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Enabling Life Long Learning at Home -Creating Supportive Learning Spaces

We all understand that #learning is a continuous process and not age dependent. The requirements vary, the kind of support one provides varies with the age group but the requirement to provide the Supportive Learning Spaces is a constant.

When we talk of spaces it is not just the physicalspace but also the socioemotionallearning (#SEL) climate that scaffolds the depth of learning that will take place. As the third stakeholder in education of a child (the child and school being the other two), parents have to start looking at deeper engagements and stronger provisions to support a child’s learning. It is not just in the formative years but till the child is in the learning trajectory. This home support and involvement, is what defines and differentiates schools. The role of home has far deeper impact than parents or schools realize. Parent support contributes and enables the teacher in setting higher expectations for the learner as the basic non negotiables get strengthened in the children.

The SEL Learning Space in Homes and Outside Schools

Happy homes, happy children

Photo Credits: Cotton Bro at Pexels

Supportive Learning Spaces have distinct features both in terms of Physical and Socio Emotional context. The latter being the backbone and foundation of a strong character. In the desire to provide for a well-designed physical learning space parents should not ignore the importance of comfort, trust and voice of the child. These are the underlying principles of child centred pedagogies globally.

Montessori, Reggio, Waldrof, PBL, PlayBased or any other philosophy or any education board have some similar underlying principles. All share the common language of giving children a voice and listening to that voice, having a culture of mutual trust and respect where the child is comfortable to be their unique self.

Creating such spaces is not dependent on any external resource but just on you as a parent/ caregiver/ guardian. These are simple habits and routines that you can develop by just being mindful of what you say, what you do and how you say and how you do. It is easier said than done and requires one to be self-aware, identify emotions and watch those reactions. Some parents manage the situation better than others since they have trained themselves to be more self-aware.

A few steps you can take to build in self-awareness practices into your life are:

1. Understanding your triggers (for both joy and anger)

2. Journaling

3. Acknowledging your emotion, naming your emotion and learning how to deal with it.

4. Meditation

5. Daily Exercise

6. Talking to family about your emotions and taking feedback constructively

7. Building in me time

8. Sharing household chores

You can read up self-help articles and talk to experts to help you become more self-aware.

Mindfully designing these safe havens for children is a step simple process. You could add more to your list as you grow in this craft and adapt it to the unique situation that you have at hand.

I am sharing 7 effective tips on

Creating Supportive Learning Spaces at Home.

1. Set Norms—Norms are based on social values. They very different from rules in the sense that if broken rules have a punishment factor to them while Norms have discussions and deliberations for better understanding.

For your house norms to be effective build in following qualities:

· Set them together with all involved.

· Keep them suggestive rather than prescriptive (We shall all help in clean up).

· KISS-Keep then Super Simple as the example stated, so that the children can easily memorize them.

· Adapt as the needs change.

· Keep them limited in number, try not to exceed 3 norms when you begin with this home exercise.

2. Practice What You #Preach—Children learn by example, so if you want them to put things back-start with yourself. If you want children to be polite, be polite yourself. Remember it is not use of authority that we are talking about but a space where the children respect you for what you do and how you do. Do not confuse submission to respect.

3. Respect mistakes -- Make it a space where mistakes are forgiven, worked upon and treated as stepping stones for improvement. Acknowledge when you make a mistake, be it as small as forgetting to switch off the lights. Use phrases like, “It is alright, we ‘ll work around this.”

4. Appreciate --the task and what worked well. Acknowledge how you feel when children help out and how does working collectively support everybody in the family. Just make sure it is not a frivolous acknowledgement but is meaningful and because you mean it.

5. Set routines—Children thrive on order and routines. (Refer to Montessori Sensitive Period for Order). Build in structure and routine into your child’s everyday life. The knowledge that everything will be same as earlier provides young children with a sense of security. If you plan to make any changes, inform them prior and give them time to accept it.

6. Children’s Voice and Choice—This is often under looked since most of us believe that children as young as 2 years or less are incapable to taking sound decisions. Understand that the child is a human being with a sense of right and wrong. They are aware of making sense to what they consider is right for them. As adults we see the bigger and better picture but we should not be undermining the sensibilities of a child. Ask them to contribute in decisions and let them share what makes sense to them. Share your view point and arrive at a common consensus. You are not only looking at things from the child’s perspective but also building up base for your child to grow up into a human being with strong interpersonal and decision-making skills.

7. Trust—This is easier said than done since parents tend to get overprotective. But trust the child, they are stronger, wiser and smarter than we think they are capable of. Trust that they will be able to manage, not exactly as we would want them to but in their own unique way. Ensure they are not in any physical danger and let them do small things for themselves. They might spill, create a mess or take more time than you had anticipated, embrace that with a pinch of salt. That is the challenge of parenting, wanting to do it all for the child, do it quick. But if you do not let them do things for themselves now, then how will they learn and improve. So trust that they can do it, not like we want them to but in their own unique way.

Each family comes with its unique challenges and yours might have its own. If you have an adult who is unwilling to cooperate with you, speak to that person, explain your reason and if it still does not work out, then DO NOT give up. You be the torch bearer, after all Parenting is a skill that has no manual and needs regular upskilling. You start to create that Emotionally Safe Supportive Space for your child and enable life long learning. These lessons will last the child a lifetime. Your investment in the process will show results in the near future and as the child grows into an adult.

I will talk about Creating Supportive Physical Learning Spaces in my next article. Till then practice these 7 Simple Steps to Creating Supportive Spaces

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