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Working with Children's Natural Skills

'If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.' Ignacio Estrada 

What if, instead of trying to hammer children into the uniform shapes we want them to become, we stop for a moment and try to appreciate each child's particular nature?  Perhaps then we could find a way for each individual child to develop according to their unique nature. Perhaps then instead of restraining the natural energy of young children or frowning upon teenagers we could work with them and utilise these natural stages of development in a way that helps them thrive. 

Psychologists have understood since the early 20th century that children develop in stages and that with each stage comes a particular set of cognitive skills. 

For example, Kindergarten children generally have 

  • great concentration when something interests them

  • a natural need to role-play

  • spontaneity

  • a love of touching things

  • a seemingly boundless amount of energy

Whereas Primary aged children have

  • a natural desire to learn about this extraordinary world 

  • a developing sense of humour and playfulness

  • the ability to form strong social bonds with their peer group

  • the perhaps instinctual pull of play

  • an even more boundless amounts of energy

And Secondary aged children have

  • a natural curiosity about who they are and where they fit into this world

  • a love of philosophy and psychology

  • a sense of humour

  • a strong sense of integrity and justice

  • a built in radar for detecting hypocrisy and inauthenticity

  • and a limited and irregular amount of energy

​Therefore in Kindergarten

  • We believe lessons should be fun, stimulating and appropriate to this stage.

  • Children have plenty of opportunity to explore and play during free choice periods. 

  • Children are encouraged to understand life using all their senses, particularly touch, as this natural learning tool helps stimulate vital connections between the hand and the brain.

  • We believe children learn as they play and need to play as they learn.

  • Rather than hold back the child’s natural energy we use it in lessons as much as possible.

  • Lessons tend to be active, hands on, rather than passive and abstract.

In the Primary years 

  • Lessons are taught with enthusiasm and a genuine interest in the subject.

  • We understand the importance of humour in lessons.

  • Children are given generous morning and lunch breaks so that they can develop essential social skills. 

  • Lessons are still predominantly active in nature.

And in the Secondary years

  • We encourage self-reflection. We believe self-awareness is the key to education. Only by knowing ourselves can we begin to understand the world and people around us. 

  • Students are given plenty of opportunities for discussion and debate.

  • Teachers engage students in lessons with integrity, respect and a good sense of humour.

  • We appreciate that teenage students are undergoing great changes and need our support rather than judgement.

'I learned most, not from those who taught me but from those who talked with me.' St. Augustine

Also See

Our son Jared has been attending New Forest Small School since he was 3. We wanted a school environment that would nurture and support all aspects of his growth and development on all levels. This has certainly been the case and we are extremely pleased with how Jared is progressing. He is now 9 and has developed into an out going, confident and knowledgeable boy, which we are sure is largely thanks to the New Forest Small School.
Mr KW & Mrs BW (Totton)
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