Everyone is a Teacher
One of the first things I remember learning as an undergraduate student of education, when hair was big, parachute pants were king and shoulder pads were large, was the simple fact that parents are a child’s first teachers.
Let that sink in for a minute. Parents or guardians are the first educators for most children. Sure, I know you can think of some obvious ways parents are teachers- reading, pointing out shapes, naming colors, singing the alphabet or counting to 10, and these are all great examples of how parents engage their children in learning. But what about the things that you teach and maybe aren’t even aware of? These types of experiences are known as informal learning experiences and happen all day, every day and have great potential for engaging our children in the act of learning.
Informal learning is the technical name for any learning that just seems to happens; it occurs without lesson plans, goals, outcomes or assessments. It does not require advanced planning nor does it adhere to a specific schedule. Learning happens as a person engages in an activity or experiences that are typically outside of an educational environment and from which the person builds meaning or new knowledge. A great example of informal learning is language acquisition; parents and other adults use language daily and children learn to speak from being in that environment. We all know a perfect example of learning through language experience. Ever have a swear word come flying out of your mouth in front of your children? Ooops! Instant language acquisition.
What’s important to remember during this time of social isolation is that you have limitless opportunities for your children to learn from you just by sharing the same space and activities. You may have heard about “unschooling” as an alternate model of education. “Unschoolers” primarily learn through natural life experiences such as play, completing chores, personal interests, travel, Interactions with family and community members and internships or work experiences. Learners are encouraged to use their interests to initiate exploration of activities that are meaningful and relevant to them in order to build new knowledge. The informal learning approach increases student motivation and engagement; cultivates communities, associations and relationships, and allows learners to play a role in building their own educational pathways.
Try it, you'll Like it!
Want to try the unschooling approach? You can find a ton of books, resources and information about it, but let’s start simple. Here are some ways you can easily integrate informal learning experiences into your child’s day with