I regularly read Julia Steiny’s weekly education column in the Providence Sunday Journal. Her perspective on what is happening in our local schools and education at large is always insightful and thoughtful.
In this week’s column, Start now to stem summer’s rising tide of learning loss, Julia Steiny makes the case for extending our children’s learning beyond school and into summer. Schools are not the only place where learning happens and may even turn some kids “off” from learning. I agree that one solution may be to have our children learn about what they love and as a result they may love learning. In her article, she argues;
But it has come to pass that learning is largely associated with schooling, and not happily. Our brains are designed to get pleasure, actual fun, from learning. It feels great to be good at something, or just to be right. The world teems with intriguing problems to solve for any brain with an appetite.
Some kids love baseball, robots or nature. What do your kids love? Talk to them about it, help them find books about it, make art, and ask questions about it. See where it takes them. My boys love movies and this passion has motivated them to find books at the library about how movies are made,Â study the history of film, write their own stories and learn how to use a movie camera. They get up in the morning to read about new films in the newspaper. From their passion they have become better readers and writers, learned math and have a better understanding of music. They do not consider this homework or boring.
I agree with Julia Steiny that we need help from the community, parents and educators to find ways to challenge, inspire and motivate our kids to learn on their own. Kids will want to learn when they are passionate about it Julia says;
All kids, certainly not only the privileged ones, need to become independent learners, with such strong appetites for information, skills and mastery that it lasts a lifetime. They badly need the confidence, values and pleasure of knowing how to learn on their own.
Summer is a time for fun but does not mean learning should stop and resume when kids head back to school in the fall. Julia challenges us to create learning opportunities for our children within the community. As parents I think we can do our part and start at home to build a foundation for independent learners by introducing our young children to reading, math, science and art through play, everyday life and experimentation. Give children the opportunity to explore at home and in the community–encouraging them to be inquisitive and ultimately the leaders in their own learning.
Thank you Julia for mentioning Kidoinfo as a great resource for parents. Although it’s true Kidoinfo is not an education site we love learning and invite parents to get off line often to find ways to connect with their kids, other parents and the community. So much to discover!
Last year I created a list of 10 Ways to Vacation at home: Call it a Staycation. This is a list of things kids can do during the summer. With a little a help from parents, children can choose which activities they want to pursue.
By making learning fun and meaningful to children their world becomes a giant playground where anything can happen.