Learning All the Time and Everywhere

Written by: Natalie Bortoli

The fall season typically invokes the excitement of a new classroom, new school supplies and a brand new year of learning for our children. But it also means a return to the school-day routine and assignments—a busy schedule that can leave the more open-ended explorations of summer a distant memory. However, those adventures need not be a seasonal phenomenon.

From playing in the living room to visiting the grocery store or taking a trip to the park, library or museum, out-of- school experiences provide great opportunities for children to grow and learn in new ways.

Do it together

Learning in non-school settings provides an opportunity for children to learn alongside family members. When families are engaged in a shared activity, children learn with, from and about their most immediate role models. It’s also a chance for children to deepen relationships, hone conversation skills and gain understanding of their family’s experiences and values.

Nurture the individual

The unique features of non-school settings often allow children to discover and fine-tune skills and abilities that may not be visible or nurtured in a typical classroom setting. Consider visiting places where your children may develop new interests or skills. What will make them “bloom”? Something as simple as listening to music together can initiate a lifelong passion.

Make connections

Children learn most when they make connections between prior learning and new experiences. Linking, connecting and reflecting are your children’s best ways to make sense of their world and build a more intricate network of knowledge and experience. If you know your child is studying insects in school, spend time during the weekend observing bugs right outside your home.

Natalie Bortoli is vice president of educational programming and experience development at Chicago Children’s Museum and holds an Ed.M. from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. 

Posted on October 29, 2012 at 1:45 PM