Untying a child’s learning from school

Learning in school environments is slowly being placed in the hands of the learner. Your 10 year old may be given the option of attending a writing workshop to develop their use of action words in sentences during the class writing programme if that 10 year old has identified that they need help in this area or choose to continue with the main class activity.

The particular skill that child would be exercising is called managing self. This is a key competency that children need to work towards as laid out in the NZ curriculum. On a personal level as a parent I am always looking at ways to untie my children’s learning from school. I want them to unlearn the idea that learning only happens when they hear the school bell. I am also aware that my children are not always going to be able to follow their passion at school for a variety of reasons. Yes I am  realistic and also to know that schools are not there to provide everything that my children will need once they come out the other end.

This is part of the reason why we have set up the Purple cow collective. We are really pleased at the conversation that this site has been generating. Parents are really interested in getting their children involved and have been asking some really good questions. What we thought we would do is try to provide some answers for the common questions being asked.

1. What is the time commitment involved as a parent?

A. The only time commitment involved is what you are prepared to invest in your child in supporting them to create a piece to email into the Purple Cow collective.

2. Can you tell me about the safety issues around my child sending things in that you will post online?

A. Purple cow collective wants to share any creative or passionate outlet that your child has. This could be a video, a piece of writing, art, sculpture, photos or something else. We ask that your child does not include any personal information. Using your child’s first name is fine if you are comfortable with this. Our own children use pseudonyms like Messi and Master Ted when posting to this site. If you were to send us something that we feel does not protect the safety of your child, we would 1. Let you know and 2.Would not post it online. We are educators too who work in schools so this is something we are used to considering on a regular basis.

3.I don’t understand how the internet works so I don’t feel confident in my child contributing.

A. That’s okay. Part of the Purple cow collective is about supporting the idea of creating responsible digital citizens. Why not sit down with your child and take a look at the site. What does your child think?

4. How can I find out a bit more information about why my child likes particular activities?

A. The following is an approach we use with our kids. This can be used with a child 9 years and older.

a. Sit with your child and list all the things that they are involved in and enjoy doing.

b. Now, for each item ask your child what it is they like about the activity.

For example – Minecraft because I can create something and it gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Example – Swimming because I like going fast, the challenge of competing and being accurate.

As you complete this exercise with your child it will give your child a bit more information about why they like to do particular things. Its the reasons your child gives you about the activities they enjoy doing that are key. As a parent if you have a child that can’t seem to find anything they are passionate about or you have a teenager who seems to have no interests this is a tool that you can use to explore what they previously enjoyed doing and see what unfolds.

5. Can you give me a couple of idea’s around every day things I could do with my child?

A. Sure, here you go….

– Your child has just seen a film at the movies. Video record them retelling the story to you.

– A trip into the city on the train. Ask them about why they think public transport could help the environment?

– $10 challenge. Challenge your child to create a lunch dish that could feed two people. How would you start? What would they need to think about? What ingredients would they buy? Would they need a recipe? Get them to make a photo story capturing each stage of the process with a few sentences underneath each photo to explain it.

– Get them to construct a lego sculpture at Auckland Art Gallery, happening now!

The clear and simple message is that we are engaging our children outside of school and engaging them in authentic learning. On the path to life long learning. Cool eh! That’s all for now.

Enjoy your day, and remember, please do contact us if you would like any further information.


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