As parents, guardians, coaches, and minders, we aspire to prepare our kids as best as possible for the challenges of adulthood, just like our parents did with us, and their parents with them. The human race’s and the animal kingdom’s survival depends on the passing on of knowledge to the next generations. So we learn from each other’s experiences, failures and successes as if they were ours. It is essential that we learn from each other’s experiences as much as ours, as everything and everyone around us is our teacher. Benjamin Franklin has been quoted to have said that “Wise men learn from others’ harm, fools scarcely by their own”. And we see that humanity has been continuously applying the principle of learning from others, for example, children listen to their parents, pupils listen to their teachers, and athletes listen to their coaches.
But before we even discuss where the child learns from, we might need to answer the following question first, “When does a child start learning?”. This would give us a better perspective of what the child is learning as it grows older, the parameters the child will set, what is acceptable, what is tolerable and what is enjoyable. All these are linked to early childhood, possibly even to the fetal stages of development, as recent research demonstrates.
Then we can attempt to categorise where children’s influences come from, we can determine that family, friends, school, and other extracurricular environments are all influential. Questions that arise include: What are the primary and secondary lessons a child gets out of each situation? Or alternatively, what are the obvious and not so obvious teachings of a child? Are there any specific situations that influence the child more than the other? If yes, is this a ubiquitous phenomenon or does it apply to specific knowledge acquisition? Very complicated questions arise, with even more complicated answers. There are more and less obvious explanations and influences, there are things we know, things we are still learning, and things that we will eventually learn. For example, it is common knowledge that doing sport may help the child develop into a healthy individual and that it is a great way to regulate body mass. It is also well accepted that the child can benefit psychologically and sociologically. It is also transpiring that being an active child, either by doing sports or some form of performing art, such as playing musical instruments has an effect on the way the brain develops.