Education is a big part of our lives. If you think about it, by the time we’re twenty, most of us have spent three quarters of our lives, if not more, attending school. It’s the key time in our lives when we’re given the chance to explore who we are, what we can do, and what we want to do.
Our early experiences lay down a foundation for life, how we view the world and our relationships with others.
The Atlantic has posted an interesting article called ‘The New Preschool is Crushing Kids : Todays young children are working more, but they’re learning less’
The author discusses the current push to formally educate kids earlier and earlier—as early as preschool, and how “much of the conversation in today’s preschool classrooms is one-direction and simplistic, as teachers steer students through a highly structured schedule, herding them from one activity to another…”
Additionally, the article sites a study called “Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?,” where researchers reported that teachers’ rising expectations for children to read by the end of the year and to spend more time “with workbooks and worksheets, and less time devoted to music and art”, is indeed affecting kids.
It’s no surprise that most children lose their enthusiasm to learn when what comes naturally to them, like play, spontaneous discussion, and thinking out loud, are not emphasized. As a parent I know that to help a child develop, it’s important to take the time to learn how a child thinks, how they see things, and what they’re interested in. Given what they need, children will thrive and relationships grow strong.
How can adults help kids learn?
Get to know them
Find out what makes them tick, what they like and don’t like. What does this person have an affinity for? Incorporate that into their learning. This basic, often overlooked approach recognizes we’re all individuals. We naturally have different personalities, tastes, interests, and skills. This is key. It gives us a launch pad for kids to retain information. For instance, if you have a child that likes to cook, you can help them learn math with a recipe. The possibilities are endless.
It’s easy to get in the habit of just instructing. Kids need that but it’s also important to hear them. If a child has a difficult time answering questions about a story, find out why. Did they relate to the character in the story? Why didn’t they? Did they like the story? Why not? What part of the story was confusing? By reading those parts through again and allowing the child to spontaneously discuss, think out loud, and formulate opinions, helps reveal where they’re at. Taking interest in what they have to say engages them and peaks their interest.
Talk to them
Kids pick up an awful lot of information through conversation. Simply by talking to adults and each other, kids learn how things work, they explore concepts they wouldn’t have thought of themselves, they gain insights and they reveal themselves. They also develop a broad vocabulary naturally. They hear new words being used and they hear the context and they naturally pick them up.
Give them a role in the process
Like all of us, kids tend to withdraw when they don’t have any say. When a child is allowed to make decisions, it’s extremely motivating. For instance, allowing them to choose a writing topic, giving them a choice of stories or books to read, or which hobbies they want to pursue, are all essential in helping them to succeed.
Wishing you Well,