A baby starts learning even before they are born. All of their senses are engaged as they learn about this interesting world they are now a part of. Parents want the best for their children and education is something they think about as their little one grows. Child guided learning is what babies excel at. They are the ones that choose what they will stare at or reach for. Providing them with a rich environment is most beneficial. Studies have shown that child led learning actually has the greatest impact on neurological development. Children blossom when they get to learn about what interests them. Not that we can’t gently introduce them to a variety of things, it’s just that they get to select the activity. As their motor skills improve and walking and talking become part of their repertoire, it’s easy to over control them. Schedules give a child a feeling of safety and comfort but over scheduling or over planning playtime can actually reduce learning.
Lots of free play gives your child the time to utilize their senses as they explore. Have building blocks, art supplies, a sand box and dress up clothes. Most children love to pretend, so starting to collect things that will be used for imaginary play is a worthy endeavor. A play kitchen will help them to self entertain for hours as they hone their cooking skills. You will get your fill of imaginary meals which won’t interfere with even the strictest diet! A good rule of thumb is to remember not to always take the lead for them to copy you. Sometimes copy them . . . even if they are using the play fork to beat a toy drum. Whether it is making music or crazy art, child led education develops one of the most important skills - the ability to teach oneself. Learning how to satisfy your own curious mind is the most intriguing part of child led learning theory. Children playing the lead role in their own education will develop into someone who never stops learning!
Probably the best environment to see child led learning benefits is outdoors in nature. Nature walks, parks and even just backyard time will give your child an opportunity to touch, smell and see beauty as they fire up those neurons. For young children, just experiencing the sights and sounds, textures and temperatures is a school of nature lesson each day. As they grow older they may discover a creature that they just can’t get enough of. Maybe they learn that earthworms are nature’s plowmen and child guided learning will plunge them into the world of agriculture. This results in growing a garden in your backyard! Now they can include their sense of taste as they explore. There is no shortage of literature on this subject but a vintage favorite is Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study. It will spark your grown up mind for ideas as she details letting children learn about nature . . . in nature!
Child led learning benefits mount up when it becomes part of your daily schedule. Parents find this method to be enjoyable for themselves as well. In the end , the benefits are really for the whole family . . . in fact you may fall in love with learning all over again!