Children have a deeply embedded need: they need to experience their environment, know it and understand it.
Children want to know how to fit in, to be themselves and yet belong to the family unit.
As they get older they have a need to belong to the communities they know and trust, the classroom, the school, the friends at church and the mosque.
Children find their place and value in society by knowing, understanding and contributing to their world in their little ways.
It builds their confidence and ultimately helps build the problem solvers and critical thinkers we are all looking for in the emerging adults of our time.
How do we get them there?
1. Our very young ones (0 to 6 years) must be allowed to experience the environment through their senses. The intellect is inspired to develop via the experiences a child has.
This means no experiences no great developments, lots of experiences lots of brain wave connections and a good foundatuon for greater things to come.
So what experiences does your little one need?
- Use of the hands to explore objects.
- Freedom of movement to explore their surroundings once they can crawl/walk. Don’t cage them into pens!
- Lots of language exposure: singing, nursery rhymes, telling and reading stories, poetry etc.
- Learning the real names of objects
- Speaking to them in real sentences not baby language
- Allowing the child to do for themselves as much as they can manage
- Providing lots of activiy based experiences that enables the child to explore colour, shapes, sizes, weight and patterns to mention a few
- Make language acquisition sensory, be concerned that they can really hear the difference in the sounds and not mechanical rote learning of ABCD…
- Lots of time to work individually, they are not ready for team work please.
2. Our budding young ones (6 to 12 years) in Primary school require a much more different approach. The capacity to learn is great at this age.
We must try not to become dictators though, because forcing them to learn what is of little interest to them at this age kills the interest and capacity they have to learn.
- Give them the keys so that they can understand the universe not just their city or state or country.
- Open up their minds eye by helping them use their imagination.
- Give them the keys to finding information, using dictionaries and encyclopedias, reference books and libraries. Also the internet, but show them how to use it wisely and safely
- Let them follow their interests and do joint and individual projects, researching as deeply as they want to.
- Help them to explore and build their sense of community and value in the community.
- Let them take responsibility for actions and decisions so they can learn its importance, they are ready and willing.
3. The older child, the adolescent (12 to 18 years). He has so much going on everywhere in the body in his brain…. this child needs peace, a time to hone in all skills to solidify preparation for life.
Learning outdoors, projects in real life companies are best suited for this age.
This suggestion may seem like a pipe dream, but I am sure that with a little bit of creativity we can infuse this into the learning process and see what the outcomes will be.
Experiencing the world is a very important way of educating the child. The foundations it lays are life changing and may make a lasting effect on our ability to prepare our children for the challenges ahead.