For the past couple of weeks my little guy has been teaching himself how to swim in the campground pool. I have not helped him in any way. Instead, I’ve sat idly by as he learned the ropes of propelling himself through water on his own, only helping if he specifically asked for it or clearly needed it. What’s more, he has absolutely blossomed in these two short weeks. Considering the fact that just last year he refused to even get his face wet, I am extremely happy with this progress. However, that isn’t the point of this post.
The point I am trying to make here is that kids will learn what they need and want to know. They may learn something later than the average kid, or they may pick it up much earlier, but rest assured, if a child needs to know something they will figure it out. Not only that, but they probably won’t need much coaxing or help to pick it up.
This doesn’t just apply to swimming, and it doesn’t only apply to those super “fun” activities. This is something that happens naturally in almost every area of a child’s development if one is patient enough to allow it to happen. The problem arises when a parent isn’t patient enough to let their child learn and grow on their own terms.
How can you encourage this natural growth? I won’t claim to be an expert, but I have found that the tips below are helpful.
Let Kids Be Kids
All too often, we get too wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of modern society and forget the importance of play. Therefore, I encourage you to make a concisous effort to let your little ones be little.
Give them the chance to experiment with the world around them by allowing them to climb, run, jump, and make messes. Encourage pretend play in order to give your children the opporutnity to learn real-world skills and provide blocks and puzzles to encourage logical thinking. Place value in creativity by offering plenty opportunities for your young students to make artwork and write down their thoughts. Read for pleasure often and on a variety of topics.
By doing these things, you will have the pleasure of watching the little people in your life blossom into creative, clever, free thinking young adults.
Offer Fun Educational Activities
Whenever you can, present your children with information in fun ways that offer the opportunity to learn through play. For us this means reading a lot, writing notes to friends and family, exploring whatever outdoor spaces we can find, and building with whatever materials we have on hand. It means visiting museums and zoos and seeing as much of the world as possible while still maintaining a relaxed pace.
With the exception of field trips, most of the educational acitvities we choose to do aren’t planned weeks in advance. Instead, we make an effort to live in the moment and follow our child’s interests wherever they may lead.
This method of presenting information ensures our son remains excited about the prospect of learning something new.
Have Real Discussions With Your Child
Perhaps the most underrated tool you have at your disposal is the opporutnity to have real, in depth conversations with your child. Take the time to answer your child’s questions and teach them to find answers on their own by searching for information together. Read together and discuss the topics covered in the book. Ask your little scholar questions about his or her thoughts on a particular matter. Respect their opinions, but also challenge them.
By doing these things you can help your child retain his or her inquisitive nature while simultaneously teaching them how to find information and form — and question — opinions.
Don’t Push It
Pushing a young person to learn a particular skill before they are ready is just asking for trouble. Not only will it take them much longer to master the skill in question, they will also be less likely to enjoy whatever they are being pushed to learn. It is important to recognize that all kids learn at their own pace, and develop the ability to see when a little one simply isn’t ready to take on a particular learning adventure.
By following this tip you can preserve your child’s love of learning, ensure they thoroughly enjoy to sills they work so hard to aquire, and avoid making your young student feel inadequate because they are being asked to do something that is beyond them.
Allow Natural Consequences to Happen
Often, the very best way for a student to gather information and figure out the way the world works is through trial and error. For this reason, experimentation is an incredibly important part of a child’s development. Equally as important however, are the lessons learned when natural consequences occur.
While it may be difficult at first, try allowing your child to suffer from the natural consequences that come their way. Avoid offering help when they become stuck in the tree they are climbing, make them wear the soggy shoes that were left out in the rain, and help them understand that their toys are their responsibility by refusing to replace any missing or broken items. Soon enough, your little one will learn to think before they act.
Live Life Fully
Many parents become so focused on ensuring their children know everything they are “supposed to” know that they forget to live life. The irony of this is that many times these parents miss out on giving their children the important life experiences that really help them grow as people.
Instead of concentrating on filling your kid’s brains, focus instead on filling their lives. Your children will learn what they need to know in their own good time. By switching your focus from teaching to living you can ensure they’ll have a whole collection of amazing experiences and memories to go along with that knowledge.
These are the six best tips I can offer parents who are looking to encourage a natural love of learning and allow their kids to learn at their own pace. I hope they help you during your roadschooling journey.
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