Learning vs school education

[Updated 24 July 2017 to fix link to second video.]

Engaging children in their school is not the same as engaging children in learning. I’m a huge fan of families being engaged with schools but we also need to recognise that families can engage their children in learning in many other ways as well.

The Family-School and Community Partnerships Bureau (who produced the above video) has some great material and I refer to them frequently in my teaching. (In fact the major assignments for a subject I used teach on school-community partnerships were based around their Family – School Partnerships Framework). This recent video has some good ideas, but its title – 10 things families can do today to engage in learning – is a mistake. It confuses learning and school. Their ideas are:

  1. Arrive at school on time every day
  2. Make sure you child has plenty of sleep
  3. Make sure your child has a good breakfast
  4. Promote reading a variety of materials
  5. Talk to your child’s teacher regularly
  6. Promote your child’s participation in activities in and out of school
  7. Talk to your child about what they are learning in school
  8. Find mutually suitable ways to talk with your child’s teacher that aren’t face to face
  9. Discuss your families culture and the difference between cultures with your child and the school
  10. Promote school and learning in a positive light.

As is shown in the following short video by the same people, learning happens everywhere not just at school and it is important that schools recognise the rich learning that happens at home and in the community.

Most of the ideas for engaging children in learning from the first video are really about engaging children in their school education. While this is important, engaging children in learning entails a much more holistic approach. Here are just a few ideas for engaging your children in learning more broadly:

  1. Use everyday activities to develop basic skills. When our daughters were little, we used to do heaps of little things like playing a game when shopping where they had to name fruit and vegetables, and as they grew older we would ask them solve problems like working out whether it was cheaper to buy 500 gms or 1 kg of a product.
  2. Use every day events to develop their critical thinking skills (see for example Death of a chicken or Hmm, that’s an evil plan!)
  3. Allow your children to explore the world around them (without too much supervision)
  4. Take your children to a variety of community events (including ones from other cultures)
  5. Give your children practice at making decisions for themselves
  6. Allow them to take risks
  7. Encourage them to be involved in a variety of activities
  8. Take an interest in what they are learning at school and relate it to their lives
  9. Talk about what you watch on TV (and be selective about what they watch)
  10. Encourage them to ask questions.

How do you engage your children in learning?

If you liked this post you might want to follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. 6 keys to community engagement in schools
  2. Making parents feel welcome in schools
  3. When is it OK for kids to walk home alone?
  4. 10 things I’ve learnt about strengths-based community engagement
  5. Parenting for a better world
  6. Death of a chicken

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), environmentalist, Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace & sustainability.
This entry was posted in Families & parenting, Schools, Working with communities and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Learning vs school education

  1. Excellent analysis and clarification of what learning is vs. what schools is. I don’t have children, but I always encourage active learning as a supplement to standard schooling. I attended 4.5 years of public schooling before attending an alternative self-schooling program that allowed me to take more science and nature-related courses, which in turned nurtured a life-long passion for environmental sciences and ecology related studies. The experience of more independent learning made my time completing my BSci in a university a breeze. Schools have their use, but parents have the best tools for instilling confidence and independence in their children.

    Liked by 1 person

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