How Children Think & Learn: Child Development CTET

Teaching is usually associated with three R’s, namely, reading, writing and arithmetic. Education, on the other hand, includes reading, writing, arithmetic, rights, responsibilities, relationship and recreation. Teaching establishes a relationship among the three important aspects of education – the teacher, the learner and the subject matter. It is important for a teacher to understand how children think and learn for Child Development CTET Pedagogy.

According to John Dewey, “One might as well say he has sold when no one has bought, as to say that he has taught when no one has learned.” Teaching is a task of a teacher which is performed for the development of the child.

Principles of Teaching – How Children Think and Learn?

There are three fundamental principles of teaching as per modern concept:

  • Emphasizing on the learner.
  • Guiding the learner.
  • Promoting the development of the learner.

Why Teaching is Related with Learning?

William H. Burton (1958) has mentioned the following reasons to relate teaching with learning:

  • To make the active teaching–learning process effective.
  • To write objectives in behavioral terms and create proper learning situations to achieve these specific objectives.
  • To generate appropriate learning conditions or structures for effective learning.
  • To select suitable material as teaching aids.
  • To understand clearly the relationship between teaching and learning and the nature of teaching, so that teaching theories can be evolved.
  • To help teachers and educators in producing effective teachers.
  • To select teaching strategies, so that optimal objective of learning can be achieved.

How Children Think and Learn?

There has been widespread research on the process by which children learn and the findings have been mixed and varied. However, one thing common in all these research outcomes is that each person has his or her own way of learning, which is known as individualized learning. It is a fact that knowing about how children learn can facilitate the entire teaching–learning process for both teachers as well as learners. There are various theories which facilitate our understanding of learning. We shall now discuss some of the principles about how children learn, in detail.

Active Participation

Active participation and involvement is one of the important principles that need to be discussed. It is believed and proved by various researches that the best way to actively engage with a work is to learn about the work. There are various kinds of work that one does in school and for these, the student uses his or her cognitive abilities. They have to understand, explain and elaborate on concepts in school, for which active participation
is required. Therefore, teachers should provide students with opportunities to become active learners. They should make classroom teaching interesting, creative and challenging to kindle learners’ curiosity.

Learning as a Social Activity

It has been proved by various researchers that knowledge is socially embedded and therefore, learning is also a social activity. The best way to learn something is to understand the topic in the context in which it was developed. For this, social participation is very significant. The process of socialization can be taken as a very good example in this regard. Children learn many things from the social life of the family. The entire idea of constructivism stands for this assumption. According to Vygotsky, “Children learn through social interaction and participation.” They internalize the values and rituals by active participation in the social context.

Useful and Meaningful Learning – How Children Think and Learn

It is a fact that learners learn better when they participate in learning and that learning is useful and meaningful for them in their daily life. We know that there are teaching and learning methods that are purely theoretical and have no relevance in actual life to a learner. Learners begin to think why they are learning it when it has no significance in their life. This problem occurs because of appropriateness of learning in a particular context. Research proves that meaningless education cannot attract learners. Sometimes activities used for learning are also meaningless and therefore, learners fail to make any bridge between what they are learning and what they will use in real life.

Developing a Bridge between Existing Knowledge and New Knowledge

It is an important principle of learning that one must create a bridge between what a learner knows and what he/she is going to know. This bridge provides space to develop new knowledge with past experiences. Research shows that ability to learn something new depends on the knowledge we have already. It is significant and critical to relate new knowledge with previously acquired knowledge. There are various ways through which teacher can develop this bridge. Some such ways are suggested below:

  • The teacher can provide space for discussion of a new chapter in the light of information acquired from past chapters. This will activate prior knowledge learners have.
  • There is a possibility that a learner’s prior knowledge is incomplete or flawed with many misconceptions. The teacher has to understand these gaps and introduce new concepts after addressing these misconceptions. Simply knowing what learners know will not help.
  • Discussion, questions and presentations are good ways of establishing a relationship between prior and new knowledge.

Acknowledging Individual Differences

Inclusion is the need of the time. There are differences in all societies across the world and the same is true in India also. This diversity is clearly visible in the school system and in a class. A teacher can make his or her class an inclusive one with the help of the suggestions given below:

  • Teachers should understand the ways through which students learn and understand.
  • Teachers can help a child by trying their best to understand his or her difficulty. For this, parental involvement is necessary.
  • Extra time can be provided to students showing symptoms of slow learning.
  • The classroom should be transformed into a place of learning rather than of competition.
  • Do not compare the performance of two learners.
  • The learning process should challenge the learner’s abilities.

Allow Learners to Practice

We know that practice makes a man perfect. This principle also helps in the learning process. A child can master a subject if he or she has appropriate practice of the learned concept or phenomena. Practice here does not mean simple recalling or mechanistic revision; rather, it is meaningful engagement with the work for longer time, which will help the learner to develop a better perspective about the phenomenon.


How children think and learn cannot be understood in the absence of teaching. There is a deep-rooted relationship between teaching and learning. Teaching does not mean that one has to provide everything to the learner. It is a means to facilitate the learning process. Teaching is a planned, child-centered, systematic, ability-based, democratic and stimulating activity that is designed to enhance the intellectual capability of the learner.


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