Children learn in many different ways and embracing all those ways of learning can help a child become well-rounded. Promoting various activities and aspects of learning with children can help with their emerging intellect, character and body awareness.
Some ways that children can learn include:
- Multidisciplinary study: Allows for the combining of two or more subjects into one area of study. Clover Park School District held its districtwide STEM fair at Harrison Preparatory School on March 10, 2018. Students presented their projects to judges and participated in grade-level science challenges. The STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) teaching core has added an “A” for art to make the core STEAM. For example, math and color blending could be combined using coloring pages. The addition of art opens up the world of creativity in many students. And has many applications for life.
- Practical applications: Lets children learn in real-world situations. For example: Woodworking, cooking and cleaning can help children learn how to do things that they can use outside of the classroom, and each of these applications are also able to teach other skills beyond their primary goals. In the case of cooking, measuring ingredients is a common and practical application of the use of fractions.
The latest newsletter from the Clover Park School District, announced announce they were putting the cooking skills of fourth-grade students to the test. “The students prepared their favorite healthy snack in CPSD’s 10th-annual Future Chefs cooking competition. The participants were responsible for the finished product, including plate and table presentations, and judges tasted each product and gave awards to students in a variety of categories.”
- Story-building: Building stories is a good way for children to practice their linguistic skills and imagination. It can also help children to express their emotions. Storytelling is an important part of communication and understanding. Most successful careers are based on being able to tell a story with connections and explanations. Marketing, sales, medicine, leadership and others all rely on a connection between ideas and language. As a child my best buddies lived next door and their parents didn’t take them to see films. Mine took me. I would return from a movie and tell my version of the plot, the characters . . . complete with and quotations. I am a storyteller.
- Reading: Reading can open a whole new world for children, both when they are being read to by a parent, older sibling or educator and when they are able to read themselves. Asking children to read for someone can help them practice their pronunciation. For children who are shy when it comes to reading, reading to a pet or stuffed toy can be a good way to help them learn without feeling so self-conscious. My wife Peg learned to read when she was four. Both of us have always loved books and reading. Some of our greatest joys were reading to and with our children and grandchildren.
- Playacting: Playacting is a great way for children to express emotions and use creativity. It can also be used to teach educational components. For example, teaching children how plants grow can be done through playacting. The use of theatre can also allow children to practice memorization and team-work. It’s also an alternative way to teach concepts in a different way and can help with retention in a different method than through a textbook. Allison Gopnik, author of The Philosophic Baby, says “I studied how children come to understand their own minds. At the same time I helped formulate the ‘theory theory’ – the idea that children have intuitive theories and use many of the same learning mechanisms as scientists.” Children use their imaginations to form an alternative reality that plays with the ability to ask “what if.” Playacting boosts that skill.
- Tactile Learning: In acting, body movement or even just crossing the stage triggers the mind. Tactile learning is learning by doing. For example, some children find it easier to learn math facts with the use of an abacus; some brains can “see” the numbers and what they are doing by touching, feeling and sliding the abacus beads back and forth simulating adding and subtracting.
- Trips and adventures: Trips and adventures give children a way to learn while exploring. Some examples of outings can include going to a zoo to learn about animals and their habitats or to the grocery store to learn about counting products and how to use money.
- Crafting: Crafts are a fun way for children to learn while practicing their fine motor skills by doing activities like cutting and pasting. Crafts can also be educational, for example, spelling can be practiced when creating a card, directions can be practiced while creating a weather vane, etc.
- Sports: Sports and games are another way that children can learn. Swinging a bat and running bases, for example, can be used to practice counting and motor skills. Sports are also a good way to practice teamwork.
Bright Water Waldorf on Capitol Hill in Seattle is a proponent of embracing learning with the whole child – “We see how young people thrive when given space and time, when they’re deeply immersed in learning, and when they’re encouraged to use their imaginations. As we nurture children’s individuality, they gain appreciation for their place in the bigger world.”
Schools like Bright Water in Seattle, Harrison Prep, and others in the Clover Park School District give time and space to students as they are immersed in learning and encouraged to use their imaginations. All children learn in different ways and allowing for different ways of learning can assist all children in meeting their full potential. Parents and educators who are prepared to change or vary teaching methods and embrace children’s unique abilities are rewarded with positive outcomes that positively affect children for a lifetime.