Research shows that if children start school with a strong set of attitudes and skills that help them "learn how to learn," they will be better able to take advantage of educational opportunities. While some learning skills come naturally to children, others can be developed through a supportive environment.
Tips for building learning skills:
Eight-year-olds enjoy having the opportunity to solve problems independently. They may seek out peers for assistance. They are able to concentrate on tasks for longer periods of time and begin to use their own resources prior to seeking adult help. Eight-year-olds demonstrate more highly-developed thinking skills as well as the ability to solve problems with creative strategies.
Weighs options and makes decisions more efficiently (e.g., thinks, "Well I invited Peter last time, so I will ask Eddie today.").
Sits still and pays attention during activities, even those that may not be particularly stimulating (e.g., sits calmly and listens to 30-minute assembly on school safety).
Can complete lengthy projects with few interruptions. Tolerates frustration and tackles problems independently (e.g., thinks, "The glitter doesn't look right. I am going to go look for some foil in the mixed media box.").
Requires less direction from adults and displays higher levels of self-reliance. Is comfortable solving problems with peers (e.g., says to classmate, "Let's ask if we can use a calculator and try to figure this one out together.").
Participates in a variety of independent and peer activities. Selects favorite activities and prefers to stick with those (e.g., says, "I don't want to take art at camp. I am better at soccer.").
Asks increasingly complex questions that show she has given the matter some thought (e.g., says, "Desiree moved to Chicago, but I was just thinking that maybe she will still come back here to visit her grandmother. Do you think so?").
Still enjoys learning new activities, but is occasionally anxious about trying an activity perceived as difficult (e.g., says, "It might be fun, but I don't want to mess up in front of everybody.").
Understands that unforeseen factors may interfere with plans (e.g. says, "He got in trouble so his mom won't let him come with us. Can we go next Saturday?").
Begins to use own resources before seeking adult guidance (e.g., says, "The spinner broke off our game. I tried to fix it with a paper clip, but it didn't work.").
Mentally manipulates information on a regular basis (e.g., says, "I know this one. I just add the "12" in my head.").
Themes of pretend play associated with real life situations (e.g., says, "Let's play school, I am going to give you a lot of homework!"
Develops increasingly creative problem-solving strategies (e.g., says, "But if Sara's mom says no, we can just tell her that there will be an adult there the whole time and we will be very careful").