Nurturing ‘Love of Learning’ in Children
In recent years, most educational institutions have emphasised the importance of instilling a love of learning in children. If you haven’t heard it enough already, we’ll say it again for the record. The early years of a child’s life are a critical period of learning and discovery. According to recent research, neurons in the brain develop at a rate of 700-1000 per second during the first six years of a child’s life. And an individual’s experiences during these six years are a strong predictor of his or her health, learning, and behavior throughout life.
Children ask questions, explore their surroundings, learn to share, and thrive in a happy environment. Our only goal is to give our kids the tools they need to become productive, lifelong learners who are ready to take on challenges in the future.
With this as a backdrop, we wanted to walk you through our teaching and learning process in the new learning environment – how it began and why we are still having so much fun with it today.
Return to the drawing board
The post-pandemic period was the most difficult for us and the children. We went back to the drawing board in order to reconsider the learning process. We all agreed that, even in the new learning environment, the three primary pillars of learning had to remain unshaken.
Three primary pillars of ‘how children learn
- Enquiry-based learning
- Experiential learning
These three methods fall under the larger umbrella of the holistic Play Way Method of learning, which had to be maintained, especially since children were at home and opportunities for social play were significantly reduced.
Play is a serious business
It is true that a child’s play is his or her serious business. Play is a type of action that encompasses the child’s entire world and influences all aspects of their life. Genuine play is self-directed and self-regulated. The sense of ownership stimulates nerve cells in the brain to make faster connections with one another, which is the secret ingredient of play. Research has repeatedly shown that the more playful the mind is in the first six years, the stronger the human brain grows. Even in studies on teenagers, playful activities are found to have an impact on the development of the frontal lobe, which is the centre for planning and decision-making. A child who is engaged in play is intrinsically motivated to learn and can develop socio-emotional skills, psychological and physical development, and organisational skills. Playing allows children to inquire, experience, and express themselves, which are the other three pillars of how a child learns.
When an awestruck facilitator shows the kids a video of a caterpillar weaving a pupa in her garden and asks, “I wonder what it is?” We know that in a child’s mind, curiosity and inquisitiveness are honed and valued as important skills. We avoid simply “telling” and instead ask questions to encourage a child to explore, observe, notice, and draw conclusions.
Similarly, when we see children participating in a fruit treasure hunt with their teachers, we know that the wheels of learning are turning even as the play continues. They have not only explored the fruits with all of their senses as their fruit baskets became heavier, but they have also learned all about the ‘heavy and light’ properties of objects through experiential learning. When a child introduces her grandmother during the “My Family” themed session or shows pet animals during the “Animal Welfare” themed session, she is “learning by doing.”
Aside from academic learning, we believe that children should be able to express their emotions, thoughts, and perspectives. This is an important indicator of a child’s identity development and is an essential part of essential life skills for them to face the real world. Our carefully curated art, dance, role-playing, and costume-dressing sessions as part of fun learning opportunities ensure that children have plenty of opportunities for Self-Expression.
Provide an environment to foster learning
Our teaching philosophy is based on the simple yet profound concept of allowing children to blossom. We are inspired by the well-known storybook “The Gardener and the Carpenter,” in which the author presents the intriguing central argument of being a gardener rather than a carpenter while raising children. A gardener toils to create the conditions in which plants have the best chance of flourishing, whereas a carpenter chisels away at something to achieve a specific end goal.
In keeping with the same philosophy, our job is not to shape our children’s minds; rather, we must allow those minds to explore all of the possibilities that the world provides. Our job isn’t to tell kids how to play; it’s to hand them the toys and then pick them up when they’re done. We cannot force children to learn, but we can allow them to learn.
While we allow children to learn, we believe it is our responsibility to ensure that they enjoy the process rather than being concerned with the end result. The process is both the means and the end result.