Children have an innate propensity to learn; however, they still need a teacher to guide them on their path to successful knowledge acquisition. Adults are responsible for providing a favorable learning environment allowing children to experiment with real-life materials and situations, ask questions, and find answers. Teachers should guide children from instructive to independent learning. To develop and enrich children’s knowledge and skills, teachers should adhere to the principle of ongoing professional development.
Children are curious from their infant years and demonstrate an unceasing willingness to cognize the world. However, when they start learning, they need to get motivation from their immediate surroundings that should provide opportunities for developing and enriching knowledge and skills. Children should be encouraged to learn through communication and exploration. Thus, the role of the educator is to guide children on their path to success from assisted to independent learning using a system of challenges and rewards (Kolb, 2014).
The paper at hand is going to analyze the unique ways children develop and learn as well as the role of adults in this process. Some ideas concerning ongoing professional development in the sphere are also provided.
Recognizing and Supporting Unique Ways Children Develop and Learn
Studying such theorists as Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and Erik Erikson helps people who are directly involved in teaching understand the sequence of stages a child has to pass through in knowledge acquisition and shape their learning experience by the specific needs arising at each stage. This knowledge produces a huge impact on teachers’ professional philosophy making them rely on practices that are deeply grounded in research (Spodek & Saracho, 2014).
Children have an innate propensity to learn and tend to follow their interests in choosing directions of world cognition. Leaning for them is not linear and therefore cannot be reduced to a simple input-output model. On the contrary, it is an unceasing process of meaning-making through hypothesizing and experimenting. It involves various environments featuring diverse materials that they can explore. Learning and development are closely interrelated. Different scholars view them as sequential (development precedes learning), simultaneous (or even indistinguishable), or as separate entities that co-evolve (Kolb, 2014). I support the first approach promoted by Piaget since I believe that learning is superimposed over the inborn ability of a child to develop.
Adults are responsible for providing favorable learning conditions allowing children to experiment with real-life situations, ask questions, and find answers. Adults should guide children from instructive to independent learning. Moreover, they should encourage children’s collaboration with others at the same time stressing their individuality.
ƒAs a lifelong learner, I would like to find an answer to the following questions on the topic:
- To what extent should adults control children’s learning?
- At what age should children learn to generalize their knowledge?
- What are the key aspects of successful learning?
- What obstacles can children face at different stages of learning?
Expanding my knowledge and Continuing my Professional Development
The teacher’s ability to help the child develop and learn largely relies on his/her professional competency. The following key components of ongoing professional development can be singled out (Moon, 2013):
- collaborative action (sharing experiences with other teachers);
- active involvement (creating and participating in activities);
- development of a deeper understanding of the curriculum and teaching strategies;
- sustained, uninterrupted learning;
- freedom of choice to identify personal priorities;
- flexibility (ability to introduce modifications to the curriculum);
- support from teaching communities.
All these elements taken together provide educators with an opportunity to develop concurrently with their teaching practice.
Kolb, D. A. (2014). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT press.
Moon, J. A. (2013). Reflection in learning and professional development: Theory and practice. London, UK: Routledge.
Spodek, B., & Saracho, O. N. (2014). Handbook of research on the education of young children. London, UK: Routledge.