Friday, December 13, 2013

Learning in Everyday Life

My daughter had learned to tie her shoe laces in kindergarten when she was four years old. Naturally, she wanted to practice this new skill at home. Since this activity demanded some time, the patience of my wife soon deteriorated. Thus, she decided to take things into her own hands. My daughter complained, she wanted to do it herself! “We don’t have time now, Emma” and quickly the shoelaces were tied. This might save time in the short-term, but the learning experience of the child was stalled. This is part of everyday life in many families.

Parents should observe the daily activities of their children. We need to question if we unintentionally and unconsciously inhibit learning process in certain situations. Often parents interfere to save time or to prevent the children from making mistakes. However we should allow the child to try the task no matter how banal they seem e.g. opening a zipper or buttering a slice of bread.

Maria Montessori recalls the following:  
“The first thing I particularly noticed was a little girl of about three busy slipping cylinders in and out of their containers. These cylinders are of different sizes and have corresponding holes into which they fit like a cork in a bottle. I was surprised to see so small a child performing this exercise over and over again with such intense interest. She showed no apparent increase in speed or facility in executing the task: it was a kind of perpetual motion.

From force of habit I began to count the number of times she repeated the exercise. I then decided to see how concentrated she was in her strange employment. I told the teacher to make the other children sing and move about. But this did not disturb the child at all in her labors. I then gently picked up the chair in which she was sitting and set it on top of a small table. As I lifted the chair she clutched the objects with which she was working and placed them on her knees, but then continued with the same task. From the time I began to count, she repeated the exercise forty-two times. Then she stopped as if coming out of a dream and smiled happily. Her eyes shone brightly and she looked about.”

Read more at the book "Unleash the Secret of Education and learn how to raise a happy child" by Hans-Peter Becker.

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