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DON’T Focus on the Learning!

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Don’t Focus on the Learning

By Linda Dobson

One of the most surprising discoveries for new learning coaches is how much children learn when the adults don’t focus on the learning! They find that when it comes to learning, less is more. Less pressure, more fun. Less scheduling, more free time. Success, in its many forms, results not by pushing children into activities but by providing an environment that encourages exploration and discovery. This stimulates natural curiosity, creating interest that increases attention to the task at hand, and attention gives rise to learning.

Learning MapJessie, six year-old Gary’s learning coach, noticed how her son would run to the maps on his bedroom walls, or to the large world map posted in the laundry room, whenever he learned  about  a new place . “He practically lives for that,” Jessie says. “All of his subjects can revolve around that.” “For example,” Jessie continues, “Switzerland was our topic one week when he was learning how to tell time in math. All I had to do was tell him it was a different time there than it was here, and he quickly mastered the clock so he could figure out what time it was there. He was studying American holidays so we looked up what holidays are celebrated in Switzerland and noted the similarities and differences. The teacher was establishing sight vocabulary so I made a rough map and labeled it with words like map, Alps, mountains, watches, chocolate. Gary wanted to learn the words, and was more than happy to practice the alphabetizing he needed to know with them.”


Don’t automatically equate a child being put through the paces of a lesson with a child who is actually  learning something. In many instances, real learning that “sticks,” as opposed to learning that is lost after the test is over, is a by-product of an interesting experience, and the opportunity to connect something new with what is already known. The most effective learning is often  incidental to the experience, not the experience’s primary purpose. “The brain,” wrote Pat Wolfe and Ron Brandt in a 1998 Educational Leadership article titled “What Do We Know from Brain Research?” is essentially curious and it must be to survive. It constantly seeks connections between the new and the known.” Start with curiosity and interest, and watch learning grow.

See also Is Your Child Fired Up or Burned Out on Learning?

From The Learning Coach Approach: Inspire, Encourage, and Guide Your Child Toward Greater Success in School and in Life by Linda Dobson, available as an e-book soon!

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One Response to “DON’T Focus on the Learning!”

  1. hopewellmomschoolagain says:

    Both in homeschool and in public school this has been so true. In public school I do tend to cringe at some of it, but…..

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