How Do We Learn Best?: Day 4

This is the fourth post in a five-part blog series called "Learning at Home". 
Come back each day this week to hear more about our learning philosophy. 

Each of us has a unique learning style, whether it be auditory, visual, kinesthetic or ______. Some people might learn best in a quiet environment {me}, others are distracted by quietness{!}. I learn best with a bowl of ice cream waiting for me. *kidding*

But beyond these individual learning styles, there are educational techniques -- ways of teaching -- that I have found work better. For most children {or at least, my boys}.

Hands-on Learning
When you learn “hands-on”, you are learning by doing. You are an active participant, not passive. You are allowed and encouraged to handle, manipulate, and observe. We want you to explore and experience what you are learning about. The goal is for you to construct a personal understanding of the world.
{examples: dissecting a frog, using objects to demonstrate addition/subtraction, watching insects/touching {harmless} insects}

Play-based Learning
Play is dramatic. Play is pretend. Play is all-out energy and doing-whatever-you-want-to-do with everything you’ve got! Play taps directly into your imagination and guides you through learning in a very personal way. Play-based learning help you understand the world, the part you play in it and the effect you have on others. Play is all about searching for meaning and building emotional intelligence. Learning through play is rich and most importantly, chosen. The child wants to learn, because play-based learning is fun!
{examples: using props to “act out” literature, dance around to the beat or move like an aphid, go on a nature hunt together}
Read this fabulous take on play-based-learning found on the CNN opinion page!

Interest-led Learning
The key word here is CURIOSITY. If your child is interested in something, explore it! I like to do the jump start trick if I’m not sure what the interests are. Give your child many opportunities to get curious {drama, nature, books, videos, classes} and when something peaks their interest, go with it! The benefit? They want to learn. Learning is meaningful. They care about what you are teaching.
Read this article for more examples of what interest-led-learning looks like in real life!
{examples: Exploring nature with a notepad to write down questions to research at home, retelling or writing a new ending for a child’s favorite story}

Nature Learning
Are you aware how much BEING IN NATURE benefits you?
Lower occurrences of ADD
Higher creative development
Sense of peace
Increased imagination
A sense of wonder
Improved concentration
Ability to self-discipline
Improved self-esteem
Enhanced brain development

Why would you want to be anywhere else? Nature stimulates our senses in such a positive and freeing way. Nature can “buffer the impact of life’s stresses”, and give us clarity to face problems at home or on the job.

{examples: Explore science in nature. Explore geography in nature. Explore God’s design in nature. Then sit outside in the shade of a giant tree and read books, learn about math, spell some words}
Read this for fun outdoor game ideas.
Listen to this if you’re at all interested in what is being termed “Nature Deficit Disorder”.
And check out Richard Louv’s timely book “Last Child in the Woods”.

Literature Based Learning
Real books keep interest high. They keep learning fresh. They provide something to tie new learning to.

“Students learn and remember new information best when it is linked to relevant prior knowledge. Teachers who link classroom activities and instruction to prior knowledge build on their students' familiarity with a topic and enable students to connect the curriculum content to their own culture and experience.” {source:}

Literature provides real life examples, artwork students can enjoy, a story to live within -- books bring learning to life.

Phonics Based AND Whole-Language Based Learning
Phonics Approach Defined:
Simply -- learning the letter sounds and how to sound out words, one letter at a time.
Whole Language Approach Defined:
Simply -- memorizing how words look and sound, sight words, words from literature, words in our environment.

Phonics can be taken to extremes with piles of worksheets and hours spent saying “sh” and “th”. Whole language can also be taken to extremes, leaving the child incapable of sounding out a word she hasn’t seen before.

A balanced approach {always my favorite} teaches sight words {especially those that don’t follow the sound-it-out rules} AND teaches letter sounds and phonics rules, in a fun, real-world-application way.

We love the Talking Words Factory {short vowel sounds and putting letters together to make simple words} and Word Caper {introduces blends and the silent “e”}. These are both fabulous examples of phonics that is fun.

Check out the rest of the "Learning at Home" Series.