Children LearnBy Playing

The idea of children learning by playing may seem outrageous to some parents and educational institutions, which firmly believe that learning is all about getting good grades in school. The focus of learning goes beyond grades, and kids can be taught some of the most complex concepts simply by playing and engaging in some activities.

The concept of learning by playing is not new. In fact, for ages, children have been taught highly complex concepts by means of games and activities – concepts that they wouldn’t have otherwise grasped. Such games and activities enhance personal learning and development that no book can provide.

It is true that a school provides education, but knowledge is subjective and can be increased and improved by means of some very simple methods such as playing games.

There are so many things that you have your kids do, without realizing the kind of message it is imparting to them, or the kind of effect it has on their minds. Playing particularly has a positive effect on kids and helps develop their personality and skills.
What Children Learn By Playing

By playing together, children learn how to respect choices and are exposed to a variety of thought processes.
Instead of having kids cram information and simply talking to them about various concepts, parents, along with several educational institutions, are adopting the art of teaching by playing with children. This, they believe, is a better way of inculcating not only concepts but also essential values, particularly in the most formative stages of a child’s life. It is human nature to learn by experience, rather than when told or explained by someone else. Children should be allowed to learn from the consequences of their actions, and then realize why they were or weren’t asked to do something. With parent and teacher participation and involvement, for children, learning can be made fun rather than a mundane, stressful task that emphasizes only on cramming as much information as possible.

A lot of concepts that education cannot impart are taught by the simple act of engaging in various indoor and outdoor activities. Here’s what kids learn when they engage in such activities:
~ By being allowed to play, children are free to explore their surroundings and develop experiences that are unique to them.

~ They learn to take control and are capable of making their own decisions.

~ They learn to respect rules and the choice of others around them.

~ Children learn how to use their imagination in play and this helps develop creativity. The use of imagination also helps them shut out unpleasantness and tackle inherent fears.
~ Free play allows kids to indulge and appease their inquisitiveness.

~ Interactions with others help develop communication skills and aid personality development.

~ The involvement of parents in the entire process helps strengthen the bond between the child and parent, as children learn how to share their experiences with their parents.
Examples of How Children Learn by Playing
~ Why are kids taught mathematics on the Abacus before they are taught it in the classroom? It is because the abacus lays a strong foundation upon which the subject revolves. The basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are all taught on this colorful tool, where kids learn how these concepts work by manually moving the beads. This makes it a playful activity that allows learning by playing.

~ Board games such as Monopoly teach children how to use money wisely at a young age. It teaches them how to carry out transactions, and how to make decisions for themselves. Games such as Scrabble help children strategize and score more points by placing appropriate letters in the right spots.

~ In the digital age, a lot of educational computer games and video games have been designed to teach children basic concepts such as strategy, the importance of teamwork, along with enhancing focus and concentration. Some schools in the US have started allowing kids to design video games that help them learn in the process of designing.

~ In the classroom, children are also taught the power of healthy communication, of group effort, and the benefits of team building. It teaches children not only to function as a group, but to lead and manage large groups of people, thereby helping them develop leadership skills.

~ Similar is the case with outdoor games and activities. Being the captain of a football team teaches a child how to lead, manage and achieve goals by means of the aforementioned concepts. In activities like camping, children are taught the importance of nature, and the value of having the comfort of a home and a bed, when they are roughing it up outdoors.
Encouraging Learning by Playing

In order to encourage learning by playing, it is important that kids be allowed to learn in their own way. There is a difference between guiding and pressurizing, and as a parent/teacher, you ought to know where to draw the line.
Here are some guidelines that will help you aid learning through the process of playing.

~ The activities and games introduced to children should be age-appropriate.

~ The activity that kids are allowed should be divided into structured and unstructured play. This means, say for 30 minutes, an adult should be guiding kids in their activities, and for another 30 minutes, the child should be allowed to do what he pleases, i.e. free play.

~ Schools should allot specific periods for children to free play and engage in teacher-led activities. This can be a time for structured play, during which they can enhance communication and other skills.

