Child-led learning is an educational approach in which children are given the opportunity to learn at their own pace and choose what they would like. This often takes place with supervision from parents or tutors, but it can also happen when kids work privately within homeschooling environments where there's more flexibility about how long each lesson lasts as well as choosing methods of study such including online courses that offer Investigations based around interest areas rather than subject matter knowledge needed by law requirements.
The traditional school model of a fixed curriculum and standardised testing doesn't work for every child. Some kids learn best when they're given the opportunity to explore their interests and direct their own learning. This more child-led approach has gained popularity in recent years, and there are now a number of schools and after-hours programmes that offer a more hands-on, learner-centred experience. In addition, there are situations in which this type of approach is more appropriate, such as when working with kids who have learning difficulties. While the child-led approach isn't right for every child or every situation, it's an important part of meeting the needs of all learners.
The idea behind child driven education was first introduced into our society during The Renaissance period up until now this formative thinking has helped shape many modern day concepts including Homeschooling, Unschooling, and democratic schools.
A recent study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that in terms of academic achievement, 15-year-olds from countries who scored highest in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) – which tests maths, reading and science skills – also tended to have a more child-led education approach.
The report, entitled "How Does the World's Most Successful School System Work?" studied the schooling habits of teenagers in 50 countries and found that, on average, students who had more say in what they learnt and how they learnt it performed better in tests.
In Finland, which topped the PISA rankings, pupils are given a great deal of freedom over their learning. For instance, one Helsinki school has no set curriculum – children can choose to learn whatever they want at any time during the day.
"In Finnish schools, teachers trust children to work out for themselves what they need to learn," said Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Centre for International Mobility at CIMO, Finland's National Centre for Mobility and Cooperation in Education.
"The teacher's task is more like a gardener, providing the right environment and helping children to make use of their own experiences, interests and initiatives."
In contrast, the United States – which ranked 38th in the PISA rankings – has a very traditional education system in which children are given a set of lessons to learn at specific times during the day.
"It is interesting that countries with successful education systems also have more child-led approaches," said Andreas Schleicher, OECD director for education and skills. "In these countries, teachers act more as coaches or mentors, providing support to pupils who need it rather than dictating what students should learn."
Child-led learning is all about following your child's interests and signs of readiness for both academic skills, as well as their own curiosities. As a mom who has experienced the benefits firsthand in her 11 years working with young children—I'm addicted! But for those new to this approach? It might seem confusing or even scary at first glance... but give it some time before you write them off completely because once they get into flow--nothing will stop these kids from achieving success on every level imaginable. Talking more about the concept, there is no doubt that the environment you create can be more powerful than the teacher.
You might think that your child needs to learn their ABCs and 123s directly from a grownup, but this isn't always what they'll want or need. So it's important for parents not just sit there all day long while kids do whatever task interests them at any given moment--you must also provide an engaging setting where curiosity is encouraged and exploration rewarded.
And if you're still feeling a little lost on how to get started, following are few ideas that will help you ease into the concept of child-led learning and watch as your child's natural curiosity flourishes.
Do not be afraid to let your children explore their surroundings and natural environment. According to a study by the University of Cambridge, "the ability of young children to learn from nature is severely compromised by the increasing amount of time they spend indoors." So, when possible, take your kids outside for walks and hikes in local parks, forests, and nature preserves. Not only will this allow them to learn more about their surroundings, but it also provides plenty of opportunities for unstructured playtime.
Also, provide materials that allow for creativity and self-expression. A study by the University of Rochester found that kindergarten kids who were given access to creative materials, such as drawing materials, clay, and puppets, scored higher on measures of intelligence than those who didn't have access to them.
Finally, get rid of the distractions and give your child your undivided attention. According to a study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, "children whose parents are regularly engaged in thoughtful conversations about their schoolwork do better in school." So put away the phones and laptops, and take some time to talk with your kids about what they're learning—both in and out of the classroom.
So what does child-led learning look like in practice? The best way to find out is to just dive in and try it out for yourself! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
If your child is interested in dinosaurs, take them to the library and check out some books about dinosaurs. If they're interested in cars, go to a car show or race track. If they're interested in space, visit a planetarium. The possibilities are endless!
If you're not sure what your child is interested in, let them lead the way! When you're out and about, ask them questions about what they see and hear. For example, "What color is that car?" or "What does that word mean?" This will help you learn more about what they're interested in and help to foster a love of learning.
One of the best things about child-led learning is that it allows for plenty of exploration! Give your child room to explore their surroundings, ask lots of questions, and figure out how things work. This is a great way for them to learn problem-solving skills and develop a sense of curiosity.
In our digital age, it can be hard to get away from distractions like TVs, phones, and laptops. But when you're trying to focus on child-led learning, it's important to get rid of all distractions. This means turning off the TV, putting away the phones, and shutting down the laptops. It might be hard at first, but you'll be surprised at how well your child can focus when there are no distractions!
It's important to be patient when you're trying out child-led learning. It might take a little time for your child to get used to the new approach, and there might be some bumps along the way. But with patience and encouragement, your child will soon flourish in this new type of learning environment.
The benefits of child-based learning are vast and far-reaching. In a world that is constantly changing and growing more complex, the skills that children learn through child-led learning will be more important than ever. So, if you're looking for a new and innovative way to educate your children, look no further than child-based learning!