Finding A Good Fit
Although the “one size fits all” concept might be useful when we are out shopping, it is very ineffective as educational model. Children learn in many ways, based on their individual needs and interests. Each child is unique in his or her own way of learning. By observing and listening to our children and then encouraging them, we can co-create learning experiences with them.
Where one learner might find math boring, another might find it fascinating and exciting. When my son was four years old, he would do math calculations in his head. He asked for (and received) a calculator with an adding machine tape for his birthday. He said “I want to ‘see the numbers,’ as I do calculations in my head.” His sister, on the other hand, looks upon math in the most utilitarian way possible, with a calculator as simply a tool. She could not care less, if she ever sees a number. Her idea of the ideal birthday gift at that age was art supplies, and today she feels art keeps her sane.
As Brent Cameron wrote in his PhD thesis, “Learning is a fundamental aspect of being human, and given the opportunity to learn about that which is truly of interest to someone, is most often an invitation, which unleashes passion, creativity, and motivation not typically seen in people who are expected to adjust to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to education.”
If we want children to be attracted to learning, we need to notice what they are attracted to and make learning attractive to them.
What can you do today to nurture a curiosity or passion of your child?
How do you like to learn?
Most parents today have a number of years of traditional schooling under their belts and are accustomed to learning in only a couple of ways. We often accepted that we didn’t have choices about how to learn. If memorizing and recalling what we read or what the teacher showed us was easy, we often completed the task as quickly as we could, so we could go do what we wanted to do, right? If it wasn’t easy, many of us tried to avoid doing it at all.
The more we shift toward a personalized learning approach, though, the more we become aware that the process itself is important. As we observe our learners, we can see how they approach a new learning situation:
– When your child wants to learn something new, does she like to learn on her own or learn with a parent or friend?
– Does your learner readily embrace a new learning experience? Or observe for awhile and then join in?
– Does your learner like to have a story read to him or prefer to read or look at a book with lots of pictures?
– If your learner is trying a new skill, does he like to watch someone else do it first and then do it? Or just jump in and figure it out himself?
– If your child can read, does she like to read directions first and then put something together? Or take a quick look at a diagram and figure it out as she goes along?
Notice these different styles over the next few days and see what patterns are emerging.
What do your children’s actions tell you about how they like to approach a new learning situation?