Is Natural Learning the key to keeping young minds sharp during lockdown?

Children do not have to learn by sitting quietly at a desk.
Children do not have to learn by sitting quietly at a desk.

The intrusion of the demands of learning under lockdown (homework, tests, projects) can take its toll on the family.

Making parents complicit in policing their children and their schoolwork forces them into a role that may create conflict, and therefore, impact on the parent-child relationship. 

After all, parents are there to love their children unconditionally while inspiring and supporting them to achieve their goals and live happy lives. 

Should we perhaps take a different perspective on this period of lockdown and children’s education? 

What is Natural Learning? 

All over the world, there are people who follow Natural Learning, where families provide the space and opportunity for their children to live a life of seamless learning. 

Following this method will mean that learning is not separated from life. 

In this way, learning becomes authentic, enjoyable and long-lasting because children grow accustomed to satisfying their own needs and curiosities, not just to prepare for a test or to win approval. 

Why Natural Learning works 

The ability to learn is innate

Children are naturally curious about their world.

Curiosity, the engine of Natural Learning, thrives on the freedom to explore.  

Children used to be a significant part of society, where play and observation within the community and family life developed their survival skills that ensured continuous survival for thousands of years. 

Children do not have to learn by sitting quietly at a desk

Children do not have to learn by sitting quietly at a desk doing worksheets or reading books someone else deems important. Children are actually very good at learning by themselves when they are interested in what they are doing.

They learn by observing, thinking, testing out their own theories, experimenting, speculating and enjoying what they are immersed in. 

Think about it: Why does one have to fight, coerce and bribe children to do their homework or study, and yet, children can spend many enjoyable, happy hours immersed in something they are totally interested in?

Tips for introducing Natural Learning into your home 

Perhaps during this lockdown period families should adopt the tenets of Natural Learning and enjoy the time they are spending with each other. 

Let children follow their interests

Let children follow their interests and curiosities into what they want to learn and excel in. Enjoy observing how engaged they are in their chosen activities and show your support. 

Doing things as a family and enjoy each other’s company

Instead of worrying about schoolwork and desperately trying to find online programmes to keep them busy, try doing things as a family and enjoy each other’s company. 

Here’s what this could look like: 

  • Cooking and having meals together without any rush
  • The rambling conversations in the day
  • Reading together
  • Watching a movie and talking about it 
  • Working in the garden and planting vegetables to eat

So many more activities exist within the uniqueness of each family that can be a wonderful source of comfort and joy. 

In most communities, these activities are part of a general rhythm of home and family life, but perhaps it should become particularly pronounced and cherished during lockdown in all families. 

Strengthening family bonds

We are living in a very strange and difficult time that has placed undue stress on all members of the family, and therefore, drawing the family together and strengthening family bonds are ever so important.

Don’t let the most challenging part of this global pandemic be your battles with your children over maths, geography or completing a worksheet.

It demands something a lot more noble from us all.

Supplied by Dr Renuka Ramroop, a research associate at the University of Limpopo. Her research focus is on Natural Learning and the impact this approach has on children and society. She writes this article in her private capacity.

What's been your go-to method for keeping your children educated during lockdown? 

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