Why do children learn so fast?

Most of the babies knowing literally nothing other than a couple of trivial actions for survival when they are born, are able in just 2 years to learn how to speak, walk, play and react to what is happening around them.

We all go through this process, picking up new information with lightning speed in our childhood. But things start changing as we grow up and eventually learning becomes harder and less interesting.

When smartphones and other gadgets gradually became a thing I noticed that elderly people had a tendency to keep denying and ignoring these new devices, while 4 years old kids could already be confident users of multi-functional mobile phones. Logically one may suppose that past experience should help in learning, but reality shows it hinders us from gathering new knowledge and experiences.

Social and material values

Let’s start by discussing the example above. Why does it even take longer for seniors to figure out how to use modern gadgets? If we look at how children learn to use the devices without knowing anything about electronics, we may find that children always experiment and try different things. They learn by associating their experiments with the result they got.

Elderly people seem to be more afraid of such experiments, because they know that electronic devices may break if you do some weird stuff with them. They know the device costs money. Being entangled in material values it is more likely for a human to avoid doing something that may cause any damage. Also, they say that it is easier to learn when you create a new association on your brain with the incoming information and it is easier to do for youngsters, because they have less of those yet.

Parents buying their children toys that are not intractable or telling them they are not gonna buy a new toy if they break this one actually leave their kids less space for experimenting. Once the kids grow up they may become anxious about trying new things.

Children are more motivated to learn

Learning new things triggers dopamine pleasure hormones release. There seems to be a direct correlation with the fact that people who do routine work have a tendency to be depressed. This also explains why children are happy when they jump onto the puddle and the water splashes away, while parents are only irritated because their child’s clothes are all dirty now. They get an experience never before and the brain rewards it with dopamine.

Adults have some other sources to get dopamine like social media activity, alcohol, etc., while kids are relatively limited in their choice. That’s why kids do a lot of ‘weird’ stuff while observing the world around.

Curiosity

I think how curious children are, needs no additional description. Curiosity seems to be the main driver in their environment exploration process. They keep asking all kinds of questions, willing to know hows and whys. Growing up some people loose it. Could that be because they don’t get answers to their questions?

When kids come to their parents with questions like “Why does it rain?”, “Why is the moon round?”, etc. and parents tell them either not to ask weird questions or answer with “this is how our nature works”, it is obvious that such kids are by far going to develop disinterest in exploring and asking reasonable questions.

How to boost your learning (TL;DR)

  1. Inherit child mindset, be more open to experimenting
  2. Come to a learning process as you don’t know anything about the topic
  3. Associate incoming information with a result or an event
  4. Find answers to “How?” and “Why?” questions
  5. Limit sources of dopamine (do a dopamine detox)

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