~ They should be allowed to be in control of the situation, even during structured play. This helps them develop their own methods of working on different activities.

~ A child should be allowed to indulge in play for as long as he wants to, and should not be forced to sit through a period of play just because it has been allotted. What is meant to be a fun activity to aid learning should not get frustrating for the child.

All in all, this idea of enabling children to learn by playing can be implemented in different manners. Not all children take to a particular activity and may have other ways of imbibing knowledge and wisdom. Yet, this is a very effective way of laying a strong foundation of concepts that are not taught by books to children. There is a lot for children to learn in life, and though not everything, playing with children and teaching them in the process will be highly beneficial to all of them.

Four Stages of Competence

The process of learning can be divided into four stages. Every person goes through these stages knowingly or unknowingly. Here is an article discussing the four stages of competence and how do they actually occur one after the other in the learning process.

The Conscious Competence Learning Model states four stages of learning or competence. These are related to the psychology of a person’s mind when he progresses from one level to the other, while acquiring a skill. The Gordon Training International is known to have developed this model. It was initially known as “The Four Stages of Learning Any New Skill”, and was devised by Noel Burch around 30 years ago. The four stage model is also known as Maslow’s Four Stages of Competence. However, it does not appear in the significant works published by Abraham Maslow.

Some people find this theory similar to Johari window, which is used to create self-awareness and understanding among individuals in a group. The Johari window is also a 2×2 matrix dealing with self-awareness. However, the stages of competence deal with the learning process. The conscious competence learning model can be used by employees of an organization or by people at large, to gauge themselves when acquiring new skills. Let’s study the stages in detail.

The Four Stages of Competence

First Stage: Unconscious Incompetence
In this stage, a person is unaware of the existence of a particular skill. Since he is unaware of the skill, he does not know about its utility and relevance. The person feels no need to acquire that particular skill, and does not realize the fact that he will not be able to perform it because he is incompetent in it. Therefore,it becomes important to make him realize of his shortcomings and the benefits of learning that skill. It is the task of the trainer or teacher to instill this realization in the person. Once the person is aware of his deficiency, he will be in the next stage of the learning process.

Second Stage: Conscious Incompetence
A person in this stage is aware of his incompetence and the usefulness of the particular skill he is lacking in. He knows that acquiring the skill will definitely improve his effectiveness in that front. Incapability of the person to perform a skill-specific task will make him realize its importance and motivate him to learn it. In this stage, the person roughly estimates his incompetence level and figures out how much effort he needs to put in to master the skill. Being aware of his own deficit, he is motivated to learn with interest and dedication.

Third Stage: Conscious Competence
A person is at this stage when he can perform the skill, but not well enough to teach someone. Enough practice is required to reach to the level of unconscious competence. The person can perform a task using the skill, but needs to recollect the steps and think about them. It does not come out automatically in him. Therefore, the person should practice more often, so that he becomes proficient in it. Practice will help the person to move from conscious competence stage to unconscious competence.

Fourth Stage: Unconscious Competence
In this stage, the person can perform the skill on his own. No assistance is required and the person can automatically perform the skill. He gets proficient enough to perform multiple tasks at the same time. Teaching the skill to another person, now becomes an easy task for him. Sometimes, the person develops the skill so well that he faces difficulty in explaining how it is performed, simply because it comes out naturally to him. This is the final stage of learning, and a person should strive to reach to this level so that he can become a master of that skill.

The “Suggested Fifth Stage”: Conscious Competence of Unconscious Incompetence
This is suggested as the fifth stage of the conscious competence learning model. It signifies the ability of a person to instill unconscious incompetence in others. By doing so, he can create the urge of learning new skills in incompetent people.

Examples in which the four stages of learning model become clearly evident are swimming, driving, typing, etc. When a person does not know how to drive and is unable to use manual gears, he is in the stage of unconscious incompetence. When he starts learning and realizes how much effort he needs to put in, he is at the conscious incompetence level. Practicing driving for a few days makes him capable of handling the gears in a better way with some attention, brings him to the conscious competence level. Finally, when he becomes a proficient driver and effortlessly changes gears, he is at the unconscious competence level. This learning tool can be used to inculcate lacking skills in a person.

