Learning Without Borders

How was the experience of observing your own learning?  As we reflect on our days, weeks, and years, we become the history of the important things we learn and recall. So it is for kids, too. 

Perhaps instead of looking at what’s missing in our children’s learning, we need to look for the learning occurring. 
What are all the ways learning can look or sound like besides tests, worksheets, and essays?

How about:
Hearing one of the Robotics team members say: “Wow, we have to take a break already”?  Because he wanted to complete a part of the robot before he took a break. Could this be what learning in flow looks like? 

Listening to a 6-year-old plan how we would spend our time together—adding up the times we had allocated to each activity in her head and comparing it to the allotted time, keeping track of the time as timers went off for us to transition to a new activity and reflecting afterward about what worked and how deciding to add extra time to one activity meant we had less time for others—too many skills to list here 🙂

Going with a 4, 8, and 10 year old and their dad to see the chicken coop the family planned and built. In a 15 minute conversation, the boys shared with me: how they made the coop, why it moves around, what they do to keep foxes out, what the chickens eat, how many eggs they laid that day, why the chickens are laying fewer eggs this time of year, how they are figuring out which chickens are hens and roosters– the list goes on and on.  It wasn’t hard to see how much joy and learning each of the boys had experienced in this learning experience. 

There’s been a lot of chatter recently about what might have been lost in this last pandemic year. When we focus on worrying about what learning kids might have “lost,”  might we be missing the learning that was happening right in front of us? I wonder if it would be more proper to say that the kids weren’t learning what adults expected them to be learning this year. The learning just didn’t look familiar to adults.  

What’s the solution? Like with yourself, instead of waiting to see a score on a test, perhaps it would be helpful to notice the learning as it occurs.  Journal what you see or invite the kids to do this week, or create meaningful artifacts by taking photos or videos of “learning in process.” 

Before rushing off to the next activity, take a few minutes at the end of the time you spend with your children to ask questions such as:- What did you like about what we just did?- What was challenging or frustrating?- What new ideas do you have?

Perhaps looking for what our kids are learning and reflecting afterward might provide a better cookie-crumb learning trail than we get from viewing standardized test scores. As an added benefit, you even might be helping them become lifelong learners. 🙂

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