What I've Learnt These School Holidays - Children Learn Best Through Real Life Experiences
Can your children detect a lesson a mile off? Can they sense when you are trying to teach them something and just switch off or become disinterested?
I've seen this happen in my home. Otis doesn't really like to sit down and read with me. He's happy for me to read to him, which for the most part is what we do. However, 10-15 times a day he will come to me: "t--i-m-e what does that spell'? "Timee"? And so on. He is developing his reading skills, they aren't static, but it's not by sitting down and working with me. He is reading in an everyday life sense, he is reading signs, labels, instructions, and recipes!
Last week Caspar (9yrs) and Otis (6yrs) were baking together. This doesn't happen very often, Otis bakes almost daily but it's not something that Caspar is interested in. They were using a recipe neither of them had used before. Caspar came up and said: "I can't find a 2/3 measuring cup". I told him that we don't have a 2/3 cup and that he would have to make up 2/3 of a cup another way. He looked puzzled. I asked Otis "how do we make 2/3 a cup" and his answer surprised me (much to my delight). "With two of these!" he said holding a 1/3 measuring cup. Now Otis may not be able to add fractions but he knew enough to complete the task, and this knowledge will stay with him!
Otis learnt his five times tables by counting (over and over) his Christmas and Birthday money and now has good recall for many sums by counting his notes. I could go on and give suggestions on activities that promote this type of learning however it is more important to create a home environment where this natural learning can occur.
The number one thing I have learnt is that this type of learning can't be forced, we need to support the child but the child needs to come to it by themselves. The child needs to be in their own zone. You can only achieve this by allowing the child to follow their interests and saying out of the way. Some of the things I have learnt;
- Give the child space.
- Provide or allow access to resources outside of the home - friends homes, family, libraries, museums, walking grounds, clubs, peers.
- Don't judge, it's easy for us to put our expectations on our children or our unconscious biases. Our children's interests can be weird and unpredictable.
- We want our children to be curious and this isn't always easy!
- We can't always see or know what the child is learning. It may not become obvious until much later.
I'd love to hear experiences of teachers who are also parents on how their children best learn at home! I hope you are enjoying your school holidays!