BEST STARTS FOR KIDS
Developing a Love of Learning
Why is a love of learning important?
Fostering a love of learning:
Make learning fun, interesting and meaningful through real life experiences & play
Link new learning to children's existing knowledge and interests
Provide a wide range of learning experiences to help spark interest
Provide opportunities to build upon children's specific interests, to learn at depth
Make learning practical wherever possible
Use books & research to extend and reinforce learning
By reading books we were also able to discuss many of the social overtones relating to the books which made learning relevant.
The Rainbow Fish: sharing and being brave,
Samantha Seagulls Sandals: self acceptance,
Tough Boris: love, loss and grief,
There's a Sea in my Bedroom and The Deep: overcoming fears.
And we also looked at different factual books about sea creatures to extend our children's knowledge & build upon their love of the ocean.
Some of the books my children loved were the ones by Neville Coleman because the photographs were excellent. And whether or not they could understand the text we discussed the names and the classifications into varying sub groups. It has been my experience if you build real experiences into factual information, children love to research and learn more. And there are a multitude of mid-range ability factual books available.
We went to the aquarium and looked at the many sea creatures available. Their vocabulary became quite diverse as they learned at depth. Fish were divided into subclasses: e.g. wrasse, cod, grouper, clown, etc and within each group specific names of fish were developed.
And during a later holiday we took them snorkeling on the Barrier Reef which further added to their knowledge & fostered their love of learning.
They hand fed fish, watched Moray eels come out of crevices in the rocks, saw clown fish swim unharmed through the stinging tentacles of sea anemomes. They swam with manta rays, sting rays and came face to face with a gigantic bull ray. They even saw a silver sea snake swimming nearby. And they also saw a leopard shark and numerous white and black tipped reef sharks.
Expanding interests more widely by building upon what they love to learn about.
Building on his interest of dangerous creatures we looked at a rain forest environment and discussed the many different adaptations of the creatures that lived there.
We added a real layer to his learning when we walked through a coastal rainforest at Port Macquarie. In the gift shop on the way out we purchased a rainforest diarama, which we constructed together. And it showed many of the creatures who lived in the Amazon Rainforest.
Providing fun learning opportunities at a young age is important as more synapses are created within the brain. This facilitates information to be successfully stored and later recalled, because new learning is linked to existing knowledge.
It also assists in processing new information more quickly as the brain has more neural pathways to use.
And we, as parents, shared interesting new information with our children that in turn made our children more willing to share their new knowledge with us.
For more ideas go to the links below:
By opening our minds to learning opportunities, the fun learning experiences, that evolved from a much loved day at the beach, eventually spanned years.
One day we went to the beach, looked in rock pools and discussed what we saw. We looked at and named the creatures: a crab, sea anemone, sea urchin, fish, star fish, a blue bottle (and for the older child galeolaria and cunjevoi.)
Adding Related Songs: For the younger child's benefit on the way home we sang songs: 1,2,3,4,5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive, A Sailor Went to Sea Sea Sea, Rolling All Around in My Boat Upon the Sea, Row Row Row Your Boat, and we made up our own song about all the fish are swimming in the water... sharks are munching in the water, jelly fish are bobbing in the water, etc revising some of the things we wanted to see and some of the things we actually saw.
By linking books to real life experiences, it reinforced what children had learnt incidentally & encouraged their love of learning.
Great examples of books: There's a Sea in my Bedroom, Follow That Fish, Tough Boris (about a pirate,) Samantha Seagulls Sandals, The Deep, Warrugul Whale, The Rainbow Fish Series and another more recent one I love is Sharing a Shell.
By revisiting new concepts and vocabulary, in different ways, it reinforced any new knowledge & vocabulary so it was more likely to be retained.
A great recent song is Baby Shark Original, which your young kids will love.
The extension video by Ping Fong is also funny when children act out the song. And even your older children will enjoy it because the tune is so catchy.
Another Youtube video that links the sea to a phonics song is, Kids Love to Learn Phonics song. Again the song is catchy.
Then we added a deeper layer of learning to their experience: We took them snorkeling in a marine park at Clovelly. They saw all sorts of sea creatures in their natural environment including Blue Grouper, assorted Parrot fish, even a Blue Ringed Octopus in a rock wall.
We further expanded their existing knowledge by linking it to related fun, real-life learning opportunities. Refer to The Importance of Proximal Development
Then they researched what we'd seen:
When we went home we discussed the creatures we'd seen. We researched shark jaws on the computer and they could see the unusual way the teeth replaced one another. We were able to look at all of the different adaptations they had that suited them to their environment.
This became a springboard for learning about how other animals suited their environment; the complexity of learning linking to their age and interest. The computer program Dangerous Creatures was a resource my three year old loved to navigate with ease. And it provided all sorts of extension learning opportunities about animals, which he loved to share with all of us.
We again reinforced these new learning experiences with language
We read books like: Where the Forest Meets the Sea, A Nice Walk in the Jungle, Crunch the Crocodile, etc and began expanding on their knowledge about this other environment.
We researched animals on the computer together and again linked it to real experiences by walking through coastal littoral rainforest not far from our home. A follow up excursion to both Taronga Zoo and The Reptile Park again reinforced new learning.
Learning was an overwhelmingly positive, fun and stimulating experience from a young age
But most importantly, all new information had positive real experiences behind it. These provided the scaffolding link for future learning to build upon.
Learning becomes intrinsically motivated as children learnt to love learning.
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