When we think about educating our children, we tend to think only about the academic skills.
But what about the rest of the child?
What about their creativity, motor skills, contributing to the community, and exploring the world around them?
When I ask parents what their “final destination” goal is for their child…meaning when their child is grown up, off on the own, and thriving in the world…I always get the same answers…
-I want my child to be a contributing member of society.
-I want my child to love learning and continue learning throughout their life.
-I want my child to do something meaningful with his life, but most importantly I want him to enjoy it.
But I have never come across a parent that says their “final destination” goal is to have a child who knows everything there is to know about math, writing, and reading.
So why do we spend so much time worrying about the academics?
If we want our children to grow up to enjoy their work and be a contributing member of society then we need to focus on developing the whole child.
What is Whole Child Learning?
Whole child learning is basically what it says…
You are developing the whole child and focusing on all types of learning.
This approach identifies 5 types of learning…
This is the academic skills…reading, math, and writing. Problem solving and critical thinking skills also falls into this category.
Anything arts related such as drama, painting, drawing, sculpting, music, and creative writing.
3. Self-Directed Play
Letting your child play in their own way with no restrictions. Yes, even older kiddos (and adults) need self-directed play time. Of course this is going to look different for all ages. Physical development/gross motor skills falls under this category.
Sewing, cooking, cleaning, tying shoes…basically all those amazing practical life skills that seem to be forgotten these days.
Exploring and learning how to appreciate nature as well as volunteering within the community.
But these areas of learning are not looked at as different subject areas. They are integrated together to form the whole child.
What is Child-Led Learning?
In our home, we follow a child-led learning approach. This means, I follow my child’s lead and plan activities based on her interests.
I use my environment to encourage her to learn the things I want her to learn, which is mostly those cognitive skills.
Her interests and the cognitive skills are integrated together and are learned in a natural way for the most part.
I will set up self-directed learning games for academic skills that I model then leave on her self to explore on her own time and in her own way.
To spark new interests, we head outside for nature walks, go on field trips, and as they get older we will begin volunteering at different community organizations.
The Whole Child and Child-Led Learning
Child-led learning is an unpressured way to educate your child. It’s a natural way to embrace learning which develops a strong love of learning that carries them throughout their whole life.
And best of all…
It embraces the whole child.
Child-led learning is real life.
Think about it…
When you’re curious about something, what do you do?
You gather resources to learn about it.
That’s exactly how we embrace learning from the beginning.
When an interest arrives, I set up her environment with resources for her to learn about it in her own way and in her own time.
Usually those important cognitive skills I want her to learn are integrated into her learning about those interests. They are not separate.
Every single day we are learning math, reading, writing, science, arts, social studies, and handwork without ever having to separate them or sit down to say “okay we are going to learn this now.”
To learn more about how we incorporate child-led learning into our homeschool preschool, click here.
Ready to get started with child-led learning? Click the link below to download our getting started guide.
About the Author
Amanda is the owner of Learning Through Experiences where she helps families create stress-free learning experiences. She is a former elementary and preschool teacher with over 11 years experience. Amanda has 2 kiddos of her own, Sicily & Kade, who follow this exact child-led approach that she advocates. Amanda is the creator of Learning Through Experiences: A Child-Led Curriculum. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and relax in a bubble bath.