Child-led Learning: Not an Excuse to Skip Learning

Child-led learning is an education style where educators follow the child’s interest in determining learning.  Not all educators interpret this educational model in the same way. Some homeschooling parents choose to base their curriculum around the child’s interests and use unit studies or lapbooks for a topic-immersive study.   Some homeschoolers follow an unschooling method where the child, with guidance, researches, investigates and chooses the learning methods. Learning methods may be hands-on, watching documentaries, field trips, or reading books on the selected topic. 

Some parents choose child-led learning throughout their homeschooling career. While some homeschoolers find it to be more appropriate for early elementary and then move to more structured learning in older grades.

Why Child-led Learning is Good

Child-led learning helps develop a student’s self-confidence.  Students who follow their interests are engaged and motivated.  This educational approach may be suitable for students with ADHD or students with learning disabilities because students move away from traditional models and can express knowledge in other ways. Rather than relying on tests or quizzes, students can use presentations, plays, or oral questions and answers, for example. In past posts here on the page, we’ve talked about alternative learning methods such as board games and online games.

While I believe in child-led learning, lately, I’ve seen some alarming posts on social media that use this concept as an excuse to pass the buck on their student’s learning efforts.  Child-led learning doesn’t mean parents take their hands off the wheel.

Not an Excuse to Skip Learning

On the contrary, child-led learning can be work-intensive for parents. As Read and Spell claims, parents are NOT absent in child-led education. In fact, parents should work to find or help the children find the resources needed for learning. 

Child-led learning is not an excuse for skipping or scrimping on your child’s education.  For example, you don’t skip math work because your child doesn’t want to learn it.  Math is necessary for nearly everything in life.  Just because we don’t call a great number of the calculations we use in everyday life algebra, it doesn’t mean we don’t use algebra.  Understanding percentages for shopping, area, and perimeter, to name two, for building, and fractions are common in cooking.

Exploring child-led learning can be rewarding for the student and the educator.  If you’re not comfortable totally letting your child lead your homeschooling direction, explore options for student electives.  Just remember your involvement as an educator is still necessary for your child’s success.

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