"Natural learning" is a phrase you'll see all over my site, my social media, and in my courses, curriculum, books, and live videos that I do... so what EXACTLY does that mean?
If you've been a follower of mine for any amount of time, then you know that learning through nature and using Mother Nature as a resource for knowledge and joy is something that I talk about frequently. Today though, I'm going to get super clear on the definition of "Natural Learning" because it goes far beyond simply using nature as your primary resources for learning!
Natural learning is a philosophy that encompasses two major beliefs:
- Children develop skills and learn according to their own natural rhythms, and we trust that each child is capable of learning on their own continuum and in their own time and their own unique way.
- Nature and the carefully executed environment around the child provides them with everything that they need to successfully grow and learn all that they need to learn.
So natural learning means that children are learning on their own NATURAL timeline (meaning we do not push them to learn things before they are developmentally ready or force them to do meaningless tasks that don't support a natural development) and within the NATURAL world (using Mother Nature and the home/classroom environment to support the children's learning journeys).
What is most important with following a natural learning philosophy with your children is BELIEF and TRUST. At the foundation, as educators and parents, we have to believe and trust that our children are capable. If we don't have that foundation, we end up trying to take too much control away from the learning experiences, thus not giving our children the opportunity to develop their understanding and learning in a natural way. Make sense?
Natural learning embraces curiosity and joy, which develop a lifelong passion for learning.
A natural learning philosophy is one that understands the importance of each child's unique and individual journey. We believe that the best learning happens when children can follow their interests, use their skills, and have adaptations based on their needs. Natural learning provides a platform and an environment where children can blossom and flourish at their own pace, not on the same continuum as others (especially when that continuum is adult-directed).
It is one thing to believe that these things are true, but it is entirely different to actually TRUST that this is true for your unique child. If deep down you don't believe in your child's natural ability to learn, fear will eventually creep in and you will fall back into traditional methods of learning like worksheets, repetition, "drill and kill" activities, cookie cutter crafts, and other forced learning behaviors. All this does is drive your child away from the passion of learning for the sake of a quick understanding. TRUST your child!
If you need support with trusting and believing in the natural learning process, I invite you to simply step back and watch your children engage with the natural world around them. What choices are they making as they play and explore? What "aha" moments are they having? What unique things are they creating? Sometimes merely coming back to the act of watching our children flourish on their own is so powerful.
It can be a struggle to find resources and materials that support natural learning, especially once you have fully embraced it. Many programs that you find out there are still highly adult-directed and require children to reproduce the same thing for the sake of assessment.
If you're looking for materials to support this natural learning belief, look no further than where you are right now.
All of the Your Natural Learner curriculums and the Grow Your Natural Learner Course support parents and educators on the natural learning path and are child-led and flexible. These resources support your children's needs and curiosity guide the flow of the learning experience, all while you stay prepared for what's coming next.