Here’s a question - where do you think learning happens for your child? Some will scoff, shrug a shoulder and say - In a classroom, where else? Naturally, in a classroom - is what I’ve tried convincing myself for years and so has everyone else. Would you believe me if I said the best teaching and learning experiences take place outside of the confines of the classroom walls? Well,that’s not just me saying it, it's proven and tested now. While there’s nothing wrong with traditional learning (it’s in fact essential to enable all other types of learning) , classroom learning per se is more of ‘being instructed to’ and entirely defeats the very purpose and meaning of ‘learning’. Education is and has always been so much more than straight A’s and memorization – it’s a lifelong pursuit of knowledge, cultivation of creative solutions and independence to solve a problem from square one. When students are asked to put into practice “in the real world” what they have learnt sitting at their desks, that is real learning. And because most schools are not comfortable with the idea of enabling such open-ended learning, fortunately or perhaps unfortunately it’s often parents who end up shouldering that responsibility.
Embracing the idea that education can take place anywhere opens the doors to foster a love of learning in your children and create a learning-positive culture at home. Come, let’s explore some ways we can enable this for our kids:
1. Make learning part of family fun : Find opportunities to make family outings educational - there are many, many ways you can make learning a part of family time. Even a nature hike provides opportunities for observation, whereas simply baking involves math and science. You may also consider learning something together–building a model train, or playing a sport your child has never tried.
2. Open-ended questions : Next time your child returns from school, rather than asking them if their day was good just ask them what they liked the most about it and why. You’ll be surprised and inspired to learn what they have to say! Open-ended questions will help your child think better and deeper. In fact, modern research suggests that philosophical questions encourage higher-order thinking skills, logical reasoning and empathy.
3. Toys and games : Educational opportunities associated with your child’s toys and games are some of the most effective. Provide a wide variety of activities to meet their learning needs, for example - a simple cardboard box and some craft supplies can provide a whole afternoon of engineering, socialization and creative problem-solving for kids.
Involve your child in everyday “grown-up” activities like grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning or socializing. Errands that you might find boring or routine can be exciting for a child who’s still learning about how the world works. You’ll be surprised to know how much your child can learn by just observing and practicing mundane tasks. Not to mention, they’ll be more prepared for “adulting” when time comes.
5. Environmental considerations
Establishing an environment that’s conducive to learning is extremely important. Help your child identify the best time and place to read, draw, practice an instrument or engage in other hobbies. Whether it’s your home office or a corner of the living room, they’ll be more likely to take ownership of their work if they have their own little “productivity place” to complete it. We had discussed this at length in one of the previous blogs, you may go back and read if you feel your child hasn’t found the ultimate corner!
Try these out with your children and you are bound to see an overwhelming change in their attitudes towards learning. I can assure you, they would go from avoiding school work to applying their learnings in regular tasks. Comment below and let us know how it went! I would be talking about more ways to enable learning beyond classrooms in my upcoming blogs. In the meantime, give your child some new wings! Also, do check Early Steps Academy out. They have been making children fall in love with learning in 7+ countries!