Exploring the Wonderland of Child-Led Learning

The many hours of lockdown-induced downtime offer an opportunity for your children to let their natural curiosity take them places they may otherwise not have discovered.

Exploring the Wonderland of  Child-Led Learning
Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is often read as a parable of the education crisis in the 19th century, which was based on widespread authoritarianism. Alice’s schooling helps her to debunk many of the absurd convictions held by the curious inhabitants of Wonderland. Yet it is not her book knowledge that gets her through her adventures unharmed, but her childlike impartiality and unprejudiced readiness to embrace the unknown.

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Image of: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Take a trip down the rabbit hole.

Lewis Carroll

The coronavirus pandemic has been keeping millions of children out of school for weeks on end. Many parents may worry about their kids’ formal education. But remember that much of a kid’s education happens outside the classroom.  

Especially in a technology-enabled economy where robots are taking over many routine tasks, education must focus on developing qualities that artificial intelligence won’t master anytime soon. These qualities include creativity, out-of-the-box thinking and entrepreneurial spirit.

Conventional schooling that rewards compliance and rote learning can stifle originality and imagination. Sir Ken Robinson elaborates on this theme in one of TED’s most-viewed talks:

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Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Creativity is in high demand, yet schools systematically stifle it.

Sir Ken Robinson TED Conferences LLC

In a second TED talk, Robinson calls upon schools to tailor their curriculum to the aptitudes and interests of their particular students. Human development, after all, “is not linear, it’s organic:”

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Image of: Bring on the Learning Revolution!

Bring on the Learning Revolution!

TED Talk favorite Sir Ken Robinson calls for a complete overhaul of education.

Ken Robinson TED Conferences LLC

In these extraordinary times, the many hours of lockdown-induced downtime are perfectly suited to embrace and experiment with the concept of “unschooling” – at least temporarily.

In a recent article, teacher and author Shaunta Grimes offers practical advice on how to put the concept into action:

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Image of: When Regular School Stops Being a Choice, Think About Unschooling

When Regular School Stops Being a Choice, Think About Unschooling

Make the best of school closures by letting your children “unschool” but still learn.

Shaunta Grimes Medium

Through “unschooling,” parents facilitate informal education by feeding their kids’ curiosity and letting them “lead the way.”

Ready to give it a try?

Challenge your children to find something they think is fun and also educational. Then, provide them with the necessary resources to pursue their individual interests.

Especially in a technology-enabled economy where robots are taking over many routine tasks, education must focus on developing qualities that artificial intelligence won’t master anytime soon.

getAbstract has scoured the web to find the best sites for you and your kids to get started on your exploration journey:  

Science

From acceleration to DNA and wind energy, websites like BrainPOP, Science Kids and National Geographic Kids show kids how the world works with interactive tutorials, readings and hands-on science projects.

Explore New Places

Google Earth and Google Arts & Culture offer virtual tours of at least 32 national parks in the United States.

Explore Outer Space

NASA offers great learning resources for future astronauts.

Animals

The zoos may be temporarily closed, but kids can still check in on their favorite animals, from penguins to polar bears. Some of the world’s most famous zoos offer live cams and pre-recorded videos, alongside extensive craft tutorials and downloadable fact sheets.

Drawing and Painting

Kids love to draw, but sometimes they get stuck. “I want to draw a cat but don’t know how,” or “I don’t know what to put on that birthday card.” The Art for Kids website offers inspiration and instruction.

Origami

It’s fascinating what you can all make with a square piece of paper. A jumping frog? A boat? A fortune teller? Websites like Origami Way or Spruce Crafts offer easy-to-follow instructions in this ancient Japanese technique.

Make Your Own Guitar

Many kids are fascinated by instruments – and they will be surprised to learn that they can make their own guitar with cardboard straight out of the recyclable bin. Instructables offers the world’s largest collection of step-by-step craft projects.  

Cooking

Cooking with Kids offers kids a chance to explore foods with their other senses before it’s time to taste. Also, TV Chef Jamie Oliver offers kid-friendly recipes with food most of us already have in our cupboards.

Writing a Novel

Ninja Writers helps kids turn their ideas into a story.

Learn New Facts

TED-Ed is working with expert educators and TED speakers throughout the world to create and share high-quality, interactive, video-based lessons on a daily basis.

Listen to a Story

Audible offers free streaming of kids books for as long schools remain closed.

So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran, as well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.

Excerpt from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

We hope you and your kids will look back to these lockdown-induced hours of informal learning as a time of wonder and exploration, a time of honing new skills and discovering new passions. In the adult world, many predict that the pandemic has changed the way we work forever. Whether the same holds true for the way kids learn remains to be seen. But until then, just keep exploring.

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