Tags: a recipe for learning, board games, compulsory schooling, favorite games, free time learning, games skills, games that build skills, homeschooling, importance of play, life learning, life learning games, playtime learning, skill building games, Unschooling, unschooling board games
Some people are not aware of an alternative way of learning called child lead learning, but a growing group of parents have a secret recipe for breeding information hungry children. Maybe it’s not what they are doing but what they aren’t doing. You decide.
Children are little scientists from the time they are born. They are constantly experimenting and learning about the world. Just staying quiet at times, allowing them freedom and getting out of their way can lead to some amazing things. That doesn’t mean we don’t do anything to facilitate their learning. We as parents are simply their assistants, not their teachers. We help them obtain the information they are seeking, not the information we deem important today. There are certain ingredients that I believe create an environment for learning.
Free time and Play Time
I allow the extremely important uninterrupted free time to play. I don’t interrupt my children to fold laundry when they are in the middle of the tallest lincoln log building on record, when they are designing a cross-bow out of scrap wood or when they are copying the constitution from a poster on their wall. Why would I? They are learning and no artificial lesson has been set up for them to learn from these things. I simply wait until they have finished whatever project they are working on to ask them to help me with mine.
Exposure to The World
We don’t have a classroom. The World is our classroom. We can pull out workbooks and count the pictures or we can put some seeds in some soil and count all of the seeds. The children will experience holding the seeds and touching the soil this way rather than an artificial set up for learning. Humans learn from example and so much of life’s lessons are in our daily activities and from asking questions. We can use flash cards to teach them colors or we can pull out the paints and use them on some paper while we talk about them. Children can learn about money from having their own and learning how to use and spend it and from watching us do so. No fake paper or plastic coins needed. They will learn measurements by using them when they assist in preparing meals or shopping for fabric with us. My at the time 6 yo, shocked the employee at Joann’s, when she asked him how many feet were in a yard and he answered “3.” She said most adults that she sees don’t know that. He knew long before that because he asked when he saw me cutting fabric and I told him. I never gave a lesson on measurements. He would have never remembered that way and if he did it would have been because of memorization, not interest. Interest in things is were true learning is found and information can be stored easily when a person desires to know the information. Children learn to read because they want to (if they aren’t forced in a school setting or otherwise) the time comes when they want to know what things say and usually learning to read happens extremely fast with a child who hasn’t had it forced on them. Once reading is obtained most parents of life learners report that their children can’t put the books down. No reward chart is needed to keep the reading happening. Other exposure comes from movies and books at the library, museums and fun classes on topics they are interested in.
So I mentioned we don’t have a classroom but my children’s room resembles one, with posters of things they’ve expressed interest in covering the walls along with their artwork. The solar system decorates the ceiling and several book shelves line the walls. The closet is filled will building materials like mega blocks and legos. They do have a large desk equipped with writing utensils, paper, all types of crayons, scissors and plenty of glue and tape for creating. Sounds like a classroom but never has a ”class” been held there. A lot of creative learning has though. The specific tools for each child will vary based on their interests. School classrooms however do not work this way. Then we have a game closet full of fun and exciting games that not only bring family fun but build all sorts of skills. A few of our favorite skill building games are below. Notice that many of the traditional games like Candy Land and Life are not there. I personally believe many mainstream games are boring so I don’t want to have those around spoiling our fun! These of course cannot replace playing with sticks and dirt. Those are superior tools, but these are nice to have for cold indoor days.
- Spot it
- Cash Flow For Kids
- Ticket to Ride
- Animal Tracks
- The Settlers of Catan
If you are content in what you know and not interested in learning more, this might not be the best choice for your child. Although having their love of learning affected in the school system isn’t much of a desirable option either. It is important for you to view learning as exciting and interesting and have many interests of your own. It is important for your children to see you researching, learning and seeking information on a daily basis. They will see learning the way you see it. Either as a burden or one of the most exciting parts of life!
Make Sure Learning is Fun
Learning is not boring. Learning is very exciting and fun to children who have not been taught otherwise. We need to watch our opinions of learning and our words we use to refer to it. If things that children find boring are called learning then that is the way they will see it. If a child is pushed to learn something they are not interested in or prepared for they may view learning as scary and fear feeling stupid for not understanding it. How will we know if they feel this way? If we listen they are always telling us. If we are taking college courses and are always complaining about the teacher or our assignments they might start to think that learning is not so fun. This is just like everything else in our lives. Who we are is being watched and recorded by their capable growing brains at every second. Never underestimate their recorders. They pick it all up. This is why so many experts recommend working on your own issues before having children. We are sure to pass them on. Respecting children and their ideas is important too. They need to build confidence and if we listen to their input when it comes to a problem, and allow them to help, this can help build strong self-esteem. I recently built a trampoline and was using a bolt that was too long. My son figured out that there were two slightly different sizes of bolts that came with it and solved the problem. I could have rushed to review the directions and ignored him, and figured it out myself eventually, but that would have cost me more time and he would have missed the valuable experience.
A Supportive Community
Like minded families who gather together to share ideas, and allow their children to play together, can be very helpful but its not imperative. Supportive grandparents and relatives can be excellent as well. Looking back several generations children spent much of their time with their grandparents and aunts and uncles, learning from their wisdom. Now this idea is sometimes mocked in mainstream but what a waste it is that we do not realize the treasures the elderly have to share with us. Many life learning families do not get this much-needed support from their families. It is a shame that society no longer has faith in itself to teach it’s young. The same people who go through the school system are the ones who question the ability to teach the young. How is it possible to graduate from high school and not be able to teach your own children the basics? They might ask themselves what that says about the school system? If you are one of these people, keep in mind that before compulsory schooling children had to be forced from their homes at gunpoint because parents instinctively knew better. The literacy rate has also never been higher in the United States than it was before compulsory schooling. Colleges did exist during that time but not compulsory schooling for children. What this suggests is that learning as a child should come from the family and once one has found their interests they can develop them in a classroom environment as an adult if they so choose.
A Safe Homelife
Most of all children need a safe, fear free, loving environment to blossom. When energy is spent on being afraid it is energy that cannot be spent on learning . Spend time together learning and growing and you may be surprised by the outcomes. Don’t forget to spend plenty of time together in nature.
Combine Them all Together
There are certain things in life that we may only be able to obtain from lessons or books due to our circumstances but all learning doesn’t have to come this way. As a child ages they may require more of this type of learning. For example, also in my children’s room is a guitar that they are currently using to take private lessons from my younger brother. I do not have the skill in this area to pass on to them so they are getting it from someone in our family. What better way to obtain a skill than from a loved one who is going to share the love of your child and respect them while guiding them.
There you have it, one recipe for children and learning. With any recipe, there are several options of combinations for the same thing, but you don’t always get the same end result.