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EducationNation Is Wrong About Early Childhood Learning

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EducationNation Is Wrong About

Early Childhood Learning

By Linda Dobson

BabyGraduate learningSince the public schools are doing such a bang-up job with educating kids in the K-12 arena, they’re now focusing their cries for ever more money and attention to the research that shows, not surprisingly, that young brains experience 700 synapses/second before age 3.

Absolutely true. It’s also true that this is one of many reasons why little ones belong in the natural world, not sitting in an institutionalized classroom subjected to someone’s “new and improved” idea that destroys and usurps nature’s way. The more we interfere with the natural order, the worse schooling problems grow.

Learning Assets of the Early Years Child

On the go, morning ’til night, doing, doing, doing. As naturally as a mountain spring, the early years child bubbles with energy. Unfortunately for little ones today, childhood energy is often considered a bad thing. Interestingly, it’s most often considered a bad thing in the context of school.

This is, to a degree, understandable. Get too many children exercising too much curiosity in a classroom, and it’s easy to sympathize with a teacher charged with relaying a day’s worth of lessons. Get too many children exercising too much enthusiasm in a classroom, and the teacher perceives a room full of behavior problems.

So the rules of school are such that the natural flow of childhood energy must be plugged so the school can do what it does in the way that it’s set up to do it. An old TV commercial for some chip or another showed all the teachers in the teacher’s lounge singing while enjoying their snack. With teachers otherwise occupied, the school children’s energy was unleashed and they ran wild through the halls, kicking globes and freeing lab animals. It’s a perfect visual image of what happens when you mess with the natural order of things.

The early years are a child’s information-gathering time, and he accomplishes this as a physical, sensory being. Lacking ability to reason in the abstract (the province of the adolescent child), the early years child collects data by physical means – moving, touching, tasting, seeing, hearing, and smelling. The greater the sensory involvement in an activity, the better the chance the information will stick. It might help to imagine the early years child as working at the “job” of collecting millions and millions of information files (that’s why those brain synapses are rapidly firing!). The more files collected, the more experience there is to draw from, as slowly but surely the child begins to process the information, figure out relationships and reach conclusions that sometimes amaze, sometimes amuse. More sorting and more precise filing occur as the child grows intellectually.

See also “Early Years: Hooray for Field Trips!

Now, imagine for a moment somehow you, too, are magically transformed into a similar information sleuth. Everything inside you urges you to gather more and more. Which behavior traits would you want to have?

You probably didn’t answer that you wanted the ability to sit still, bottle up questions, or resist conversation with others. Lethargy probably wasn’t high on your list, either. You probably said curiosity, creativity, imagination, enthusiasm, resilience, a sense of wonder, joy of discovery, and/or a willingness to try new things. If so, you’ve just found the traits that are the natural fruit of childhood energy.

These are your early years child’s learning assets. When once I asked contributors to one of my books what they considered the most important learning assets their children in the three- to eight-year old range possess, not one – not one – mentioned a computer, a set of textbooks, or a beautiful classroom. No one even mentioned a great teacher! They pointed instead to behavior traits befitting an information sleuth and associated with childhood energy.

Does it make sense to bottle up this energy, even if doing so serves the rules of school? Or does it seem more sensible to let this energy flow, utilizing those flashing synapses to nurture and encourage your child’s learning assets so they may best serve his needs?

Homeschoolers paint a picture of children eager to learn when doing so in an environment that accommodates and honors their bubbling energy. Your child also possesses the behavior traits necessary to enjoy the learning journey. You can help nurture them when you keep it “real” because you know what to look for.

Want to Know More? Recommended Reading About Early Learning

Awakening Your Child’s Natural Genius: Enhancing Curiosity, Creativity, and Learning Ability by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D.

You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin

Homeschooling The Early Years: Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 3- to 8-Year-Old Child by Linda Dobson (“Brings dazzling clarity to the otherwise nerve-wracking confusion of early learning – and the adventure of becoming fully human. Highly recommended.” ~ John Taylor Gatto, former NYS Teacher of the Year)

The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon by David Elkind

Your Child’s Growing Mind: A Guide to Learning and Brain Development from Birth to Adolescence by Jane M. Healy, Ph.D.

Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child’s Education by Raymond S. and Dorothy Moore

Child’s Work: Taking Children’s Choices Seriously by Nancy Wallace

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