In order for children to learn, they need to stretch their minds. That means that they need to be challenged. Reviewing things they already know helps them remember them but in order to go forward they must learn to grasp new concepts. Challenge also keeps a child interested.
While challenge is a very good thing it is important not to go overboard with it. Doing so will just cause the child to become frustrated. He might give up on the task at hand and even develop distaste for the entire subject.
So how do you know how much challenge is too much? Sometimes it is difficult. It is important to keep activities attainable while still making sure that the child is in fact learning new things. Here are some ways to do that.
* Electronic educational toys often allow parents and children to choose a skill level. Make sure that your child is working on a level that is appropriate for him. If you’re not sure, watch while your child goes through the levels starting with the lowest. Determine the highest level he has mastered and have him work on the next one.
* Most computer learning games automatically go to the next level when a child has mastered the previous one. If there is an option to save the game at each level, try to make sure that he does so. Then, instead of going back through things he already knows each time he plays, he can start out on a level that is a challenge for him.
* An older child’s schoolwork might be a good indicator of what he has mastered and what he needs to work on. If there is an area he has trouble in you could expand on it at home. If he appears to have mastered everything you may want to talk to his teacher about giving him more advanced work to do at school or at home.
* If your child has educational toys that he doesn’t play with try to determine why. He will probably just tell you that he doesn’t like them, but it could be that they are either above or below his individual level. If you can get him to try them while you supervise, it could provide some valuable insight and help you make better selections in the future.
Working on a level that is comfortable for your child yet provides a challenge is crucial to his educational success. Too little challenge will cause your child to become bored and too much could cause frustration and low self-esteem. Always remember what is good for one child might be very different from what is good for another child of the same age. Taking cues from your child will help you decide what level is the best for him.