Though I dont subscribe to the thought that kids are empty vessels just waiting to be filled with information I do believe that they have to be exposed to the wide world around them. We often read of Charlotte Mason and how she exposed her children to the outdoors and I guess she expected that to stimulate their curiosity of nature. We like the idea of trips to museums and historical landmarks. We fill our house with books, with art materials and with regular life activities. All of these things awake the child to what is going on around them. Their individual bents will pick up on something they have discovered it may be, it will be, different for each child but they will be interested in something.
Nowadays, I have two older children (12 and 11) who are largely independent learners. I have set before them a reading list, some direction for their study/research/recording and off they go asking themselves questions and finding answers.
I also have two younger children (8 and 6) who are not independent readers, who are not yet able to research for themselves, let alone record their findings independently. As I set out to plan the next terms direction I am torn between letting them discover and the need to prepare lessons. It is then that I realise that their abilities to learn/research/record are limited by their age/development/abilities. It really does come back to little spoonfuls by the parent. I am reminded that this is why I like Five in a Row. It is definitely spoonfuls of information, exposing the children to the world.
Can I assess where my children are at in our goal of them being independent learners? Marilyn Howshall in her Lifestyle of Learning sets out the development phases as: Preparing Stage, Collecting Stage, Thinking Stage, Communicating Stage. I have also read (though cant remember where to give the correct credits) that these same stages correlate to Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom.
Our younger children are both in the Knowledge stage; Nomi is moving from Preparing to Collecting and Daniel is at Preparing. How does this help me? It helps me keep my goals for their learning in perspective to their whole life. I would never expect my child to run to me if he had just started to stand up.
In our learning endeavours I need to see where they are at and expose them to the world that will stimulate their learning and growing. I need to let go of activities that dont enhance their growing and focus on the activities that do enhance their growing. As I set realistic and achievable goals, that are in keeping with their interests (bents) and their learning development (skills and abilities) we will all walk towards that goal of being independent learners.