Follow the leader: A child-led approach to learning
Last week, we discussed following your child's lead at home and school. We will now look at some specific ways you can help support your child in pursuing their interests at home.
Providing and valuing learning at home is especially critical as we move into the holiday period. This is your child’s homework: to find, cultivate and extend their interests and learning, covering many subjects and areas of knowledge as they apply to the children’s lives.
One of the best strategies you can use is simply asking questions and providing an example that will force your child to revisit or explain their thinking. You could ask:
Why is it like that?
How do you know that?
What makes you say that?
What evidence do you have?
What else is that similar to?
How is that different from x?
What else can you find out about y?
How can you find out more?
What else do you need?
Another thing you can do is provide tools that will allow your child to explore. For example, if they are interested in how things work, you could set up some mini-experiments at home with kitchen items and ask what happens when you change one variable. It is easy to find great ideas online about how to take an interest and delve deeper.
One strategy you might be interested in starting at home is a “questions wall” - where family members can write down questions that are puzzling them, and as a family, you can investigate these questions. All family members of all ages can contribute, so the lifelong attribute of curiosity is modelled and fostered.
For example, in my family, we were curious about how to make the best cup of tea, so we ran many experiments (cup size, water temperature, water quality, time of tea bag in water, cup material), graphing findings, and deciding on what the best cup of tea was. This drew on many subject areas, was fun, and involved the whole family.
As adults, we are role models for the younger generation, so you should be modelling any attributes you want to see in your children at home. If we want our children to be curious, independent and lifelong learners, we need to show them we are lifelong learners and talk about our learning process all the time.
Here are some ideas to help you follow your child's lead:
Find out your child's interest - what catches their attention and why?
Put things in their environment to help them explore and be curious - e.g. usual items, materials, old artefacts
Set the environment, so they have access to tools to help them record - e.g. notebook, pens, paint, paper
Put resources at their level and within reach so they can be independent where possible
Ask what questions they have or what they want to know or do
Make a plan to find out more together
Find resources to support your inquiry. e.g. places to visit, websites, books, people, experiments
Be a role model: ask questions, investigate resources and talk about what you are learning
Document the learning process with photos, videos, diary entries, blog posts, etc.
As always, if you conduct intriguing inquiries at home, let your classroom teacher know, and your child can share it with the class.
At HIS, we want a culture where we learn from and inspire each other with our discoveries about the world.