Child-Led Learning – How to implement and the Benefits of it

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Child-led learning is a term that is used to define education programs in which children are responsible for determining what to learn. This approach differs from a structured learning, where children choose what they want to learn based on their interests, rather than an adult chalking out a schedule for them.

In some cases, child-led learning extends to kids being in control of how much time they spend on a specific lesson and the materials and methods used for the study. This approach is often followed in a home-school environment or a private tutoring context.

While this approach may seem very different from the brick-and-mortar process that most schools follow, there are many homeschoolers who have implemented this method of learning quite successfully.

How is Child-Led Learning Implemented?

While following the child-led learning approach, a child is often provided free access to engage with the study material as he or she pleases. This might include singing, doing art, or role-playing instead of the conventional question and answer worksheets. In addition, parents may introduce options, and the child can select the one that he or she would like to pursue.

Adults choose the lesson and topic in other cases, but the child steers it in a specific direction. Depending on the setting, tutors and parents work to create a stable environment and provide materials that are required and support the child’s requirements.

Self-Directed Learning and Self-Esteem

Not all educators who implement child-led learning follow it in the same way. Nevertheless, it is a concept based on the idea that we are always curious about the world around us. By enabling kids to explore, you inspire them to be lifelong learners and take ownership of their education.

Instead of filling requirements and ticking off boxes, children are offered a central role in selecting how they will spend their time. This approach could help them understand their strengths, weaknesses, and personal interests. It can also get them to identify how they can learn best.

When children trust themselves, they develop a positive self- image and confidence. This is particularly essential for kids who experience specific learning difficulties and may experience negative emotions and discouragement in a conventional classroom setting.

Also Read: How to improve concentration in kids?

The Adult’s Role

Just because children take the lead in a child-led learning an approach that does not mean that adults are not present in the process. Parents need to work harder to offer the right kind of support, including encouragement, resources and enable their children to make progress and accomplish their goals.

Parents may also require to model certain activities or help kids set realistic targets. It is also crucial to break tasks down. into smaller steps for children to stay interested and work slowly, one step at a time.

Where teachers are involved, they may assume a moderator’s role instead of an instructor, supervising the activities and keeping all the children on the same page. This is contradictory to dictating what will happen next.

When can Child-led Learning Begin?

The answer to this question is at birth. Child-led learning is a process that happens naturally. Infants learn to roll over on their schedule, then walk, and talk. Parents trust their children’s instinct to accomplish these tasks when their children are ready, and they rarely need any intervention. The parent’s job is to offer an enriching and loving environment where babies can practice those activities. Once they have mastered those skills, babies primarily learn through play. This is where child-initiated freedom comes into the picture.

What does Child-Led Learning Look Like on a Day-to-Day Basis?

For a young child:

Using examples, such as chores, cooking, and economy; a day for a young child following the child-led learning approach might manifest like this: “The child wants to host a pizza stand one day. The adult can use this as an opportunity for reading (recipe, ingredients), math (measuring and proportions), science (cleaning and not leaving germs), and finance (price-setting), art (making a sign), and so on”.

For an older child:

If the child wants to play a computer game, the adult’s job is to ensure that the child has access to the games that help grow the mind instead of deterring it. From there, the adult can explore the child’s interest in, for example, making his or her apps or games. Coding is a great way to take this type of “play” to a higher level. If the child’s interest is simply playing the games, even that may prove helpful.

Also Read: How-is-stem-education-beneficial-for-your-child?

Benefits of Child-Led Learning

Your child is in charge: This is one of the most rewarding benefits of this approach. You may be concerned that authentic learning does not happen unless you are there to drive it. However, the truth is that when children are in charge of their knowledge, and we follow their ideas, the learning experiences they come up with are ten times better than what we could ever think of.

Unpressured learning: When you follow your child’s interests and wait until they are ready to learn, there is no pressure on the child. Thus, you do not get frustrated as the child will know when he or she can. This is a win for both sides.

Encourages deep and complex learning: When something interests a child, they tend to ask lots of questions and find all the possible answers to their questions. This results in learning on multiple levels.

Fosters the love of learning in children: When children are given the freedom to select what they want to learn and how to learn, they fall in love with it and begin to enjoy learning.

Encourage movement for good health: Unstructured materials, often called loose parts, encourage child-led play, and therefore may also promote physical activity.

Note: If you are transitioning to child-led learning from a the traditional school system, do keep in mind that your child might need some time to unwind from the prior approach and then transition to this new method.

Tips for Making Child-Led Learning Fun 

Go exploring. Getting outside and just simply walking in nature is a great way to let the child lead the way. Walk around and discuss what you can smell, hear, and see. Learn about the plants, the birds, and the history of the places you visit daily. The movement also helps children who suffer from attention disorders.

Be creative. A black pen and white paper activities may be a standard fare in a classroom, but that does not make them the best form of learning. If a child wants to make notes in red, let them. Give them colored paper and images and enable them to play around with structure and design while taking notes.

Involve the senses. Multi-sensory learning is an essential part of child-led learning. It is possible to offer sensory experiences for older children to enrich learning and create more lasting memories. 

Encourage role-play. Kids can learn a lot from role-playing, a method by which they become a character and explore a topic by experimenting and then reflecting on how a person would speak and behave. Try different methodologies and let your child lead the conversation in new and exhilarating ways.

Offer a lot of feedback. Kids require lots of encouragement and praise to keep them inspired and interested. Let them know if they are on the right track. Constructive feedback is essential, too, as long as it does not suffocate their creativity or development.

Summarize and display progress. Without a fixed prospectus, some parents can feel a bit lost. It helps both tutors and kids see what has been learned, appreciate the accomplishment, and plan the next lesson accordingly. You could try a whiteboard or keep a journal that logs each address.

Conclusion

Teachers in both traditional, as well as non-traditional settings, are invaluable and a crucial part of a child’s life. While you may not be sure which approach is best for your child to take, remember that the goal is to make your child’s life easier and happier. So, no matter which path you follow, ensure that your child is happy learning and feeling safe in his or her environment.

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