We practise a child-led, interest-driven approach whereby the child is the path-finder and our role as parents is to help open the doors of knowledge by setting up scaffoldings to help the child manoevre along the obstacles-laden path to learning. Why is this approach important for the development of the child?
1. The child leads the learning (self-directed) as opposed to a curriculum-based learning.
There are a myriad of things to learn in this world and it is not possible to learn everything. But when the child displays an interest in certain things, like the sun and the moon or the stars, we can approach the topics artistically, musically or scientifically. The approach is not so much as to give them all the answers, but an opportunity to find things out together. It is a PROCESS, not an end. The child can go as deeply as he wants, or he can scan the topics and come back to them later. This approach is more organic, and preserves the child’s natural curiosity about the world.
2. The child’s learning becomes interest-driven, as opposed to results-driven.
The difference between the two is immense. The former has the joy of learning as the motivation factor, which drives the learner to seek knowledge for knowledge’s sake. The latter, has only results as the end factor. After the exam is over, there is no further motivation to keep on learning. Our task as parents is to help ignite our child’s interest and to help him or her pursue that interest whole-heartedly. This way, the child will be self-motivated and will generate inner discipline to fulfill his or her need to excel in the chosen field/s of interest. Studying for an exam is probably the least enjoyable way of learning. The teacher or facilitator needs to help inspire the students to discover the joys of learning, hence the importance of a good teacher is vital in nurturing positive learning mindsets. However, in the case where the child is self-taught, he or she can seek out the many “teachers” out there in the World Wide Web of information and connections.
Obstacles to learning
Children are NATURALLY born learners – they have in-built instincts on how to learn by observing, imitating and adapting to the environment around them. When these natural learning skills are untampered with, children will retain their natural skills in learning. What schooling invariably does to a child’s learning is to have them believe that learning is beyond their control and that they have to be dependent on higher authority or sanctioned teaching bodies to teach them important information deemed vital and necessary in their 12 years of formal education. For most kids who have been conditioned since young to accept this truth, it is not an issue. But for many today, who have somehow managed to retain their natural learning powers and learn best in a less artificially programmed environment, learning the schooling way may be the most disastrous thing to happen in their lives! Hence all sorts of problems come to the sufface like low self-esteem, lack of confidence, fear of failure, lack of motivation, focus or the will to learn. How do we counter that? My answer is: change the environment!
Creating a learning environment
So the first thing that parents and educators can do to help children learn better is:
1. To accept each child as unique and talented in different ways. Hence the need to allow them the freedom to learn in their unique and different manner. A loved child is a learned child!
2. To create a learning environment that is conducive to their learning. A music-loving child will need an environment where music is easily accessible with musical instruments filling the room. An artistic child will need space for artistic expressions and this is not going to be clean! An inquisitive child who loves to read will find a home filled with shelves of books a haven for learning!
3. To nurture a spiritual environment for healthy, positive and spiritually-inspired living. A home that is constantly filled with the white noise of the tv, or the bickering and angry voices of adults and kids, will kill the spirit of a sensitive child.
Have you created your learning environment in your home yet?