Raising an Entrepreneur with Active Learning
16 August 2017
I don’t remember a lot about my earliest years in Catholic school, but one thing sticks in my mind above everything else. When I was about 8 years old, I clearly remember a nun saying to me, “You’re as bold as brass Miss Mayesky.” And that wasn’t a compliment, which was easy to tell by the tone of her voice and the look on her face. In reflection, I guess I asked too many questions, wanting reasons for doing things. I’m still as bold as brass in many ways today.
Working with young children myself, I can now understand how that nun might have felt with my endless questions. Yet, I also know there are other ways to handle questioning and curiosity which don’t discourage the searcher and encourages the search.
Entrepreneurs are active learners and problem solvers. They are curious about interesting ideas or questions. Asking questions is a natural part of active learning. Preschoolers are usually superior questioners and innovators. When preschoolers ask questions, sometimes we know the answers. Sometimes a good approach is to reply with a question. For example, when your preschooler asks, “Why do those flowers look droopy?” You can turn this into an active learning experience by answering, “What do you think they need?” Keep asking when one answer is given, “Yes, and what else?” This questioning encourages your little one to think about things on her own instead of just getting adult answers to end the search.
Claire and I recently were laughing about how I kept the sound off our television until she was about 3 years old. I couldn’t stand the fake character voices on children’s cartoons, so just kept the sound off. When she visited her friend in the next-door apartment and he had cartoons on, she couldn’t wait to get home to see if her tv had the same sound. That was the end of my tv silence. Yet, with no sound, we could talk about what we saw on the screen. I could ask her what she thought was going to happen next. What did she think about the characters? Still today, Claire comments on programs and movies while they are in progress, an ever active learner.
This approach to tv viewing is in direct contrast to passive learning, which is simply receiving information. Watching television can be done either passively or actively. Sitting and watching a kid’s educational program is passive learning. Watching with your preschooler, commenting and discussing what you’re watching is active learning. One is a passive receiving of information, the other is an active search for information.
Here are 7 simple approaches that you'll find helpful to grow your own little entrepreneur to be ready for a lifetime of active learning:
- Rethink the idea that the tv is not to be interrupted. The television can be a means of entertainment as well as learning. Think that show or movie as a tool to promote dialogue. It’s not an honored and indisputable guest in your home, not to be interrupted.
- Try the same approach when reading books. If it’s a new book, start first by reading the entire story through to your child. Then re-read it. Stop and discuss things that are interesting on the page. Ask questions about the characters. What could they do differently? If your preschooler could rewrite the ending, what would it be? Books like those we have in our Skilly-do Book Reviews can be a springboard to amazing amounts of creative, active learning experiences for your little one.
- Play in ways that encourage active learning. Try to avoid having lots of pre-structured activities such as coloring books or puzzles. They discourage active learning. Keep a good supply of super toys like blocks, paper, markers, crayons and paint available for your preschooler’s active learning experiences. These toys have many unstructured possibilities. Check out our blog, Super Toys for more ideas on these toys for your preschooler.
- Encourage your preschooler to act rather than simply observe. For example, ask you child to pretend to be their own flying machine rather than watching planes in the air. Where would they go? How would they get there? Check out our Skilly-do activity Jet Planes for more flying fun ideas.
- Grow an open mind by introducing new cultures. Exposing your child to many ideas and ways of doing everyday things expands your child’s experience. Discussing different opinions and attitudes also encourages engaged learning. My blog, Celebrate Diversity Before Kindergarten, has lots of helpful ideas on how to do this.
- Respect your child’s curiosity. This is a key asset of all entrepreneurs. It can be easily discouraged by teachers, like I experienced with my nun back in the day. Check out my blogs, Learning Anywhere EveryDay - Encourage Curiosity, and Kid's Creativity, It’s a Love-Hate Thing for easy ideas on cherishing curiosity.
- Be an active learner yourself. Be an example for your little one. Be an active doer, not a passive observer. Try something new together and share your experience of wide world with your little entrepreneur-in-training.
So, go on now and grow your own innovator. As always, have fun and tell us all about it!