Encouraging the Art of Self-Directed Learning in Kids

“I never teach my pupils, I only provide the conditions in which they can learn”

The aforementioned quote by Sir Albert Einstein is one of my favorites!

As a learning evangelist, I always aspire to cultivate curiosity and independence in children because I firmly believe that it’s the first step for them to be self-directed learners. Children, during their early years of education, must be introduced to situations where they explore how to use resources to find answers to questions or to learn skills to solve problems.

Self-directed learners are not dependent on adults to help them complete tasks or projects. However, the assistance at certain levels is necessary.

Self-directed learning is not a trait that some children are born with and others aren’t; it is a skill that can be taught and nurtured in all children from a young age.

To experiment the same, we conducted an activity- SWAYAM at Sri Ram Foundation School in East Delhi.

We asked the students to create a room for themselves out of waste material- an effort they must consider being their dream project with a realistic deadline. From planning, delegating, basic structures, innovations to any kind of initiative, we gave children absolute independence to be able to curate their imaginations!

The best part of the activity was that it was completely taken up by the little ones, with assistance from our team only when requested.

The results have been astounding! It was an absolute delight to watch children exploring their potentials, putting in efforts to solve problems, creating opportunities for innovation and learning meaningfully with no stress through play.

Here’s why self-directed learning should be encouraged across the entire education sector, especially during the pre-school era-

IT IGNITES SELF-CONFIDENCE, INITIATIVE, PERSEVERANCE, AND SATISFACTION

When children are given control of a situation, they are likely to take up charge and create their own paths, thus inculcating leadership qualities and willingness to work in a team in them.

Self-directed learning evidently enhances a child’s ability to make self-affirming choices. The more we allow children to make their own decisions–with analyzing their own ideas, feelings, wants and needs and weighing them against available options, the more likely they are to grow into mature, sensible, productive and compassionate adults.

NO COMPETITION, BUT COLLABORATION

Children who are taught in their early years through self-directed learning are happier and more successful as they are not bound to be intellectually superior to others and negatively competitive. Their ability to grab hold of their ideas is mutually respected.

They are also better listeners and learners as they understand the concepts of cooperation and adorning other’s ideas at a tender age. Self- directed learning also helps the mind to be open and inquisitive.

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING IS ALWAYS MORE MEANINGFUL

A pre-defined curriculum, a standard set of rules, fixed timetables and the inability to consider individual interest can never allow an individual to be able to move towards self-directed learning.

It is always better to actually build and sail a boat rather than merely read about how others have done so, or by surveying a plot of the ground rather than simply calculating the area of a polygon presented on a worksheet. During practical application of these concepts, a child is likely to make mistakes and learn from them!

HAPPINESS BREEDS MORE HAPPINESS

With no impositions, children become free to create, discuss, negotiate, design, and explore to serve their goals and values.

People who pursued self-directed learning in their early years of education are likely to work collaboratively and empower others rather than seek power over others. People who understand the relevance of making thoughtful choices are more likely to support self-direction in others too.

I, therefore, wish to encourage all the parents, teachers and children to take up charge of their situations and promote self-directed learning in every possible way!

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