I’m a teacher. I can tell you from experience that forcing a child to learn is fruitless. All this does is stress you out and the child. In the end, both you and the child will see learning as a chore and not what it should be an enjoyable journey. Learning should take place naturally when there is curiosity and wonder.
The best times are those teachable moments, those moments when a child shows an interest in something, anything. While you have their attention, it is then that you are able to teach them to read and comprehend, do math equations, draw, build or cook because they are curious about the subject.
They want to learn, they are interested. When their curiosity fades, the learning should stop until next time. When curiosity is apparent learning can last for hours, and the recall of information is embedded into long-term memory. When learning is a struggle the learning is lost quickly.
So enjoy your child and learn with them when they are ready. Don’t worry about the worksheets and activities, they will get done. They are ideas for later. Get your child interested in learning with you. Get to know them, let them get to know you. Above all else, have fun. Learning should be enjoyable not a chore.
I recently attended a myth busters show. I was inspired by comments made by Adam when he was telling the audience about how he learned to juggle. This caused me to reflect on what I do as a teacher and péhaps what we all do.
As Adam was regailing us all with this story, it occurred to me that perhaps we are not doing the best for our kids in the classroom. Adam explained the process he under went learning to juggle. He would spend hours practising to perfect his skill, much to his parents chagrin. He explained that the dropping of the sacks was all his parents heard. They knew though that every time he dropped them he was learning something, and they left him to work it out. Eventually he was able to throw two sacks in the air and catch them. He then added a third. All the while following the instructions given to him. He told us how no matter how many times he did this, he persevered until it was confident and bored with what he was doing. He then used what he had learnt in a new way to make it entertaining. He realised that this is an excellent way to learn and that from that point on he learnt the basics and found a way to apply this to other situations.
It was this insight that got me thinking. How many times do we give students only one opportunity to perfect a skill? How many times do we move on before students have grasped the basics?
Do we celebrate the small steps and improvements in all students?
Are we encouraging students to use their knowledge in other ways or how to apply their thinking to other areas?
Do we tell our students it’s ok to not get it right the first time and this is normal?
I remember my son coming to me one day very upset because he was trying to create a paper mache figure. He was having trouble getting it to look right. His issue was that this was the first time he had tried and he felt it was not perfect the way he had seen me do it. He said,’But mum when ever you do anything it works out perfect every time you never fail’ No matter what I said to him he didn’t understand that the process he was going through was normal. He couldn’t understand that I had a lot of practice to get it right. He had not seen this and thought I just got it right the first time everytime. From that point on, I made a conscious effort to show him that I do make mistakes and I do practise. I also do this in my classroom.