for adults. So how do children learn?


Children learn by observing the world around them. Observation is a powerful learning tool. In learning gardening for instance, observation is one important learning method.


Children learn how to do things by imitating others. Noticing others doing some desired action then trying to copy or imitate them can be a powerful learning method in case of learning new skills.


Children become proficient at a skill by practicing it through repetition. Children can keep repeating specific words of phrases. They may keep repeating some physical movements. Such practice through repetition can greatly improve their skill and strengthen their ability to perform even other related skills effectively. Adults as well may benefit from the notion of repetition. Repeating a phrase in a foreign language may assist in the learning process of such new language. Repetition of a specific sequence of movements will help make such movement sequence second nature like for instance when learning to drive a car.

Meaningless Action

Before children learn how to speak, they babble. This seemingly random and aimless babbling although meaningless yet it does provide the child with practice of the vocal system and the associated mental skills needed for speech. This aimless babbling assists the child in building his or her speaking ability. Similarly, scribbling nonsense words and phrases may set the tone right for writers, clear the mind or even help it build the writing skill. In order to learn, one must make mistakes, one must go aimless for a while. Learning of a new skill cannot take place if one only learns to produce the skill in its correct form all the time from the start. Initial meaningless action in practicing a new skill provides the needed mental and physical practice needed to excel later in such skill.


Children learn enormously by playing. Playing is what a child likes to do most of the time and is what a child should be doing. Playing is a powerful learning tool. It makes learning engaging and interesting which leads to more effective learning experience. Playing can also assist in exercising extreme cases of specific skills a process which helps build effectiveness in mastering such skill. Playing can be used for teaching adults too in order to make the learning process more engaging, more effective and less boring.

Role Play

At a certain age, children start to love role playing. Role play can be thought of as some sort of imitation except that it is a less mechanical and more creative method for imitating. A child may pretend she is the teacher in a school and ask her younger brother to act as if he was the student in such class. Then both children may go a deep process of make belief pretending they are in class trying to mimic what takes place at their school in great detail. Besides greatly enriching their creative abilities, visualization skills and acting as a form of self expression, role play is one good method for improving several skills in the child among which are communication skills, interpersonal skills, self confidence and social intelligence. Role play has long been introduced in training programs for adults in order to increase learner motivation, make the learning process more interesting and greatly improve the learners ability to perform a specific desired skill or group of skills.


Children can also learn not just by passive observation but by active examination of objects and things around them. A child my attempt to chew on an object or smash it against the wall to discover its physical properties. A child may also attempt to dismantle a toy to discover its essence and its component parts. Examining something closely and interactively in an exploratory manner can lead to an improve learning experience in cases where we need to comprehend large or complex systems.

Examining objects and things is a process often done by younger children. Examining is a powerful learning method that can be considered a blend of observation and trying. A young child may throw an object, or smash on the ground or against the wall or shew on it in order to to determine its physical properties. This same learning method can be employed by a scientists. A geologist for instance may examine a rock or mineral to determine it's physical and chemical properties.

Trial and Error

A child can learn how to walk or how to do any action using repeated trial and error without even getting guidance from others. Trial and error can be a powerful tool in learning new skills and also in discovering knew knowledge that has not been discovered before or rediscovering knowledge without assistance from others.

Asking Questions

After acquiring a certain amount of knowledge, children often make vigorous use of questions to others as a primary learning method. Questions directed to other more knowledgeable people about the subject matter can be a fast and effective way to acquire lots of knowledge quickly yet can only be done after a basic amount of knowledge about the subject matter has already been gained.


A child girl may teach her younger brother how to play a particular game, how to some specific action or how to utter a certain phrase. By so doing, not only will the younger brother start learning such skill tough to him by his elder sister, but the child girl, the sister, by attempting to teach her younger brother such skill will have improved her own skill level bringing it up more towards mastery level of the skill being taught. Learning by teaching is not a learning method for children only to further sharpen their skills but it can be a powerful learning tool for adults alike.