Sunday, 19 October 2014

A Week of Learning in the life of a 4 year old

Earlier this month I received an email from a reader who asked me how my daughter, who is four years old, learns at home. Here is the question I was asked:

"How do you home educate your four year old? Do you set tasks and activities for her to do or do you let her choose what she wants to do?"

To be honest, when I read this my first thought was that she PLAYS and chooses what she wants to learn. For some, this self-directed learning through play seems like a silly idea because how can children learn if they are playing and how do they know what they want to learn? So I thought I would photograph my daughter's learning over a period of a week in order to show what learning looks like through the eyes of my four year.   
 

My daughter is a self-directed learner in that she chooses what she wants to learn and when she wants to learn it. Our home environment supports this as she can easily access the resources or tools she needs. We have lots of pens, pencils and stencils with books and writing paper available to encourage writing. However, I noticed this week that although my daughter is predominately left-handed, she still swaps hands from time to time when she is writing.



We have no set timetable of when learning should occur. Learning just occurs naturally throughout our day without the restriction of time. 

Over the past year my daughter has gone from needing help to do her puzzles to independently completing them on her own. She now likes to help her little sister to do puzzles and that requires team work!




Our learning environment reflects a montessori approach in that we use shelves with trays and baskets to display our learning materials. In doing this, my daughter is able to choose what she is interested in and follows her own led. 

Our light table, that my husband made from an old wooden draw, was used a lot this last week. There has been lots of colours and shapes explored through light. I purchased our light table resources from Modern Teaching Aids.



Singing is always a part of our home with nursery rhymes, phonic songs and little made-up songs being shared. For our phonics song, I put together a little 'S' basket with cards that I made and my daughter explored it throughout the week. This "mummy interference" was invited by my daughter who asked for letter "s" cards. You can download my FREE printable "S" sound cards from here.


My daughter uses the ipad to play Reading Eggs Apps and this last week, she started a four week FREE trail of Reading Eggs online. She is really enjoying learning independently.


We have a felt world map that I have moved from high on our wall to just under our window which is the right height for little people to interact with. Playing with our Russian dolls followed a little map reading.



My daughter enjoys cooking with me. I know she loves being involved with stirring, sifting, measuring and pouring but I also know that she enjoys the one-on-one time she gets with me when we cook together.


Every week there is always painting, playdough, dress-ups, tea party's, picking of flowers, nature walks, dancing around our yard, stories and puppet shows, tantrums and tears and lots of opportunities for hugs and kisses.




Now that I have had time to reflect on my daughters week of learning, it has surprised me at how busy and full her week really was. To think that all of these learning opportunities were initiated and created by my daughter gives me confidence in knowing that she is learning all she needs to know about things that are important to her.

I'd like to challenge you to take note or even photograph your child/ren's (of any age) learning this next week. You too might be just as surprised as I was to learn how much learning happens. You can share your learning with me over on my facebook page or leave a comment here to tell me what your child/ren get up to this week. I'd love to hear from you. 

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9 comments:

  1. Gorgeous! Perfect! I think it's hard for people to understand what it actually looks like sometimes. This is great.

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    1. Thank you! It is hard for others to understand what we see everyday as a natural flow of learning can really happen when a child is free to follow their interests.

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  2. What a week filled with fun and learning!!! so many wonderful ideas!! thank you for sharing! pinned!

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    1. Thank you for your comment. It was a full week and it was so great to document so I could see how much learning really happens with my little one.

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  3. I sometimes also fall into the trap of believing that I haven't done enough with my child at home. You're right -- documenting them helps you to realize what a ton of learning they've gone through! Bravo! :)

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    1. Thank you for your comment. It is easy to over look the little things that children learn through play especially when life gets so busy. Taking note of what they are learning really helps that worry of "am I doing enough" go away.

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  4. Thank you for this! I have been feeling so inadequate about my almost 4 year old's schooling, and yet he plays all the time! I would like to provide a few more learning opportunities, but we are not doing too badly. I LOVE your light table, if we ever have a bigger space I am so going to DIY it like this, and Russian nesting dolls. Could you share where you found the dolls? Just in the off chance they ship to SA :) Thanks once again!

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    1. Play is so important for children's learning but I think society dismisses it because according to the them, learning should look like "pen on paper". Our light table was a great investment and thankfully my husband knew what he was doing as I had no clue! I brought the russian nesting dolls from Ebay so I am sure you can find some on there.

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  5. I loved hearing about your daughter and how she learns! I was inspired by all the lovely learning areas you have set up. Thanks for sharing at the #LovetoLearnLinky -Katie @ALittlePinchofPerfect

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