Organizations can conduct competency mapping of their employees to determine the skills they are good at, and the ones they need to work on. Depending on that, they can have sessions with groups of employees to tell them the importance of this model, and how they can use it for self-improvement. Apart from organizations, this model can also be used as a learning tool by students or rather, any individual who wants to identify his short comings, learn the skills he is lacking in, and gain expertise in them.

Advantages Of Online Learning

e-Learning is the next big revolution in the field of education. The advantages of online learning are plenty; the important ones being mentioned below.

The world wide web is growing at a crazy pace, and the number of youngsters hooked to it is also increasing. Taking this into account, many educational institutes are now providing distance learning options. Many colleges and universities are dedicated in making an availability in this avenue. All you need to do, is get a computer, an Internet connection, the willingness to learn, and money to pay the fees. There are some websites giving free tutorials too, however, for an authentic certification, the paid option is the viable choice. As in any other system of education, there are some flaws and some benefits of online learning too. For the moment, we will focus on the advantages that online education offers.

Advantages of e-Learning

Online learning does have peculiar benefits. It could be fruitful in ways that can only be appreciated after choosing to do so. Research indicates that some of the best courses are offered online, which would play to one’s advantage owing to paucity of time for those engaged in a full-time profession. The online perspective absolves them from this particular blockade to their aspirations, although, the factor of physical supervision for tutelage would be absent.

The only requirements for taking an online course are a computer and Internet access. You also do not have to commute to the college campus, and so the necessity of living near the campus is out of question. The online course is delivered mainly in the form of lecture videos and web seminars. So you can take the course more thoroughly by viewing the videos as many times as you want.

The online education options are far more economical than regular courses that requires attendance in college or university. This is because, the transportation cost to you and the infrastructure cost to the college is eliminated completely. Also, the best teachers that the college cannot afford to employ full-time, can be hired for a limited amount of time. As the cost is only one time, colleges can afford it.

e-Learning courses give you complete freedom to learn anytime from anywhere. This freedom will give you some lessons in self discipline and time management. The need to be self disciplined arises, because when you are online, along with the useful and informative things, there are also many distractions.

Learning Through Games at Your Pace
Online learning also gives you the option to learn through games and puzzles. There are a wide number of online educational computer games available on the net. Moreover, most of these games are completely free of cost. They are entertaining, along with being highly informative.

Earn and Learn
While attending a full-time college, students hardly get time for anything else. But, if you are taking an online course, then you can have the entire day at your disposal, and you can do your studies at night or any other time. This is one of the best advantages of online education. It is a great way to learn, for students who have no option but to earn and learn.

Prolonged Access to Course Material
Many times, you will feel the need to brush up your knowledge of a certain subject, and online learning gives you the opportunity to do that. All the course material that you get as a part of your course remains permanently with you, so you can revise any of the subjects any time you want.

Getting Proficient in Computer and Internet Use
Computers equipped with an Internet connection are frequently used for common purposes. Taking an online degree program will help you attain more proficiency in the use of computers and the Internet. This also serves as an opportunity to use many varieties of software and to be acquainted with them.

Along with the above advantages of online learning, there are a few disadvantages also. The personal influence factor of having the physical presence of a tutor can be considered a point of contention owed to a disadvantage. Crucial doubts on the subject may not be fully cleared on the online portal, although, research may be viable. Under these circumstances, the outcome of the research would be relatively unreliable or the concept may not been understood. For the same reason, recruiters consider an online degree less effective, and it may not carry weight compared to conventional degrees. However, this is not true in all cases. On the whole though, online learning represents a great opportunity for people, especially for those who cannot make it to regular colleges, to get educated, and this can be called the biggest advantage of online

Benefits of Homework

How does homework benefit your child? As a parent, what is your role in convincing your children of the homework’s benefits? Are projects better than practice assignments? Read on to find the answers and get to know the benefits of homework.

Homework should be short, and should involve activities like sports and reading high-interest books. It should be a way of developing better time management skills by learning to avoid distractions.

