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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Emergent Learning - Practical Techniques and Methods

By Andrew Loh

Teaching emergent learning techniques is a three-way process, involving parents, children and their teachers. Teachers can be highly resourceful in classroom while parents could be mentors in homes. Key and important components to teach your children in an emergent style is listening to them, their mind and later understand why and how they think in a particular style or pattern. In essence, you will need to help your children discover ways to seek out most practical answers to all complex questions. However, the most foundation of teaching emergent learning style is to empower your children to believe in themselves and their abilities. Self-worth is the platform over which you can rely on your training skills.

Emergent learning is all about achieving self-mastery over a series of problems, academic or day-to-day. When your children understand, what they are doing or achieving, they feel capable, efficient and empowered in all aspects of life. However, your children cannot simply find solutions to all their problems. Parents and teachers form a formidable pair of resource persons who can mold children in an efficient manner. Hence, involving your children in the emergent learning process assumes lot of interest.

In an ordinary family setting, all family members concerned must pay enough attention to children in the home. Everyone in the family must know the range of thinking skills the children are using while solving problems. In the process, family members can reassure children that they are learning something. Another important aspect of learning process is to keep in touch with children's classrooms, their teachers and the way in which children are learning their lessons. However, understand that not all learning occurs in the classroom. Emergent learning techniques also include learning outside the classroom. For example, children can learn and understand a number of things during a field trip or camp. Such scenarios help your children to gain hands-on experiences that help them to learn tricks and secrets of life. Emergent learning under such important scenarios always involves keen observations.

Tip: Course curriculum and lessons plans always emerge before your children's eyes. However, all of the classroom experiences will emerge on the spot and with right type of thinking and observations. A truly emergent curriculum needs dedicated teachers who can engage themselves in lending both academic and emotional support to your children.

A traditional classroom always asks questions to children first and expects the children to provide the right type of answers. Though this method works fine in almost all academic contexts, it may never allow your children to develop that extra edge in their ability to think and evaluate. In an emergent learning situation, your children can develop a wholesome personality that involves complete understanding of observation, evaluation and logic. The emergent approach of learning always involves prodding or budging children into thinking themselves and attempt to find a number of self-generated solutions that eventually works them the best. Emergent learning allows your children to create and develop their own ideas to solve complex problems. Teachers who excel in emergent learning techniques always wait for the children answer questions in a non-traditional way.

For example, you may like to ask the following probing questions:

  • How do you think and feel we could solve that problem or answer that question?

  • What do you assume or suppose would happen if you work in that way?

Tip: Just look at the keywords used in these two questions and you will understand why children use their brain to find the right type of answers.

Keywords used here are:

  • Could

  • If

It is possible to use a number of similar keywords to ask your children a number of open-ended questions. Such questions can evoke curiosity in the minds of children. Furthermore, it is difficult to anticipate what the answers will or might be, because there is always more than one answer to every open-ended question.

Once you ask such questions, you will need to be patient enough to wait for children' answers. Make sure that you are respecting their ideas and suggestions. An emergent approach to learning is really worth your time because of the range of possibilities and opportunities available to your children. It is possible to find emergent learning possibilities in your home and under any circumstances.

One classical example of using an emergent learning style is to use a picture book or a colorful storybook. Initiating an interesting conversation about the story and its images are great ideas that can help your children learn in an emergent way. Educational experts call this the Scaffolding method of teaching. As you share a picture book with your children, you can use a number of strategies that peg them in the learning process. Asking probing questions, creating labels for the pictures and explaining about the action that center around the images, are some of the interesting techniques that you can use for the purpose.

Some of the probing expressions could be:

  • "Just look at that!"

  • "See that butterfly"

  • "Now, where is that little puppy?"

  • "Where did that little puppy go?"

You can expect some answers from your children that may be good or bad. However, never bother about the quality of the answers provided by them because you are using the techniques to make your children think and evaluate. Ensure that you are watching the progress on a daily basis. Once you observe some improvements, you can introduce complex questions to elicit more answers that are still more complex.


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