Monday, 14 November 2011

how my children learn - part 1

I've finished a little while ago the very good book: How children learn by John Holt.  I loved it, and I have to admit that it made me think a lot.  In fact, it lead me to one very interesting question, one I have been researching ever since I have put this book down:  how do MY children learn??

And after many days of close observation, with the least disturbance I could make, I can only come to this can school really think that learning is a one size fit for all children??  I have 3 children, and they all have VERY different ways of learning. Let me count the ways:

The youngest:
I have E, who is right now following close to all Montessori has said about child development.  He thrives at many activities I set up for him, and when I don't manage to fully understand what he needs, he manages to show me by finding an activity that will lead him to explore this area he needs to.   BUT...
he is very artistic.  He holds a pen like I have never seen a 15 month old do.  That is a little bit far from Montessori... Music is a passion of his, he loves doing listening anything music related.  I can see that he will be very artistic in his ways of thinking, doing and so on, as long as we can nurture this.

M, 4 yo
And then come M, 4 yo.  She is still on a Montessori strike.  And I guess this strike is happening after seeing her starting to really be herself.  She is starting to affirm herself, to demonstrate preferences, to make her own thing.  She is into pretend playing.  She learns a LOT this way.  When she hits something that she doesn't understand or that bugs her in any ways, she plays it out many time for many days, until she figures it out.  Again, not very Montessori...
She is a very practical life person.  Likes to do the real thing, forget activities that have no point, no outcomes or no relation to something she can see.  I guess that explains why pretend playing works a lot for her, and why Montessori trays are not currently working for her.

She also has a thing for worksheets.  Don't ask me why, but she does.  Most of her academic learning comes from worksheets.

And she is also a very artistic person.  I think we have not nurtured this trait of her enough, but she is starting to ask for it more.  She is really into sensory activities, modeling dough, finger painting.  A lot of the activities that I set out for her comes from a very interesting website that I stumbled upon many months ago, when I got on Pinterest.  At some point, I realized that everything I was pinning for her was from this site!  It is Play at home mom.  Everything that I see there resonates with her so much right now.

X, the oldest
But it sure doesn't resonate with X, 6 yo.  He is the scientific type.  Forget the drawings and the arts, he likes the cold facts.  MATHS!  He learns most through "child lead discovery".  He reads a lot, and learns a lot this way.  He gets an idea from a book, or he finds a new interest, and we follow this interest until it leads us to something new to explore.  It is crazy, but it is fun and challenging.  Hard for somebody like me who likes to plan, but it is really keeping his interest in learning high, and I feel we are nurturing his love of learning this way.  I am just following his lead.

How can a school fits all those profiles at the same time the way it is working right now?  No chances, something's gotta give, and currently, children's love of learning is the breaking point.  Sadly.

In the next weeks, I'll be following my children to journal and record how they learn.  I want to remember how they do it before life school or other outer forces have been exerted on them, because I think the way your learn tells a lot about who you truly are.

I'll be starting with X, with an interest that was sparked after he heard the first great lesson in school.


  1. It's interesting how different each child (from the same family even!) can be, isn't it?

    Also, in defense of schools, I don't think that many teachers believe that each child learns the same way. I know I don't and I do my best everyday to accommodate the varying needs of the students in my class.

  2. Thank you Allison for your reply.

    Yes, indeed, very interesting, and I love how this book just made me see this in an entirely new way. I'm hoping to be able to highlight this in the next weeks.

    Ah yes, the teachers. Being one myself, I think all teachers hopes for the best for each students, and have the bestest intentions to help the young learn. I don't think they are the problem. I think the system in which we are working is. We are limited in what we can do, and those limitations are not for the good of the children/students. I sure know that around here, there are a lot of teachers would want, and would like to do a lot more for their pupils, but they can for various reasons.

    I'm certain that you have your students success at heart, and god bless you for that. At least, in this system filled with flaws, there are teachers who cares! :)

  3. thank you SO much!

    It means a lot! :)