Homework has been a topic of debate for quite some time now. People have been going back and forth, when it comes to considering the upsides and downsides of homework.

Supporters of homework believe that it is important, because it prepares children for the competition that they have to face in their life. Proponents also believe that homework helps reinforce the concepts taught in school. But disputants believe that the extra time that children get at home, can be used for some co-curricular activities, thus introducing them to new realms of life and expanding their horizon.

Benefits in a Nutshell
▸Homework encourages student initiative and builds a sense of responsibility and commitment towards schoolwork.
▸It serves as a practice of the school curriculum and prepares the students for school tests and competitive exams.
▸It establishes a communication link between students, parents and teachers.

By definition, homework constitutes the out-of-class or at-home activities that the teachers assign to students. These activities are an extension to schoolwork. Homework can include practice assignments that emphasize newly acquired skills. It can be in the form of preparation assignments to make students ready for class activities. Projects that have to be worked on in parallel with schoolwork also form a part of homework. The project work may continue throughout the term or the entire academic year. In these activities, students apply their academic skills to create a piece of work through research.

Gone are the days when ‘completing homework’ used to be the only option available. Today, children have many distractions and they have to win the battle against those, and it’s not easy! Perhaps, reading the benefits of homework enlisted here, will help you out of the dilemma. (Read this out to your children too.)
Homework Teaches Children…

To Take Initiative

Children initiate study. Homework makes them take the initiative. Teachers get the schoolwork done from students whereas students initiate doing homework. There is a sense of responsibility associated with completing their homework and a feeling of accomplishment after completing it.
To Develop Time Management

Children start allotting their time to study and play, thus learning to complete their scheduled tasks in the time they have. They learn to set priorities and also to do things on their own. They manage their time and complete their work independently. Homework encourages self-discipline in the kids.

To Learn with Interest

Homework builds confidence in their minds. Teachers give comments on the work students do. Teachers’ positive remarks boost the students’ confidence and encourage them to keep up with their good work. They learn to follow instructions and complete their assignments with responsibility. They need to explore various topics, refer to research material, and search for information in order to do the home assignments. Thus, homework helps in developing an aptitude for exploring and learning.
To Improve the Grasp on Subjects

Students get an opportunity to apply their skills and enhance them. Homework gives students a chance to learn from their mistakes and improve on their weaknesses. Home assignments provide them with a platform to express what they know or have newly found out, and exhibit their talent. Homework gives students the practice of whatever they learn in school, thus helping in the reinforcement of the concepts learned. This helps them score better in class tests and eventually improves their academic results.

The Importance of Planning

Be it assignments or projects, completing them requires planning, organizing and acting upon them. The task of completing the homework on time and regularly, helps generate in the child, a sense of proper planning. Managing time and planning are two terms with a thin line of difference between them. While proper time management allocates a fixed time for sitting down for homework, planning involves ways to get all the homework done – subject by subject one after the other, based on their levels of difficulty.

Homework should be Proportionate to the Students’ Age and Mental Ability

Obviously, it is the amount of homework that governs its benefits. Homework that gradually increases every year enhances academic achievement but it should not become a punishment. The amount and difficulty level of homework assignments should match the age and ability of the students. Homework proves to be beneficial only if it does not put the students under stress or pressure. It is not good to burden them with assignments and expect them to do well in studies.

Parents should Encourage Homework

The motivation offered by homework should be accompanied by parent involvement. Some say that homework serves as a link between the school and home. Parents must strengthen this link by taking interest and supporting their children in their home assignments. Parents play an important part, when it comes to showing children that homework is not boring and that it is definitely not a waste of time.

I believe in the benefits of homework. But according to me, homework in the form of projects is more helpful than practice assignments. Students should be encouraged to work creatively. A project on a topic outside the school curriculum leads students to explore new subjects and learn new and interesting things they didn’t know about. It encourages general reading. Studies do not remain monotonous. Children think, research and innovate. This results in an added advantage of homework that studies do not remain confined to textbooks. Children realize that there’s a world beyond. ‘Good’ homework is their window to this world.