A Learning Family is intended to be a sandbox for learning for children. Think of this website as Lego blocks or Playdoh for kids. There is no formal curriculum. There are no rigid pathways to learning. Children have the flexibility to learn about things that are interesting to them.
However, education in A Learning Family is intended to be family based. The sandbox for learning tries to create opportunities for parents to be engaged in sandbox activities.
Many countries are moving to a standardized curriculum. There is a logic to having well defined standards for teaching and student assessment. However, this strength can also be a weakness. In the worst case, the standards can be overly prescriptive and too heavily focused on assessment by standardized exams.
In the worst case, traditional education also becomes a divide between parents and students. The better schools attempt to keep parents engaged in a child’s learning. However, at times this engagement becomes focused on tutoring for assessment. And, in the worst case, parents end up doing the child’s homework in the pursuit of high grades.
In the end, much of traditional education helps a child acquire skills and knowledge necessary for life and citizenship. What A Learning Family tries to do is provide students these additional opportunities:
- to learn, discover and explore in a manner driven by their interests,
- to enable parents to be engaged in that process, and
- to focus on the process of learning and less on assessment.
A Learning Family as Complementary Education
A Learning Family attempts to complement traditional education – not to replace it. It tries to create alternative paths to learning – not to mirror it. The following example tries to explain this philosophy in concrete terms:
The editor’s youngest child began to learn long before she attended school. Without learning the rules of grammar, she developed language skills in English, Tagalog and Cebuano. She learned to speak without a textbook or formal teacher. Her learning sandbox was her family and the family set the pace and direction of learning. Informal learning can work when shaped by a child and family.
But how can the average parent support learning without being a qualified teacher? The answer is it depends on what is being learned. For traditional education, the emphasis is on learning a set of rules and facts about a subject. Increasingly, there are prescribed pathways for doing this.
Complementary education simply provides a parallel path for learning a subject. A parent and child can try to find these alternative pathways for learning, discovering and exploring that are more effective in engaging a child and parent.