Encourage deep level learning in your child from day one
From The Learning Child set of talks and materials
We learn best when we pursue answers to our own questions. When we have the knowledge, the skills and the means to set our own goals and solve our immediate problems. This is especially true for children. So, ask yourself what phonic aspirations you have, should your child read early, or learn to love reading?
There are times when children need to learn factual information and precise processes. But if you surround them with activities chosen for them, with close supervision or control, where is the enthusiasm, the drive or the passion? Under these conditions, children can learn more of what you offer in the short term—but far less overall. And more worryingly – they tend to lose their interest in learning.
Avoid your child being amongst the many who switch off from formal education when it has barely begun
How many children do you know who have ben passionately inquisitive about everything as a toddler, yet are quick to proclaim they don’t like school? How are these natural instincts for learning about everything being snubbed out in our children so quickly?
The beauty of learning – rather than ‘educating’ is the natural diversity and freedom that it offers.
Your child is engaging in the processes of learning from before they are born. These processes are complex, interwoven and continual as they revisit ideas, adapting and perfecting their skills as their minds and bodies grow. But more than this, they are establishing the dispositions for and attitudes towards all their future learning.
Deep learning of a meaningful quality is then highly personal. Your child is achieving this by exploring ideas, not through repeated sequences of steps, identical for every child. But they need to access it at the point that is right for them; something that only they can know as they acquire the next piece of their learning puzzle.
Phonic aspirations – should your child read early or learn to love reading?
Children learn best when they can see the point in what they are doing, learning “just in time” rather than “just in case”. They do then need to opportunities to apply their learning, grounded in experiences of ‘real life’ relevance. They need activities where the instruction weaves through. As their experiences advance, they will gain a more sophisticated level of understanding and build ideas ready for the learning to follow.
Deep learning establishes best when children have a degree of ownership over the experience
When children are given opportunities for playful learning, they naturally extend their vocabularies, promoting their future writing. They listen and multi-task, skills essential to the fluid reader. They engage in math-related activities as they solve problems and rely on pattern and sequencing of events. Their social reasoning, physical coordination and artistic and spatial creativity are all continuously being challenged as they develop.
But because direction is given by the child, many parents and teachers are not comfortable or well enough informed to give children the trust they need to succeed. So, as you consider your phonic aspirations; question whether your child should read early… or learn to love reading, learning, knowing and investigating? As you offer them every opportunity to retain their love of learning through the diverse and rich experiences you are offering.
Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods. Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child. www.nurturingchildhoods.co.uk
DEVELOPING EVERY CHILD’S POTENTIAL